Fire Up Your Sex Drive By Understanding The Emotions Of Sex

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Sex drive seldom just happens.

It’s the relationship between your drive and emotions — and how you deal with those emotions — that determine how much you feel like having sex.

By changing the way you look at sexual desire, from a drive to one of the emotions of sex, you can ignite your fire again.

The connection between sex and emotions is more important than you may realize.

What people used to think of as a "drive" (hence the phrase "sex drive") is now seen as more of an emotion. An emotion which, just like any other, can be affected both positively and negatively.

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Emotions are like compasses that can help motivate sex drive. 

Feelings and emotions tell you what you need, communicate these needs to others, and motivate you to take action — even in the bedroom.

There are lots of feelings, but according to The Tomkins Institute, there are really only nine basic emotions:

Joy
Interest
Surprise
Anger
Sadness
Shame and guilt
Fear or worry
Disgust
Dissmell (a term coined by Tomkins, which is a self-driven form of shame, i.e., when you think someone thinks you smell bad, so you believe you do)

As you can see, Tomkins didn’t believe sexual desire was one of our core emotions.

We all feel desire. 

But I’m sure many of you, like me, would say that desire is something you definitely feel, just as you feel all other emotions.

When your libido is ignited, desire is felt with every fiber of your being, urging you to engage in sexual activity, be it with partners or on your own.

What are the emotions of sex, and how do they affect one another?

When you’re doing #allthethings to increase libido (e.g., trying new positions, scheduling sex, and working out), and none of it is a success — going back to basics is important.

This means checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling.

Why is this important? Because it’s often the relationship between your core emotions that determines what you feel. This is true of sexual desire, as well.

For example, joy is a feeling that urges you toward positive connection with other people. Because of this, happiness can often spark sexual desire.

Anger is a feeling that arises when you need to set boundaries — and boundary-setting seldom leads to desire. This is because desire is about connection, and boundaries are about distance.

Start by taking an "emotional inventory."

To better understand the relationship between your overall feelings and your lack of desire, you can do a quick emotional inventory.

This exercise contains two of your core feelings, and will help you determine what might be blocking your emotion of desire.

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How anger and irritation affect sexual desire.

Anger or irritation is an important feeling, as it helps you establish boundaries and protect yourself. However, both the emotion in itself and how you deal with it can affect sexual desire negatively.

Use the following questions to suss out how you've been feeling lately in coping with irritation...

On a scale of one to 10 (10 being the most annoyed), how annoyed have you been in your love relationship(s) this past week?

On a scale of one to 10, how annoyed have you been in your other relationships (i.e., friends, family members, coworkers, or schoolmates) this past week?

On a scale of one to 10, how annoyed have you been with life in general this past week?

On a scale of one to 10 (10 being whenever needed, one being not at all), how much have you established boundaries or talked about a situation at hand when you've been annoyed this past week?

If you scored high on irritation and low on setting boundaries or talking about irritation, this might be one of the reasons for your low sexual desire.

Dealing with communication and complex emotions isn't always easy, but help is available.

One option is seeking professional help, for example, seeing a sex therapist, psychologist, or couples’ counselor.

Communication in any relationship, be it romantic, friendship, or a professional one, is important.

Mental health professionals can help you work on these skills and coping with anger and irritation in a constructive manner.

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How joy and happiness affect sexual desire.

Though sometimes neglected, joy is one of the most important emotions of sex.

This emotion is all about connecting with others and being able to experience pleasure. Because of this, it's important to do a quick check-in with yourself on how happy you've been lately.

On a scale of one to 10 (10 being the happiest), how happy and fulfilled have you felt in your love relationship(s) this past week?

On a scale of one to 10, how happy and fulfilled have you felt in your other relationships (i.e., friends, family members, coworkers, or schoolmates) this past week?

On a scale of one to 10, how happy have you been with life in general this past week?

If you find yourself scoring low on happiness, sadness or depression may be one of the reasons you're experiencing low libido.

Feeling down or experiencing depression affects you deeply.

Ask yourself why you believe you're feeling this way. Has something happened lately that's weighing you down?

Are you more anxious than normal? Have you been neglecting self-care?

What can you do to increase overall joy? Think small: What can you do with only 10 minutes to make yourself happier?

Emotions and sex go hand-in-hand.

If you're not feeling emotionally well, you won't want intimacy. Your libido likely needs more than strawberry-flavored lube and new positions to get going.

A rampant sex drive isn't just a question of hormones and biology; it exists in the space between all of your core emotions and how they relate to one another.

If you want to experience more desire or have better sex, you need to begin to understand your emotional life and shift your perspective on desire from a drive to a feeling.

By checking in with yourself and all of the emotions of sex, you can start to put the pieces together and increase desire.

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Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She’s been featured in Women's Health, Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, Glamour, The Minds Journal, and more. To learn more about the connection between sex and emotions, visit her website. To increase emotional intimacy in your relationship, download her free resource: The Guide for Intimacy.

This article was originally published at Therapy by Leigh. Reprinted with permission from the author.