Sexual desire, or sexual libido, is a strange bedfellow. I often work with couples who report a lack of desire for sex in both or one partners. Some people have low libido; other people have high libido. Sometimes our sexual libidos are matched; other times our libidos are mis-matched. This month’s blog is focused on finding sexual desire.
Myths about Sexual Desire
In finding sexual desire I think it is important we dispel some myths about sexual desire.
We use to have sex all the time
Yes that may be true. When we first meet someone, or begin a relationship, we enter a period called limerence. Limerence can be thought of as the honeymoon period. During limerence we focus completely and nearly totally on our partner. We exclude other people, like family and friends. We are completely focussed. Limerence is defined as intrusive, obsessive and compulsive thoughts, feelings and behaviours which are reciprocated by the person for whom we are lusting1 We are totally focussed on our partner and exclude other aspects of our lives.
With time the honeymoon period, or limerence ends and we allow aspects of our lives to return. We no longer are focused totally on each other.
Sex at the beginning of a relationship is not an indication of what sex will be like throughout the relationship.
My partner does not find me attractive anymore
No, your partner still finds you attractive. A person’s sexual desire is not the same as attraction. In fact a person’s sexual desire is about theirdesire to have sex. Nothing more; nothing less. This little gem of a myth is one of the most common I hear in my therapy room.
Low desire is because of hormones
Hormones can affect desire levels. Yet in most cases this is not the issue. Desire is as much psychological, if not more so, than physiological. If someone has low hormone levels (testosterone for men; estrogen for women) there will be other indicators of low levels of hormones. Look at the relationship itself before rushing off for testing hormone levels.
Men always have a high sex drive
Not so. There is no scientific data to support this statement. In fact, just over half the couples I see in my practice are couples where the men have low desire. A lack of desire is not a lack of masculinity in men or femininity in women.
Time and Tiredness
The two most common factors I find in people with low desire is a lack of time and too much tiredness. I often set my couples a homework task around intimate touch. IN the follow up session the two most cited reasons for not completing the task is, ”We didn’t have time,” or one or both partners was ”too tired”.
If you are working a full time job, raising children, maintaining a home and having a social life where is the time for sex and intimacy? Sex and intimate play takes time.
Sex and intimate play also takes energy. If you have a busy life and on the go all the time – you are likely to be tired. Give yourselves a break and relax a little.
Three Tricks to Finding Desire
Here are three little tricks to help find that elusive desire.
Commit Time to Each Other
Make a commitment to manage your time so there is time in the day and each week for the relationship. I am not suggesting time for sex and intimate play. This is important too. First and foremost a commitment to spend time with each other will lead to better connections.
Bonding = Bootie
If time and tiredness are impacting on your desire then time and tiredness is also impacting on your relationship. Spend time bonding with each other. Commit to regular time to sit and talk (and listen) to each other. Quality communication is key to a successful relationship. Good communication is key to quality connections. We need to feel connected to our partner to want to have sex. This goes for men and women.
Avoid Sex at Bed Time
Why on earth do people try to have sex before going to sleep. It is the end of an often busy day. People have been working. The body is tired. Also our bodies know that we as a rule enter the bedroom strip/change into PJs and hop on the bed and go to sleep. Then out of the blue – WAMOW – no sleep, energise, get excited, have sex. Not conducive to good intimate sex.
Try some intimate play and/or sex earlier in the evening. If both partners are morning people, then try sex and intimate play in the morning. Talk about when you desire sex the most.
Getting It On
The bottom line is trust and connection makes for good sex. Focus on building trust and connections with each other. Spend time on intimate play and touch. Sex does not have to be about penetration and orgasms.
Remember good sex is sane, safe and (con)sensual.
Dr Christopher Fox is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne. He has clinics in East Melbourne and Frankston. References  Wakin, Albert; Vo, Duyen. “Love-Variant: The Wakin-Vo I.D.R. Model of Limerence” (pdf). inter-disciplinary.net. Retrieved 2008-10-16. Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions.