“But you like it”: why physical arousal does not always mean a desire to have sex

physical arousal

Sometimes a woman does not want to have sex, but she has physiological signs of arousal: blood rushes to the labia, lubricant is released. Or vice versa: the head feels excitement, but the body does not react in any way. This phenomenon is nonconcordance, or inconsistency of excitation.

What is nonconcordance

Excitation is divided into two types:

  • Physiological – occurs in response to caresses . For example, in women, the walls of the vagina become moist and the clitoris enlarges. 
  • Subjective – mental involvement in sex, that is, emotionally a person wants to have sex.

Sometimes physiological and subjective arousal do not coincide. The body does not respond to caresses, although mentally the person is excited. Or vice versa – the body is excited, but there is no emotional involvement. This is nonconcordance.

Sex educator Kanisha Hall explained in Mindbodygreen that sometimes nonconcordance hurts your sex life. The person does not understand what is happening to him. He may consider himself inadequate, wrong, feel as if his body is betraying him. Such thoughts cause stress and can affect relationships with a partner. 

Why the body responds to stimuli, but the person does not feel anything

Sex educator Emily Nagoski explained in her TED talk that the genital response doesn’t always signal desire or pleasure. Blood flow to the genitals may increase in response to stimuli unrelated to sex. For example, to a random phrase that the brain considered exciting. A person may not want sex at all. Emily Nagoski compared it to salivation.

“If I told you that I was salivating when I bit into a wormy, rotten apple, would you think, ‘Well, if she’s salivating, then she really likes to eat a wormy, rotten apple’? Of course not. You would know that salivation is just an automatic reaction.”

Emily Nagoski, sex educator

Why a person feels excited, but the body does not react 

A 2012 experiment showed that women experience nonconcordance more than men. The body of the subjects reacted to sexual stimuli, but, according to the girls themselves, they did not feel arousal.

Kanisha Hall believes that it may be the stigmatization of female pleasure. For a long time it was believed that women should not enjoy sex. Therefore, they have physical and mental barriers. The expert also noted that stress, hormonal imbalance and psychological trauma can interfere with physical arousal. 

What to do if you notice nonconcordance in yourself

Don’t blame yourself

According to Kanisha Hall, it’s important to remind yourself that nonconcordance is not a deviation. Getting physically aroused in non-sexual situations or not always responding positively to a partner’s caresses is normal and experienced by many.

Instead of self-blame, you can try to trace when nonconcordance occurs. What affects physical arousal or lack of it? Do you really want sex? These questions will help you understand your true desires based on your feelings and thoughts. 

Explore yourself

Kanisha Hall advises to examine your feelings. If the body does not react in any way, perhaps the petting that you practice is not suitable for you. You can try other techniques with a partner or masturbate alone. So you will understand what responds best in your body. 

Use lubricant 

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