How to tap into your partner’s responsive desire

How to tap into your partner’s responsive desire

What if I told you that it’s possible for someone to want physical intimacy when they haven’t felt desire in a long time? This is because there are two types of desire, and one of them is hidden (responsive desire). Most people don’t know about the hidden kind, and they certainly don’t know how to access it.

The kind of desire we know about I call “proactive desire.” This is where sex is on your mind, you’re interested, you’re in the mood, you’d like to make this happen. This is what we think of as libido or sex drive. I think this is what we expect to feel. And when someone doesn’t…we assume something is wrong or they just don’t have sex drive.
But there’s another kind that I call “reactive desire.” Others have called it responsive desire. This is where someone isn’t thinking about sex, they aren’t in the mood, it could be the last thing on their mind. But if they got started, if they got what they need, maybe their body wakes up. Maybe they end up aroused. THEN they want sex.
Nothing is broken with this. Nothing is going wrong. This is a valid and common way people experience desire.
But it’s hidden! The engine is cold. This person is starting at zero.
To tap into this desire, you need to both create opportunities that bring it out AND move things out of the way that block it.
Reactive or responsive desire needs:
  • Opportunities – you have to start.
  • Willingness – to start and to switch gears. Your partner needs to be open to starting and to getting in the mood.
  • Input – they need to let you know where they want to start and what would feel good. They need to take an active role in figuring out what would feel good, what they would enjoy.
  • It probably needs a different on ramp – what works when the engine is already running may not be appealing at all when the engine is cold. You likely have to go slower and start with different things. This is unfamiliar territory for a lot of people. You need to explore, together, to see what works. And it’s not like it’s a recipe you can follow every time. You’ll need to communicate every time about what feels good and what feels right.
  • Flexibility – Someone who isn’t in the mood yet cannot know if they will end up there. Reactive desire shows up somewhere between 5% and 95% of the time. Not 100. It has to be ok, for both of you, if whatever you’re doing doesn’t end up in sexual desire or sex. This is what takes the risk out of it for them.
So what gets in the way? Anything that creates pressure or expectation. Reactive desire needs a big “maybe.” Maybe they’ll end up interested, but maybe not. That has to be okay. So being goal oriented or attached to an outcome will most likely make your partner unwilling to start or unable to relax enough to become interested. If they think they have to finish anything they start, they won’t show up unless they’re sure they can finish. That leads to a lot of no. And then, if they are experiencing things that make desire or pleasure difficult – life stresses, sexual dysfunction, changes in their bodies or sexual functioning, mental health concerns, grief, trauma, stresses…those can all make it difficult to be present, to focus on pleasure, and to end up in the mood. Visit my youtube channel for more!
Why won’t my partner have sex with me?

Why won’t my partner have sex with me?

What if I told you someone can go from zero libido to wanting sex again?

I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of couples with desire discrepancy. And often, the “lower desire partner” has little to no libido. Both people think that’s just the way it is.

And I don’t have to tell you that their desire matters. You don’t want them having sex with you as if they’re doing you a favor or checking a box. Both people have to want sex in order for it to be fulfilling.

The truth is that there are two kinds of sex drive, but only tend to know about one. Your partner probably has the other, hidden kind. The kind that needs to be nurtured and coaxed out. The kind shows up after you start, where they end up getting in the mood. But this kind of desire has to be treated differently. It moves slower, it needs the right on ramp, so it needs input from your partner, and it needs “maybe.”

So many couples treat sex like it’s all or nothing. Like if we start this, we need to finish. Like it has to lead to a certain act or outcome. Your partner likely won’t even start if they feel like they are committing to the “whole thing.” You won’t even get a chance to tap into their desire if they feel that kind of pressure.

It’s also true that they are probably up against real obstacles! Legitimate things that block their desire or affect their sexual functioning or pleasure. Think about the long list of things can affect people’s sexual interest: body image issues, depression and anxiety, work stress, relationship issues, trauma, grief, overwhelm, shame and inexperience, and pressure.

It’s crucial that you move as many obstacles out of the way as well as create space for that hidden desire.

So when it comes to making sex easy and fun again, you need a way to both want sex. I’ve got a video showing you that you can help your partner want sex again so it never feels like a chore and you can have a sex life that is truly fulfilling for both of you.

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