Sexual Discordance…Does That Happen to You?

My body betrays my head, or my head betrays my body.

Maybe you’ve had a sexual experience where your sexual desires and pleasure weren’t in line with your body’s physiological reactions? If so, don’t worry, you’re not broken. This phenomenon that affects many individuals is called sexual discordance. It’s like grocery shopping for a recipe. In this case, the recipe is the sexual activity and the elements we need are pleasure, sexual desire as well as a genital response. Sexual discordance is when we are missing one of these 3 elements from our grocery cart. Sex is still possible, but the result will probably be different.

For a better understanding, here are some examples:

  • Achieve vaginal lubrication even during unwanted sex
  • Having pleasure during sexual activity without experiencing sexual desire for your partner
  • Experiencing a lot of sexual desire and pleasure without getting an erection
  • Experiencing a lot of sexual desire and sexual pleasure, but not having an erection or lubrification


Sexual discordances and it’s difficulties

We can imagine that sexual discordance bring a lot of complex problems and create confusion for a lot of people and their partners. Many people base their partner’s sexual satisfaction and pleasure on the sexual response (erection or lubrification). A lubrificated vagina and an erect penis is not a GUARANTEED sign of sexual pleasure or consent!

“Wait a freaking minute! Your telling me that being wet or hard doesn’t mean you want sex!” That is exactly what I am saying and is more frequent than you can possibly imagine. Even more difficult to believe is when a man is implicated, as we have strong beliefs that men always want sex and if they are erect that it is a sure sign they want it. A very difficult myth to bust for sexologist. You can even have an orgasm and that doesn’t even mean you wanted the sex in the first place. “No way! Now you lost me. Having an orgasm is fun for everyone all the time!”. Sorry, but no! Your body reacting to stimulation and having the “correct” physiological response by being lubricated or erect and obtaining an orgasm doesn’t necessarily mean it was enjoyed, that there was sexual pleasure or sexual desire.



“So, what you are telling me is that my boyfriend can be hard like a rock or my girlfriend wet like a water slide and not even having fun…What do I do with that now?”

How do I know my partner is having sexual discordance

Your body’s sexual response (erection-lubrification) is only ONE sign that you can use, but it is not enough. During your sexual exchanges, you have to look for different aspects such as seduction all the way to the end that demonstrate your partner is willing and enjoying themselves.

    • Is your partner moving, screaming, moaning, implicating themselves while having sex with you?
    • Are they looking at you in the eyes or avoiding eye contact? Why do you think they are avoiding?
    • How are they kissing you (softly, gently, disengaged, passionately, lovingly, forcefuly, strongly, rudely, mecanically, ferociously, etc.)?
    • Are they verbally expressing their pleasure and preferences, their desires?
    • Are you under the impression that they would prefer doing something else? Are they in their heads?
    • Do you feel YOU are engaged in the sexual exchange?
    • Are you really listening and being attentive to the other person or only seeking to give them an orgasm?



In short, if you are experiencing episodes of sexual discordance, the important thing is to question what you are missing in the sexual experience. Is it desire, pleasure or genital response? Several elements can have a negative impact on desire and pleasure within couples’ relationships. Whether it is recurring arguments, lack of intimacy, sexual routine, lack of spontaneity, absence of seduction, a lack of erotic abilities, a lack of confidence, lack of attentiveness to the others needs and desires, resentment that hasn’t been delt with. The most important thing is to open yourself up to your partner by having a dialogue on your desires and sexual preferences. It can only help you understand your partner and thus achieve a sexual experience that is pleasant, exciting and fulfilling, while being honest.

The important thing is to have fun

In general, pleasure is defined as a state of contentment that is created in an individual through the satisfaction of a need or desire. When it comes to sexual pleasure, everyone is likely to give a different answer as to what gives them pleasure. We also know that what can be very pleasant for someone can be very unpleasant for another. Overall, the pursuit of pleasure in sexual relationships is often associated with either a need for security, emotional fusion and intimacy or a “narcissistic” gratification that fills a need for a sense of competence in the individual. You can also be looking for enjoyable sexual sensations to your body and genitals.

Need for fusion: “When I have sex, I have fun because I feel really close to my partner”

“Narcissistic” gratification: “Sexuality gives me pleasure because I feel that I can be seductive and desirable”

Pleasurable physical sensations: “I feel pleasurable sensations on my penis, vulva/vagina and elsewhere on my body.

Do you need emotional fusion, narcissitic gratification and physical sensations during sex? How do you feel this influences your way of acting during sex? What do you perceive in your sexual partner? Your needs, desires and intentions will influence the pleasure you receive during sex.




Audrey Labelle, B.A., sexologist

étudiante sexologie


Francois Renaud M.A, sexologist psychotherapist

sex therapist montreal