I received a few different versions of this question from my female readers:
“I think I might be asexual. Perhaps I did enjoy sex with my partner at some stage, and the truth is it’s not horribly bad – he’s actually making an effort to please me – but I’m just never in the mood. I’d rather do other things instead. And the more time passes in which we don’t have sex, the more pressure I feel to do it soon. He doesn’t say anything but I can tell…
…Sometimes I wish that he could just hug me without thrusting against me, or like, put his arm around me in bed without grabbing my boobs. I guess I can’t blame him if we aren’t having sex often enough. At the same time, I feel resentful that we can’t have a non-sexual interaction…
…Funny thing is, I don’t mind having sex once the decision has been made. But leading up to that, and getting to that point emotionally, is such a huge task. How can I become more sexual in my orientation?”
Interestingly enough, pretty much all the women who wrote a similar question to me, also added at some stage that they can orgasm very quickly when they’re alone.
Are You asexual?
According to this wiki website, an asexual person feels no sexual attraction.
If you never felt attraction to another human being, you are most probably asexual. There’s nothing wrong with it. Just let a potential partner know in advance that you are asexual. So they don’t have expectations to have sex with you like they would with a sexual person.
However, most women who wrote to me also mentioned that they have felt attraction previously. Either to the partner they’re currently with, or to a previous one.
And, most of them said that once they do start having sex, they enjoy it – at least to some degree.
If you have a similar experience, I can say with conviction that you are not asexual.
The question remains then: how come you are not interested in sex? Why is the only reason you have sex is for your partner’s desire?
Answer no. 1: Responsive Desire.
In her book Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski explains the difference between spontaneous desire and responsive desire. Spontaneous desire is what we commonly think desire “should” look like. It’s the type that pretty much comes by itself. Or, at least, by some arousal cue – such as the image of a sexy body for example. On the other hand, responsive desire arrises once you start feeling pleasure in your body. Say, after your partner started touching you in a very special way.
And even though we think desire equals spontaneous desire, it seems that responsive desire is quite common. For some men people – men and women – this is their main experience of desire: it only activates once their partner has started pleasuring them.
This means, that if you hardly ever feel “in the mood”, but once the sexual encounter has started you do feel desire or arousal, you are truly and utterly normal. Simply a case of someone with a strong tendency of responsive desire, that’s all.
And this means that you don’t actually need to be more sexual. What you do need, is to understand that this is completely normal. And then let your partner know that your desire is mostly responsive. If they are not convinced, let them read Come As You Are – or at least this short article by Emily Nagoski. I’m sure her party analogy would spark an interesting discussion between you and your partner. Your partner needs to be aware that your desire is activated by pleasure. And together you can make a plan that will be fun and enjoyable for you both.
Answer no. 2: Unfulfilling Sex.
Let’s be honest. Our society’s approach to sex is plain stupid. Pardon my French.
It is misguided, misleading, manipulative, and at times, let me add, disgusting.
As a result of our twisted upbringing, most of us carry a belief or two – potentially more – around sex that is doing us some damage. Some of these beliefs are conscious and some are not so conscious. But many of us are controlled by these beliefs and our sex lives suffer greatly.
One very dominant outcome of our society’s approach to sex is that we don’t really know what we want in bed. Or perhaps we feel shame by what we enjoy and we don’t dare to ask. Some of us have never experienced a truly satisfying sexual encounter. And having an ongoing fulfilling sex life with the same longterm partner is deemed impossible. So we think that if it’s not that bad, we should be thankful for it and learn to enjoy it.
Combine shame/guilt/embarrassment with a belief that something is wrong with you and voila! You have a recipe for a mediocre-or-less-than-mediocre sex life. No wonder you are not interested in it.
So. We need to figure out what we really enjoy (some people know, some people have no clue). On top of that, we need to let our partner know what we want. That’s a real mission impossible for so many people. And since it’s such a big task, and we don’t do it – our sex lives don’t become better. They have a tendency to dwindle and wilt…
If you haven’t gone through the free e-course that teaches you what satisfying sex is all about, now is as good a time as any. It will give you some insights about what makes sex really fulfilling with your longterm partner. Once you have a truly satisfying sex life, there’s a pretty good chance you will love to have sex on a regular basis.
Answer no. 3: Non-Sexual Touch
I can’t tell you how many women recoil by their man’s touch. For many women, a man’s touch is not expressing love or affection: it is a signal that he wants sex.
The problem is that in our twisted society (see previous paragraph), men are not allowed any human affection. With two exceptions: touching their own children. And sex.
And because men – like most human beings – seek affection, their only venue is by means of having sex. In other words, in order to get their totally-normal requirement of human affection, most men have been conditioned to seek sex.
A vicious cycle seems to develop: man wants affection –> man touches woman –> woman feels repelled –> woman wants less and less touch –> man wants more and more.
There’s a way to break the cycle though. Having lots of touch with well-defined boundaries. Both parties need to know that touch does not equate foreplay. That there’s time for touch that will not lead to sex and there’s time for sex. That means needing to have clear and open communication about the topic: when is sex? When is not sex?
If you want to want to have sex, do this:
- Establish if you’re asexual or not. If you are – don’t do a thing. Just inform your partner that sex is not something you are interested in. If he/she is bothered by it you could either decide to break up OR find a workaround. It’s unfair to demand of a sexual partner to not have sex only because you are asexual.
- If you are not asexual, it’s time you learn what you enjoy in bed. It’s not necessarily easy, I know. But it’s worth it. Can you imagine yourself having a truly satisfying sex life? If you can and you shrug your shoulders at the concept, perhaps you are asexual after all. However! If you can’t imagine it – it’s a good indicator that there’s some underlying fear or a subconscious belief that holds you back. You’ll have to invest some time in undoing those beliefs. And to develop the understanding that you can actually enjoy a thriving sex life.
- Enjoy sharing a lot of affectionate touch with your partner, touch that does not lead to sex. This can include cuddles, light kisses, massages, whatever you both enjoy.
- Develop the confidence to speak openly to your partner about your needs and wants. About sex. Each person has their own hang-ups, their own beliefs, and their own expectations. Learning to speak to your partner in a way that works optimally for both of you is imperative.
You can enjoy your sex life tremendously. It’s up to you to decide how important it is for you and if you want to make the investment in yourself. When sex is utterly fulfilling and satisfying, you will want to have sex. And wanting to want to have sex will not be an issue anymore.