top of page

What is Desire?

The Meaning of Desire and Types of Desire

In many recent movies and tv shows, people are getting it on.

Usually, spontaneously.

The two main characters lock eyes after they have just shot down their enemies.

Photogenically blood-splattered faces smolder as they rip each other's clothes off like animals, smashing all the glass vases and cups around them, just to get to the penetration.

It sounds fun, well maybe not the shooting part, but I would love to have that type of desire maybe one time, one day, but today… no thank you.


Because spontaneous desire is unrealistic and keeps people believing that they must be broken if they don’t lust for their partner with that same fiery, impulsive passion

I'll let you in on a little secret: even though society makes it seem normal to have a ravenous, spontaneous sexual thirst 24/7, it’s actually not the most common type of desire. In fact, for most, sexual arousal is a slow building flame that takes effort to grow into the roaring fire of passion they so dearly covet.

de·sire /dəˈzī(ə)r/ - a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen

How does Desire Work?

Desire is the first part of the sexual response cycle. Which means it is a very important part of our sexual health. So, we must cater to it!

Spontaneous, Responsive, and Contextual desire all require different trigger actions and communication. Outlined below are what they are and how the different modes might affect you and any partners.

Step 1: Learn about multiple different types of desire

What is Spontaneous Desire?

Spontaneous desire is just that - spontaneous. It shows up seemingly out of the blue, either with or without a stimulus. Think of someone who always seems 'down' for sex. This type of desire is commonly shown in porn and movies. It is considered the norm in society, even though 25% of men and 85% of women do not experience spontaneous desire.

What is Responsive Desire?

Desire that shows up due to a stimulus. Something sexy has to take place in order for this person to feel desire. That may mean that their partner has to make a move or that they need more build-up (aka foreplay) before becoming turned on. And that build-up can range from making out, to a massage, to dinner together or even cleaning up the house to set a sexual vibe.

What is Contextual Desire?

If the circumstances and environment are not right, you might not be able to get into the headspace of feeling sexual desire. This is called contextual sexual desire. It may look like a lack of desire when the house is messy and the kids are in the next room, or maybe I'm struggling with some work issues at the moment. For most individuals context matters.

Step 2: Learn how to work with your type of desire

Spontaneous Desire

If you have spontaneous desire, it’s important to explain that to your partner. You might want to engage in sex randomly but they might be very turned off by this.

Communication is going to be key.

Use your ‘out of the blue’ desire to create a sexual tension, thereby building up the desire in your partner.

It might be a good idea to do an activity that can foster the environment to become spontaneously sexual. (I know the creation of the environment takes the full spontaneity out of it, but it allows you and your partner to get sexy without any other life pressures).

And always remember that sexual desire does not mean sex.

Sexual desire can lead to a plethora of different actions, from a sexy text to a make-out in the kitchen. Try to express your desire in a mix of ways to surprise your partner.

Responsive Desire

Having high responsive sexual desire means that you probably enjoy some good sexual build up. Use this knowledge to become intentional and creative when it comes to sexy time.

Sex should have a large menu of options available and while you may have your go-to meals, don't forget that trying something new is always exciting.

Create a sexual connection with a certain action or object. Much like Pavlov’s dog experiment, you want to be able to connect the bell being rung with responsive desire. So, bell, outfit, certain sexual action, sexy texts, candles or toys are all great options to get you in the mood.

Contextual Desire

Most people find that context matters when it comes to sexual desire. Some of the biggest ‘turn on’ ruiners can be work stress, messy house, kids, or even bad gas. It may seem like we can not control those things, which can sometimes be true, but we can set aside time to make sure that those things are not the main thought.

How do you do this?


Just like you might make a reservation for dinner, where you know you will be eating and talking and not looking at work emails, make a reservation for sexy time.

Putting sexy time on the calendar might not help you control every aspect but it will definitely give you time to get prepared. And that preparation can be the difference between being completely turned off or fueling your desire.

Step 3: Work it

What are you still doing here!?? It’s time to go structure your week around your type of desire and have some bomb sexy time!


bottom of page