High drive, low drive, and perception trumping reality
In the last two weeks, I have been involved in and read a number of discussions which throw around the terms “high drive” and “low drive”. In several of those discussions, I have expressed my frustration over the terms.
I think the terms imply abnormality. She called him high drive to excuse not giving him all he wants.1 He calls her low drive to justify demanding rather than asking. Many men start emails to me by calling themselves “high drive” which I find sad and wrong. I know many men masturbate because they think their drive is high and it is not reasonable to expect their wife to take care of all of it; in our survey on masturbation 46% of men said they masturbate because “My drive is higher and I don’t want to bother her.” Just to show how weird it gets, I might get an email from a fellow who says he is high drive, wanting sex twice a week, followed by an email from a “high drive” woman complaining her husband will not have sex more than twice a week.
Some use the terms higher and lower drive spouse, which is at least accurate, but I still think it fails to deal with the perception and reality issue we really need to addressed: how much sex is right? Is someone’s drive “too high” or “too low”? Should we, as some have suggested, talk about healthy and unhealthy drive rather than high and low?
As much as I would like to give the answer for the rest of eternity on this, I have not been granted that right. However, I do have some thoughts I think are relative.
- A growing body of well-done research says sex is good for us.2 Good for us includes a longer and healthier life, and many of the benefits seem to be “dose related” meaning more sex results in more benefits.3 From a health standpoint it would be wise to “prescribe” sex at least every other day for all couples.
- A number of studies have found that all other things being the same, the more sex couples have, the less they fight and the less likely they are to divorce.4
- More sex has been found to result in being happier.5
- God told us not to say no.6
This means frequent sex is good for our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our marriages – in addition to making us right with God. Based on that, if someone does not want sex, or only wants it infrequently, I think something is wrong. There are a good many things that could be wrong, and in some cases much of what is wrong is the fault of the “high drive spouse”, but something is wrong. Given this, the whole “high drive” thing looks to me like an attempt to change reality by painting over it with a skewed perception.
I suggest we 1) stop talking about individuals and talk instead about couples, and 2) discuss what a healthy sex life looks like, and 3) tell those who do not have a healthy sex life they need help.
If you have been called high drive, or thought you might be high drive, I suggest you rethink. Unless you know you would be dissatisfied with sex six times a week, I do not think your drive is abnormal. How you express your desire, or what you want may be an issue, but it is not an issue of drive strength. Among other things, I suggest you need to see your drive as being covered by 1 Cor 7, meaning your spouse, not you, should be meeting your need.
If you have been called low drive, or thought you might be low drive, I suggest you ask yourself if you are opposed to more sex, or just don’t feel much of a “drive”. A growing body of research indicates most women (and some men), do not feel much of a drive, but are still open to and able to enjoy far more sex than they would choose based on their own drive.7 It’s like never feeling hungry, but still being able to eat and enjoy a meal. Never feeling hungry does not mean you have no need for food, and not feeling a sex drive does not mean you have no need for sex. I would also gently suggest your “higher drive” spouse probably has a valid need, and =as the only person who is supposed to have sex with them, you should find a way to meet that need.
1 I do know the wife is the one who wants more sex in 20% of so of marriages – swap pronouns as needed for your reality.
2 The often-missed caveat is monogamous heterosexual contact is better than other options, but since we are talking about marriage here, we can assume those for this discussion.
3 A couple of links touching on this – Orgasms, Health and Longevity: Does Sex Promote Health? and Sex does the body good
4 Sex – important to husbands and wives
5 Would more sex make you happier? Studies say yes and Sex – important to husbands and wives
6 1 Cor 7 – Sexual Responsibility
7 Sexual desire in women – spontaneous or triggered?