Many people come into sex therapy because they are struggling to find sexual desire in their lives. Many also struggle with finding motivation to take steps to discover, or rediscover what increased sexual desire is in their own lives. They see the sexual world around them, and see how other people connect. They know that they want to connect through sex, but they don’t know how to enhance this part of who they are. This can lead to feelings of being frustrated and even stuck. Although it may seem like this could motivate people to change, it often makes this problem worse.
An issue with low sexual desire can be the ultimate sense of incongruence. When asked about it, many will say that they do want to be more sexual, and experience more desire. Most are being truthful when they say this. On the other hand, there isn’t much desire to take the smaller steps needed in order to create the change. These are forces within people, which are pulling in two different directions. One energy pulls in the way of desire. Pulling in another direction is energy associated with an overwhelming reality, which is that the desire isn’t there.
These opposing forces can increase anxiety, which can make it even more difficult for people to engage in a process of change. Rather than focus on what can be implemented to help, those with hyposexual desire may begin focusing on what they aren’t doing. This can lead to self-criticism and shame, which can further lower motivation.
The practice of freedom is a critical aspect to treating this problem. Freedom from judgment. Freedom from distant expectations. Instead, people can focus on small successes and practicing non-judgment. They can identify these victories, and determine meaning in them.
It’s important to stress that this is a practice. It’s not something that can be changed in a moment. Holding a perspective about sex is almost counter-intuitive to how we are wired. Dealing with a problem with hyposexual desire is no different. Men can feel emasculated. Women can feel like they are letting their partners down, and that they should feel differently than how they feel. It can leave many feel isolated, left out and unlovable. All of these elements can increase pressure.
Many times, people with this problem have partners who are frustrated, stressed out, and resentful. They can believe that they are with someone who isn’t attracted to them, or even worse, doesn’t love them. People are often taught that sex should be easy. When it doesn’t work that way, people are left with assumptions that it must mean the opposite.
Identifying what you can do as a partnership is important. Rather than focusing on social constructs, it’s important to identify sexual successes in the situation that you’re in. This can look and feel differently, in every relationship.
This isn’t to say that you can’t have desires, dreams, or wishes. These things are important to communicate as well. Instead, I’m suggesting that low sexual desire often has more to do with rigid expectations, more than feelings of safety, comfort, and freedom to explore. In other words, in dealing with this problem, your goal is to open up a felt space from within, but from the outside as well.
Michael J. Salas is a counselor in Dallas, Texas who specializes in relationships and sexuality. Read more about his specialties and counseling perspectives at vantagepointdallascounseling.com.