Why Romance Novels May Increase Your Sex Drive

Are you struggling with low libido or low sex drive?

Are you reading romance novels? If not, you probably should be.

When it comes to sex drive, most women need more build up than what they are getting.

If you don't wake up ready to have sex or feel desire as soon as you think about sex, you probably have what is called responsive rather than spontaneous desire. This does not mean you are broken, the majority of women have responsive desire when it comes to libido.

Responsive versus Spontaneous Desire

Responsive desire means that you need to be stimulated in some way, either physically, such as through foreplay, or mentally. My thoughts on foreplay are too extensive to go into here, so let’s stick with the mental component, which for many of us is 90% of it. Mental stimulation is a huge necessity for most women, and the major thing getting in the way of this is....our lives.

Stress and the overwhelm of our lives is often having the opposite effect on our sex drive. Our minds are going a million miles a minute and sex is often the last thing on it. Even if we try to have a night of sex with our partner, the shopping list for tomorrow or the conversation you had with Susan the day before is often competing for your attention the entire time.

Reading or exposing ourselves to romance, erotica, or sexual stories helps us out in two ways:

It Helps our Minds Focus on Sex

Sex is actually a very mindful act and it requires a lot of focused attention. The ultimate goal is to be incredibly present in the moment, aware of every little touch and sensation. However, if you aren’t an avid meditator and you find it hard to focus during sex, you can focus on a sexual story or fantasy to hold your mind’s attention. At least what you are focusing on is in the realm of sex and not in the grocery store. The more you can meditate and practice mindfulness the easier it will be to be present. However, holding fantasies derived from romance novels in your mind is a great stepping stone. It’s a practice, just like meditation. And just like meditation, it gets easier over time.

Side note: If you have been waiting for a good reason to start meditating, this may be a good time to start ;)

It Helps in Building Up Sexual Tension

For women with responsive desire patterns, having great sex often means that we need to put ourselves into situations to help foster or build up the sexual experience, even if we don’t feel like having sex in that exact moment. This is the build up we often get early on in relationships when we are anticipating a date or when our partner may kiss us. When we are in a long-term relationship, this novelty and tension can be harder to find, and it takes more of a conscious effort to create situations that foster this.

Putting our mind in a sexual story or fantasy helps to turn on the sexual parts of our brains and this helps to lay down and reaffirm those specific neural networks that help to foster sexual desire. For many of us, we don’t even know what kind of sexual fantasy we enjoy, and we may not have the imagination to think up something on our own. Not yet at least.

This is where romance or erotica novels come in. One very practical way we can foster the feminine and get our heads into the sex game is by reading these books. The actual act of doing this helps with our sexual desire. It also gives us ideas and situations that we can take into our daily lives when our noses are not in the pages of these books. This could be fantasizing during the day or in the shower before we “want” to have sex, even if we don’t necessarily want to have sex in that exact moment. It can help us get prepped for it, initiating that responsive desire inside of us.

Reading romance and erotica also plays into a very important part of sexual desire: mystery. The act of not knowing what is going to happen is very exciting to us sexually, and reading a book or watching a movie with a complex storyline aside from merely the physical act of sex is a great way to experience sexual mystery. It can help add that element of excitement that may be lacking in your current relationship and it can give you ideas of how to bring that spark back with your real life partner so you can create your own romance story together.

Does it have to be books?

Watching great romance or erotica movies is definitely an option, however in my opinion there aren't a lot of great ones out there. The porn industry is often dominated by visually stimulating fictitious “male fantasy” driven sexual scenarios that many women do not find tasteful or enjoyable. According to one of the lead educators at Porn Hub, one of the most searched terms on their site is “porn for women.” Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of porn that women actually enjoy. Aside from Fifty Shades of Grey, which isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, there just isn’t a lot of great visual forms of erotica for women and our unique sexual desires.

The industry that IS catering to our needs is the romance novel industry. And this isn’t a tiny book section. The romance fiction industry is worth $1.08 billion dollars a year, which makes it about a third larger than the inspirational book industry, and about the size of the mystery novel genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined. The Fifty Shades of Grey and Outlander series, two of the top romance series right now, were books before they were films.

So until Hollywood catches up with our sexual fantasy demands, I recommend reading romance novels or exploring the new genre of audio sexual stories. New companies such as Dipsea are creating apps with short stories for those who don’t enjoy reading.

I personally enjoy the novels because it spreads out the anticipation and story building, but I think it’s great that other avenues of consuming romance and erotica are popping up.

What Do I Recommend?

When it comes to romance and erotica, there are all types of genres and styles. All of our desires and fantasies are different as well. I recommend you start exploring and see what you like. Used book stores are a great place to go as they are often packed with romance novels and they are inexpensive. I personally like historical romance novels set in the 18th and 19th century, similar to the Outlander series.

As I write this blog post I am in Scotland and I feel like I am living out a real life Outlander fantasy. For those of you who don’t know, Outlander is a romance, time travel, and adventure book series written by Diana Gabaldon based in the Highlands of Scotland around the Jacobite uprising. It was turned into a Starz series as well. Another historical fiction romance author I like is Nicole Jordan.

Word of caution when it comes to romance: just ignore the cover art...I recognize most romance novel covers are incredibly cheezey! Don’t judge the book by its cover!

So, before you go to bed, grab a fun romance novel, read a little bit each night, and maybe you will wake up wanting to do more than just go back to sleep.

Wishing you pleasure in your reading adventures!

Dr. Gordon