Sexual Desire Is Way More Complicated Than You Think

by Moin Uddin Ahmed Tipu

Sex drive. Libido. Lust. Whatever you call it, sexual desire is a lot more complicated than you might think. In this week’s Body Language, we break down exactly how sexual desire works and all the exciting science around it.
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Sexual desire is the want for some sort of sexual interaction with someone or yourself. Oftentimes because desire in and of itself is not fully understood, it is often referred back to food. So with food, you can have a desire for something, but there is no arousal for it, meaning that yeah, I really want some cake, but your mouth didn’t water, right. So the arousal portion is more of the physical response to the desire. So basically, someone can want to have sex but they may not be physically aroused. And the reverse is also true, someone can be physically aroused but have no mental or emotional desire to engage in sexual activity. This mismatch is called arousal non-concordance, and studies show that women are more likely to experience it than men are. And to understand more about issues like this, it’s important to untangle physical arousal from sexual desire. In fact, there are actually two different kinds of desire.

So desire is actually split into the two. It’s the spontaneous desire as well as the responsive desire. Spontaneous desire is where the thought or feeling of ‘I’d like to have sex’ sort of just pops into your head out of the blue. Responsive desire is where you may not really be in the mood, but after a little warm-up, like kissing, touching, or flirting, you start to want to have sex.

One of the biggest misconceptions about desire is that it should be spontaneous only. This misconception feeds into common stereotypes we see around us, like men having out-of-control sexual appetites or women portrayed as having little innate desire. However, that’s far from the truth. Anyone, regardless of sex or gender, can experience spontaneous or responsive desire.

#bodylanguage #seeker #sexdrive #desire #arousal #libido

Read More:
The Misunderstood Science of Sexual Desire

It turns out, however, that we only understood half the story. The media mostly cast responsive desire as a women’s issue. Yet Basson said from the beginning that men also feel this slow kind of desire. Close to two decades later, it’s a misunderstanding she’s still eager to correct.

The Dual Control Model of Sexual Response

The researchers liken it to having both a gas pedal (excitation or SES) and a brake pedal (inhibition or SIS) in a car – every person will engage one or both pedals to a differing degree in any particular sexual situation, depending on their unique sexual physiology, history, and personality.

Asexuality: The ascent of the ‘invisible’ sexual orientation

Indeed, asexuality – defined generally as not experiencing sexual attraction – has been called “the invisible orientation”…But asexuality is a spectrum, where some may identify as demisexual, for example, meaning they don’t experience sexual attraction until forming an emotional bond with someone. It’s also not synonymous with aromanticism, which applies to those who don’t experience romantic attraction.

Editor’s Note: At Seeker, we recognize that people of many genders and identities have vaginas and uteruses, and are affected by the topics covered in Body Language: not only women. Where gendered language does appear is in reference to specific language used within the scientific studies cited.

Body Language is Seeker’s latest series diving into the world of female health. For so long, the medical field only used male bodies to conduct research, creating a gap in terms of what we currently know about female bodies. In this series, we’ll be talking to experts to get a better understanding of some of these issues, and we discover how incredibly cool the female body is and how much more we still have to learn about it.

Seeker empowers the curious to understand the science shaping our world. We tell award-winning stories about the natural forces and groundbreaking innovations that impact our lives, our planet, and our universe.

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Leave a Comment


Max Mustermann January 19, 2022 - 12:48 AM

Wait a minute, Maren actually used the words men and women here… I'm confused!

cboy 2075 January 19, 2022 - 1:26 AM

Women want sex more than men no debate

Sizano Green January 19, 2022 - 1:47 AM

The biggest brake is me not meeting any new people. Like, at all.

Chirag Prasad January 19, 2022 - 2:10 AM

Best show ever

bendadestroyer January 19, 2022 - 2:11 AM

Ah yes, my sexless marriage is "normal." I wish you would approach topics from a more unbiased view.

Yoara January 19, 2022 - 2:27 AM

as always, the video is informative and the comments are rancid 🙄

Zan Kraken January 19, 2022 - 2:30 AM

what does this mean for asexuals?

Psychx January 19, 2022 - 3:18 AM

For men out there taking SSRI, SNRI or APs – don't worry, the negative effects on arousability and sensitivity WILL eventually subside. It just takes a few weeks.

P3DR0 January 19, 2022 - 3:45 AM

Guess the editor got worse ADHD then me

hang da clown January 19, 2022 - 4:26 AM


Mazen Ibrahem January 19, 2022 - 4:29 AM

Can we have a single episode with this girl without saying that the norms and traditions were wrote and made by men?

The Endless Daydream January 19, 2022 - 5:00 AM

Incredibly disappointing that they didn't even bother noting the flip side for asexual people
Even today, it's almost never talked about. Growing up asexual and as a teen is incredibly confusing when everyone is developing crushes and having sex while you just can never seem to figure the whole steamy desire thing out. The LGBTQ communities have come a long way in the past decade and yet people from all groups still look at asexual people as broken robots.

Mark Michalowski January 19, 2022 - 5:59 AM

Great video – and nice to see same-sex couples represented :)

Justin Bozeman January 19, 2022 - 6:06 AM

So they never once mentioned financial status, which is a huge if not the largest turn on for a woman.

Even women that are vastly wealthy and could never need more money, still admit they can't date a guy that has less money than them.

Proving that they don't just want to make sure that they have their needs met, they literally need more money to be happy. They have more than anybody could ever spend, can't date a guy that's broke. Think about what that says about them.

GrandmasterFunk January 19, 2022 - 6:16 AM

Maren looking fantastic, great job with the body recomp 😊

1MinuteFlipDoc January 19, 2022 - 7:07 AM

where was the dwarf guy and super obese lady couple?

Ur Momma January 19, 2022 - 8:03 AM

Only Maren Hunsberger would be able to discuss this topic on a science channel 😜

Ulthar Cat January 19, 2022 - 8:19 AM

Hi. Gray asexual here. Great video! 💜

Jeremy Thelen January 19, 2022 - 8:33 AM

From my research on this subject, the #1 factor to desire is: your programs
It depends on your environmental, social, religious, or mental blocks on the information you've been told factors the most.

Frank-Gavin Moratalla January 19, 2022 - 8:40 AM

Fascinating, mind blowing
subject! It amazes me any
of us have sex or the desire
for it at all!

Stitches January 19, 2022 - 8:46 AM

Is that a day collar..? 🤔

Stitches January 19, 2022 - 8:50 AM

Oh wow, you're REALLY laying the woke on thick with the imaging 🙄
Chill, we get it already.

victorpapaavp January 19, 2022 - 9:12 AM

I'm deeply disturbed by how poorly that banana peeled 0:49…. it really aggravates me…

David Krane January 19, 2022 - 9:45 AM

Reproducing will be ethical once everyone has their needs met

Floyd Wordsworth January 19, 2022 - 10:27 AM

Considering it’s a video about sex I’m really curious as to what those books are to earn being blurred

Mariano Alippi January 19, 2022 - 11:30 AM

I saw you making videos about renewable energy, you're perfect for that, I don't understand why Seeker leads you to talk about sex, sexuality, when the internet is invaded by the hypersexuality of pornography, and I already wrote how dating sites drug trafficking involves selling drugs, pornography and drugs go hand in hand, there is very little interest in curbing this type of corruption, it seems to me that seeker should concentrate on clean tech and not touch on issues that are in conflict with drug trafficking

jack will January 19, 2022 - 11:55 AM

I don't think it's too wrong to say that communication helps too.

Ian Grams January 19, 2022 - 12:44 PM

Huh this was the first I've heard of the spontaneous/responsive dichotomy. Makes a lot of sense and looking back on it I've definitely experienced both and noticed them in past partners. Cheers for covering topics like these, Body Language continues to be one of my most favorite series on Seeker.

Wolfferoni January 19, 2022 - 2:29 PM

For anyone interested in this, I highly recommend the book 'Come As You Are' by Dr Emily Nagoski. It does focus on women's arousal but it does talk about responsive vs spontaneous desire, as well as arousal non-concordance. She also has a ted talk that's great.

Nasty Cupid January 19, 2022 - 2:36 PM

5:28 , glad you talked about drug companies exploiting perceived deseases, that is also a huge taboo in our current times…

shiva Subramanian January 19, 2022 - 3:11 PM

I think we're just going back to how ancient indians lived…

be the genius January 19, 2022 - 4:37 PM


Mark K January 19, 2022 - 6:00 PM

Once a women opens her mouth, my desire to procreate with her ends.