I spent much of New Year's Eve at a party explaining "responsive desire" to a crowd of couples who'd been married anywhere between 3 and 30 years. It took them some time to get it. One gentleman never quite got it. But if you want to get it, it's important to understand this concept.
Back in the office, I am hearing from the patients that they lack sexual desire in part because they believe that desire comes first. After I explain the difference between spontaneous and responsive desire to my patients they often say, they feel better because they thought they were the "low desire types" with no hope. Nope.
When we think about sexual desire, we think about being ready to hop in the sack at a moment's notice. This is what we see in the movies. We associate sex and sexual desire with spontaneity. Spontaneous desire occurs in men about 75% of the time and in women only about 15% of the time.
Anyone who's been married for more than four years understands that spontaneous desire is a challenge in long term relationships. Hello. You again? It's important to understand that some people are the responsive desire types when it comes to sex. They just don't know it.
The truth is that in order to be turned on, excited or ready for sex both our minds (the largest sex organ) and our bodies (second largest sex organ) must be ready for it.
Physiologically things happen such as the penis filling with blood, becoming erect and the vagina swelling and becoming lubricated. The order in which the mind, body and physiology occurs determines the type of desire you're experiencing; spontaneous or responsive.
Spontaneous desire involves the mind. You're thinking about someone or you've met someone on-line (yes a photo is arousing), you're sexting or you've just met someone to whom you're attracted. Your body is ready and the physiological changes occur. You get aroused.
In responsive desire, sex doesn't start in your mind. It starts in your body that is if you're not too tired or don't have body image issues, unresolved conflict and you're attracted to the one you're with. You can get aroused even with someone you're not that attracted to through fantasy but that's another blog.
In responsive desire, you may not be thinking about sex but you're in a loving relationship and feel pretty good about things. So you accept your partner's sexual advances. You get aroused and you enjoy the tingle, the touch, the intimacy, the play, the orgasm (s), and yes, yes, yes, you think, "why didn't I do that last night?"
In other words, you don't feel like doing it but you do it anyway and you enjoy it. You're responsive. You respond. Get it? You will.
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Maureen McGrath RN is a Sexual Health Educator who hosts the Sunday Night Health Show the Corus Radio Network. Listen, share and subscribe on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/3nzOWv58lU3ZtHnhBuS4fq