I want to be wanted!

The politics of sexual desire

Everyone wants to be and feel desired by others, as well as loved. Specifically by their spouses, but sometimes other people. Most people don’t find themselves desirable unless someone or others agree with them about their level of desirability. It is even seen negatively to see oneself as desirable by our society. We perceive it as being full of our selves and vain to find oneself sexually desirable. We always talk that confidence is sexy and attractive, but when someone actually does say it, we always have that crooked look of questioning and judgment.

On the other hand, if we speak negatively of ourselves, friends will immediately reassure us that it isn’t the case and that we are beautiful and loveable. This indirectly perpetuates that we should not talk positively about ourselves because people frown upon it while putting ourselves down brings validation from others.


Wanting to be wanted

Inevitably in a relationship, there will be a high desire partner (HDP) and a low desire partner (LDP). These positions in the dynamic play a role in the politics of sexual desire. The HDP has more sexual desire, but not necessarily towards their spouse or for sex. They might actually want to be wanted by their partner, more than desire sex per se. When we’ve been refused sex multiple times, most people will start questioning their level of desirability. They might even ask their partners if they are still desirable to them.

To avoid any conflict or difficult discussions between partners, the LDP will reassure their HDP partner. This will push the HDP partner to show himself as undesirable so that they can get more validation from their LDP spouse. The lack of self-desirability keeps the HDP more and more undesirable and puts more pressure on the LDP to reassure them on a constant basis, outside and during sex.

The LDP basically controls their spouse’s self-worth and level of desirability. That is because the HDP relies on their lover to give them that validation they so desperately seek. That validation might come from having sex with the HDP, so they actually believe them. This leads most often to pity sex. The more pity sex the couple has, the less the LDP desires sex and their spouse in return.


Not wanting to want

People are generally scared of actually truly wanting their partner. Wanting puts you in a position of vulnerability where you can feel empty if your desire is rejected. Most often the LDP is in this position, but the HDP can also play this role. The LDP feels secured by their HDP partner desiring them more. It creates a sense of constant validation because they also want to be wanted, just like their spouse. They just don’t want to want. When the HDP doesn’t need to be wanted anymore, this creates anxiety and fears in the LDP that their lover will leave the relationship.

Sometimes the LDP will complain if the HDP doesn’t initiate as often or has completely stopped, all the while refusing to initiate sex themselves and complaining that their partner initiates to often. To reel back the HDP into the dynamic, the LDP will start having sex. If the HDP hasn’t gained enough maturity yet and is still needing to be wanted, the dynamic will start back again. The LDP will slowly lose their desire again because the HDP still needs to be wanted.


Wanting to want

Truly having sexual desire comes from a space of fullness, not emptiness. Most people and our society talk about desire as though they are lacking something. That they need to take or be given something (e.g. the LDP gives sex to the HDP). Rarely do we hear people talk about desiring someone as giving to another. Sometimes spouses reward each other’s good behavior with sex. If the HDP is nice enough, their spouse will give them the sex they want. It is an economic exchange in what people call a loving relationship.

How can you want to want and not just want to be wanted?

Wanting to want comes from giving yourself to the other, not being used, like a lot of LDP’s do in their relationship. You self-disclosure during sex your emotions, your sexual fantasies, your fears, your insecurities and your hang-ups. You become authentic and maintain your integrity in the face of rejection and lack of validation from the other. You take the risk of wanting more than your partner. You don’t seek sex to gain validation but to show who you are.

When your spouse doesn’t share the same desire then you, it doesn’t feel like a rejection of self. You don’t get angry or feel hurt, you accept that they don’t share at that particular moment the same desire as you. If your partner doesn’t want to eat the same food as you at the restaurant or watch the same movie or read the same book…do you feel rejected or hurt? Most likely not! So why get so upset that they don’t want to have sex that night? Why is your partner’s lack of sexual desire a reflection of your level of desirability?

  • Do you feel that your sexual advances are inviting?
  • Are you offering something interesting or just taking?
  • Would you have sex with yourself?
  • Are you an enjoyable sexual partner?
  • Are you predictable or creative in your sexual overture and style?
  • When is the last time you took a risk?


What can I do if my partner doesn’t want to want, but I do?

Ask yourself this question before figuring it out: What does it say about you that you chose to remain with a partner that doesn’t want to want [you]? If you feel that you’ve really put some effort into this relationship and you’ve been acting like a desirable partner should, then maybe you should ask yourself if you still want this person and this relationship.

This is a very hard decision to put into action especially in certain circumstances and in very long-term relationships where you invested a lot. You may also choose to stay in the relationship knowing you are with a person who doesn’t want to want. No matter what your choice is, you are the one who lives with the consequences and you can sometimes only choose one of the options.



sexologue montreal

Francois Renaud M.A.
Sex therapist & psychotherapist Montreal

Specialized in couple’s and sex therapy

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