Your Low Sex Drive Might Be Something Else
by Karen Washington, LMFT

Maybe it’s a weekday evening, or even a weekend night after date night, and you see that look on your partner’s face – the one that tells you they really want sex. All hints and indications point to this night leading up to them wanting sex. Except, you really aren’t thinking about (or you weren’t until two seconds ago). You’re not really turned on, and you aren’t a light switch that can turn on at the drop of a dime. Why don’t they see that?!

Think you have low-to-no sex drive? Or maybe is it possible that you are more of a responsive sexual person?

What’s the difference?

Low-to-no-sex drive is pretty much how it sounds: there is a lack of motivation to participate in sex play. However, some people do not lack sexual motivation but are more responsive in their desire – which people often confuse the two. Responsive desire means that they need external stimulation in order to feel sexually motivated. A person with responsive desire will not often be inspired to spontaneously initiate sex but may respond when stimulation is presented to them. He or she is not always like this, as motivation and desire ebb and flow over time. Think of it like preheating an oven before you attempt to bake something, versus zapping it in the microwave.

The opposite is a person with spontaneous desire. Spontaneous desire is what it sounds like – sexual motivation can occur spontaneously for a person with little or no stimulation needed (i.e., the microwave). People with spontaneous desire can be mistaken for those with high sexual motivation, even though they are quite different.

Media and society portray spontaneous desire as normal, and people buy into it as how things “should” or are “supposed” to be. However, it’s really just another sexual myth that does not hold true for everyone. Yet, the idea that spontaneous arousal and sex is the standard can cause significant conflict within relationships. People do not typically end up in a relationship with a person matching their desire. In my work as a sex therapist, I see a lot of couples fight about this until they are able to understand the differences in responsive and spontaneous desires. From there, they are able to communicate about it in a way that can lead to much higher sexual satisfaction. If that is your experience, feel free to reach out. It is not the end of a relationship or mean that you aren’t compatible; it just means you need a little assistance communicating about the situation and finding ways to happily both get what you need. I can be reached at 312. 971.6846.

Karen Washington, LMFT