Let’s Talk about Sex Baby, Let’s talk about you and the Tea (Desire.. that is the tea)
Ok Ok… I probably failed at my attempt to include pop culture into my blog title but hey.. a girl can try!
One of the most argued topics in relationships today is sex. One partner may want more sex than the other. Sex may start to lack excitement, spontaneity, or become boring. When these feelings enter the relationship, combined with no communication and struggles with desire, the topic of sex can become a turn-off instead of a turn-on. Sexual distance within a relationship can cause conflict and a divide that is often hard to overcome. There are many factors that promote a healthy, exciting, and satisfying sex life. Today I am focusing on the topic of desire.
Desire is only ONE part of healthy and pleasurable sex. Areas that prevent having a pleasurable sex life and inhibit desire include conflict, abuse, gaslighting, emotional disconnection, lack of support from a partner, unequal relationship roles, infidelity, and more. These topics will need to be addressed to also promote a happy and pleasurable sex life (please note: if there is abuse going on within the relationship, a healthy sex life is not the goal, the goal is to find support to safely leave the abusive relationship. Find a women’s shelter or abuse crisis line to seek out additional support). The focus here is taking a consensual and supportive relationship and working through issues of desire together.
Desire is comprised of two parts. The mental readiness for sex and the physical readiness for sex.
The mental readiness for sex occurs when you begin to think about something erotic or other sexual activities that seem appealing to you. At this point, you may even begin to start fantasizing about these thoughts. (You walked by the coconut oil aisle in the grocery store, didn’t you?! I know I know gets ya every time.)
Physical readiness for sex occurs when our body becomes physically ready for sex. This happens with additional blood flow to the genitals. For men, an erection can occur and for women, the vagina may (but not always so) become lubricated. This may seem like basic information, but it is often misunderstood or misjudged. If a person becomes mentally ready for sex that does not mean they want to participate in sex. Likewise, if they are physically ready for sex this does not mean they want to participate in sex. In contrast, a woman may not appear to be physically ready for sex if her vagina is dry. However, she may be clearly verbally stating that she is ready for sex and wants to engage in sexual actions. A person’s genitals do not determine if they are ready or willing for sex. The person’s words determine if they are ready for sex. If a woman’s vagina is lubricated but her words are saying she does NOT want sex, it does not matter if she has a waterfall coming out of her vagina… she does NOT want sex. If the woman is often dry but says she is ready for sex, find a favorite lube to add to the experience (see the comment above about coconut oil.. you are welcome). Again, a person’s genitals do not determine if they are ready or willing for sex. The person’s words determine if they are ready for sex.
There are also two types of desire. Spontaneous Desire and Responsive Desire.
Spontaneous desire is what all the movies and media say is the only exciting and “right” way to experience sex. It is supposed to come out of nowhere and immediately make you mentally and physically ready for sex. One minute you are walking down the street and the next you are passionately undressing your partner as you are walking in the house/bedroom/place you plan to have sex and Marvin Gaye comes on out of nowhere. This instant desire is what we have been socialized or romanticized to believe should happen every time we have sex. Spontaneous desire is one healthy way to experience desire and sex. However, it is not the only desire we experience. (Thank goodness you say? I know right?! Let me help you build up some spark in the bedroom again… or living room… or kitchen… or bathroom… okay you get my point).
Now let us discuss responsive desire. Do you ever feel like you are never turned on or are so busy you do not even have time to think about sex? Even if the opportunity for sex is present you continue to struggle with desire. You may be a person who responds to responsive desire. Responsive desire occurs after a stimulus. This often happens after touching your partner’s naked body via skin-to-skin contact or by being touched in your most favorite way. Once you are engaging in a physical and consensual sexual activity you THEN become mentally ready for sex. Have you ever had sex and you were not mentally in the mood but afterward you realize you enjoyed yourself after all? That is responsive desire. Sometimes people with responsive desire believe they have low libido, but this is often not true.. you just need some warming up first (Let us welcome back our friend coconut oil… with a nice back massage… or foot massage…or genital massage… your choice).
If you have responsive desire, you may consider discussing with your partner that you will commit to 10 or 15 minutes to enjoying your favorite physical touch and making skin-to-skin contact to entice mental readiness for desire. After that 10 or 15 minutes if you are still not interested in having sex or other sexual activities you can stop (Of course allow your partner their privacy to satisfy their need in that moment).
Remember that pleasures is the measure. First, seek pleasure and desire may follow. Make sex with your partner a priority and communicate about it often. In future blogs, we will discuss communicating with your partner before, during, and after sex as well as how trauma and stress affect desire and the sexual relationship.
If you are looking for help increasing your sexual self-esteem and exploring your struggles with desire, sexual trauma, or sexual communication feel free to reach out to me, Ashley Hubbard, MS, NCC, LPC to schedule an appointment today. You may email me to schedule an appointment at [email protected].
Ashley Hubbard, MS, NCC, Licensed Professional Counselor
Resources: Come As You Are. The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. By Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.