While there is still a pervasive double standard regarding sexual behavior across gender lines, contemporary women have more room than in the past to explore their sexuality as they please, largely due to outspoken feminists, changing attitudes about gender and spaces like Clutch which give us a place to empower ourselves to do so.
And for years, I took full advantage of these rights. I had quick hookups and long-term affairs when I pleased. I said ‘no’ when I wanted to say ‘yes’ from time to time, but more often than not…I did what (and whom) I pleased. I had an unblemished record of consistent condom usage and I never slept with anyone else’s man. It wasn’t that I was doing every dude in town (not at all, trust me), but my sex life was fuller and richer than most of the women I know
Then, one day, it suddenly stopped.
It was as if my libido had an off switch and someone came behind me and flipped it. I had no sexual desire whatsoever. This, from someone who routinely got horny just from thinking about a certain paramour (or Idris Elba) for a moment too long. And while this would be an annoyance under any circumstances, it would have been much easier to manage if I were single. Too bad my sexual bubble burst as I marked my six-month-anniversary in the happiest relationship I’d ever had.
“Are you okay?”
He’d ask that every time we’d have sex (or attempt to). And with good reason, as my formerly passionate lovemaking faces had been replaced by grimaces and frowns. He wasn’t hurting me, but there was not one fiber of my body that craved sex. It wasn’t him; I still found him to be handsome and attractive and wonderful in all ways. And prior to this, he had been a good lover. But something in me was gone.
We spent countless hours on the internet researching the problem. We chalked it up to diet (mine is always off because I’m always trying to lose that ‘last ten pounds’ in some silly way or another) and stress. One could be changed; the other is here to stay. I’m a full-time student with a part-time job and full-time family issues. As much as I try to take time for myself, I’m under a lot a lot a lot of pressure right now.
Then, we tried porn. I used to like porn. I still found it facinating, but it didn’t do much for me. I tried talking to my friends. No one had experienced such a thing before and they were less concerned about how I felt than how it may impact my relationship (one of my most conservative girlfriends still hit me with “Well, are you sucking his dick regularly? You have to do something for him.”)
Ah, yes. Our relationship. Do you know how it feels to tell a man that nothing he does is doing anything for you in the bedroom? I tried lying about my dead libido for a while, but soon realized that I value both of us too much to fake it. He was hurt and took everything personally, assuming that my lack of sex drive was a reflection on him.
I started to feel like a failure as a girlfriend; how could I not provide him with such a basic need as sex? And on a personal level, why was I no longer enjoying something I’d always liked? I’ve never been multi-orgasmic or anything but I liked sex a lot. And now it bored me, made me uncomfortable and lacked all appeal. I began to feel unattractive (which was something I had been coping with prior to this) and broken.
Had I had insurance at the time, I would have spoken to a doctor . Since I didn’t I kept with my internet diagnosis (stress and diet) and focused on addressing those two things. I also tried to take time to enjoy the sensual pleasures of my daily life-the smell of my perfume the redness of a rose, the taste of a peach-in hopes that it would somehow entice me back to the land of carnal pleasure. I read about sex, daydreamed about it and prayed that one day, I would be able to find my way back.
Sure enough, after about six months, I started to experience desire yet again. As subtly as it had disappeared, my libido began to re-emerge. I was glad. Boo was real glad. This rough patch actually made my romance stronger; without lust, there was more space for us to be intimate in other ways.
As we started to resume our normal sex life, I continued to reflect. How lucky I am to have a partner who cared about my health and well-being to be concerned about my issues and not merely frustrated at what he was losing. And how scary it is to think that something we take for granted could just disappear in such a way. Sex is everywhere. You can’t watch a commercial, listen to the radio, flip through a magazine or even walk down the street without being reminded of our culture’s fascination with getting busy. Sexuality had never been at the center of my self-identity but it had played a part. With it missing, I felt incomplete somehow. I knew better than to feel that way, but I couldn’t help it. I’m just grateful those days are gone.
Have you experienced any changes to your sex drive? Why? Do you, or have you ever hated sex?