Friday, January 15, 2010

Libido and relationship problems

I did a bit of supervision the other day with a therapist who was asking about a couple she was working with.

This couple thought they had a sex problem with what the DSM calls the Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. This is a significant absence of sexual desire that causes distress. This couple did it about once every couple of months which means statistically they were much less than average and they thought that is was a sign of a failing marriage. Both parties had quite low libidos.

So what is the average? For Australians it is:

18 - 24 years = 3.25 times per week

25 - 34 years = 2.55 times per week

35 - 44 years = 2.00 times per week

45+ years = 1.00 times per week

(OK! Enough with the jokes about doing it 0.25 times.)

I have always wondered how they get these statistics. Is it like a street side interview? There you are walking in a local shopping centre and you are approached by a heavily bespectacled woman, who’s hair is bound tightly back, she is in a white lab coat, carrying a clip board and she asks you how often do you do it?

And once the statistics are obtained how reliable are they? Lets face it guys may tend to exaggerate. When asked how often they do it they may huff and puff a bit, push their chest out and say they get ‘on the job’ everyday.

As we know when men get together and discuss their sexual exploits with the fairer sex they are prone to exaggeration. The general rule of thumb is take what they guy claims happened, divide it by 2 and you are probably some where near the truth. If he says he met a woman in bar last night, took her to his apartment and scored a home run that means he probably got to second base.

However the statistics don’t really mean anything when it comes to an individual couple. If they do it once every couple of months then they are very below the statistical average but what one is really looking for is how equal are their libidos. One is hoping for a relatively similar level of libido between then husband and wife. If their libidos are both low, both medium or both high then they do not have a sex problem at least in terms of desire.

If one has a low libido and one has a high libido then they have a significant relationship problem that can easily cause significant damage to their relationship.

Sex is usually a very Free Child to Free Child transaction. Sex that is good for a relationship is this even though people can have sex in other ego states. However if the desire for sexual activity is very different between husband and wife then they do have a relationship problem. If he has a high libido and she has a low libido then what happens when he requests sex.

If she says ‘yes’ when she wants to say ‘no’, then one problem is solved and another problem is created. His FC feels satisfied and her FC feels hurt. If this happens repetitively then her hurt FC will cause relationship difficulties and thus they both suffer.

If she say ‘no’ when she wants to say ‘no’ then one problem is solved and another problem is created. Her FC feels satisfied and his FC feels hurt. If this happens repetitively then his hurt FC will cause relationship difficulties and thus they both suffer.

When this happens sex can easily get entangled with power, punishment of the other party and so forth and by that time the relationship can start to get into very troubled waters.

So what is meant to happen according to the counselling textbooks? Well try before you buy may be a good idea. If a person is very sexually driven then it might be a good idea to seek a partner who is a little bit similar. Of course that is easier said then done once love gets involved.

As with so many relationship difficulties a bit of compromise on both sides can go along way. Satisfying sex does not have to involve intercourse, which is also a common solution if one party has herpes. So being a bit creative and coming up sexual activity that is reasonably acceptable to both parties such that both FCs can feel OK. Then the damage that could be caused to the relationship can be avoided.



  1. Oh my goodness Tony! I've found my computer! And I get to have a go today.

    My son blew his 'windows' on his so he's been taking mine down to his place to use. He's gone a way for a few days now so... 'here I am!'

    You're thrilled aren't you!
    (Never mind, i'll be gone again for alittle while soon.)

    Sex. Hmm, interesting topic. It's a pretty amazing thing. The orgasm thing.

    When hubby wants it - it's mostly 'on'.
    When I want it - it's mostly 'on'.
    When we both want it - it's amazing.
    When I want it and he's at work, i text him and jump into the shower and sometimes he can get home in time *giggles*.

    But when it's not on - it really isn't!

    Take this week for instance - we haven't this week at all. I mean for like about 7 days or so... nothing. Tonight we're sleeping with our grandson again and so probably won't happen today but it will happen really soon.

    The .25 thing? That's real you know. Sometimes we start and it's so nice but then we just run out of steam or something and we both just drop off to sleep. .25 probably = a good idea at the time?

    I like sex when i like it, but when i don't, i don't like it at all.

    C u when I do...

  2. Hello Roses,
    thank you for your candor.

    Over the years I have heard you talk about hubby and it always seems that you two do have a good functioning marriage which is a bit of a rare thing these days.

    All the best to you


  3. So this is what a good functioning marriage feels like?!?

    No wonder you're still single. That would be my choice too.

  4. I just watched something on Dr Phil (you know, on the telly) about divorce and stuff. So... the go is to allow each person within the relationship to have a certain amount of personal power. Even better if its possible to share power within the different departments of a marriage or relationship?

    The show reminded me of your post (well, just because it did I guess) and made me think of how much power sex holds over the people within any relationship. Its a bit like knowledge in a lot of respects. Some have the knowledge and share it to others and others keep the knowledge to themselves - one to empower others and the latter to empower themselves.

    I like the way that you said, that if its mutual, then the couple (if the relationship involes only 2 people that is) may both choose or both not need sex frequently, then that's ok. Because I agree. That is ok.

    Actually to be honest, i just popped in to see if you're still kicking on. But i've missed nothing new so... i'll call in again next time i can.

    I just unenrolled from Uni. I give up - life wins 4 now.

    Hope you're not too fried and dehydrated over there in all this summer heat. We've just had a very cool week or so but today is starting to get a tad spicy in the heat department.


  5. Hello Roses,

    Glad you popped in for a chat. No better way to start a chat than to bring up what Dr Phil said.

    I have been writing less lately as the book I am writing on the suicidal client is dominating most of my writing time. I have put snippets in my blog here as you know but I cant put in too much.



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  10. A relationship with emotional and physical closeness, that may involve sexuality or may come close to sexual expression, when desired.There is no aspiration to long-term commitment and no expectation of exclusivity.


  11. I think it is a number of things. I put on weight, and I am afraid of losing my job. I have been been through depression before but I don’t want to blame everything on that. I was a bit numb. I don’t have any sexy feelings towards my partner and the lack of a sexual relationship is beginning to divide us. I tried to keep the relationship as far as I could but I can no longer deny to myself that my feelings for him is slowly fading away. There's no third party involved I think there are personal issues that we really need to settle among ourselves.