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This post carries on from the previous “Understanding desire part one” which went into detail about the sexual response system. Now let’s delve into our “sexual accelerators and brakes”…

A new normal….

Emily Nagoski (a fantastic scientist and feminist who actually likes women) came up with an alternative idea of how our sex drives work in her book “Come As You Are: the surprising science that will transform your sex life” (*affiliate link*).

In it, she talks about the “Dual Control Model”

Instead of our sex drives being in constant motion, she believes we have:

  1. a sexual accelerator (the things that turn us on) and 
  2. a sexual brake (the things that turn us off)

These two energies are in a constant state of flux, and becoming turned on means looking at the balance of how much brake and how much accelerator you have at any one time.

Increasing the accelerator and decreasing the brake makes it easier to become aroused, and visa versa.

Why is this helpful for my low sex drive?

The traditional way we try to increase our desire is by putting our foot down on our “sexual accelerator” to try and turn ourselves on more…

E.g. Dirty weekends in Bognor, sticking on a naughty film, going on a spending spree in Ann Summers, porn, butt plugs….


Although this works for some, many women find this has no effect. 


This is because if our “sexual brake” is down as hard as it can be, no amount of accelerator pressing is going to get us off.


So understanding exactly what those individual brakes are, and learning how to reduce or remove them, is KEY to maintaining a great sex drive.

We are all different in what makes us feel open to sex, and what closes us down. So finding out your own preferences and obstacles to desire is a really important part of owning your sexuality.

Interestingly, Nagoski thinks that women have much more sensitive brakes than men, meaning that for many women they face more barriers to getting turned on.

Knowing about the sexual brake and accelerator are as important to understand as the different sex drive models (read more about these here) to help you understand how you *actually* work (and to dispel some of the myths around desire).

If you’re all finished up here, why not check out the understanding desire series part three- the problem with “diagnosing” a low sex drive.