Not long ago, a female client came to see me for help with stress in her marriage. She and her husband had been married only a year, and they had been dating two years prior to that. One year into the marriage, he wanted sex all the time. My client came to see me because she had had sex one too many times without wanting it, and her instinct told her that this issue had become a serious problem. When I asked how many times each week she was sexual with her husband, she said, “three or four.” My response, “That is a lot of sex for anyone, but especially for someone who doesn’t want to be having it in the first place!” My client is by no means unique. The goal for anyone stuck in this pattern is to stop having sex when they don’t want it, and reducing the frequency of sex each week is a good place to start. Will problems start with the couple once you put the brakes on the sex? Yes, but isn’t it an even bigger problem when you’re not feeling it emotionally?
Why someone wants too much sex
First, conventional wisdom suggests that men are more sexual than women, and that men want it “all the time.” Actually, plenty of men and women have this problem, which is looking to sex to fill a dysfunctional emotional need. In other words, wanting sex occasionally is healthy; wanting it constantly is a sign of a problem. Most men and women who need sex all the time do this out of anxiety. Their mood is off or they feel anxious, and they want the emotional and physical release that comes with sexual activity. These individuals use sex to regulate their mood because they can’t regulate it as well any other way. For them, sex is a tool to feel better – not to feel closer to another person. While your partner may tell you that he wants sex to feel closer to you, it’s often not the truth. In most cases where one person pressures the other to have sex, sex has become a kind of drug to which they have become addicted.
How partners enable their dysfunctional partners
If you have sex with your partner when you don’t really want to, you are enabling your partner’s problem. If you are in a relationship with someone who needs sex all the time – when it feels like it’s never enough – you must understand that your partner has a problem and is looking to you as the physical savior to make him or her feel better instantly. Don’t fool yourself into believing that her insatiable sex drive is a reflection of how attracted she is to you; don’t believe that his constantly initiating sex with you has anything to do with him loving you so much.
Some issues you can’t solve for your partner
If you are in a relationship with someone who wants sex all the time, the issue is going to cause major problems, and this typically isn’t something you can solve yourself. The man or woman with the extreme sexual appetite is going to have to seek out a therapist or other professional for help. While there are some behaviors that he or she can try that will help – for example, increasing the frequency of high-intensity exercise – he or she is going to need to do some emotional work to understand the root of the problem. At its core, this is a reflection of anxiety, and people with this problem need to find a better way to manage the anxiety instead of always looking for sex to fill the void.
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve