Sexual desire, types and forms of desire –

We usually receive in consultation with people worried about having a low desire. But what is really having a low desire? If we have in mind the representation of the desire that we see in movies or the desire that we had at the beginning of the relationship, it is likely that we think that our desire has lowered. But what happens many times is that the way in which that desire begins has changed. Also, not everyone feels desire in the same way.

There is a cliché that women have lower desire than men and much has been said about hypoactive desire in women, even since the pathologization of the absence of desire. But you have to look at things a little more closely to understand that this is nothing more than that, clichés. Rosemary Basson is a researcher who has studied the differences in desire between men and women. In the early 2000s he criticized that the study of desire until then had been very focused on the response of men, without taking into account that women can have different ways of wanting.

As a result of his research, Basson found at least two different types of desire. He called them type 1 desire and type 2 desire. Type 1 desire is the spontaneous desire that is usually felt at the beginning of starting to relate to someone, it is a very characteristic desire of the infatuation phase. This desire leads to the search for contact and erotic stimulation. On the other hand, type 2 desire is a desire that begins in response to stimulation and contact, for example as a result of caressing each other with our partner. It would be something like the wish of “Sunday, blanket and movie” or of “I did not go with this in mind but if we put ourselves I cheer up.” It is also a desire associated with feeling an emotional connection with the partner, for example, after having an interesting conversation or feeling affectionate care.

Basson in his studies found a tendency of men to desire type 1 regardless of the time of the relationship; and in women, a tendency to type 1 desire in the infatuation phase (which lasts from months to a couple of years of relationship) and to type 2 desire after having been in a relationship for some time. There is no type of desire better than another, neither greater nor less, but they are different in the way in which they are initiated. Type 2 desire can be as high as type 1. But it is common to think that if it is not spontaneous, it is that there is no desire, when it does not have to be that way.

This has to do with the fact that what we understand by DESIRE is the desire that we see represented in movies and series, which are mostly directed by men and therefore is more like the type 1 desire that they usually feel. That overwhelming and uncontrollable desire in both people that we see in the movies, can occur at the beginning of some relationships but it is not usual for it to be maintained in real life after a few years. The point is, what we see in the media shapes our idea of ​​what “sexuality is supposed to be.” And if our way of wishing does not resemble this mental representation that we have, we feel inadequate and we worry about not reaching some unrealistic standards.

We don’t always want the same thing, or in the same way

That is why it is important to know that the desire in men and women may not occur in the same way, especially if the relationship is long-term. Usually the way men desire has been taken as a reference and everything that is not that has been considered hypoactive desire. But it is unrealistic to use the same yardstick for everyone because there is no standard way of wishing. We are very internalized that desire has to arise spontaneously, as in the movies, and if not, many times it is considered that there is no desire. But the desire is just as valid whether it arises or if we look for it and work with it with care.

The reality is that the differences between men and women that Basson raises are tendencies and generalizations, and that both men and women will experience both types of desire at different times. Desire is not something static, but it changes with each person, with the relational moment and there are many things that influence it. There are no better or worse ways to feel desire. And especially when we’ve been in a relationship for a while, desire may not flip like a switch. That is why self-knowledge and communication as a couple is important, to know what are the best ways to ignite and maintain the desire. Let’s give ourselves permission, space and time to explore the different ways in which desire can arise.


The female sexual response: a different model. Basson, R. 2000.

Photo by Dallas Reedy on Unsplash

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Sexual desire, types and forms of desire –

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