Women’s sexual desire can seem like a mystery.
One minute it’s here and the next it isn’t. And you have no idea where it went.
When you first get together, you can’t keep your hands off each other.
You can’t wait to see each other and whole mornings are whiled away dissolving into your love and passion.
You feel like it will last forever. But slowly, things change.
Your sexual encounters become less frequent… and not quite as passionate. You realise it’s been a week since you even thought about it.
You might wonder if it’s because you’re tired – or just really busy, but the truth is you’re not really sure what it is.
You can feel confused and your partner can feel frustrated.
It’s common for couples to experience tension as a result.
I often hear women and their partners wanting more desire – and being completely unsure of how to get it.
Here are 5 Truths of women’s sexual desire that anyone in a relationship should know:
1. It’s normal for libido to fade
Desire peaks early in a relationship due to a chemical cocktail of hormones that we experience in a new relationship. This is known as ‘Limerence’ or the ‘honeymoon phase’.
This phase of feeling really ‘in love’ with high sexual desire lasts an average of 6 months to 3 years, after which it begins to fade.
Couples will often notice sexual desire falling at around 18 months to 2 years as the honeymoon ends and the ‘reality’ of life kicks in.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not still deeply in love or don’t care for your partner.
It just means your relationship is entering a new phase.
2. Desire is more likely to be responsive than spontaneous
We’re sold a myth that desire is spontaneous and should just happen. But it’s just not true – especially for women in long term relationships.
Sexual desire becomes responsive.
This means we don’t need to wait for sexual desire to arise to engage sexually with our partner. We can be intimate and then have sexual desire arise in response to our kissing, touching or flirting.
You can engage in sensual, intimate play with your lover – without expectation of where it will lead.
You might be surprised to find that desire arises once you begin. Handsome man giving kiss in his girlfriend's forehead
3. Women’s desire is contextual
Women’s sexual desire is contextual. That means what’s happening outside the bedroom influences our desire too.
This is where the state of your relationship and what’s going on around you becomes important.
Stress and relationship tension, for example, usually have a negative impact on desire.
But reconnecting with your partner and taking time out for just the two of you can help you feel in the mood more often.
4. Sexual desire can be cultivated
Although it’s natural for sexual desire to fade, with intention we can cultivate – and increase – our desire.
Sexual desire can be cultivated by:
Reconnecting with your partner + making sex an important part of your loving connection
Feeling more comfortable + confident with sex
Focussing on sensual pleasure
Discovering new ways of enjoying sex with your lover
Cultivating a sexual state of mind, through practices such as Tantra Yoga
This is the most common challenge I help with as a Couples Therapist and Sexologist. It’s beautiful to see couples rediscover their connection, intimacy + desire.
5. Foreplay is non-negotiable
Foreplay is important to a woman’s desire for a number of reasons. Firstly because of the responsive nature of desire that I mentioned earlier.
It’s also important because women’s bodies take 15-20 minutes of foreplay to fully prepare for sex.
If we’re engaging in intercourse with less than 15 minutes of foreplay, we’re increasing our chance of feeling pain and decreasing our likelihood of enjoyment. Lack of orgasm or the experience of pain create a negative feedback loop, meaning we’re less likely to feel like sex in future.
But if we are spending adequate time in foreplay and increasing our enjoyment, we create a positive feedback loop and we’re more likely to be open to sexual play in future.
Even if you’re tired and feel like you just don’t have time, it’s worthwhile spending time in foreplay actives like massage, genital touching and oral sex so you enjoy yourself more.
Understanding more about desire and how to cultivate it can create more understanding and connection between you and your beloved.
While it is normal for sexual desire to fall, you can cultivate desire and continue to have an enjoyable, fulfilling, satisfying sex life.