by Andrea M. Darcy
Sex drives are by no means a constant. They can fluctuate over a relationship, and be affected by things like stress and depression, and can alter with age.
Of course some people do seem to genetically have a stronger drive than others. And this can cause real tension within relationships.
But if your need for sex has been a problem for you in every relationship, it’s time to ask a question. Is your high sex drive really the problem, or are there hidden issues at play?
Do you really have a high sex drive, or is it about something else?
Always wanting more sex than a partner can sometimes not be about sex or sexual drive at all. Instead it can mask a habit of sabotage, a deep-rooted need for attention, or a controlling personality.
Do you bring up your different sex drive in every dispute? Or ask your partner for sex when deep down you know they are not in the mood? You might have a problem with sabotaging intimacy, and are using sex as a way to push away someone who cares about you.
Do you find you demand sex of your partner when you feel neglected by him/her? You might be using sex to fill a deep-rooted need for attention.
Do you hint to your partner there is something ‘wrong’ with them for not wanting sex more? Heaping guilt and blame on your partner around sex? Or deep down, do you demand sex as a bit of a game, just to see if they really care about you? You might be using sex to manipulate and control your partner.
(Note that telling someone they ‘owe you’ sex is overt control and possibly a sign of narcissistic personality disorder.)
Psychological issues connected to a ‘high sex drive’
So what are the psychological issues that leave someone to use sex for power, control, and attention?
Low self-esteem: If you connect being sexually desirable to being worthwhile, then you’ll crave sex to feel better about yourself.
Fear of intimacy: If you long for love, but each time someone gets too close you feel fear or panic, then you need ways to keep others at bay. Claiming a different sex drive is a good way to kill a relationship before it’s even started.
Sexual addiction: an endless need for sex can mean you care less about sex, and more about the high it offers that can help you avoid painful emotions or allow you to feel alive and avoid the numbness of depression.
All of the above, low self-esteem, fear of intimacy, and sexual addiction, can be the result of sexual abuse or sexual assault.
Sexual abuse and your sex drive
How is it possible that sexual abuse as a child, including abusive experiences such as being the victim of rape or assault, would leave you wanting sex constantly? Wouldn’t it mean you don’t want sex very much, if at all?
The trauma of sexual abuse and assault can leave you with a set of damaging core beliefs . These are buried, unconscious ways of thinking you mistake for ‘facts’. And you can then spend your life being controlled by these assumptions. These beliefs can leave you thinking you want sex all the time, while at the same time blocking you from any real sexual pleasure that is free of guilt and shame.
These beliefs can include things like, “I am…
- only good for sex
- supposed to please men/women/others constantly
- only liked if people want sex with me
- someone who deserves to be abused.
If your core belief is that you deserve to be abused, you might constantly seek sex from others who are not even kind or respectful towards you. Or, you might push yourself to have sex you deep down don’t like, meaning you are essentially abusing yourself.
One of the side effects of counselling and psychotherapy for childhood sexual abuse can be suddenly losing your sex drive entirely. Or going through a process of discovering you have no idea what you actually do or don’t like sexually.
Can a therapist help if my sex drive is out of control?
If abuse is behind your intense need for sex, unravelling the past can be a disorientating experience it’s highly recommended you have support with.
An experienced counsellor or psychotherapist can create a safe space for you to explore what happened in your past, and give you the tools you need to navigate the difficult emotions that might arise.
Don’t think you experienced childhood trauma? But still find that in every relationship your high sex drive is an issue? It’s still an idea to speak to a counsellor. They can rule out other possible problems like personality disorders.
If it really is just that your drive is higher than average, therapists can help you develop the communication skills to navigate a healthier sex life with your partner. And they can work with you to raise your esteem so that you pick partners that you can be more yourself around.
Harley Therapy puts you in touch with some of London’s most experienced counsellors and psychotherapists who can help you with sex and relationship issues.
Andrea M. Darcy is a health and wellbeing writer as well as mentor, trained in person-centred counselling and coaching. She often writes about trauma, relationships, and ADHD. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy