This is a concept I find myself using a lot as I think about sexuality, so I’m going to coin terms and then refer back to this post when I use them in the future. From my experience, and according to several things I’ve read, there are two different ways to be interested in sex. You can be proactively interested, hungry for it, feeling some level of discomfort or even misery if you don’t get a sexual outlet. Or you can be responsively interested, content without sex but happy to respond if someone else (someone you like/trust/are into) initiates sexual activity, and ramping up into hot-and-horny mode after some stimulation. I’ve written about this distinction here, and Emily Nagoski writes about it here.
It seems that, while most people experience both kinds of sexual desire, a lot of people find that they typically feel one kind or the other. And it also seems that people who typically feel proactively-interested in sex are more likely to be male, and people who typically feel responsively-interested are more likely to be female. In my last post on the subject, in fact, I referred to them as “male-typical” and “female-typical.” But I want a gender-neutral way of talking about this distinction, because there are plenty of people who cross gender lines on this. So I’m going to start saying P-type and R-type.
P-type: Sexual desire that arises spontaneously, that has some level of urgency, that proactively seeks out a mate (and/or a private release.) Also a person whose sexual desire more often looks like this than like the R-type.
R-type: Sexual desire that is aroused by an external stimulus, that (in the early stages) is fairly easily dismissed, that intensifies in response to sexual stimulus (either by a partner or by oneself.) Also a person whose sexual desire more often looks like this than like the P-type.
As my study and understanding of sexuality increases, I may refine these categories, but that will do to be getting on with.
Also feel free to riddle the comment box with anecdotes: are you more P-type or R-type? What about your partners? Do you feel that your pattern of response is typical or atypical for your gender, and if atypical, has that caused problems for you? I’d love to know.