What Is Desire?


You can’t talk about sex without discussing desire. For the non-psych professional, desire is relative to wanting something, end of discussion. Desire, however, has many components aside from how to elicit it or heighten it. Why do we desire? Which came first the motive or the desire? How does desire enhance or detract from sex? And, the 64 million dollar question, are you desirable? All these questions are important when we are learning how to intensify our sex lives. In the quest to better the sex lives of the Tired Parent, CoupleDumb will give you an overview of desire, the what, the how’s and why’s.

Desire is a strong feeling of wanting or wishing. In the context of sex, desire is a wanting of sexual intimacy. The desire usually comes from a state of dissatisfaction. This is not to say that your sex life is unsatisfactory however, you just want more. It’s similar to being hungry. You may have eaten at some point but you want more. In fact, the more you have had sex, the more you want. So, one can say that sex is like eating potato chips, once is not enough!

We use hunger as a good comparison to desire because in sex, desire has a physiological response. Imagine the first time you rode a roller coaster. The feelings surging through your body were a bit overwhelming. You were excited and fearful if not slightly queasy, anticipating the jolts your body would take or the near death experience you anticipated. That anticipatory physiological response is the basis of sexual desire. We think of what we want and our body responds in anticipation. The desire response is exactly what you want before you have sex. Without desire, sex may take longer and is not satisfying.

Psychologically, desire is the most important part of the sexual response. Freud called the sexual desire libido. Libido is an individual’s sexual drive/energy. Our libido is affected by medical conditions, relationship issues and emotional disturbances. Hypersexuality is the increase of libido and sex and conversely hyposexuality denotes a marked decrease in both desire and the act. Most people find that during extremely emotional or stressful times, sex is the last thing on our minds. Whereas when things are stable, a normal sexual response varies from person to person and is dependent on their age and sexual outlet availability.

In a relationship, sexual desire ebbs and flows. When we become parents, our libido usually takes the biggest hit. The stress of caring for a child in combination with the financial, physical and emotional toll parenting takes on a person, it is a wonder that children have siblings at all. Some couples can transition from couples to parents and still retain their desire and maintain a healthy sexual energy between them. However, for the great majority of couples, it is after children that they experience a waning of libido or the stress of parenthood exacerbates an already incompatible sexual desire. In other words, if one of you was the initiator before with some enthusiasm from your partner, post children will show that the initiator will find more rejection than before and the one with variable enthusiasm towards sex will find it easier to say no. When we say no to sex, our partners do not hear ‘I’m tired’, they hear ‘I don’t want you’. Desire is not just a wanting of sex, it is a wanting of your partner. Choosing to sleep rather than to have sex may seem like a good idea at the time but it takes its toll on the self esteem of the rejected.

Desire can be induced or squelched. Desire is a choice. CoupleDumb invites you to choose for the betterment of your relationship and ultimately for your own well being. Sure, it is easier to get more sleep but we promise you will sleep better after good sex. If you care about the long-term effects of being tired on your marriage, ask yourself how often do you choose to sleep rather than have sex and do you ever initiate sex?


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