The Rucker Model of Intimate Sex
Understanding the Process of Sexual Desire

To view a diagram of the Rucker Model of Intimate Sex, click here.

What is Sexual Desire?

Sexual desire consists of more than just the urge to have sex. In fact, for women in particular and for some men, there is no noticeable urge. So, some people start from neutral whereas others start already feeling horny. The three elements of sexual desire are biological urge, intimacy and chemistry with one’s partner, and erotic mood (or frame of mind). If a person’s biological urge is minimal, the other two elements of sexual desire become especially important!

The biological urge refers to one’s libido. Both men and women need to have the appropriate hormonal balance and in particular, enough testosterone, to feel at least open to sex. The range of normal urge level can vary from person to person – from feeling neutral to feeling horny. Even if a person feels only neutral toward sex, sufficient sexual desire can be achieved by cultivating intimacy and an erotic mood.

If there is a significant degree of intimacy and chemistry with one’s partner, then the feeling of wanting to connect physically with the other person can lead one into being sexual. In other words, intimacy can fuel sexual desire!

Erotic mood (or frame of mind) includes how one feels about sex and whether or not one looks forward to sex. One can nurture one’s erotic mood by fantasies or by projecting the idea that an anticipated sexual experience will be positive. Each person has their own “erotic bridges” that help them get into an erotic mood. These can range from something kinesthetic (such as a massage or a bath) to things that get the mind focused in a erotic direction (such as reading an erotic story).

In summary, for a person whose biological urge is neutral, sexual desire can be increased by improving intimacy with one’s partner and/or by cultivating a more significant erotic mood. See Cultivating Sexual Desire below.

Factors Influencing Sexual Desire

There are a host of factors that can influence sexual desire. Many of these factors block or dampen sexual desire. The better one can sort out the factors which are affecting one’s desire, the better one can address them and thereby enhance sexual desire.

General Factors:

Factors affecting Biological Urge:

Factors affecting Intimacy and Chemistry with Partner:

Factors affecting Erotic Mood or Frame of Mind:

Cultivating Sexual Desire

To cultivate sexual desire one can:

The Sexual Experience

Sexual desire is the gateway into a sexual experience. The sexual experience may include kissing, caressing, sexual stimulation of varying sorts, and intercourse. Rather than the traditional term foreplay, followed by intercourse as the main event, it is more flexible to consider all sexual experiences as loveplay or sex. Certainly everyone is entitled to their favourite activities, but becoming too narrow in focus can increase the risk of sex becoming boring.

Personal Value & Meaning of the Sexual Experience

It is important that each participant is able to derive value and meaning during each sexual experience. Here are some examples of what people value about sex:

How You Feel About the Sexual Experience

How you feel about the experience later (i.e., in retrospect) influences your feelings about yourself and your feelings about your partner, and can contribute to what feeling you project toward your subsequent sexual experiences.


Intimate sex is multidimensional and different for each person. There are many variations of normal and many opportunities to change, vary, and/or enhance the process. Having a model in mind can help one make sense of a very personal and complex process and can serve as a guide to finding strategies that make sex more intimate and rewarding.

©1998, 2008 Bianca Rucker, PhD

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If either you or your partner would like to increase your sexual desire or improve the intimacy in your sex life, please contact Dr. Rucker, at her Vancouver, BC therapy office. She can be reached by phone at (604) 731-4466 or by email at

Bianca Rucker, PhD, RN, RMFT

Registered Nurse & Marriage and Family Therapist

Sex Therapy, Relationship and Couples Counselling, Vancouver, BC

#400 - 601 W. Broadway, (604) 731-4466