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The Myth: Desire is desire, plain and simple.
The Truth: Actually, there are two kinds of desire—spontaneous and responsive. The spontaneous form is the one we usually (and somewhat mistakenly) associate with a healthy sex life. "It happens out of the blue. A stray thought crosses your mind and all of a sudden you really want sex," says Emily Nagoski, PhD, author of Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform You Sex Life. But you can also start to feel aroused, then get that feeling that you want to have sex, explains Virginia Sadock, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the program in human sexuality NYU Langone Medical Center—that's responsive desire. We've known since the 1970s that desire doesn't have to happen first, but the idea that you're not normal if you don't feel that out-of-the-blue urge to get intimate is still very widespread, says Nagoski. So let us help clarify: Both spontaneous and responsive desire are totally normal, and neither one means anything is amiss.