There are four words that many people fear hearing. It’s not, “your friend is hot” or “you’re a terrible lay” but rather…
“Oh honey, not tonight…”
Loads of coupled individuals worry the extreme sweaty passion of a new relationship will suddenly disappear and give way to a phenomenon known on the internet as the “dead bedroom phenomenon”. It’s common enough that there’s even a subreddit, r/DeadBedrooms with over 300k subscribers! (If it’s on Reddit, it has to be real, right?)
Being on the receiving end of sexual rejection hurts. I’ve discussed it at length here on Tabooless, but having your passions refused by a partner can wound your confidence and make you wonder if they ever really desired you at all. It can take a long time to understand the rejection.
What if we’re the ones doing the rejecting, though?
What do we do if we notice ourselves experiencing a sudden change or loss of libido? If we’re used to having some kind of oomph or fire when we think about sex only for it to be a sad puff of desire, are we broken? Are we forever doomed to be more stimulated by late-night marathons of terrible reality TV than our impatient lover standing on the side wearing their best underwear?
Now, dear reader, if you’ve read my articles before, you’re probably aware that I’m a cautious queer… so, not surprisingly, here comes my disclaimer: I am not a health professional, just someone who’s a total nerd around sexuality and wants to act as a sexual messenger.
I’m also someone who’s struggled with their own libido and sexual attraction. In the past, this has caused me a lot of stress and pressure! I’ve ended relationships because I couldn’t quite understand what was going on in my head with my own personal desires. I’ve quite literally spent literally dozens of hours researching the topic of sexual desire or discussing it with competent sex therapists.
My comfort with it, like for most people, goes up and down. It is my personal mission to help others who struggle to find themselves in a society that condemns discussions around sex while also expecting everyone to be turned on 24/7.
So let’s hold hands, figure out our feelings together. (Keep your hands where I can see them, okay?)
Presto, change-o, and voila! Your libido has disappeared!
(Don’t look under your seat, it’s not there.)
So one day you’re smooching and grinding with your honey, and notice you’re struggling to stay focused. You shrug it off, blame the gross dude who catcalled you from work and promise to be more focused tomorrow.
Then, tomorrow comes and your lover doesn’t seem to be able to tease you into bed. You keep pushing off her advances until ultimately she takes a very long shower, and you both go to bed without a good night kiss.
The next night, she doesn’t even bother. Which is good for you, because you weren’t even in the mood in the first place. Eventually, months go by and you forgot the last time you even wanted to hook up. You’re starting to forget what your genitals even look like!
Bad news first: this concern can be complicated. Much like a condom, one size does not fit all. There are tons of reasons why people can experience a loss or lessening of sexual drive.
Good news? It doesn’t have to ruin your life, and you might even learn something about yourself along the way. Don’t groan, learning can be fun!
When I mention “libido” or “sexual drive” or “sexual desire”, I’m referring to the internal hunger or arousal people can feel. It’s that feeling people get that makes them want to potentially get a sexual release, either through masturbation or with the aid of another person.
Then there’s “sexual attraction”, which refers to the yearning we can have for other people. It’s the feeling of seeing someone really aesthetically attractive at a park, and feeling a need to include them somehow in your sexual experience. You might not get down and dirty with them right then and there, but your body responds to the arousing thought nevertheless.
Step 1: World domination— err, thoughtful inquiry
The first step to addressing your issue around sex is to grab a glass of wine or seltzer, sit down with a notepad or your phone’s voice recorder, and start having a serious conversation with yourself.
Imagine you were having an important big “talk” with a partner, but only this time… you are your own partner!
Hey! Don’t think I can’t hear those groans! Get cracking!
Some questions to ask yourself:
When did you notice a shift in your sexuality?
Did anything happen during your life when you first noticed a lower interest in sex?
Did you experience any noticeable stress recently? (Work, family, ongoing pandemic?)
Has there been any changes in your health?
When you think about your reduced sexual activity, what is the most distressing part for you? Do you feel like you’re letting down your partners because you’re not the one initiating anymore? Do you feel like it’s a kind of loss of identity, or accepting that your body and hormones are shifting as you age?
Are you still enthusiastic about masturbation, but not as interested in engaging with your partner(s)?
Do you still find yourself watching porn?
Here’s the hard truth: for many issues regarding libido or sexual attraction, it can be more of an emotional shift than a physical one.
Step 2: Sexual (and emotional) heeeealing, oooh yeah
There are endless possible reasons why you’re experiencing a low interest in sex, but let’s explore a few together.
Possibility 1: You’re normally thirsty AF but suddenly would rather organize your cutlery
Are your vibrators and buttplugs lonely? Are you suddenly getting concerned messages from the creators on OnlyFans, worried about your sudden disappearance? Does your hand feel like a foreign lover lately?
If you’re experiencing a sudden loss of libido when you were usually spending your time satisfying hoards of lovers, please check in with a doctor. It can be a hormonal shift. Sometimes testosterone (for anyone of any gender) can take a huge dip, and cause issues with your sex life.
It can even be a mineral deficiency! Having an iron deficiency and/or anemia can cause your libido to crash like the Hindenburg. So if you’re normally randy and ready but would prefer watching paint dry now, see your doctor and get a simple blood test done.
Have you started a new medication? Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can often soothe the raging storm inside our minds, but along with that can turn our libido into a sad afterthought. If this is the case for you, speak with the doctor prescribing your medication! There can be adjustments made, or medications added on to increase your libido if that’s what you want.
(Heck, if you’re in a country where cannabis is legal, oftentimes weed can be used with great success! Either the ol’ traditional way of inhaling, or even using a lubricant infused with cannabis can be a real boost. Just be aware of the risks, make sure you can tolerate it, and go slow.)
Possibility 2: Sex was eh before, but now it’s… meh
Here’s something to consider: remember when I mentioned the difference between libido and sexual attraction? Sometimes people can be actually experiencing a loss of interest in sex because they, as a baseline, experience low or no sexual attraction.
“Wait, Zack, what are you saying?” I hear you ask nervously.
Well, much like a coming out story where an uninterested teenage cheerleader realizes she doesn’t want to fuck her boyfriend but dreams about kissing the hot butch in her conversion therapy camp ( if you haven’t seen this cult classic, go read our review! ), people can also come to realize that they aren’t broken… but asexual.
Spooky! Scary! New labels! Hold on, I promise this story ends well.
Asexual isn’t a new millennial thing, it’s actually been a part of the queer movement since the very beginning. Studies show there’s at least 1% of the popular is asexual. They’re as common as redheads, and just like them, asexuals come in almost every shade.
Asexuals aren’t monks who’ve devoted their time to the pursuit of purity and sinless living! In fact, many asexuals I know can be some of the most hedonistic people I’ve met. It just means that asexuals experience little or no sexual attraction to others. They might jerk off, they might watch pornography to help that experience, but they don’t look at someone on the street and wish to have their sweaty bodies merged into one.
Asexuality is also a spectrum!
You can be someone who identifies as demisexual, where you don’t experience sexual attraction unless you form a deep trusting emotional bond with the other person. Oftentimes, demisexuals find themselves getting intense crushes on their friends but not strangers.
There are also other more recent terms like “ace flux” where someone can experience sexual attraction in a kind of seasonal up and down or off/on way. There’s even “graysexual”, which isn’t the sexual attraction to gray hair, but a term used to describe a rare and limited sexual attraction.
Fun fact: asexuals can and do have sex! You can be a sex-positive or sex-favorable ace person who wants to bump uglies with partner(s) because it’s a fun activity, but you don’t actively crave sex. It can be a way to connect, even if you’d prefer a walk in the park or reading together.
You can’t “fix” asexuality. It simply is a state of being, and that’s okay!
Possibility 3: You get turned on by others, but not your partner
Your brain is going wild, there are fireworks and pop rocks going off. You’ve just spotted an incredibly hot twink walking down the street, dressed to kill and looking like a Michelin star snac.
“Are you even listening to me?”
Whoops, snack time is over and you look to your boyfriend. He’s amazing, you love him but the passion isn’t there anymore. You used to be hot and bothered by each other, but now you’re only… bothered.
Time to break up? No, not necessarily but counseling seems like an excellent place to start. Speak to your partner, air out your concerns regarding your shared sex life, and do it compassionately. Be honest but don’t destroy their self-esteem!
If you both decide that counseling is an option, stick with it and practice your skills at home. You might find the passion returning once you hear that your partner feels unappreciated, or that you actually are resentful over being rejected so often.
Maybe your libido is too high and doesn’t match your partner’s, and in that case, therapists often suggest trying to meet each other in the middle. If you need to have sex at least twice a week and they’d rather do it twice a month, try once a week! If stepping out of your comfort zone seems a little daunting, there is also the possibility of opening up the relationship. Of course, both people must agree to this, otherwise, you’re just cheating. Many people decide to open up their relationships and find themselves happier together than they ever have been as strict monogamists.
Explore all options. If the relationship does end, you can both feel as though you did what you could to honor and respect each other and the time you shared.
Something else to consider: has your orientation shifted? You might have always known yourself to be attracted to one gender, but then see yourself attracted to another. Maybe you thought you were a typical straight cis man, but now you’re having fantasies of cute bears sweeping you off your feet for a night of wild woodsman sex.
This can happen! Sexual orientation is a lot more fluid than we ever knew before, and there’s no shame in realizing that you’re now attracted to one gender or another. Try and explore this further, denying it won’t work, and trying to change your orientation will only hurt you in the long run.
Possibility 4: You’re bored.
The first night between you and your FWB was magical and intense. It was like they knew all your favorite erotic spots, and you knew exactly where to push their buttons. It was hot, heavy, and wild.
Now, it’s been a couple of months and you both seem to leave each other on “read” when the suggestion for a booty call comes up. The passion seems lacking, and you want to try revving up that experience again.
Boredom doesn’t only happen with partners, either. You can be bored of how you experience solo sex sessions as well, and I think we’re all getting there post-2020.
Now, fear not! Boredom is an annoying state of being for anyone, but it doesn’t have to last forever. Even if you feel like a sexual genius, there’s always more to learn!
Things to try:
Toys! Your bullet vibe is looking a little battle-worn, why not switch it out for a more exciting toy like a magic wand? There are wearable vibes like the We-Vibe Sync, which means you can incorporate kinky fun into almost any scenario (even at the dentist, joking, please don’t bother your dentist like that). Have you explored butt plugs for anyone, or tried using one toy on the other person while watching porn?
Kink! Go online, take one of those BDSM kink tests that list out all the possibilities for fetish, and be honest. You might find out that you both share the same kinks, and explore new avenues for excitement.
Location! Location! Location! Try fucking in new areas around your home, or even book one of those “pay by the hour” motels. You can even get dressed up before meeting up, and roleplay. Sure, it might be May but every day can be a sexy Halloween party if you’re creative enough.
Sensations! Try to incorporate different sensory experiences in your sex life. Have you ever tried putting a toy in the fridge or freezer for a while? Warming it up a bit? What about an e-stim toy with electrical stimulation? You can try fucking with blindfolds on, or even white noise-canceling headphones. Your options are endless!
Above all, don’t panic!
This can be a tough reminder, but it’s true. If your libido has decided to elope and run away for a while, don’t panic. Sexuality is in a constant state of fluctuation, and sometimes things can change. You don’t have to always be interested in sex 24/7, just like we’re not always into anything else!
Remember: Sex doesn’t complete you, it doesn’t fulfill your life, it’s a way to connect with others and with yourself if you want! If that doesn’t work for you at the moment, bah, it’s okay. There’s a lot more to life anyway!
Plus, If you remove the pressure, allow yourself to experience the feelings, and digest them, you could find yourself suddenly feeling thirsty sooner than you imagined.