Frozen

Friday, December 02, 2011

Question

I'm in my mid twenties and completely lost my libido about two years ago. I do suffer from disthymia; however, I used to enjoy a healthy sex life even with the disorder. I've switched anti-depressants and even tried coming off them completely.  I've come off the birth control pill, had my hormone levels checked (they're fine), and I've tried every natural supplement known to man. I've never suffered a sexual trauma. I don't know what's going on. I'm at the point where I not only dread sex with my boyfriend, but anything intimate: kissing, touching, etc. The lack of intimacy is destroying our relationship. This happened in my last relationship as well; although I couldn't picture spending the rest of my life with that guy. Is this my body's way of telling me that I'm not happy or fulfilled in this relationship? I want to want sex again. What can I do?

 

Answer

Many people with even a mild level of depression find that the negative feelings associated with that disorder have a destructive effect on their libido. Or a depressed libido can trigger depression. Do you feel that you have gotten adequate care for this problem? I would suggest shopping for a therapist who can work with you on elevating your mood and injecting some more hope into your life. If you feel that the depression is not caused by negative events in your past or current life, you might have good results from cognitive-behavioral therapy. This style or mode of work has a good track record for treating various levels of depression, and doing so in relatively few sessions.

If you have unfinished business from the past, find a compassionate and experienced person and be prepared to stay in therapy for a while, if that's what it takes. This at the very least demonstrates to your partner that you take this issue seriously and are searching for answers.

You told me that your last boyfriend wasn't ideal, but you are largely silent on the topic of the current relationship. Are you unhappy or unfulfilled? Let's not wait for your body to tell you. Let's just figure that out right now. How do you feel about the way money is handled in your relationship? Do you have any issues with how your boyfriend treats your living space? Is this someone you would consider marrying? What about children? If that isn't your long-term plan, what is? Would he support you so that you could go back to school or get training for a new job? Do you avoid physical contact because you are afraid it will lead him to want and expect sex, or are you resentful and angry toward him? Feeling resentment or hiding anger toward someone makes desire nonexistent for most people. We don't want to have sex with somebody if we don't like or trust them. It's pretty difficult to allow a problematic Other to touch you intimately and make you feel vulnerable. Improving your sex life might require you to look at some very nonsexual parts of your relationship. 

It's easy to have sex if you are also in an intense state of romantic ecstasy. Being in love hides all of our partner's flaws (as well as our own). But this state is too difficult for most of us to sustain. Eventually we notice the mistakes or shortcomings of our beloved, and we find ourselves repeating old patterns that we don't like to see as part of ourselves. Consequently, there are some points in a long-term relationship when most couples have less desire. We stop dressing up or making sex a special occasion. We no longer believe that our love has the power to transform us into someone special and rare. The bitter pain of being ordinary sets in.

Some people can let go of the first phase of love, with its idealization and ecstasy, without losing touch with the value of the relationship. They may want companionship more than a hot affair. They accept a lower level of desire as a normal and expected part of a long-term relationship. Other people find it frustrating and disappointing. They become vulnerable to temptation, which could lead to cheating and breaking up. 

More and more people want a long-term relationship in which the sex continues to be frequent and enjoyable. Human beings seem to fall in love without making a conscious effort. We are overtaken by rapture and a feeling of oneness that somehow also makes us keenly aware of our individuality. Evolution doesn't have much of an investment in keeping a lifelong pair bond intact. Human beings don't need a long-term connection in order to breed and perpetuate the species. A tendency to shop around for a new partner and thus for genetic diversity might be hard-wired rather than perpetual monogamy and commitment. If you want a spicy, juicy LTR, you have to work for it.

Sometimes you can get the spark back if you fix the problems that neither of you want to bring out into the open. There will be some fireworks, but a higher level of truthfulness opens the door to possibly sorting things out, and feeling much better about ourselves and our partner. It helps if you share more honest information about your fantasies and needs. Unless you have a partner who dislikes surprises and wants to have sex in the same position every time the two of you make love, it is appealing and fascinating to feel that you are learning more and more about your partner as time goes on. They trust you enough to reveal deeper levels of their sexuality. That is a flattering message to receive, and it is also intriguing. 

I know lots of people who seem to have the same relationship over and over again—with  different people. When desire ebbs, they break up and look for someone new. I'm not sure this is a bad thing. But the larger culture does tell us that long-term relationships are an achievement, a wonderful source of pride. If you value the ideal of a long-term relationship, you'll need to be pro-active. Get some couples counseling. Take massage classes together. Learn how to enjoy nonsexual touching. Treat each other the same way you did when you fell in love. Make each other a priority instead of the last item on a busy list of things to do. Masturbate together. Talk dirty. And stay close! Even of you don't feel like intercourse, you can still help him to come, and in the process, you might get back in touch with your own libido. 

For many women, sexual feelings don't manifest with sudden intensity. They need to build up over time. Men don't expect to have a partner who will assert herself and “do” them. For most of them, this is a very enjoyable experience. Touching your partner, talking to him, exploring his body, telling him to lay still and let you have your way with him, can give you a chance to start secreting the right neurotransmitters and hormones to feel sexual again. If he has to wait until you are ready, fill the time with sweet or dirty talk and a lot of mutual touching. New lovers savor each other's skin. More familiar lovers touch less and less until their genitals rebel and refuse to function. You may find that directing him or focusing on him in the beginning will make sex much more enjoyable for you a bit later in the evening. Surprising him with making love in a different place or at an unexpected time of day can keep both of you on your toes and interested. If you make a proposition and there's no time to complete the act, a bit of fondling and a secretive smile can make the day go by in a hurry, so that the two of you can reunite and consummate a day's worth of erotic anticipation.

Finally, I would suggest that you see a doctor who specializes in treating sexual disorders. The ordinary tests for hormones won't really give you much information about how your body is changing or shutting down. If you keep looking for an answer and trying everything you can think of, I am confident you will find something that works and restores you to a prior level of excitement and happiness.

 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.