Written by Sexual Wellness Institute Therapist, Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy, PsyD LP
Low libido is the number one reason why people reach out to a sex therapist. It’s a common complaint and it can negatively impact both individuals and their partners. This issue cuts across gender, culture, age, ability, religion, and sexual orientation. It can affect most partnerships at some time or another. When this happens, so many people feel stuck in their pattern, unsure of what to do about it. Here are some important things to know when your sexual desire feels low.
There is More Than One Way to Look at Desire
There are two types of sexual desire. Spontaneous desire is the one we’re most familiar with. It’s the one we assume to be “normal.” It’s shown to us in movies and television. Spontaneous desire is the idea that desire should just spontaneously occur, without effort. While this is certainly one way that people experience desire, there’s also another pathway to desire called responsive desire. First introduced by Dr. Rosemary Basson, this pathway to desire describes how desire can happen in response to a specific stimulus or preferred context.
Here’s an example of the two types of desire. Let’s say you’re sitting on the couch doing some work on your laptop and suddenly a sexual fantasy or image appears in your mind. You think to yourself, “I feel like having sex.” It didn’t seem to be prompted by anything in particular in your environment. It just emerged on its own. That is spontaneous desire.
Now, let’s imagine that you’re sitting on that same couch doing some work on your laptop, and suddenly your partner comes to sit next to you and starts kissing your neck and caressing you. Prior to them coming to sit with you, sex wasn’t on your mind, but once they started touching you, you think to yourself, “I feel like having sex.” That’s responsive desire.
These two pathways to desire are both normal and valid. They’re just different. It’s very common for us, as sex therapists, to meet couples where they have different pathways to desire, e.g. one partner experiences more spontaneous desire and the other experiences more responsive desire. When that’s the case, what do you do?
There is no Wrong Way to Experience Desire
Many times when people come to see a sex therapist for low desire, what they actually find out is that they don’t have low libido as they thought, but actually just need the right stimulus to experience desire (responsive desire). They learn that when they are presented with a sexual context that is appealing to them, they experience interest or arousal. If you find that you have a more responsive sexual desire style, here are some things you can do with that:
You Are Normal!
Something to keep in mind is that low desire is relative. Perhaps you don’t have low desire, and may just have responsive desire. Or, perhaps you don’t have low desire, and it’s just that your desire is different from that of your partner. Whatever the case may be, please know that you are not “broken”. Your desire is likely a problem that does not need to be fixed, but something to be curious about and explore. Your sexuality is normal and so are you.
Interested in Starting Sex Therapy in Plymouth, MN?
Don’t wait any longer to get sex therapy for low libido. Our sex therapists want to help you address sexual concerns here in Plymouth, or anywhere in the state with online therapy in Minnesota. Get started by following these simple steps:
Other Mental Health Services in Minnesota
In addition to sex therapy, our LGBT & polyamory friendly sex therapists provide a wide range of mental health services at our Plymouth, MN counseling office. Other services include couples therapy & marriage counseling, EFT, evidence-based couples therapy, EMDR & sexual trauma therapy, as well as, teen therapy. In order to help serve the mental health needs of all those living in Minnesota, we also offer online counseling & sex therapy. We also provide a variety of helpful tips on our mental health blog. Please feel free to reach out with questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to begin working with a skilled sex therapist! Your sex life can be amazing. Sex therapy can be a part of that process for you.