I recently met a young woman who had a problem. She was interested in sex, had had sex, but hadn’t enjoyed it much. She wanted my help to try to “light the fire” so to speak, get more experience, gain confidence in her body and skills.
All of these things are excellent goals and generally they are things that I can help a person with – and have over the years.
What I have learned though is that these issues are rarely just a matter of inexperience. They stem from our lives as a whole and as such there is no quick fix, but a road to self discovery that may be more or less long for each of us. And especially in the case of sex – it’s not the destination that really matters, it’s the journey.
So here are some things that I think are worth exploring if your sex life is not what you want it to be…
- What are your actual issues?
- Anti-depressants and hormonal imbalance and their impact on libido and sex
- Maybe you’re just not into sex?
- Body image/self image
- Masturbation and self pleasure
- Inexperience and how to overcome it – being scared because you are inexperienced
- The people you are “attracted” to versus the person you need
- or – Romance and relationships versus good sex (they rarely go hand in hand and you shouldn’t try to force one on the other)
- Work/life balance and where to find a partner
- Whatever body you have – there is someone out there that loves what you are
What are the actual issues?
It’s a truism that we “don’t know what we don’t know” – it’s especially true when we have issues around our sex. This is where I think that talking to a professional is the best place to start. I am not a therapist, so while I understand human nature and am good at engaging with people to help them explore their sexuality, I cannot diagnose and treat emotional and physical issues. I leave that to the professionals.
So if you have a low libido, anxiety, difficulty making connections with potential partners etc, then I highly recommend that you talk to a therapist. Here in Australia at least, you can get ten free sessions with a therapist – just ask your GP for a “mental health plan” and tell them which therapist you would like to see and they will do the rest. You have nothing to lose by doing this and possibly much to gain.
Low libido might be caused by stress (very common), a hormone imbalance, or something else that you and I have no idea about. Spending time with a sex worker won’t fix these things and may even make the situation worse if the thing that you have paid good money for that you expect to help, doesn’t. Better to fix the problem at its source and have a strong base to build upon!
Anti-depressants and hormonal imbalance and their impact on libido and sex
I won’t talk about the effectiveness of anti-depressants for their proscribed purpose – but I know from the many people I have met who take anti-depressants that they often have serious effects on womens’ libidos and even worse – ability to orgasm.
We know that orgasm isn’t the most important part of sex, or even necessary – but to someone who was previously able to and enjoys having an orgasm, losing that ability can be very, very hard and seriously effect their sex life and their relationships.
Please don’t stop taking your anti-depressants. Instead, as per the previous section above – perhaps (working with your health professional) look for ways to fix the underlying issues that cause the need for the medication. It’s not possible for everyone to go off anti-depressant medication, but with life changes it may be possible and thus lead you to a more functional sexuality and happier sex life.
Like anti-depressants, our hormonal balance can also play a large part in how we feel about sex. For men, our testosterone inevitably drops as we get older and this can dampen our libido. Women suffer similar (and more complicated) issues. If your libido changes, or isn’t what you would like it to be then talking to a doctor to have your hormone levels checked is a sensible step to take.
Maybe you’re just not into sex?
I have no personal experience of people who identify as asexual, but I believe that it is possible for a person to have no interest in sex at all.
If you are asking the question of yourself “why don’t I want to have sex?” and worrying that there is something wrong with you because you truly don’t want to have sex, then perhaps you legitimately are asexual. If you think that this might be you but aren’t sure, talk to a therapist with experience in this area. They will help you differentiate between a low libido and true asexuality.
Body image/self image
We are all our own harshest critic when it comes to appearance. And that can be paralysing when we are thinking about or trying to have sex. I have lost count of the number of women I have helped in this regard in my career. This kind of insecurity can be crippling – and it is totally unnecessary.
Here’s the truth – your appearance matters far more to you than it does to your partner. Because they are not looking at the superficial exterior – they see you as a whole person and are attracted to that, not to how you present on any particular day.
Some people are superficial though and will be critical of other people for their appearance. But that’s ok – they have just told you that they are probable not the kind of person that you want in your life.
However you are is ok. It’s one of the truly insightful things that the sex work community has demonstrated to me: it doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, what shape, or age you are – there is someone out there who is attracted to you. I see it semi-regularly in sex worker spaces, people saying that until they did sex work they had no idea of their own attractiveness and worth. Having been a sex worker – even if they still struggle with their self image – they know that not only are there people out there to whom they are attractive – but that those people will even pay to spend time with them.
Masturbation and self pleasure
We live in a world that is constantly telling us that pleasure has to come from outside of ourselves. That we can’t be whole and satisfied just being ourselves. This is practically the cornerstone of capitalism and one of the most insidious aspects of social media.
It’s a lie. It’s a toxic lie that ruins lives and can ruin sex.
Masturbation is an integral part of understanding ourselves, our bodies, and our sexuality. We should all masturbate.
It is ok to do it. It is ok to do it a lot – just so long as it doesn’t interfere with other aspects of your life.
It’s ok to use toys. It’s ok to not use toys. It’s ok to do it with and to someone else if you both want that.
At the end of the day masturbation is just another tool in our sexual toolbox and we should indulge in it just like any other aspect of our sexuality.
Inexperience and how to overcome it – being scared because you are inexperienced
This is probably the easiest issue to resolve – if you are unsure about sex because your are inexperienced – or have no experience – then (regardless of your gender) hire a sex worker!
We won’t judge you. We will be patient with you. We will tell you whatever you want to know and show you how to do the things that you may not know how to do – like giving oral sex.
Many people imagine that sex is just something that they should be good at / able to do naturally – and then feel anxiety because they don’t know what they should do with a partner. Sex is like any other skill. You aren’t born with this knowledge. It’s something that you have to learn and really you can only learn properly by doing it – although there is lots of good information available online (like http://omgyes.com ). It shouldn’t need to be said, but it’s always worth repeating that porn is not sex. No-one has sex like porn stars in their day to day life (not even porn stars). Porn is
We are discreet. We will not tell anyone. We won’t laugh at your inexperience. We are the ultimate (sexy) safe space.
The people you are “attracted” to versus the person you need or – Romance and relationships versus good sex
From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep we are all more or less unconsciously making assumptions about the world around us. That’s useful for navigating the physical world, but it can be a problem when we are looking for relationships and/or sex.
It can be a problem because we unconsciously approach the task assuming the we have to do it within the social frameworks (assumptions) that we live within.
Just by visiting this website and reading this article you are transgressing an excepted societal norm – that you can only look for and have sex in a committed relationship or marriage.
Even talking about buying sex is virtually taboo in Australian society – despite this country being one of the most permissive legal sex work cultures in the entire world.
I would wager that for you, seeking out sex work services was an actual decision (reached through serious thought and due to some exceptional circumstance) that had to be made, as opposed to something that you just felt like doing.
This is an example of how the unwritten rules of our society affect how we perceive relationships and sex – just the idea of seeing a sex worker is transgressive and we need to give ourselves permission to do it.
The problem that flows from this is as follows: if we should only have sex with someone we are in a relationship with, then one person is going to have to provide for all of our emotional, physical, and sexual needs – possibly for the rest of our lives.
For most of us that is an entirely unreasonable thing to ask of another person, or to be asked of us. So we end up making poor choices. We have relationships with people who are sexually exciting to us, but toxic partners. Or we have relationships with people who are excellent partners, but we have no sexual chemistry with, or some mix or variation on this.
Making sex contingent on commitment is a huge problem. There is no reason – other than social norms – for it to be that way and for most of us we simply accept that the assumption that society imposes on us is the right way to act.
I believe that most people would be much happier in their lives if they could let sex and relationships be two separate things that may sometimes cross and intertwine but never dictate to each other.
Work/life balance and where to find a partner
It’s an eternal question: where can I find a partner?
Here’s the best answer I have: the best way to find a partner is not to go looking for one. Instead build the best life for yourself that you can – meaning work less, save energy for yourself, exercise, doing creative things, indulge in hobbies.
If you do those things, then you get two benefits – one: you will inevitable meet like-minded people who may make a good partner when you are doing them and two: when you do you will be a happier, healthier person who is more able to participate in a relationship.
Frustratingly there are no quick fixes when it comes to sex. Our sexuality is a project as complicated and requiring as much of our attention and dedication as any other aspect of our lives, like career, and relationships. However – if you are prepared to challenge your assumptions and put in the effort, then you can almost certainly get what you want.