What's Your Desire Type?
Updated: Jun 12
Most people think about sexual desire in absolute terms. It's either there, or it's not. Some people might consider their sex drive to be "high" or "low", but very few people ever consider the type of sexual desire they're feeling.
In fact, they'd probably be amazed to know there are actually three types of sexual desire, from spontaneous to responsive and mixed desire. And because we are complex creatures, it’s perfectly natural for our sexual desire to fluctuate and change through these different types over time.
This can depend on varying factors, such as; age, relationship status, gender, or even stress levels. So even if you're happy with your sex drive right now, it's worth learning a bit more about how sexual desire works - because you never know how it might change in the future!
So here are the three different types of sexual desire:
1. Spontaneous Desire
Spontaneous desire is that spark - or sometimes eruption! - of interest in sex that appears to come out of thin air. It occurs when the mental interest in sex arises before there is necessarily any external stimulus for your sexual desire (like seeing your partner winking at you, or seeing them naked - or ideally seeing them winking at you while naked).
Think back to the last movie or television show you watched, with a sex scene. Chances are that this scene involved two people suddenly exploding with sexual lust and having sex almost immediately. Media portrays sexual desire just like this – spontaneous, always on the boil and good to go. Unfortunately, it's a bit more complicated than that in real life!
While people of either gender and/or biological sex can experience primarily spontaneous desire, research suggests it’s more common in male-identified people. As many as 75% compared to 15% of female-identified people report primary spontaneous sexual desire, when in a monogamous intimate relationship of six or more months.
While having spontaneous desire might sound great, it can often be challenging - especially in long-term relationships. A partner with spontaneous desire may often feel alone and rejected, because they're more likely to be the one trying to initiate sex (not always successfully).
Be aware that spontaneous desire for a partner can also evolve into responsive desire over time - in fact, this transition is very common. It tends to happen around six months to two years into a relationship, usually more so for women than men.
2. Responsive Desire
Responsive desire describes sexual desire and sexual arousal that occurs in response to sexual stimuli.
Responsive desire might occur when you’re not in the mood or thinking about sex – like sitting down and watching something sexy on television. It also might occur when your partner touches you or comes over to give you a kiss.
You know - that familiar feeling of excitement at the idea of intimacy, physical closeness or sexual contact. The key to understanding responsive desire is that it occurs after, or in response to, a sensual or sexual contact or cue.
Most people have never heard of responsive sexual desire and don’t realize they need to get aroused before they experience it. But by recognizing your desire type - and giving it time to respond - you can open yourself up to a much higher number of sexual experiences.
People with responsive desire may also feel distressed that something has happened to their libido. They may worry that something is wrong with them or their relationship. They may even wonder how to bring passion back into a relationship.
About 5% of male-identified people and 30% of female-identified people report having primary responsive desire. These numbers go up dramatically the longer you’ve been with your partner.
Many individuals in relationships report experiencing more spontaneous desire early in their relationship. We know this as ‘the honeymoon period’. This spontaneous desire begins to naturally evolve into responsive desire – a totally normal aspect of being in a long-term or romantic relationship.
3. Mixed Desire
And finally, mixed desire is the combination of responsive and spontaneous desire. At times, you might experience spontaneous desire to have sex, while other times stimulation, touch or inspiration might be needed.
About 20% of people who identify as male, and 55% as female, experience a bit of both spontaneous and responsive desire types.
It’s important to note that sexual desire styles might evolve and change over time. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your personal desire style, only what you feel comfortable with.
If you're struggling with low sexual desire, download Lover today. We have personalized courses containing expert guidance and science-based activities designed to get you back on track as soon as possible.