Hey Best Friend! I have an interesting topic of conversation for us today! A lot of my friends like to talk about this topic and this part of my occupation is for sure my husband’s favorite party trick. Whenever people are like “what do you?,” my husband nudges me with “babe, tell them what you do” to which I usually respond with “oh I am a counselor” and my husband eagerly responds with “but what kind of therapist?” At this point, I give in and respond with “I am a sex therapist.” It always cracks me up that my husband does this! I honestly don’t like to just go around and share my specialty because sometimes people start telling me things that I honestly don’t want to know or I have to interrupt them and encourage them to go see someone about their concerns. Don’t worry, we are not going down that rabbit hole today, but we are going to talk about something that many women struggle with or have dealt with at least once in their life with desire.
Desire Can Be Elusive
What do I mean when I say “issue with desire”? Well sis, have you ever wondered “man, it’s time for sexy time but why am I not interested” or “I think I used to want it more before” or “why is this so hard now; it wasn’t like this in the beginning of the relationship” or “what is WRONG with me? I love sex but right now I would rather do anything else?” Often these thoughts lead to negative emotions such as guilt because you love your partner, but the desire is just not there.
Desire can be elusive. Three things to know about desire are:
- Sexual pleasure and satisfaction aren’t reliant on orgasm, though orgasm may certainly be a nice bonus.
- Sexual desire doesn’t always have to come before sexual activity or arousal. Sometimes getting physical and experiencing arousal will elicit desire.
- External factors such as relationship dynamics, intimacy, and weighing rewards and costs of sexual experience may play an important role in sexual response.
Passive vs Active Desire
The female brain is an interesting thing; us women can literally be in the middle of sex and be thinking about our to-do list or what the kids need. It takes a lot to stay present and focused even if the activity of sex feels really good, you love your partner, and you feel connected. Rosemary Basson’s model of desire goes on to show how women have a more passive desire whereas men have a more active desire.
Now sis, of course there are exceptions to this rule! I have sat with couples where the woman has a higher desire and the man has a lower desire and this is happening more often these days with the foods we eat and the stress we encounter (don’t worry, I am not going to dive into these topics today). Right now, I am talking to YOU – my girl! I think it’s important to remind you right now that a woman’s brain is often only in pursuit (active desire) of sex a few days per month due to the biological component as the body tries to get pregnant (your mind is unconsciously pursuing sex during these days)…. Again, not always, but often.
I think this is a great time to bring up the topic of birth control. Birth control, despite its name, is prescribed for a variety of reasons such as acne, weight, harsh periods, etc which are all issues that can often be solved by simply changing the things people eat (again, not going to dive into this, but as my best friend, I have a responsibility to tell you the truth). Birth control, despite its purpose, messes with a woman’s hormones to even pursue sex and is often the culprit to a decreased libido.
What Impacts Desire
Many things can impact a woman’s desire. Sis, what I am about to share with you is not to condemn you by any means but to simply help you understand what may be getting in your way of having the intimacy you crave as well as give you tools to overcome those obstacles – because well, that’s what best friends do!
Body image is a huge component to our desire as women and as women we tend to be so hard on our bodies thinking things like “I am too fat, too ugly, etc.” And for the record, I have NEVER heard a man say “man in that position, I couldn’t enjoy it because I couldn’t focus on anything except her muffin top.” Women beat themselves up over things that most men do not even care about; they love your body just the way it is. In fact, it would actually be sexier to men if you were nicer to your body. Sis, if you can truly enjoy the skin that you are in, it will help you go there. Don’t focus on what part of your body he is seeing or how your genitals look. When you are consumed with fear about your body actually decreases your desire.
Fatigue is another huge desire crusher. Especially as a mom, fatigue is the number one thing that can kill desire. REST is so important. Some of you don’t sleep and you have no idea why you aren’t feeling the way you want to; you need rest. This is often why couples have more sex on vacation than they usually do – because they are rested. Things that will help you overcome fatigue are sleep, yoga, a warm bath, simplify your schedule (bestie, if you were looking for a sign to answer whether or not you are busy, this is your sign), and ask for help from your partner/family/friend (maybe even get a babysitter for some YOU time not just a date night).
Medications and what we put in our bodies play a huge part in the overall function of our bodies so of course, it plays a role in our desire as women. We are holistic beings; so bestie, you may need a lifestyle change. Yes, chances are sleep needs to be included in that and we already touched on birth control. Some of you eat foods that you know taste amazing but leave you not feeling your best and let’s be honest, you aren’t going to feel up to sexy time if you are bloated and/or hurting.
Emotional turmoil will also affect your desire. We have discussed a lot of biological factors but anything going on internally will impact your desire. You are an emotional being; if you didn’t know, now you do (but chances are my bestie already knew that). If you are experiencing emotional turmoil maybe you need to talk to a trusted friend, go to counseling, *cough* do a breakthrough session with Dr. Britt *cough*, or practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can help us process the emotional parts of us that feel unbalanced or overwhelming.
Emotional deficits in your relationship also trigger decreased desire. These deficits and voids cannot be ignored – not just for the sake of sex but also for the sake of your overall physical health and your relationship. Desire is a cycle and if things feel off, there is going to be a disconnection. Women tend to need emotional intimacy so they can be physically intimate whereas men tend to need physical intimacy so they can be emotionally intimate. This is why non-sexual touches are so important; it acts as a middle ground to both men and women in their connection and desire. Maybe you and your partner need to go on a date, practice sharing your feelings, read books/devotionals, practice forgiveness (so you can heal and give yourself the gift of your desire), or level up your skills (maybe there are some things you need to learn or try something new which can be a very fun part of intimacy). Maybe you need to give yourself permission to feel it; women can be overstimulated so maybe close your eyes or coach your partner to what you need to get to a place that feels good to you.
Owning Your Desire
I really want to come back to this! Especially as a woman, learn to enjoy your body. Engage in your senses – what perfumes, outfits, etc. makes you feel you sexy (not just at sexy time)? Are you doing things that help you feel beautiful? Are you doing things that help you feel good about you? Are your food choices hindering your desire? Your body is intended to be delightful and something to enjoy; you are actually stealing that gift from you when you don’t engage in it.
You must take ownership of your own sexual desire. Bestie, don’t put your desire in your partner’s hand. While being pursued is still important and I will not absolve your partner of his responsibilities. Sis, you must be the one to engage your mind as your mind is your most powerful sex organ. If you stopped flirting, you need to bring that back. Text your partner sweet and/or sexy things, be playful, challenge yourself to pursue your partner (you need to initiate, too), and know that it’s ok to make things about you in the bedroom (which will probably be a BIG turn on for your partner to see you take charge). So sis, as we do around here, I want to leave you with some questions to reflect on until next time!
- What has the biggest impact on your desire?
- What can you be responsible for in creating the desire you want to have?
- If you have a partner, what do you need to communicate to them to help you?