Not feeling desire

One part of our sex-obsessed culture is the assumption that all adults should feel sexual desire.

Certainly people in relationships are expected to want to have sex with each other frequently and it can be difficult if their levels of desire don’t match up. First of all it is important to remember that sexual feelings ebb and flow over time and it perfectly common to have periods of lower and higher desire, including times of no desire.

If you don’t feel desire over a long period of time it is worth asking yourself whether this really bothers you. Remember that desire is on a spectrum and some people feel lots whilst some feel very little. There are groups of people who decide, for religious and other reasons, to be celibate and not to have sex, there are also people who consider that they just don’t want sex and call themselves ‘asexual’. Some asexual people may have sex (alone or with others) despite not feeling sexual attraction, many do not. Some have romantic relationships which aren’t sexual, whilst others don’t feel romantic attraction either. Visit www.asexuality.org to find out more.

However, if you are not feeling desire and wish that you did then sex therapy could help you to figure out what is going on and to move forward. It is worth considering whether other things in your life might be behind it. Did anything else change around the time you lost the desire? For example, many women find that desire changes after having a baby or menopause. Sometimes hormonal changes can be addressed with medical treatments whilst therapy can focus on the emotional impact of life changes.

If your desire has generally been quite low and you wish it was not, then it may be that early messages you received about sex have made it difficult for you to feel positive about it. Many people still learn that sex is a dirty or shameful thing. Think about what you learnt from family and friends and the media about sex. Do you agree with all those ideas now? Perhaps your early sexual experiences were negative or even abusive. Counselling can be a good place to bring this out in the open and to begin to learn a new, more empowering and positive, way of seeing sex.

Whatever the reasons for your low desire, if you want to change it, it is useful to figure out what you enjoy to help you to tune in to what you really like and to think about ways of fulfilling those desires.

Also check out the sex tips, elsewhere on the website, which are useful more generally.