“Everyone’s sexual desire is responsive and context dependent. It just feels more spontaneous for some and more responsive for others, because even though we’re all made of the same parts, the different organizations of those parts result in different experiences.—Emily Nagoski

responsive desire

You’ve probably heard about spontaneous desire versus responsive desire. There are tons of statistics and studies out there on the topic. 

But we’d wager that everyone has responsive desire—to an extent. 

We all need something to get us in the mood for sex. 

For some, it’s as simple as a thought that turns you on. And then, boom! You’re ready for sex. 

Others need a longer window for build-up. But it doesn’t mean you don’t also enjoy sex. 

So, instead of playing tug-of-war with your spouse, what if you expanded your mindset about what desire really looks like? 

Movies have conditioned many couples to expect sex to always just happen. 

But unlike a film set, there’s no makeup artist, director, or crew in your marriage. There’s just the two of you. 

That means you’ll have to be just as intentional about sex as you are about everything else. 

However, there’s another challenge you might not have considered: You’re fighting the wrong battle.

Among the ONE Family, 90% of people say they’ve had a great sexual encounter with their spouse, even when they didn’t initially feel like having sex. 

Don’t confuse responsive desire with low desire. 

If low desire really is the challenge in your marriage, there are a variety of resources to help you address it. (Check out Episode 687 for that conversation.) 

But if you and your spouse both enjoy sex, then the culprit probably isn’t low desire—it’s responsive desire! 

In that case, all you might need is a jumpstart. 

Talk with your spouse about what activates desire for them. 

It could be… 

  • Touches in a particular area
  • Reading a love note from you
  • Hearing you moan
  • Seeing you in a specific piece of clothing
  • Getting a sexy text
  • Taking your time together during foreplay

In most cases, this doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war about desire or a battle about who wants sex the most. 

Instead, it’s a conversation about what stimuli get the two of you in the mood to be sexually intimate. 

And once you have those answers, you can make a game plan that actually works! (By the way, the Intimacy Lifestyle Planner can help you ask the right questions and get sex on the calendar.)

Of course, this is an ongoing conversation. As you age, your response to stimuli will change, too. 

Ultimately, extraordinary couples keep an open line of communication about what gets them aroused so they can work together to have an incredible sex life. 


Come As You Are

687: Low Desire High Desire Tug of War

Intimacy Lifestyle Planner

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