This is probably one of the most common questions I get in my work.

Couples are frustrated with the loss of desire on either one or both people’s ends. What so confusing about it is that we think there should just be an underlying desire to have sex. We often think it’s just biological. Right? It’s like “well we have all the parts and we’re both willing and able, so why isn’t it happening?”

This is where most people don’t understand desire to have sex. Desire is far more than just biological. And it’s even more than just wanting to want to have sex. (Which is often what I hear from people, “I want to want sex, but it’s just not there!”).

Desire is about an interpersonal communication. It sends the messages back and forth that both are desirable people. Also known as “chemistry.”

Desire is about connection. It shows that two people are together and bonded through physical contact, smell, touch, warmth, etc.

Desire gives meaning. It’s choosing each other and communicates for how long. Is this a one-night-stand or a long-term relationship or something in between?

Desire shows intensity and depth while it’s happening. How much is one enjoying this and how much is the message conveyed to the other person? When people talk about desire, they are often too talking about passion.

Desire is also cultural. Different parts of the world sexualize different things and even the amount of sexual desire one experiences or expresses varies.

When it comes to desire, it’s not just the physical response. Most of it has to do with the brain! It’s getting all of these other aspects under control.

If you don’t have a lot of desire for sex, it’s not as easy as just having more of it. Or just trying harder to want it.

So what can we do? The first step is to understand ourselves better. What are the things that rev up my desire?

Make a list. Often it’s hard to come up with a list just off the top of your head so it’s easier to think about times when you enjoyed sex.

Or times when you were turned on and ready for sex.

What was happening? Think about the different areas above. How were you feeling? Who or what were you feeling turned on by? What’s your relationship like to that thing or person?

And just as important, think about the things that turn you off.

When are those times that sex sounds like an absolute no. How are you feeling then? What’s happening? What’s going on in your life? What are the circumstances?

If you want to increase desire, then you want to increase awareness and understanding of yourself. Through that, you can “manipulate” your situation to work in your favor if you want to want to have more sex.