Sex Drive Is Subjective (+ Sex Doesn’t Just Happen)

Did you know that lack of sexual desire is the number one reason why people seek out sex therapy? They believe society’s narrative that healthy people have a “sex drive” that propels them to have sex. When a person does not feel like having sex, they automatically assume that there is something wrong with them.


The Problem With Calling It A Sex Drive

The medical definition of “drive” is the force that activates human impulses and is often vital to the survival of the body. A great example of a medical use of “drive” is hunger and thirst. Both are essential to the survival of the human body. Sex is not essential to living. Sex might be essential to the procreation and continuation of the species, but, individually, we will not die if we do not have sex. Now, if we don’t have water or food, we could very well die. Thus, sex should not be included with the term “drive.”

Sex drive and libido are often used interchangeably in the media. Having a low libido or a high sex drive are often thrown around as excuses for actions as if there is some identified normal libido or sex drive that we should all be aspiring to.

There is not. Libido is loosely defined as a person’s sexual desire. If someone doesn’t have the standard narrative of sexual desires, then they are labeled as having either a “high” or “low” libido. The term libido is a little better than sex drive in that it doesn’t create a false imperative that sex is for survival.

The term “libido” first came into the academic setting with Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s. Freud claimed that libido was the primary force of all behavior. Freud theorized how we develop and lose our libido as we age and develop. He put a lot of weight on our libido in our life—so much that we are still recovering from that assertion. What Freud failed to recognize was cultural context, stress, and hormones play a huge impact on our sexual desires. Libido is not just a biological cycle perpetuated by the human need for love; there are many other factors at play.

Today people have ideas of what is a “healthy” libido and what is an “unhealthy” libido. These ideas come from the media, family, culture, and comparing their partner’s libido with their own. We, as a society, love to compare and contrast our experiences to see if others are experiencing the same thing. But we are all lacking the proper knowledge to have a “healthy” libido, in part because of the semantics behind the archaic language surrounding sex that we have been brought up with.


What Is A Healthy Libido?

A healthy libido is when a person is happy and content with their sex life and does not feel pressure from outside influences (partners, media, or other) to conform to a certain standard. If you would like to have more sex, then put your energy into it. There is a myth that sex is supposed to just happen.

Here are a couple of tips to balance your libido to fit your comfort level:

  • Imagine that you are a person that loved sex. Imagine what you would look like, what you would say, how you would act, what it would feel like, and what kind of sex you would like. Now, think about what is holding you back from being that person. Try to address a couple of the barriers.
  • If lack of time is on the list of inhibitors, I give you permission to plan out sex. It’s okay to set aside time in the day for pleasure. We set time out of our day for eating, exercising, and socializing…it's only natural to plan out time for pleasure.
  • If you planned out sex and you are not in the mood, have a “pleasure plan” that helps you get into the mood and set all the other stressors on hold. Pleasure plans can include taking a shower, reading an erotic novel, or meditating.
  • If you are not comfortable with sex, still make time for pleasure. Do something that makes you happy and relaxes your body.


There is no standard for libido. There are plenty of obstacles that we can encounter on our path to finding our own rhythm and cycle of sex, but remember that you are just trying to have pleasure. You don’t need a pill, a doctor, or even a sex therapist to get your libido back—you simply need to take some time to connect intimately with yourself to hear your true sexual desires and needs.