Responsive vs. Spontaneous Desire Types

Desire seems like a straightforward concept but there's more variability than you might expect.

Spontaneous Desire

Feeling ready for sex whenever the wind blows is known as spontaneous desire. This typically means even just the idea of sex is enough for you to want to have it, even if your body isn't aroused yet.

Spontaneous desire gets the most media attention, but it’s not the only way bodies work!

Responsive Desire

Responsive desire, is just as common but less understood.

With responsive desire, the body and mind need context for arousal. This can be anything from fantasizing, to watching porn or reading erotica, to starting to fool around with a sweetie.

A responsive type may need to feel physically turned on before the mental desire for sex kicks in.

Mental vs. Physical Readiness

Something else that can cause confusion or frustration, is when your brain and your genitals don’t agree about arousal. For example, you can be wet or hard and not want sex, or vice versa, you can be interested in sex without your body responding.

Now what?

Most people assume they experience desire the same way which can lead to confusion or hurt feelings.

Here are some ways to get on the same page: 

  1. You and your partner need to use your words! You can’t rely on body cues to let you know if someone is interested in having sex.
  2. While it may sound counterintuitive, sometimes you need to start doing sexy things in order to get in the mood for sex. Be sure to set clear expectations around this, or consider getting started on your own before involving your partner. For example, you could spend a few minutes with a vibrator or watching porn before your partner joins.