My wife and I have been together for about 10 years, and it has always been pretty clear that we have different sexual tempos; I want far more sex than she does. Recently she told me that she views sex with me as special, but that she wouldn’t be that interested in having it with someone else. She said she views it as an expression of our love, but her sex drive isn’t very high. However, she went on to say that she would be fine if I wanted to go out and have meaningless sex myself. After my initial reaction (a slight frisson of excitement, I must admit) I found myself quite put out by the suggestion. If I was to have more sex than I am having currently, I’d like it to be with my wife, rather than with strangers. Am I being too demanding? Should I bring this up with her? Or should I take her up on her offer and try sleeping around to fill that sexual need?

When a partner gives this kind of permission they do not always mean it, and rarely think it through. Aside from the physical risks, there are plenty of emotional and relationship hazards. Even “meaningless sex” is quite loaded with “meaning” in the context of a sexless marriage and I’m not surprised you are questioning it. It could damage your relationship. Your first idea is the wisest – to confirm your desire for your wife and begin to seek ways to interest and engage her more. It is important to avoid assuming either that she is no longer attracted to you or that she simply has “a low sex drive”, per se. There are a number of reasons why a person might not match a partner in libido; some are fixable, while others need to be investigated. Seek help together to understand if there is a hormonal, relational, psychological or physiological reason for your desire mismatch.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to [email protected] (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see

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