Libido discrepancy, or the difference between how often a person and their partner want to get physical, is among the most common issues that couples face.
For decades the field of sex and relationship therapy focused on increasing connection and arousal in partners with this problem. Therapists utilized suggestions like adding more date nights or new toys to add variety into intimacy. Makes sense, right? Well, that’s what’s called “turning on the ons” in the dual control model of sexual response, and it’s only half the picture. Many couples have left therapy frustrated that turning on the ons didn’t work well enough and wondering whether there’s a deeper issue in their relationship.
Right around the new millennium some radical thinkers (Bancroft and Janssen) proposed “what about turning off the offs?” Their dual control model shows how the multiple stressors in our lives serve to shut down arousal, so that no matter how sexy our partner or the situation might be, we’re still not interested.
Watch this 2 minute video from the amazing Emily Nagoski for an easily understandable synopsis of applying this theory to your life, or if you want to geek out on the candid and hilarious book-sized version of her talk, check out Come as You Are.