How to Rekindle Sexual Desire

How to Rekindle Sexual Desire

In my last article I spoke to a reader’s question about how to rekindle her sexual desire. I talked about steps she could take, on her own, to feel more interested in sex. Hopefully she’s tried some of my suggestions or, at the very least, thought about ways to reengage her mind and body sexually.

The mental component of feeling sexy, or sexual, is essential for women. Men too. We have to get beyond the automatic response of “I don’t want sex anymore” and find a way to build interest, and then desire. You do it as a solitary practice and you do it with a partner.

The second step—moving towards exploring sex with a husband, partner or lover can be a little more complicated. You want to be able to trust that your partner (fill in with the preferred term) is willing to let you lead. The last thing you want is for him/her to rush forward eagerly pursuing sex if you’re not ready.

If you’re ready to experiment sexually, to see if you will feel some arousal, you can decide if you want to go for full sexual contact or something else. Maybe you’d like to receive a non-erotic massage or a full body embrace. Would you like to be caressed first and see how that feels?

You get to decide what you want to happen in this first encounter. And to communicate that, clearly and truthfully. For example, “I want to see what it feels like to have you touch me, but I’m not sure how far I want to go. So, I may ask you to stop if I change my mind.”

Each of you may have different ideas about what you want to happen in this first encounter. Some therapists advise planning a romantic sexy interlude and going right into having sex. Others suggest more ‘neutral’ ways of connecting with a partner to gradually ease you back into intimacy. You are the only one who knows what might work for you.

However, there are a few things to consider as you talk with your partner about trying sex again:

  • Have a positive attitude about this. You have to want to be intimate with your partner. Do not force yourself or feel pressured.
  • Take a little time to think yourself into sexy. Or as I wrote in an earlier post, step into your sexual desire.
  • Take charge of your sexual desire. Don’t expect your partner to make it happen. Don’t assume that he or she will know what you need or know when to stop. You have to play the lead role and tell, or show, that person what you want. Your partner may be just as nervous about this as you are. This is where my earlier recommendations come into play. If you’ve taken the time to do some self-pleasuring and getting reacquainted with your body then you have a better idea of what will turn you on.  
  • Don’t set a goal or have unrealistic expectations. Your goal is to be present to the sensations in your body. Be open to whatever happens—orgasm or not. Each step forward is another step to creating the kind of sexual relationship you want to have.


These are my thoughts and recommendations based on personal experience and study.  I am not a sex therapist, so keep that in mind. But I do believe that we have the ability to think ourselves into pleasure.

Image from morgueFile

  • Sheri
    Posted at 10:08h, 11 April Reply

    I like your article, Walker
    “But I do believe that we have the ability to think ourselves into pleasure.”…good one!

    • Walker
      Posted at 11:45h, 11 April Reply

      Thank you Sheri. On even the simplest of levels I think we have to have the thought patterns that say ‘sex is something I want’. But, then again…you know this!

  • Carol Cassara
    Posted at 11:44h, 11 April Reply

    Great advice, especially your very last bullet. Expectations. Big one. Thanks!

    • Walker
      Posted at 12:29h, 11 April Reply

      Thanks Carol.

  • Brian Buchbinder
    Posted at 19:08h, 14 April Reply

    Many women, including my primary partner, have what one might call a “responsive sexuality” She and I have an agreement that I can test her to see if she’s turn-on-able. (This was her idea). And there’s no bad feelings from either of us if she discovers that she’s not interested. She says that she doesn’t always know if she’s turned on unless someone tries to flip the switch, as it were.

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:09h, 15 April Reply

      Brian, what a great idea. There are often times when I think I’m not in the mood but what I really need is to be helped into those feelings of desire.

      But for some people there are other circumstances that make it more complicated and we have to acknowledge those. Painful intercourse, medications that mess with the libido and emotional scars can be barriers.

      • Brian Buchbinder
        Posted at 13:23h, 15 April Reply

        When intercourse is painful, it should be “off the menu” There are many other ways to make love than PiV sex. I’m not sure how emotional scars relate to your topic, which is presumably about people who have had sexually-fulfilling relationships but have to deal with the changes that come with aging.

        And if drugs cause you to lose your desire, as I know some of them will do, I don’t know what anyone can do about that. Again, I don’t know if anything you’ve suggested will help much if the circuits have been entirely disabled.

        And if the relationship is more important than sexual connection that’s fine if both partners agree. If the relationship is important, but for one partner, it’s going to be painful and eventually disruptive to go without sexual intimacies, it’s time to modify monogamy agreements. It’s entirely unfair to both insist that another adult make love only with you, and simultaneously be unwilling or unable to make love with her/him.

        • Walker
          Posted at 07:20h, 16 April Reply

          Good call Brian, not sure that emotional scars come into the aging conversation either! I’m researching the medicine connection so don’t really know if there is an answer for that one.

          You and I both realize there are many ways to ‘have sex’, but many couples still consider the traditional penis in vagina method to be the only sex act. Finding other avenues for pleasure and learning that such pleasure need not include climax or orgasm is new to some people.

          • Brian Buchbinder
            Posted at 16:56h, 16 April

            I think this is on-topic…

            Yesterday, over on one of the poly-mono listservs a woman wrote in that her husband want to open up at least his half of the relationship, because there were things he wanted to do that he couldn’t do with her. You may be thinking that she was unwilling…far from it.

            She’s pretty tired of “20 minutes of missionary” over 20 years of marriage, but her husband refuses even the usual sort of “extras” that most of us probably consider to be standard. Because “A wife isn’t supposed to do those things” he won’t go down on her, won’t let her go down on him, and won’t touch her sexually with anything but his penis.

            Talk about madonna/putana issues!

            Oh, and he shames her about her masturbation…

            This is on-topic, I think because it while at least this fellow says what’s up for him, there are probably a lot of unstated assumptions out there (on both sides of a couple) that keep things from getting better.

            What do you think?

          • Walker
            Posted at 07:28h, 18 April

            I think there are many things couples aren’t saying to each other. I see many people staying together when they really want to be someplace else. The story you share is interesting in any number of ways–he wants more sexual experiences but is unwilling or unable to see his relationship with his wife as the natural place to explore. What kind of shift would need to occur for them to have the sexual pleasure they both want? Relationships can be so complex and so distorted at times–this is a perfect example.

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