Sometimes Desire doesn't come before Arousal

I love Dan Savage. I adore him. So when I got my iPhone and discovered I could download his podcasts, I was over the moon. I spent an entire drive to and from Calgary listening to SavageLove podcasts. Awesome! He had one question that I wanted to call in and respond to though. A woman was calling because she was taking meds for a serious problem with depression and found that it had destroyed her sex drive. This is a pretty common problem for people who takes SSRI's like Paxil and other drugs in that family. I've lived through this myself and suffered a severe lack of sex drive due to other circumstances too.

Dan and the doctor who was his guest were very sympathetic to her and gave her great advice about dealing with the drugs. But they didn't deal with the sex drive issue. No one ever does. They just look at whether you can reduce or change the drugs and hope for some relief. But often, that doesn't change anything. And for many people, getting off the drugs completely is not an option. So what do you do?

Here's something that I have discovered that perhaps many people know but no one ever talks about. Desire doesn't always precede arousal. We are taught that the way people have sex is that they feel desire (ie. something turns them on), then excitement and sensation starts (ie. they start getting down to it), and then the excitement builds and they have an orgasm. Even those who criticized Master's and Johnson's sexual response model still concluded that sex usually start with desire. But actually, it doesn't have to.

Sometimes sex starts with willingness instead of desire. Sometimes it starts with just wanting to give a partner something or just wanting to want to have sex. Then, when you get going and get hands and lips, fingers and tongues involved, the desire kicks in. Our bodies are wonderful and they will usually respond no matter where our head is at. So if you want to do it, let your body take the lead. Quite often, it will get you there.

We're so conditioned through everything we see and hear to think that great sex starts with being so turned on you just have to have it. You know, those movie scenes of people ripping each others clothes off in elevators? Well, it would be nice if we could all have elevator clothes-ripping sex - but for a lot of us, it's not like that. And if you're not feeling like ripping your partner's clothes off, it doesn't mean you're not going to enjoy sex. It starts will being interested and willing and then allowing yourself to get into it once it's started. It's like the jump-rope games you used to play as a kid. You may not be the one that starts turning to the rope, but once it gets going, you can jump in and really enjoy the game!

Women are not supposed to do this. Goddess-bless all the wonderful feminists that fought for us to have the right to say no to sex when we didn't want it.....but I think it's gone too far the other way. Now we think that if we are not 100% into it, if the desire isn't totally there, we shouldn't say yes - or that if we do it's bad or inferior sex. It really doesn't have to be. You can say yes for all kinds of reasons, not just because you're so turned on you can't help yourself. And if the willingness is there, it could end up being great sex. If you are suffering from a total lack of sex drive, this may be exactly what you need to do in order to have any satisfying sex at all. It sucks that you never feel horny anymore. But you don't have to be horny to have a good time. It just takes a change in the mindset.