Responsive Desire

    Many times here it has been mentioned that often women have responsive desire.  For those who would relate to this, what does it look like?  Do you have little or no desire for sex until activities begin?

    There are times when DW refuses to try and just says it’s not going to work for her this time.  I want TMB to be a place where she can relax without pressure, so at these times, PIV might be off the table and she takes care of me in other ways.  I want to make pleasure in TMB mutual as often as possible, and I wonder if at these times she might respond if she would be willing to try. I also don’t want to hassle her about it and be as loving as possible and realize that it can’t always be fireworks for her.  I’m thankful that her enjoyment has been building.  What does responsive desire look like?  

    California King Asked on January 19, 2020 in The Science of Sex .
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    5 Answer(s)

      @Tracker, I agree that hormones, health and heart (3 H’s) are key factors. It seems to me that education/learning is really important too. Without informed understanding of one another through education/learning at sites like this, or about one another within a marriage, the 3 H’s you mentioned might still leave one lacking.

      Over the years I have marveled at how many people have been helped by the things they learn here. But, one of their challenges always is, how do they help their spouse learn new things too?

      Under the stars Answered on January 20, 2020.

      “How do they help their spouse learn new things too?”

      This. A thousand times this. I try to explain how men feel loved and connected through sex, and I still get the response that I put too much emphasis on sex. I tell her I am lonely and need to feel pursued and she tells me to plan more dates. I try to explain responsive desire and she says she hates the advice from older women saying “just do it and your desire will catch up”.

      I’m sorry, I’m just yelling at windmills.

      on January 20, 2020.

      Many people don’t like learning – not even new things. (and that doesn’t make sense to some of us!) Some need to hurt enough to want to learn. Or must first see their need clearly enough to start learning. Some need to grow enough to be open to learning. Some need to come face to face with the stark reality of their situation before they are willing to put the effort into learning. And often, they need to change enough over time or through experiences to be open to learning. And if I may add one more, an “other” focus is needed to want to learn – especially how sex is to be a gift we share generously and selflessly with our spouse. Self absorption or living in their own bubble, can hinder this too.

      In our case, which was quit similar to what you are sharing, it took years. I prayed. Even when the two of us prayed together, with my hand on her, I would pray that we could enjoy all that God had planned for us and that she would be given sexual freedom to enjoy her sexuality to the fullest. (I usually did that on my own, but sometimes with her too.) I read and studied all I could so that I understood better both myself, her and married sexuality better. And little by little a few of the things I shared with her – in as nonthreatening or non-demanding ways  I could come up with – began to get through to her. These and other factors, including peri-menopause, that finally led to her awakening and a new chapter in our married life and our  marriage bed.

      on January 20, 2020.

      I think someone should make this question a thread of its own.

      on January 20, 2020.

      I can certainly type up the “how” Zelda and I got to where we are (i.e. a joint account, even if I do the majority of the commenting, we read and discuss quite a few things together). Might be of some help, though our situation is a bit unique and we started with a vibrant sex life that dwindled away over time, which is quite unlike those who never had an engaged and responsive DW.

      Can’t do this now (at work), but maybe later and would be nice if a new thread.


      on January 20, 2020.

      Go for it. I’m waiting….

      on January 20, 2020.

      In case someone didn’t see it, this is now brought up in the new thread “How do they help their spouse learn new things too?”


      on January 21, 2020.
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        I am one of those women who have responsive desire only. I wish someone had told me years ago. It would have saved us both years of heartache and each of us feeling bad, all the time. Me, because I didn’t want sex, DH because he always did, and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. The interesting thing is, many or most of, the time, I would tell him after sex, that we should do this more often. By the next day, no desire again.

        After reading on TMB, I realized I had a responsive desire, and my part was to just relax and let myself go and enjoy what I was feeling. I had squelched a lot of the arousal feelings for years.

        I think I’m safe to say that it works every time. Just a few touches from DH ignites the desire. I think I’m also safe in saying that I never want sex and I don’t even want to masturbate. I need DH to respond to!

        I rarely outright initiate. I may pester DH until he starts responding in a way, that turns me on. But I seldom have the actual desire to go have sex right now.

        Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on January 20, 2020.

        Thanks for the open, honest, and well-written explanation of your view as a responsive-desire spouse! Zelda and I were blown away when we encountered descriptions such as this one last summer, as sometimes they were verbatim things that Zelda had said. I just wish there were more descriptions like this one out there for people to read.


        on January 20, 2020.

        I agree with Scott, the openness and honesty here are very helpful to understanding.

        I had squelched a lot of the arousal feelings for years.

        This is key to the question.  An initial reaction to the the idea of sex can move things forward or shut things down.  What is that initial reaction?  What informs it?  I almost see this as a taking every thought captive type of moment.

        on January 20, 2020.
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          It can vary what it looks like.  There are the rarer times where there is sexual desire before starting, which makes the mental thing easier, but there will likely still be foreplay required. (This is often what women are looking for in order to say “yes”.)  But, there are times where I have zero desire, and probably what we could call “negative desire”,  where it may feel like too much and there’s a dread of it. The dread isn’t usually a personal thing against my husband, it’s more about the energy and time it will take. If I get to the uncommon place that if it feels like too much that I am to the point of tears at the thought, (and I am not a crier), I have started telling my husband I just can’t, and I might offer an alternative or give him the freedom to take care of himself. (In the beginning of my change, I just did it anyway, I did no kind of refusal.)

          For me, there is a certain thing my husband can do that will “neutralize” my thinking (a massage).  It often can move me from “negative to neutral” or maybe even “neutral to positive”.  Once I am there, I initiate the move to PIV and the responsive desire can kick in fairly quickly once we actually start our sexual activity.

          What I have found, is I need to have a willingness to try.  I need to keep my bad thoughts and attitude tethered and out of it.  I try to just relax and make it welcoming for my husband, no matter how I feel.  After that, my desire often kicks in and I enjoy, but there are times I am too distracted or too exhausted that it becomes obvious that desire isn’t going to kick in, and it really becomes about him, and we still had a form of connection.

          Under the stars Answered on January 19, 2020.

          I give DW a massage every time we come together for sexual connection. She craves it so I figure it’s one area where I can give. I know it helps her transition as well but I can get a notice that it’s not happening before and after a massage. She seems to tie it to the point of time in her cycle, but I have seen her enjoy sex during this time in her cycle several times before, even if it isn’t very common ( in the days leading up to her period ).

          on January 19, 2020.

          There is something to the cycle and hormones, but we can’t really use that as an excuse, men or women. Hormones aren’t an excuse for sin or wrong behavior, whether it’s a woman’s PMS or a man’s high or low testosterone. Keeping a healthy sexual life (even if actual intercourse is not possible) is about a right and willing heart.

          It’s really about the heart, but a proper balance of hormones might sure make living out that heart easier.

          on January 19, 2020.
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            A husband here. To echo what Seeking Change said, the heart has a big part to play when it comes to this kind of issue. My DW is a responsive desire type, and rarely if ever does she initiate love making. Because she knows sex is important to me, we schedule sex and most of the time when we begin she starts without really feeling any desire for PIV.  My DW loves our foreplay, which consists of cuddling, or me giving her a back massage. But in order for PIV sex to happen, she has to at some point use her vibrator to get herself ‘going’. She does get pleasure and orgasms from this (most of the time), but the main reason she has learned how to pleasure herself is because she knows that her having orgasms is important to my enjoyment of our marriage bed. The key factor is a willingness on the part of both spouses to understand each others  sexual needs and take whatever steps are necessary to arrive at a reasonable compromise.

            California King Answered on January 20, 2020.
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              I am uncertain whether I have what is considered responsive desire or not, but it seems like maybe responsive arousal. I can be absolutely mentally into the idea of having sex, very much want to engage, flirting back and forth, and yet have no tinglies whatsoever and if DH does not take enough time with foreplay (even if I am the initiator and aggressively so) I can find it difficult to reach a feeling of pleasurable arousal in my erogenous zones. They still need the attention, the touching, and I need the clear indications from him that he desires me for me to be able to go from mental desire to physical response.

              It hasn’t always been that way. There was a time when I would be aroused (with actual increased blood flow to the vulva and increased sensitivity) just from thinking about having sex or from flirting. Age? Declining fitness? Menopause? All of the above? Don’t know. But now I need him to practice some seduction.

              Under the stars Answered on January 23, 2020.
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