Why do people have different desires and what kinds of desire approaches are there?
I think we can all quickly agree that everyone's qualities, experiences, and personality traits are completely different and individual - fortunately, one can add, anything else would most likely be pretty boring.
But how is it that in many people's minds there is an ideal conception of "desire for sex", according to which both sex or relationship partners ideally have the same amount, the same frequency and the same intensity of desire to have sex with each other?
This narrative fits well with a number of other unrealistic notions about sex: that it always "just" works, that the pleasure comes "out of nowhere," and that nothing in sexuality can be changed. In this imagined sex world, everything always runs smoothly, needs seem to be identical - and if things don't work out, well, unfortunately there's no explanation for that either, but in the end only the feeling of being inadequate.
Stop this nonsense! What I've already exaggerated here, most people can probably refute from their own experience: In a relationship, sexual desire is never quite the same - there is always one person who shows more of it, while the other person shows "less" overall in comparison. Seems to be interested. Interesting here:
The ratio does not always have to remain the same and can also reverse depending on the phase of life and desire. And what now means "a lot" or "a little" is never fixed either: In one relationship, the person with the weekly desire for sex may be the one who "want a lot" - in another relationship with another counterpart, she may also be the "less-wanting" person.
Therapist David Schnarch goes even one step further and brings us to the following thought: The person with the less strong sexual desire has quite some power over the lived sexuality. Because in the end she often "decides" whether it comes to sex - or not.
Now is that a bad thing? No! It's just the reality that two people in a relationship don't always want the same thing, are different, and have different needs. This begins in everyday life and continues in all areas of relationship formation: including sexuality.
It's exciting to take a look at how this "different pleasure" actually comes about. Pleasure as part of sexuality is something we've learned: from birth on, we link sensory and tactile experiences with certain feelings.
(Self) touching is part of it, and if something feels pleasant, tingly and pleasurable, it is usually repeated if you have the opportunity.
Even children touch each other all over the body, including their own genitals, and thus develop very individual "sense-connections" and desire links. Later in masturbation, for one person it can mean that rubbing the vulva against something and moving the pelvis feels pleasurable - for the other it takes a certain pressure with the fingers and tension in the lower body to feel arousal. These different pleasure modes - and there are many more ways to satisfy yourself! - therefore result from a very own, individual learning and acquisition process. And in this process, it is also formed what kind of pleasure accesses a person has gotten to know and established for himself so far.
Pleasure approaches can work in very different ways. And each of these "springboards to pleasure" is justified - but it can be exciting to think about: What do I use to get pleasure? Do I need something specific for this and how easy or difficult is it for me to get exactly that when needed and to consciously control it to a certain extent?
There are very different springboards - and some are much more flexible than others. A classic that I often hear in my practice is: I have to be in a certain "mood" in which I feel very close to my partner! But there is also the opposite: "For me it has to be completely being exciting when we could get caught or, for example, after an argument or emotional conversation, what comes to me the most is "lust".
It is undisputed that strong emotions – be it love or excitement – do a lot to us and our bodies. This kind of "deep feeling sex" can be wonderful, amazing, connecting or liberating and intense - so enjoy it!
But if this type of lust access is the only one, a "must-have" so to speak - then it can also become difficult at times. Because in a relationship everything is not always pink and red, the feeling of deep closeness is not around the clock there, just as little as quarreling and excitement (even if there are certainly some exceptions to this point - everyone has to decide for themselves how much of it is healthy and tolerable). That means for pleasure: What this means for pleasure is that I have to wait for very specific feelings or try to create them so that sex is possible. That makes me dependent on them - and I have less influence on pleasure.
But there is also a more direct way to pleasure. Sometimes we forget where and with what we actually generate our pleasure and arousal besides the head: With the body! Big advantage here: We always have our body with us and with our body we can do and learn a lot that makes us happy. And when we have greater access to our "body tools", ie. know how we can exert influence ourselves - then we can also control our desire a bit more consciously. Not a bad extension, then!
In part 2 of my blog post, I'll tell you what it can look like in concrete terms and what it means to consciously use your "body tools" in order to have greater decision-making power over your own desire!
This article was written in cooperation with the sex educator Anna Dillinger, more info about her can be found on her website