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Different Types of Sexual Desire

 Mismatched Sexual Drives 

A very common problem in relationships for many couples are their mismatched sexual drives or their differences in sexual desire.

This can be a difficult topic to approach and more often than not can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and even anxiety. Understanding that there are different kinds of desire can be a helpful starting point for a conversation about your sex life.

Different or mismatched Sexual desire and drive

Many Couples Face A Common Challenge In Their Relationships Due To Mismatched Sexual Drives Or Differences In Sexual Desire.

Spontaneous desire is what you might first think of when you think about desire at all, as it is often portrayed in the media as such. This desire seems to “just happen” without any outside influences. Another way to think of it is that the mental desire arrives before the physical arousal.


Responsive desire is the kind of desire that is a reaction to the initiation of some kind of sexual activity, meaning it does not appear out of thin air but is a response to arousal. One might engage in sexual activity before they feel turned on which results in them feeling desire. Many people experience this, despite what popular culture and media portrays, desire does not necessarily need to be present to lead to sex.


It has also been suggested that there is a continuum of desire, rather than a dichotomy. It is theorized that those with spontaneous desire may just have a lower threshold for sexual stimuli whereas those with a more responsive desire may have a high threshold for sexual stimuli (Meana 2010).

Many people can experience both spontaneous and/or responsive desire depending on the circumstances, partners, and even different times in their own lives.


So, keep in mind, that there is no right way to experience desire, both men and women (and everyone in between) can experience different kinds of desire and it can shift depending on what is going on in your life, although each person may lean into one more heavily.  


There are many different types of sexual desire. Sometimes it can be confusing to try to navigate the complexities and understand different types of desire, and the rewards and expectations we have from our romantic, intimate and sexual desires. Exploring our romantic desires can help us understand how we relate to ourselves and to people around us, especially in intimate relationships.


Meana, C. M. (2010). Elucidating women’s (hetero)sexual desire: Definitional challenges and content expansion. Journal of sex therapy (4th ed., pp. 416-441). New York: Guilford Press.


Taylor Tymchyshyn Registered Psychologist

And of course, coming into counselling and exploring your desires with your partner, can even help achieve more connection and closeness in the relationship!

Till next time,

signature of Jessica Blake


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