Conscious Sexual Self

Connection Requires Consciousness

Low Desire...for what exactly?

One of the things that is important to talk about when we talk about desire is WHAT we are desiring. One size does not fit all for sexual pleasure and within ourselves we have diverse and sometimes even conflicting desires that call to be fulfilled. One day we may desire to be touched gently and another day to be pushed to our knees and made to beg. Subtle gradation’s of desire that can seem to shift without our understanding, we feel longing or find our minds wandering to erotic landscapes or surprise ourselves with the impulses that arise as we are engaging with a partner. Desire, past the intensities of puberty anyway, is rarely just for genitals to meet in a prototypical sex act. We desire a sensation, a mood, an interactive dynamic, a way of being seen or received, a way of seeing our self.

But this critical piece of the sexual equation often gets left out of the discussion, at least among clinicians who are tasked with helping people have healthy, satisfactory sexual desire. And this is especially true when we talk about low desire – an ill defined category for a time when one’s sex drive is lower than someone thinks is appropriate or lower than one would like. It is true that many people over the course of their life will recognize within themselves a flagging or even disappearance of their active sexual energy. They may say, “I just don’t desire sex anymore”. But this is often an overstatement or a conclusion based on minimal information.

When I work with clients who are struggling with this state, I invite them to unpack what it is truly that they are not desiring. What is getting in the way of sex being an enjoyable, pleasure that they could look forward to right now? People are often surprised by the question but quickly find they can identify crucial things that they are specifically not desiring.

One person has low desire for sex that feels pressured and uncreative. Another for sex with someone with whom they are angry and resentful and just had another fight this morning. Another person finds they have low desire for sex when they feel like a failure if they don’t get an erection and sex that is surrounded by misunderstandings and hurt. Another has low desire for sex that hurts and another for sex when they are exhausted and another for sex when the kids might walk in and another for sex when they feel trapped in an emotionally draining relationship…You see where this is going.

It is rarely some generic “Sex” that we are talking about really. It is something specific for this person. Or multiple things. But once we know what they do not desire, then we can help them find a way to get excited about what they do desire.

Are you a clinician wanting to learn more about helping clients who present with low desire? Now you can take Melissa Fritchle’s webinar, Working with Sexual Desire Issues with Couples, online anytime, anywhere, for only $35. 1.5 CE hours through AAMFT. Find it here


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