Difference in desire

How do you deal with a difference in desire between partners? This article provides insight and practical tips.

A difference in desire can put enormous pressure on a relationship

Sometimes partners do not know how to explain to their partner where their loss lies, fear of misunderstanding often plays a role in this. Especially when it comes to desires to be dominated, to dominate, a desire for pain, a desire to wear certain clothes, a desire to step into a certain role, etc. It is thought that the partner will never understand these desires , sometimes there is the concern that a partner will end the relationship once he or she becomes aware of the desires. The result is dual loneliness within a relationship, both partners lack a (real) connection with each other. What is shared are the similarities in both lives: the care for each other, for the family, the social world in which they live as a couple. Sometimes partners make the choice to seek fulfillment for their desires (not understood or recognized by the other partner) outside the relationship. This is not always shared with the partner, which can lead to greater distance and alienation from each other.

What is important when you are aware of a difference in desire within your relationship?

  • Name the desire, whether it is your own desire or that of your partner.
  • Recognize the desire in the other person, this means that you recognize that these desires are part of what lives in your partner and that you are jointly responsible for dealing with these desires.
  • Recognize the desire within yourself, if you reject or do not recognize your own desires, this will affect your communication with your partner. How can you expect respect and understanding for your desires when you don’t even accept them yourself?
  • Be aware that multiple/other emotions may be linked to an unfulfilled desire. Try to give yourself and your partner space to talk about this. Offer support and safety to each other.
  • Let go of blame. No one chooses the desires he or she feels, the choices lie in fulfilling the desires, not in feeling the desires.
  • Let your partner know that you support him or her, make the difference in desire a part of your relationship. That way it becomes something that you both take care of. Even if no decisions were made regarding the possible fulfillment of these desires, you can still care for each other by regarding the desire as an existing and accepted fact. It is something that belongs to your partner, and therefore it is something that also belongs to your relationship.
  • Be open and honest with your partner, no matter how difficult or intense this may be. By daring to make yourself vulnerable, you open the door to finding a way together. You enable your partner to make choices about how to deal with the difference in desire.
  • Dare to set boundaries. The fact that your partner has desires that are not shared by you does not have to mean that you have to go beyond your own boundaries. For example, if you make agreements together about how to deal with the desires and the difference in desires, then it is good to to be clear about where your personal boundaries are.
  • Name your fears. It can be scary to know what desires you have, or your partner has. It can raise the fear that this will be the end of your relationship, there can be fear and uncertainty about loving. You can ask yourself whether your partner still cares about you when he or she has completely different desires. Dare to express all these fears and insecurities to each other.

Additional practical tips and tools

On the Hart en Ziel website you can take an online course where you can discover, together with your partner, how you can make your sex life even more interesting. Because a difference in desire can cause a lot of tension within a relationship, it is important that you work together on being relaxed with each other, but also on being able to communicate with each other in a relaxed manner.