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Joan Price

Responsive vs. Spontaneous Desire

I hear from readers all the time who tell me they rarely or never feel desire for sex anymore. I also hear from readers who mourn the lack of sex in their relationships because their partners don’t feel desire anymore. Let me give you a different way to think about desire:

Many of us do not experience what’s called “spontaneous desire.” Our sexy bits and brain don’t go boom in advance. Instead, we may experience “responsive desire,” which means that after we get going physiologically and our bodies start getting aroused, the desire follows in response to stimulation. A sure sign that this is your desire pattern is when you aren’t particularly in the mood for sex and don’t feel desire, but once you get going physiologically, you get into it and really enjoy it. In fact, you may find yourself saying, “Why don’t we do this more often?”

So feeling desire in advance is not a requirement for good sex. In fact, putting off sex until you feel spontaneous desire will just mean you’ll have sex much less often. The more  sex you have, the more responsive you’ll be and the more you’ll enjoy it. (When I say “have sex,” I mean express your sexuality in whatever way you enjoy, whether solo or partnered.)

Emily Nagoski, Ph.D, explains responsive desire in her excellent book, Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. I talk about spontaneous vs. responsive desire (and much more!) in two of my webinars7 Steps to Reclaiming Your Sexual Pleasure and 12 Steps to Sexy Aging – Starting Now! 

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