Laurie Mintz Ph.D.

Stress and Sex

Don’t Wait for Desire: Reverse the Equation

Don’t wait to be horny to have sex. Instead, have sex to get horny!

Posted Apr 29, 2013

There is one piece of advice, steeped in scientific evidence, which has the potential to improve countless sex lives. This advice is most relevant for women in long-term committed relationships. The advice:

If you wait until you feel horny to have sex, you may never have sex again! So, don’t wait to feel horny to engage in a sexual encounter. Instead, put it on your schedule and allow the sexual encounter itself to get you horny.

This advice goes against everything we are taught. We are taught that the sexual response cycle is linear, starting with sexual desire. These feelings of desire cause us to seek out sex. The sex gets us aroused. If we are lucky, we have an orgasm. We then undergo a resolution or rest phase. In other words, the cycle is one of desire, arousal, orgasm, resolution. Rinse, lather and repeat.

However, this linear model doesn’t’ fit for most women. As explained in a prior blog (”If It’s Fun, It’s Not Duty Sex”), research tells us that a majority of women in long-term relationships stop feeling spontaneously horny. Indeed, according to one oft-cited scientific paper on the topic, this happens for a great percentage of women as soon as one or two years into a long-term relationship and it often coincides with the fatigue and multiple demands associated with having children. The problem is that most women don’t know this loss of desire is to-be-expected, and thus end up feeling that something is wrong with them. When their feelings of desire diminish or disappear, some women stop having sex altogether. Others continue to have sex for reasons other than desire, and end up enjoying it once it is underway. Oftentimes, these women still berate themselves and refer to this as duty sex. It’s not. On point with the title of my prior blog, if it’s fun, it’s not duty sex. And, on point with the title of this blog: Don’t Wait for Desire.

What to do instead? Decide your ideal frequency with your partner and schedule sexual encounters accordingly. In other words, as suggested in another of my Psychology Today blogs, have a Tryst— a planned meeting between lovers—with your partner.

You can get your mind and body ready for this Tryst, and increase its chances of being fabulously enjoyable, in a variety of ways including:

  • Think of sex during the day leading up to the Tryst; in other words, fantasize.
  • Make sure there are few distractions during Tryst time.
  • Schedule your Tryst at a time you aren’t likely to be exhausted. For many women, night time isn’t the right time.

All of these tips, and more, can be found in A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex, which research shows increases desire, satisfaction, and arousal in the women who read it. Another idea, not in the book, is to insert some lubricant into your vagina immediately preceding your Tryst. You can use the vaginal renewal massage wand and a great lubricant like Liquid Silk (both of which are recommended as part of Ellen Barnard’s Vaginal Renewal Program for women struggling with vaginal dryness, which I discussed in a prior blog as another sexual issue women don't often talk  about). While I have yet to conduct a scientific experiment on this (although I am planning one), here is why I believe this works. For many women, the feeling of being horny includes vaginal lubrication. So, putting some lubrication into one’s vagina may spark the old, longed-for feelings of desire. I’d love to hear comments from readers who try this.

Still, even if this last suggestion doesn’t work for you, I hope the main point will and that is: Don’t wait to be horny to have sex. Instead, have sex to get horny. Reverse the long-held equation; it doesn’t fit for most women in long-term relationships.

Many women’s feet get bigger after pregnancy, and they have to find a new shoe size. The same is true of sexual desire; most women’s levels of desire diminish as they age, as they have children, and as a relationship progresses.

Just as it isn’t comfortable to put on the wrong size shoes, it isn’t going to work to rely on a model of desire that no longer fits your current life stage.

Don’t wait to be horny to have sex. Instead, have sex to get horny!

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