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this can’t be the only way to get your fix
A few years ago I found myself in a sexless relationship. And it wasn’t by choice.
My ex was batsh*t crazy, knew I liked sex a lot, and after months of losing every argument (it’s easy to be right when your mate is a nutjob), my beloved finally figured out how to get under my skin.
By withholding nookie.
Now I won’t go into detail about what happened once I figured out what was going on. But let’s just say – for the sake of me not getting arrested, I have now decided that the next time I find myself with someone who doesn’t appreciate the joys of carnal bliss, I’m bouncing imeed-jettly. Like we don’t even need to talk about it. Just put my stuff in a box and I’ll come pick it up after work.
Some of you may be saying “But Blue…love is so grand…it transcends physical contact”
And to you, I respectfully say -Bullsh*t.
I can sit around not getting fuqqed on my own. I don’t need to be in a relationship and have somebody in my house drinking the last of the milk, in order to be celibate. And I make no apologies for that stance.
Folks who act like not being intimate is somehow sanctimonious slay me. Real talk: the more spiritual and at peace I become, the more sensual I feel. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Sex is divine, and if God didn’t want us to have it, he would’ve given us genitals like Ken and Barbie.
Last year I compiled a list of all the non-politically correct lessons I’ve learned about love and life over the years. The following excerpts pretty much sum up how I feel about you non-boning love birds out there:
Great sex is a healthy and valid part of a loving relationship. Anyone who insists on convincing you otherwise is either not having any or aren’t very good at it.
Love may be unconditional…but relationships aren’t. People get left by folks who love them every day.
If you’ve somehow fallen into the trap of thinking your sexless relationship is ok that’s cool (better you than me). I’d just suggest you find a whip, some hot candle wax and a copy of the Kama Sutra just in case.
And while you’re at it, get on your knees and pray that you aren’t dating someone who shares my personal views. Otherwise - you are probably about to get left – or if you’re dealing with a coward – cheated on.
Below is a fascinating article I ran across in Elle magazine.
And by “fascinating” I mean I’m giving everyone in it an epic side-eye.
Does a couple have to be hot and heavy to be happy?
By Maggie Bullock
After 11 years together, Kathleen* and Scott are, in many ways, the envy of their friends. “We can still spend 24 hours a day with each other and never get bored,” says Kathleen, a 34-year-old teacher in New York City.
“We’re entirely 100 percent supportive of each other.” But behind the scenes, they share a secret that most of those friends would never suspect. Sometime during their second year together, Kathleen realized they hadn’t had sex in a month.
She was shocked. “Then it became three months,” she says. “By year seven, it was, Whoa, we haven’t had sex this year.”
Natalie, 30, a Brooklyn-based novelist, can relate. A month before her wedding last year, “my friend tried to stage an intervention,” she says with a wry laugh. “She said I was dooming myself to a sexless relationship.” Unfazed, Natalie said the woman— who, incidentally, was 10 years into her own still-hot marriage—was missing the point.
True, after four years of cohabitation, sex had dwindled to a biannual-at-best event. But that felt like “the cheap, weird part of it,” Natalie says, whereas the impending wedding “was about our love.” Sex, she says, was less important than the other reasons Tom would make a great life partner: “He’s great with kids. And he brings an element of joy into my life that wasn’t there before.” Can that be enough?
There’s no RDA for sex; no prescribed “supposed to” frequency. But most of us assume that, barring significant health or emotional issues, a good relationship has to have at least a little of it. When sex slumps, it’s supposed to be a red flag, a sign that other things—intimacy, connectedness, romance—are on the way out, if they’re not gone already. Right?
According to Kathleen, no. She insists that while her marriage isn’t perfect, it’s happy, stable, loving, and fun—without sex. It’s not that she thinks sex is somehow wrong or even unimportant; she just doesn’t happen to want it. And she’s sick of hearing from society at large (see Drs. Oz, Phil, and Berman) that if her marriage isn’t steamy, it must be somehow illegitimate. The few people she’s told have reacted with incredulity—“I think people would be less shocked if I told them I had one of those sex swings in my bedroom”—followed by unwelcome advice based on assumptions that range from false to insulting: He’s gay, she’s gay, they’re asexual…. “The worst is when people say, ‘Oh, so he’s like your brother?’ ” she says. “Ew. He’s my husband.”
Despite what Kathleen’s friends might believe, low- and no-sex couples are not all that rare. In one survey, 14.1 percent of married men and 14.9 percent of married women experienced little or no sexual activity in the past year—and not necessarily as a side effect of menopause or because a relationship had cooled over decades. The women I talked to for this story are dynamic, intelligent, attractive, childless, financially independent. And they’re young.
“The idea that age is what slows us down is a myth,” says therapist Michele Weiner Davis. When her book The Sex-Starved Marriage (Simon & Schuster) came out several years ago, she was inundated with e-mails from readers in their twenties and thirties. “They’re young, maybe they just got married, and they’re saying, ‘I’ve lost it. What in the world is going on here?’ ” she says.
In a study of 1,748 women cited in Why Women Have Sex (Times Books), by sex researchers David M. Buss, PhD, and Cindy M. Meston, PhD, 32 percent of women aged 18 to 24 (single and married) reported having little interest in sex in the past year. According to Meston, who heads the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, that one-third percentage remained relatively constant throughout all age groups, until the fifties and sixties, when it rose to 37 percent.
It’s not that these women don’t want to want sex. The decline of a once-thriving libido can be devastating: an identity altering loss that results in feelings of inadequacy and frustration not unlike those associated with erectile dysfunction. “Sex used to be the easy part, a bodily urge like hunger or tiredness. It happened, whether I wanted it to or not,” says Gina, 32. “Now, I can’t even quite remember how that spark felt.”
This loss would be painful at any age, but young women are also keenly aware that while waning desire can always be milked for a laugh—thank you, Liz Lemon—it can also feel like a failing on a wider social scale. Liberated, educated young women don’t want sex? One can imagine our feminist forebears shaking their heads in disgust.
For if The Feminine Mystique and Cosmo converged on one point, it’s that the modern woman isn’t just entitled to sex. She also wants it, enjoys it, and, by this point, should be pretty damned good at it. Today’s twenty and thirtysomethings are among the first American women to grow up operating under that assumption. Shouldn’t they, if anyone, be hopping into the sack?
If they’re not, well, it’s possible that sexual liberation is in some way to blame. Call it bachelorette syndrome. For some, monogamy becomes tougher if your single years conditioned you to expect different kinds of sex with different kinds of people. Newness, mystery, and novelty have always been an essential part of the turn-on; after a while, coming home to hubby, even if he’s Mr. Right, may leave you cold.
It’s a matter of habit and taste but also of basic human chemistry. In the heady, initial phase of love, “the brain chemicals are very much like those of women who have obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Meston says. You want to have sex constantly, and even being away from that person for a brief period can be depressing.
But a few months later, each partner reverts back to his or her hormonal baseline. Your baseline drive compels you to want sex every night, while your partner turns out to be a once-a-weeker? It can feel like a hormonal bait and switch.
In this era of sexual experience, even turning 30 isn’t quite as fun as it used to be. Remember the sexual peak? That notion originated decades ago, when conventional wisdom held that women didn’t master the art of the orgasm until their thirties. Contrary to popular belief, the theory was not that, around 32 or so, women suddenly turn into revved-up sex fiends, but simply that once they got better at sex, they’d want more of it. Now that most people start having sex younger, gaining expertise and confidence earlier, “if there’s a peak, it’s probably during the early twenties,” Meston says. Yet another benefit that’s wasted on the young.
Science still lacks a firm grip on why or how women’s sex drives plummet. According to Erick Janssen, PhD, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, the condition known clinically as Hypoactive Sexual Desire is highly subjective. “When someone says she has low desire, we don’t necessarily know what that means,” Janssen says. “Is it that she just doesn’t think about sex, but when she does engage in it, she becomes aroused? Or is it more complicated?”
When scientists gauge women’s sexual responses by measuring blood flow to their genitals, they often don’t see a strong correlation between what’s happening in the body and how turned-on women actually feel. Indeed, this is why we don’t pop Lady Viagra. The drug has a similar physiological effect on both men and women, sending a surge of blood to the nether regions—but not necessarily one that creates a state of arousal or desire in women. “If a woman isn’t already feeling sexual toward her partner, simply increasing her blood flow isn’t going to make her want to have sex,” says Meston, who has performed some of the initial tests of Viagra-like drugs on women.
Meston’s book points out a few common culprits to look for when sex drive drops. She says birth control pills containing the active ingredients desogestrel or norgestimate have been shown to lower testosterone, a hormone that helps fuel arousal for both men and women. The book also contends that up to 96 percent of women taking SSRIs, the class of antidepressants that acts on serotonin receptors in the brain, experience sexual side effects; newer antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin and Celexa, have better sexual track records.
But by and large, younger women can’t blame their lagging libidos on physiological problems. Testosterone begins to decline around age 20, but in most cases it doesn’t dip drastically until 45 or later. “I’d venture a guess that 90 percent of premenopausal women who say they have a low sex drive actually have normal hormone levels,” Meston says.
The problem is more likely to stem from a host of even more insidious libido-killers: not just emotional or psychological trauma, but also stress, relationship problems, depression, weight gain, body image issues, anger, tiredness, infidelity, childbirth, power issues, past abuse—not to mention the routine and ennui that can come with long-term relationships. Who doesn’t suffer from at least one of these?
Still, these factors tend to dampen desire, not snuff it out altogether. Experts define a “sexless” relationship as one in which sex occurs 10 or fewer times per year. For Kathleen, that situation evolved gradually, seeping into the foundation of her relationship like a slow leak. She recalls the stress of tackling New York City in her early twenties, “working around the clock, just wanting to sleep all weekend,” and finding herself simultaneously more attached to Scott and less interested in sleeping with him.
“For years, I woke up every morning thinking, Today I have to try to have sex,” she says, describing the guilt and anxiety of that decline. “It throws into question, well, do we still love each other? How can we be together if we’re not having sex? But the more you keep having those conversations, the more you realize that you are together without sex.”
They tried therapy but only made it through one or two sessions with a handful of practitioners, each of whom seemed “too old or too kooky—like they were trying to coach someone from my parents’ generation,” she says. And attempts to work it out on their own backfired; those earnest, stressful conversations rocked the safety of their otherwise happy domesticity without offering clear solutions.
Before they got married, she confronted the situation. “I told Scott he’d be better off with someone who enjoys sex,” Kathleen says. “He told me, ‘I’d rather be with you and never have sex for the rest of my life than not be with you.’ ” Five years on, she believes he’s been true to his word.
There’s a power struggle at work here. As distraught as she may be over her lax libido, the partner whose drive is lower is the one holding the cards; if he or she doesn’t want it, it doesn’t happen. Natalie says her husband “would have sex with me every day if he could.” When she began turning him down in their second year together, “he wanted to talk about it all the time. But the more we talked, the less I wanted to do it.” The longer they didn’t do it, “the more anxiety there was around the act itself,” she says. “If you already weren’t excited about it, now you’re even less so.” Tom married her without pushing the point, but she says he still hasn’t given up: “He just gets more and more frustrated when he doesn’t have it.”
Weiner Davis is frank about the bargain these women are driving. “They expect their spouses to (a) not complain and (b) be monogamous,” she says. “That’s really an unfair and unworkable relationship.” She says some women write off their partner’s needs as “scratching a biological itch,” when in fact he wants to feel “wanted, loved, important, connected.
Some women don’t get this because, for us, feeling connected often comes through conversation and spending time together.” Rejection, of course, has a host of consequences. When Georgia State University researchers studied 77 “involuntarily celibate” individuals, they reported frustration, depression, feelings of rejection, difficulty concentrating, and low self-esteem.
It’s worth pointing out that women aren’t always the ones doing the rejecting. Kara, 33, recently ended a seven-year relationship in which sex “was just something I was expected to get along without,” she says. For years, she clung to the hope that eventually he would make more of a sexual effort. But every time he walked into a romantic hotel room and instantly flicked on the TV, she says, “I’d panic. Oh my God. It’s not going to happen…again. I felt like a nag, like I was pawing at him. I don’t know if insecure is even the word. I was hurt.”
The question is unavoidable: If there’s no sex, why stay? Weiner Davis cites children, financial dependence, shared history. Every relationship involves a cost-benefit analysis; stability, companionship, and, yes, love, can be worth the cost of little or no sex.
Before they got married, Natalie offered Tom a free pass to sleep with someone else. He wouldn’t hear of it. “He says he just wants to be with me; he loves me,” she says. But she, unlike Kathleen, is skeptical. “Honestly, I’m kind of shocked by it,” she says.
Even when a partner genuinely accepts living without sex, there’s the chance that he or she will not always remain so understanding. “Never close the door on this issue,” warns Weiner Davis. “It’s possible they’re okay with it now. But even if it’s not a deal-breaker, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to come out sideways somewhere else.”
The common assumption, of course, is that someone’s going to cheat. Twenty-six percent of the married or partnered participants in the Georgia State study had been unfaithful.
In Natalie’s case, ironically, her husband wasn’t the one who strayed.
A month after they returned from their honeymoon (“We had sex twice. We had to. Otherwise it would have been too pathetic”) she found herself entangled with a married man, feeling something she had all but given up on: turned on. Big time. “When you don’t have sex for a while, it’s almost like your body forgets what it feels like. I thought I just wasn’t a sexual person anymore,” she says.
The affair, though brief, proved otherwise. “It was like you introduced a bunch of chemicals back into my body. I felt like I was on drugs, like a 13-year-old, as if I could just lie around feeling that way all day,” she says. “It was really, really fun. And very difficult to resist.” The affair woke her up to something else, too: The fact that her low sex drive was a symptom of a bigger problem. “Getting married is an inconvenient way to find out someone isn’t right for you,” she says. They’re trying therapy, but she doesn’t seem very optimistic.
Weiner Davis certainly doesn’t advocate cheating, but she does argue that many women’s libidos aren’t as low as they think they are. The problem may be unrealistic expectations: Because we think desire has to precede arousal, we’re waiting in vain for a lusty thought or sensation to kickstart the process.
She advises clients to remain open to their partner’s advances, even when they’re not in the mood. In the words of Nike, just do it. “Many people have to be physically aroused before their brains think, Oh, this is what I want to do,” she says.
In November, German drug manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim announced successful phase III trials of flibanserin, a drug initially designed to treat depression. It didn’t lift moods, but study participants were reluctant to turn in their leftover pills, claiming it boosted their libidos. In the clinical trial of 1,378 premenopausal women diagnosed with Hypoactive Sexual Desire, participants reported 4.5 “sexually satisfying events,” up from an initial 2.8, per month. A placebo group also perked up—from 2.7 events to 3.7—but the company considers the improvement over placebo significant.
The Kinsey Institute’s Janssen’s doubts about a female desire drug are similar to those he harbors about the long-term benefits of Viagra, which helps with mechanics but may ignore a problem’s underlying issues. “A lot of men take Viagra when the problem is really psychological. What if you’re really stressed out? What if you’re feeling ambivalent about your partner?” he says. “It’s the same for women. Are we going to give this to everyone?”
But after years of self-doubt and frustration, women like Kathleen may not care. “If a pill could jump-start sex drive, I’d be all over it,” she says. For now, she says sexlessness is a totally livable, if not ideal, situation. That said, she and Scott still hold out hope that someday that situation will change.