Better terminology for desire: spontaneous or responsive

It’s common to talk about our desire as either “higher” or “lower.” And it’s good to know how you relate to your partner. Are you the partner with higher desire or lower?

And also know that desire is all relative. Maybe both you and your partner are “high” desire, one of you is just “high-ER” than the other.

Or conversely, maybe you are both on the low end of the spectrum.

So are you comparing yourself to your partner, or to the rest of the world and what is “normal?”

Let me just tell you that EVERYTHING is normal.

But words that are even more useful than “higher” and “lower” are spontaneous and responsive.

Lest you think I am all smart, I got this from Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. She is the smart one!

Spontaneous desire is when you just naturally and without trigger, feel desire for sex. Generally speaking, these are the “higher” desire spouses out there.

Responsive desire is when you feel desire only after something explicitly erotic is happening (like your partner initiating sex). Usually this is what we think of as “lower” desire partners.

Just keep in mind that every brain functions uniquely. Whether you are spontaneous desire or responsive desire is just a neutral circumstance. It is neither good or bad until you have an opinion about it.

Our culture would have us believe that having spontaneous desire is better somehow. But who made that rule up? (Emily talks about how this is a leftover artifact of a patriarchal society.)

The reason I think these words are more useful is that in our minds when we use words like ‘higher’ and ‘lower,’ it is difficult to not associate that with ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ High and low is just a visual we often use to connote better and worse. Like the idea of a totem pole. The faces at the top were more powerful.

But when we use ‘spontaneous’ and ‘responsive’ this doesn’t happen. There is no good or bad, it’s just how your brain responds.

Emily makes this point, and I completely agree with her: How you think about your sexual desire is more important that what your sexual desire actually is.

So what category do you fall under? How do you feel about that?

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PS. Yesterday started my 30 days of blog posts. If there is a question or topic you would like to see addressed, please comment or email me. And as always, I would love it if you shared my posts with anyone you think could benefit from them. Or use them as a conversation starter with your spouse.

You are enough.

You are enough. You are not broken. Nothing has gone wrong.

These are words I have to keep believing for both myself and for my clients.

In Emily Nagoski’s book Come As You Are, she says

[W]hat most of us want is to feel normal. (In fact, one of the normal things about your sexuality is to worry sometimes about whether you’re normal. Yes, being worried about being normal is… normal.)

page 326

Nogoski goes on to say that when we want to be normal, what we really want is to belong. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. Not belonging was very dangerous for early humans. This innate desire to belong keeps us alive.

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Last week I faced this desire in myself:

I’ve been wanting to clear up my money mindset. I asked my coach to help me move from scarcity thinking about money to abundance thinking about money. Twice. Both times, the coaching conversation went to my relationship with my husband.

I’ll admit I was a little frustrated at first. But then I got curious with myself. Why was this happening? What was really going on?

After much digging and reflection and tears, I made this realization: money and my marriage both make me confront whether I truly am enough or not.

There was this moment in my self-coaching that I thought “If he doesn’t think the same way I do, then I am all alone. And if I’m all alone, then nobody wants to be around me, and I am not enough.”

Now, logically, I know this doesn’t make sense. But it’s what my brain was telling me.

I realized that my scarcity thinking with money, (there’s never enough, you have to work hard for it, there is only a fixed amount, etc) stems from my scarcity thinking about myself.

And in that moment, even though I have done so much work on myself and my confidence, I recognized I still have so far to go.

This experience reminded me of a recent consultation call with a new client. I was explaining what coaching would look like and I had this impression to tell her:

You are enough. You are not broken. Nothing has gone wrong.

And she burst into tears. Because that is what we all want to hear.

So that is my message to you today also. You are enough. You are not broken. Nothing has gone wrong.