Desire and the lack of it.
In attempting to understand our sexual selves we need to understand the nature of desire.
What is desire?
The basis of all desire is that most fundamental impulse to seek connection, whether this is a desire for sex or any other type of desire. While some may narcissistically love and enjoy themselves, no-one can desire themselves no matter how much they might want to.
All desire is a felt sense of longing for that which is “other” than us. If we already have it we cannot, desire it. We may enjoy owning it but we cannot desire it. Desire arises because of how we imagine we will feel within ourselves when we meet the object or our desire, whether that is another person, an event or an experience.
We might desire a glass of wine or a good meal – because we imagine how we will react when experiencing our tongue or taste buds interacting. We might long for contact with another person because of the emotions we experience when we are with them.
It is only through the experience of contrast, that is to say “I feel like this” and “You feel like that” that we can experience ourselves.
The stages of desire
We might say therefore that our desire for anything arises out of a desire for contact and from a yearning to feel the otherness of that contact. It is the space between us and the other which creates the desire, the longing to have contact with them or it. This is the first stage of the process of desire, that is, the experience of self through contrast with the other.
When we merge with the otherness, as it is possible to do in profound lovemaking, we cease to experience ourselves as unique individuals and we become one with the other. Our bodies move in rhythm, our breath synchronizes, our heart seem to beat as one. If we are lucky enough and in tune enough to orgasm together there may be a deep sense of melting into one another. This merging with the other is the second stage of desire.
So, on the one hand the nature of desire is to feel ourselves through the contrast with the otherness and on the other it is so that the felt otherness dissolves and we become one with the other.
This is the universal cycle – the rotation between separation and unity.
What Happens When There is Little or No Sexual Desire?
First a SEX Test.
- Sex is more work than play
- Touching always leads to intercourse
- Touching takes place only in the bedroom
- You no longer look forward to making love
- Sex doesn’t give you feelings of connection and sharing
- You never have sexual thoughts or fantasies about your spouse
- Sex is limited to a set time, like Saturday night or Sunday morning
- One of you is always the initiator and the other feels pressure
- You look back on premarital sex as the best time
- Sex has become mechanical and routine.
11 You have sex once or twice a month at most
( Barry & Emily McCarthy)
If you answered true to five plus statements, and /or true to 11. you possibly are in a low sex or no-sex relationship.
When sexuality is integral to the partnership, couples will generally be 15-20% more satisfied in their relationship.
However, when sexuality is dysfunctional or non-existent, sexuality assumes a very powerful role, impacting more than 50 – 70 % and the relationship suffers in decreased vitality and intimacy. Blaming and resentment build and the early positive feelings in a relationship are leached out.
Overcoming no-sex, low-sex relationships.
There are a myriad of factors leading to a no-sex or low-sex relationship. Sexual conflict can arise when one partner uses avoiding or withholding of sex as a weapon. Sometimes this is conscious, many times it is not.
Anger can involve a sexual issue (demand for oral sex, a revealed affair, conflict over birth control) but more frequently anger involves a relationship problem. Causes behind the anger might be excessive gambling, drinking, conflicts over spending, bringing up the kids, feeling taken advantage of etc.etc.. Increasing angry thoughts build on themselves with any attempts by The Other to bridge the emotional gap resulting in frustration, isolation and angry rebuffs. Emotional and sexual distance feed the viscous downward cycle.
Hidden agendas, fertility problems, conflict around frequency of intercourse and sexual dysfunction issues all can lead to low or no sexual desire.
It is therefore important to understand your patterns of behaviour, and to have a commitment to restoring intimacy and sexuality. It requires both of you as partners working together as an intimate team, whilst taking personal responsibility for your own fears, inhibitions and anxieties.
Couples willing to commit time and energy to breaking the sexual hiatus can again experience desire, again anticipating sexual encounters. They learn that being part of an intimate team creates and maintains desire, and that sex is more than intercourse and orgasm. When couples learn to be flexible, be open to varied sexual scenarios, be playful, erotic and sensual, they are much more likely to build a strong foundation for their overall relationship.