by 'The Therapist'
Libido is your overall desire for sexual activity. It is manipulated by your biological, psychological, and social state. Libido determines how sexually active or inactive you are, it can be high or low - there is no nominal value that determines a “normal” libido. Enjoying sexual pleasure is a basic human instinct and if you are at a point where all you can think about is sex or are at a point where sexual gratification is not a part of your life then there is most likely an imbalance in your biological, psychological or social state. Sex and sexual pleasure are ingrained into our DNA and trying to pit yourself against it can cause a lot of internal struggle. Sex represents pleasure, childbirth, friendship, passion, universal connection, release, and love.
Read on and we’ll answer your questions:
- What is Libido and why should it matter to me?
- Why do I have low sexual desire?
- Does everyone have the same sexual desires?
- What if my partner has less sexual desire than me?
- How to navigate a fluctuating Libido?
“No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed” Sigmund Freud.
What is Libido and why should it matter to me?
Libido is best described as an energy that exists outside of social, psychological and biological constraints but is still affected by them. It is pure to your desires, no different to hunger or thirst. Your desires exist whether they are deemed acceptable to you or society or not.
Sigmund Freud was an influential character in sexual understanding, even though a lot of his work today has been debunked. We will still use his understanding of Libido as it speaks to our inner demons. Freud says we are driven by the pleasure principle which guides our “Id”.
The Id refers to our desire to snatch and hold what we want, as infants we seek immediate gratification without concern for consequence, we are constantly being compelled by the pleasure principle. As we mature our “ego” does as well, our ego refers to our ability to be reasonable & it mediates between our id & superego. The “superego” is internalised programming by our parents, higher authority, and society. We are in a constant seesaw between what we have been told is right and what we truly desire.
For example, 50 Shades of Grey depicts a naïve and willing young girl who has been seduced into a controlling dominant relationship with an older man. This book has the word taboo written all over it, a sexually abusive older man with a young seemingly unaware woman. The publishers were surprised to see that the book became a top-selling novel across the globe. The book fed into the narrative of women’s repressed sexual desires and challenged the internalised taboos held by the superego. It stimulates the “this is wrong but feels good” side of the brain which is the struggle of our “ego” balancing our “Id” & “superego”.
Why do I have a low sexual drive?
Sexual desire is affected by many factors and concluding where an issue might stem from is complex. We typically question our levels of sexual desire because pop-culture has imprinted on us unhuman standards. What we see on television, in cinemas, online and more to the point pornography, these forms of expression create unrealistic standards we try to conform to.
The pressure mounts on women and men alike, we hear and think things like; Her boobs are bigger, my dick is not big enough, body odour is wrong, pubic hair is disgusting, respecting a woman is not manly, crying means you’re weak, periods are gross - the list goes on. This creates a vicious cycle of anxiety & depression that then affects our Libido.
“What is it, at this moment and in this individual that represents the natural urge of life? That is the question” Carl Jung
What if my partner has less sexual desire than me?
Desire varies as we mature through life, desires in a relationship can also become out of sync. Even a tightly knit unit that may have had years of sexual pleasure together can experience hiccups, it is almost always due to issues originating from outside of the bedroom. High-stress work environments, childbirth, tiredness or underlying medical problems. Low sexual desire affects both men and women, it has no age bias either. Men & women in their 20’s and upwards are known to suffer from low libido. Psychological factors such as stress, reliance on porn, repressing one’s sexual identity are more likely to be the cause of one’s low libido.
How to navigate a fluctuating Libido?
The one common remedy that we recommend for most issues around sex is to communicate with your partner. Sometimes it can be as simple as you don’t help enough around the house or I don’t feel loved, appreciated, heard or valued. The other suggestion is to find a sex therapist who you feel comfortable with to identify what the issue is.
It is probably more than the physical aspect of sex and the desire for an orgasm. Do you desire physical touch, positive emotions, intimate connection, sexual self-esteem, to be free of the feeling of shame and guilt?
Whilst we are seeing growing groups of women around the world speaking about their sexual needs it is rare to find men who are as willing to communicate their sexual issues due to toxic masculinity.
It is worth reaching out to a Therapist to navigate an issue which to you is overwhelming and not something you feel comfortable to talk about – to a relationship or sex therapist your issue will be generally easy to unravel. Most importantly remember that you are not the first person to go through this, you are not the last and nor are you the only one going through it now.