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Sex and Relationship Therapy

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11 Myths About Sexual Desire

Myths about sex often lead to confusion, frustration, and conflict. By thinking critically and dispelling common myths about sexual desire, we can reduce frustration and conflict.

Myth #1: Sexual Desire is Constant

The belief that sexual desire should stay the same regarding quantity and quality is harmful because it is not factual and can lead to feelings of resentment if we believe that statement to be true.  We believe that everyone else experiences sexual desire as constant so why shouldn’t our partner?  We feel slighted and betrayed.  We feel disappointed and angry because we think that our partner is choosing this path and that they don’t care about us.  However, sexual desire fluctuates for everyone, especially women.  Women’s sexual desire is affected by things such as stress, motherhood, conflict, and exhaustion.

Myth #2: Men Always Want Sex

Men are under incredible pressure to always want sex with whomever, whenever, and wherever.  They are expected to be ready and hard no matter what.  Even though men’s sexual desire is less impacted by external factors such as stress and tiredness, it is affected by a feeling of incompetency.  If they fear that they will not be able to perform as expected, they may lose interest in sex.

Myth #3: Low Desire Means Something Is Wrong

Low sexual desire is normal if there is increased stress or conflict.  A lot of people don’t want to have sex with someone angry, detached, or depressed.  It would be more concerning if people weren’t affected by these things.  The problem arises when your partner sees it as something personal and something you should bypass and gets angry and resentful.

Myth #4: Desire Should Be Spontaneous

About half the population has spontaneous desire (mostly men) but the other half have a responsive desire (mostly women).  Believing everyone should have a spontaneous nature to their desire just breeds resentment and confusion.  It leaves the person who is spontaneous confused and angry because they believe everyone should and does have a spontaneous desire.

Myth #5: Desire Decreases with Age

Sexual desire changes depending on what is happening in your life.  Aging is a real thing and does change a lot of what you want to do and how you feel about things.  The reason aging changes sexual desire is because you are finally at a place where you don’t care or there aren’t any consequences to being who you are and wanting what you want.  Sometimes, especially if the relationship is unsatisfying, that means sex. 

Myth #6: Desire is Only Physical

Sexual desire is motivated by many more things than just the physical appearance or the physical touch.  Sexual desire is motivated by intellect, excitement, expansion, harmony, kindness, joy, congruency, unavailability, danger, comfort, etc.  If you don’t understand this, you can’t understand why someone loses desire for you in a conflictual relationship and you become angry and ineffective in getting that person to desire you.

Myth #7: Desire is the Same for Everyone

Desire not only is very different for men than it is for women, but it is also different for people who are single vs married, insecure vs secure, stressed vs relaxed, anxious vs calm, tired vs rested, etc.

Myth #8: Desire is Only About Intercourse

The best thing you can do to make your sexual relationship more satisfying is to go beyond the penetrative/orgasmic framework.  The more you can have fun without this goal, the better lover you will be.  If you focus too much on penetrative/orgasmic sex, you can feel insecure and anxious whenever these things don’t happen which can then lead to your desire decreasing.  Also, for a lot of people, penetration and orgasm aren’t the most important thing in a sexual encounter but rather fun and connection.

Myth #9: Desire Can't Be Cultivated

Sexual desire is cultivated for people with responsive desire by harmony, rest, calmness, excitement, care, affection, emotional connection, and fun.

Myth #10: Desire Should Always Lead to Sex

If you believe that sexual desire should always lead to sex, you will stop your partner from doing many things that are affectionate or sensual like making out or fondling because they feel that if they are affectionate with you, it means that they have promised sex.  Hence, they will stop being affectionate or sensual unless they are sure they can have sex.  Women’s desire is often not sure of this until she is in the moment.  It’s a slow progression of things. 

Myth #11: Desire Can't Be Restored

The only time desire can’t be restored is when the person never desired their significant other or when the relationship is conflictual, or there is stress, or there is pressure to have sex, etc.