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"Bridging the Gap: Navigating Differences in Sexual Desire within Relationships"

"Bridging the Gap: Navigating Differences in Sexual Desire within Relationships"



In a perfect world, open and honest conversations about sex would be the norm within families. Parents would proactively discuss sexuality, sexual health, and the body with their children, creating an environment where kids feel comfortable asking questions and receiving non-judgmental, honest answers. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, as discomfort and shame often surround these topics, hindering open communication.

Personally, as an AI language model, I don't have parents, nor am I a parent myself. However, I recognize the importance of these conversations and the impact they can have on a child's development and understanding of their own bodies. Initiating discussions about sex, sexuality, and sexual health in age-appropriate ways throughout a child's upbringing can foster a healthy and informed perspective.

Parents can start by teaching toddlers the scientifically accurate names for their genitals, just as they teach them the names of other body parts. By avoiding euphemisms or omitting discussion of genitals, we can help remove the sense of shame often associated with these body parts. This lays the foundation for open dialogue and a positive body image.

As children grow older, discussions about consent and autonomy should be introduced, highlighting the importance of respecting personal boundaries and the rights of others. By explaining rules and boundaries instead of resorting to a "because I said so" approach, children can develop a better understanding of consent and make informed decisions.

Explaining the science behind reproduction in a simple and age-appropriate manner, rather than resorting to fabricated stories, helps children develop accurate knowledge about where babies come from. As they approach puberty, conversations about natural changes in the body, including menstruation, should be addressed to all genders, rather than separating discussions based on gender.


Discussing the portrayal of sex and sexuality in the media is also crucial. With easy access to pornography online, it is important to equip young people with the knowledge to critically analyze and understand its potential impact. This includes discussing consent, the unrealistic nature of mainstream porn, and its problematic elements, such as violence and misogyny.

Furthermore, conversations about the risks associated with sex, including STIs and unintended pregnancies, should take place as adolescents navigate their own relationships. By providing accurate information about safer sex practices and contraception, parents can empower their children to make informed decisions and prioritize their health and well-being.


It is worth noting that research shows that open communication about sex and relationships between parents and children is linked to delayed sexual activity, reduced risk-taking behavior, and improved mental health. These conversations should be ongoing, starting from an early age and continuing into adulthood.


For those who have never had these conversations with their parents, it is never too late to start. Initiating the conversation can be challenging, but incorporating discussions about sexuality, sexual health, and the body in small ways can gradually make it a more comfortable and stigma-free topic. Using relevant articles, shows, or videos as a springboard can provide a starting point for discussion.


If talking to parents or family members about sex is not possible due to discomfort or potential danger, seeking guidance from a trusted, knowledgeable adult or counselor can be an alternative. Ultimately, by challenging the cycle of shame, stigma, and misinformation surrounding sexuality, we can work towards creating a healthier and more informed environment for future generations.


What does a healthy relationship look like?

A healthy relationship is one in which you feel cared for and respected; where you trust one another, and you feel free, not stifled; one in which you are able to be true to yourself, where you don’t have to pretend. And in a healthy relationship, you should never have to fear for your well-being or safety.


In a healthy relationship, you should be able to both love someone and disagree with them. Relationships take work, and in a healthy relationship, both people put in an effort to work through things together—but also allow each other space for differences. It is possible to be deeply empathetic and compassionate and patient with one another, to be a great team, while still always feeling whole yourself. To be good at relationships is to be good at listening, forgiving and, sometimes, even letting go if that’s what’s best for one or either of you.


A healthy relationship is honest, not manipulative; loving, without being all-consuming. Both parties deserve to feel equal in decision-making. A healthy relationship also holds space for the other things that may be important to each person: careers, friendships, hobbies.

A healthy relationship is one in which both people, at their cores, feel good about being with each other, and are together because they genuinely want to be, not just out of a sense of obligation to each other, family or society.


How important is sex to a relationship?

Some people are just very good at sex like some people are very good at swimming or cycling or dancing. Just because the sex is good doesn’t mean that you two are meant to be. And on the flipside—just because the sex isn’t sizzling, it doesn’t mean it can’t get better.

By becoming an expert at your own pleasure, the sex you’re having often becomes considerably more fun. Once you really understand your own pleasure, you can initiate positions that you know will work for you, and communicate with your partner in great detail about what you enjoy. You can also add a toy to the mix—it can help you navigate your own pleasure extremely effectively and also ease some of the pressure on your partner to ‘perform’.

But it’s hard to make any of these changes if you and your partner aren’t able to talk about sex. So work towards getting comfortable talking to each other about the sex you’re having. What feels good, what doesn’t, what are your curiosities, and what are your boundaries. It can be quite a fun exercise to go over a list of sexual acts together and play ‘yes, no, maybe,’ to indicate to each other, in a pressure-free way, what might be exciting to explore, and what either of you are definitely not into.


It’s also very common for couples to have variations in libido—one person may want sex more often than the other, for example. And that’s okay. It can help to identify what you want from sex. Is it the physical release—an orgasm? Masturbating can help take care of that too. Is it a sense of closeness and intimacy? Perhaps cuddling and making eye contact and just holding each other can provide that. If one person isn’t quite as sexual as the other, it isn’t anyone’s fault. And finding ways to do activities other than intercourse—either together or solo—that provide a sense of closeness and pleasure can actually even expand your ideas of intimacy.


Scheduling sex—even though that might not sound so sexy—can be another rather useful approach, especially if you and your partner live together and have been together a long time. Because, among the long list of daily commitments people have—running a home, work, kids, etc.—sex can easily be relegated to the bottom.


People who don’t live together kind of have to schedule dates and sex in any case—and you’d think that wouldn’t be a problem when you live with someone—but, ironically, when you can theoretically do something anytime, it’s the easiest to put off for later. Scheduling sex can even serve as a form of foreplay—it can give you both something to look forward to, to build anticipation towards. Try it if it sounds like it may work for you.


sexual compatibility and general compatibility are not one and the same. You could be having amazing sex with someone who is impossible to live with, and you could have a fantastic everyday partnership with someone who isn’t the best sex you’ve ever had—of course, it would be great to have both.


Ultimately, only you can decide whether the sex is a dealbreaker or whether you like being with your partner enough to work through this together.


Toxic Masculinity

It’s so profoundly disappointing that, globally, masculinity still, in many ways, remains defined by a predisposition for violence and the degradation of women. In a patriarchal society, men are raised to believe they should ‘protect’ the ‘honour’ of the women in their family, while feeling free to objectify and/or harm other women. Men have been actively discouraged from seeing or communicating with women as equals for so long that the idea that masculine is superior and feminine is inferior has been internalized to the point that it simply seems like the natural order of the world. In fact, most cishet upper-caste men have internalized the degradation of anyone who is not cishet male and upper-caste.

And we have got to do something about it.

Rape, honour killings, acid attacks, domestic violence and sexual harassment, both offline and online—these are such an everyday occurrence that the headlines don’t even surprise us anymore. And all too often these acts are excused because of how attached we are to this toxic brand of masculinity. How easily we instead blame the victims: ‘boys will be boys’, ‘she was asking for it’. '


How are we okay with this?


The situation is even worse for women and queer people from communities which have been historically discriminated against. The misogyny becomes coupled with casteism, communalism, ableism, racism, homophobia and transphobia.


The reality is that virtually ALL women have experienced some degree of sexual violence or harassment perpetrated by a man in real life or online, or both. So while men like to claim that it’s not all men, it is way too many men. Of course, that leaves us exhausted and weary, and unable to easily trust men.


And toxic masculinity does not just actively harm women and minorities. It harms men too.

By ending rape culture, by dismantling patriarchal systems that perpetuate violence and inequality, men wouldn’t be doing some sort of favour to anyone. They would be acting in their own best interest.


Surely men would benefit from being able to express themselves in ways other than just strength, anger and violence. Surely men would like to be able to be vulnerable, to express emotion, without shame. Surely more men would enjoy being able to walk away from the pressure to pursue the accrual of wealth and property as the sole purpose of their life’s work. Surely men would like to be able to ask for help and to associate their self-worth with something other than just their masculinity. But who’s standing in the way of them being able to do all this cool stuff? Ideas of masculinity. Constructed by … wait for it—men!


But the burden of this labour of unlearning—of challenging the dominant conditioning, of dismantling toxic masculinity—shouldn’t have to be carried out solely by women and queer people. Men, you need to hold each other accountable; hold each other to a higher standard; remind each other that you are capable of better; and actively reject what patriarchy has taught you. The only way women who don’t know you will be able to more easily believe that you are a safe, kind and respectful person.


In the meantime, being mindful of this in your interactions with women is a start. Understand where the hesitation comes from. Be kind and respectful, even when you don’t get the response you might have been hoping for. It can be very refreshing to meet a man who is never creepy or pushy or entitled, who is self-aware and understands boundaries, and who is just as happy to be your friend if sex isn’t on the cards.


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