27 Nov 2018

Female desire comes in waves

There’s nothing wrong with a woman who doesn’t feel desire for a year or two. Maybe she has other priorities? However, she should never forget that she is still a sexual creature. An interview with leading sexologist Alicja Długołęcka.

Wysokie Obcasy
Paulina Reiter Wysokie Obcasy, Global
Female desire comes in waves - NewsMavens
Flower, PixaBay

The following fragments of Paulina Reiter’s interview with Polish sexologist Dr. Alicja Długołęcka first appeared in the Polish weekly “Wysokie Obcasy” in September 2011.

Paulina Reiter:What is lust?

Dr. Alicja Długołęcka: Lust is a road to closeness, to the original and ultimate feeling of unity with another human being -- that’s why it’s so tempting and dangerous. Sigmund Freud associates it with the sex drive and I agree with this interpretation. After all, the sex drive is a creative, life-giving force.

PR: And what if we lack this life-giving force?

Sexology is a scientific study created by men. From the male perspective, desire is the norm and can be more or less intense. But if it’s missing? That's a pathological condition! People with a libido that's too high are classified as “hypersexual” and with one too low as “hyposexual”. In this line of thinking, it follows that a woman diagnosed with a low sex drive should be treated.

But, truthfully, female desire comes and goes in cycles. Usually, it’s quite high straight after menstruation and keeps increasing until we ovulate. Then it starts dropping again. When we’re pregnant it jumps up and down and is completely unpredictable. It depends on our hormonal state and on the way we experience pregnancy -- is it a long-awaited blessing or a physiological torment?

It’s also affected by feelings towards our partner: has creating a new life together made him even more appealing or has it suddenly made him completely asexual?

Plenty of relationships fall apart in the first few years of parenting -- women claim that they can’t be bothered and men complain that their spouses have changed after the childbirth.

PR: And the fact that women can’t be bothered doesn’t mean that they’re ill?

There’s nothing wrong with a woman who doesn’t feel a sex drive for a year or two after childbirth, because she has other priorities. Desire comes and goes in waves. However, a woman should always keep in mind that she is a sexual creature. Lust is there, inside us, and we can access it any time we want.

Single women should also remember that a lack of a partner doesn’t deprive them of sexual pleasure and that masturbation, despite our cultural stereotypes, is neither sad or shameful. A woman who is in touch with her sexual energy is more sociable and open to flirting, more creative and far more cheerful.

PR:What about women who have never experienced sexual excitement?

This is not a permanent health condition. Many women have never experienced lust because they are not sexually open. Why? They might have been brought up according to the asexual “good girl” model. These women are not cold, they may simply find it difficult to express their positive emotions, because all their life they have been urged to suppress them. Opening to other people, flirting or following one’s desire requires courage. These women see lust as a powerful, untamable force that they find petrifying.

PR:What else can hold them back?

Fear of pregnancy, a self-esteem crisis or concerns about a partner’s opinion -- the way they are treated and whether they feel desired. Obsessive thinking about their partner’s ex-lovers: Who did he sleep with? Was she better? Was she more attractive than me?

PR: Do you have any advice for a man who would like to have sex with his partner but doesn’t want to push her?

He should let her know that he wants sex but also give her as much time as she needs. I’m not a supporter of constant analysis of the situation but rather I would urge support and patience. He can try to keep up the physical closeness and subtly show his affection. He certainly shouldn’t sulk or get angry.

This situation can cause a lot of suffering -- men often grumble: “If you don’t want it, then you don’t want it” which makes women think that their partner only cares about sex.

I should stress that a woman who withdraws from sex should also openly inform her partner about her decision.

And if she’s mature enough, she will tell him that she needs time and assure him that it’s not his fault but her own personal problem.

PR: How can this problem be solved?

Quite often women have problems in bed because they’ve been taught that sex is not their responsibility. Women should not only initiate sex but also be expressive and have expectations. How else can they help themselves? By watch porn? Masturbating in front of a computer? Not many women find that enjoyable.

I would advise some kind of physical activity that will improve their mood on a biochemical level and perhaps boost creativity -- every now and then we should try and do something spontaneous, free from obligations, presumptions or deadlines. That's how we start working on our imagination.

Work on female sexuality is based mainly on working with a woman’s mind. 

After all, signals travel from our brain to our clitoris, not the other way around.

PR: And what does this “work” look like?

Very often a woman’s ideas about what excites her is far from reality. Women tend to rely on fantasies from their youth, forgetting that everyone changes with age -- and so do our desires.

PR: So how can we experiment?

Talk about it with our female friends, ask what they find sexually arousing -- it might work for us too. Do some research, read Anais Nin, watch movies -- not necessarily pornographic.

PR: So first we learn how to turn ourselves on without a partner?

Correct. We’re culturally programmed to wait for Prince Charming who will know exactly how to satisfy our sexual needs. The truth is -- our happiness and satisfaction depend solely on us. We need to unblock ourselves and clear our heads.

PR: What would you advise to a couple whose desire is fading away?

I would advise them to accept it. Lust usually decreases after 3 months of being in a relationship and it only keeps getting lower. Desire is not given for good and it’s not directed at one particular person. It’s not always associated with love, either.

I’d also like to point out that lovemaking can be easily ruined if we’re too close with our partner. Sex likes individuality and separateness.

Every sex handbook urges: “Be a mystery to your man.” “Predictability works in friendship but it’s lethal in bed.”

We like to think that we know someone inside-out and tend to hand ourselves to our partner on a plate. That’s why people start to suffocate in their relationships. They seem to have a great connection but at some point they start feeling incapacitated and decide to break up. Distinctiveness is the key to a good relationship -- it’s best if partners don’t work together, have their own friends and individual interests.

I know plenty of women around 40 or 50, who decided to be more “mysterious” in their new relationship. They search the Internet, travel, meet new people and suddenly a housewife or a “cold” woman, whose sex life was once limited to a missionary position with her husband, discovers new exciting techniques and turns into a true sexual demon.


Dr. Alicja Długołęcka is a Polish sexologist and the author of “Seks na Wysokich Obcasach” (Sex on High Heels). She’s a lecturer at the Department of Psychotherapy and Sexual Rehabilitation at Jósef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw.

Translated from Polish by Martyna Kardach


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