Am I Asexual or do I have Low Desire?
This question is one I hear quite regularly when talking to people from sex-negative Christian backgounds. Ultimately, the only person who can answer this question, is the person asking it, but in this video I offer a few ideas for how to explore the question. The first thing I offer is a definition of asexuality from asexual.org: "An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way." Asexuality is an innate aspect of one's sexuality. It's not something that can be changed. Asexual individuals my still desire romantic relationships, may have high or low libido and have sex to fulfill their desires for sexual pleasure, they still experience physical attraction and may also identify as gay, straight, bi, etc. Asexual individuals may also still have sex for other reasons: having biological children, feeling emotionally close to a romantic partner etc. They just don't experience sexual attraction. Low sexual desire is not something innate and is in the eye of the beholder. There isn't a "normal" amount of sexual desire for a person to have. You could desire sex once a decade or multiple times a day and it's still a "normal" amount to desire sex. What determines if you experience low sexual desire is if you wish you have more desire than you do. Low sexual desire has many causes. Among the most common ones are:
Stress. Our bodies get turned on best when we're relaxed. Which means, if your mind is preoccupied with taking care of kids, or a global pandemic, or a crazy political climate, or a loved one who's sick, or feeling overwhelmed at work, it's going to be hard to get turned on. It's always a good idea to do something centering and relaxing before sex with yourself or a partner(s). Meditation, sipping tea, taking a bath, exchanging massages are all great options.
Being taught from a young age to suppress sexual desire. Here's the most common reason for people raised in sex-negative environments. The largest sex organ in the body is the brain. Meaning your conscious and unconscious thoughts hold a lot of power over your sexual desire and turn on. If you were told you either don't have desire because you're a woman or you shouldn't have desire because it's sinful these thoughts can lead you to actually not have desire. What's tricky is that even if you've stopped having those thoughts, the physical impact of those thoughts may also remain. Which means, you've got to do the work to re-embrace your body and its pleasure. This is where sex coaching can be immensely helpful and even if you've done loads of therapy, if you haven't done the physical work of touching your body to experience pleasure, there's a missing piece.
Relationship concerns. Going back to the idea that the brain is the largest sex organ... if you're upset with your partner(s) it's going to be much more challenging to feel excited about being intimate with them. Sometimes these concerns are easy to identify, other times they can be far more subtle. Either way, its a good idea to consider: Am I upset with my partner for sometime small or large?
Previous history of not so great sex. If you've had a history of having less than delicious sex with someone, especially if you're married and this has been a problem for years, there's no way your body's going to want to get in the mood. Our bodies remember less than satisfying experiences and don't want to go down those paths again. Learning both what your body desires and how to communicate that with your partner are essential for developing more desire. (And, yes, sex coaching can help with this!)
A final note: Many women believe they don't have sexual desire because they're not aware of the two kinds of desire people experience: Spontaneous and Responsive. Spontaneous desire is what most of us are used to seeing in movies, pornography etc. Spontaneous desire is where we desire sex and then we go seek it out. The kind of "rip your clothes off in the hallway because we can't wait to get to the bedroom" kind of desire. This isn't the only kind of sexual desire out there... and especially if you've either been told to turn off this kind of desire or if you're in a long-term relationship, this kind of desire may rarely or never be experienced. Lucky for you, there's another kind of desire: Responsive desire. Responsive desire is when an individual experiences arousal before they experience desire for sex. What this means, is that a person needs to start to make out with someone, or be touched in a pleasurable way before their body and mind starts to say: oh I want sex! This is super common. And if this is your desire style it can be a good idea to plan to make out with your partner or touch yourself for 15-20 minutes before deciding if today's a good day for solo or partner sex. As always let me know what your biggest takeaway from this blog/vlog was in the comments. And if you want some extra support feel free to book a complementary discovery call to learn more about one on one coaching.