Let’s be real: sex is a huge part of the human experience. It’s how we’re created, how we go on to make more tiny people, how we bond with others, heck, how we occupy a good majority of our thoughts throughout the day. So, what do you do when you find yourself, a young twenty-something female, who should be a rampant rabbit, feeling about as sexual as a dead fish? That’s where I’ve found myself over these past few months (okay, maybe a year). Zero sex drive, no desire whatsoever to come into contact with another human being in ‘that sort of way’ and a great deal of confusion as to why I would be feeling like that. Surely the fire can’t have left me already? SURELY I’m too young to be completely dried up? This can’t be the end of my sexual career, can it?!
Now, the knowledgeable, logical readers amongst you will be saying “for goodness’ sake Grace, sexuality fluctuates constantly, you can’t expect to be horny 24/7 for the rest of your life, calm down you’re being ridiculous!!!!!” and to that I say “oh don’t you worry, I know, ridiculous is my middle name!”. But sometimes knowing that your worries are ridiculous still doesn’t do a whole lot to negate and/or sedate them, especially when you love to overthink everything as much I do.
So, my libido was dead, and whilst this was an entirely expected dip in a drive that had been at full throttle for years, there were still other factors that I believe brought me to a standstill. I would like to share these with you, maybe for my own catharsis, but maybe for anyone else who has been left thinking “Dude, Where’s My Sex Drive?”.
Without further ado, here’s what happened:
Surrounded by Sex
If you’ve lived a day in our Western world, you’ll know that sex is EVERYWHERE. In advertising, in music, on tv, there’s even people on the tube that seriously need to get a room (it’s the Northern line, there’s WAY too many rats and confused tourists down here for it to be sexy). You get the picture. Having sex thrust in your face on a day-to-day basis is enough to desensitise anyone, but I went a step further. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t shagging a lot, far from it. Instead, I went full nerd. I read books on polyamory, kink and sex-positivity, I listened to sex & relationship podcasts daily (Savage Lovecast, Guys We Fucked & Loveline with Amber Rose, to name a few), I researched the psychology of sex and sex therapy, I went to Torture Garden, I started working in a lingerie and erotica boutique and I created this blog. Literally surrounded by sex on a daily basis without actually having it.
Sexuality, love and relationships are all parts of the human experience that I am particularly fascinated by, but this truly was too much of a good thing. It meant that not only could I not bring myself to write about it for Highly Sex-Ed (yeah, that’s why it’s been a while), but I definitely could not touch another person. It became all that I would talk about and all that anyone would want to talk to me about, so much so that I started to resent the thing that I love, because even though I am intensely confident in my own sexuality, I am much more than it. I felt like I needed to reclaim the non-sexual parts of my personality, so much so that I almost shut down my sexuality completely.
As a sexually active person, you’re inevitably going to have some bad experiences along the way. As a woman, those bad experiences can range from a bit boring, to fearing for your own safety, and enough of those bad experiences can make you want to avoid sex entirely, just to save yourself from possible disappointment, or even danger. Having experienced heartbreak, bad sex, frequent sexual harassment and being viewed as solely a sexual object for most of my adolescent life, it’s no wonder I reached a point where my mind and body finally said “please, no more of this”. That’s not to mention my experiences whilst working at the lingerie boutique. Men calling every other day, masturbating whilst on the phone to you is enough to put you off for life. And then with all of the current allegations of sexual assault against celebrities and public figures that seem to constantly be coming to light in the press, you can’t help but feel that we are living in a culture where women are not safe. When the negative experiences start to outweigh the positive, it’s hard to justify opening yourself up to a new person when the odds don’t seem to be in your favour.
Your mental health can affect everything in your life, even down to your perception of the world around you. With many mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and stress, it can often be the case that your libido is one of the first things to fly out the window. Whilst I am undiagnosed with any specific mental health disorders, I have struggled with managing my low moods, anxious thoughts and stress as much as the next person. Living in a busy city like London for the past few years has only managed to amplify these problems. Leaving drama school, losing friends, toxic relationships, stressful jobs and limited creative outlet have led to an overall feeling of loneliness that traps you within it. Being alone is one thing; but being alone in a city full of strangers who carry on their lives regardless of whether you exist or not can leave you feeling empty. As Olivia Laing said in her book The Lonely City, “the lonelier a person gets, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired.” The lonelier you feel, the less that intimate connections with people feel possible. It’s a vicious circle, one that can only be broken by opening yourself up to new people and possibilities, but the fear of being hurt and damaging your already fragile mental health feels like too much of a risk. And so, you continue to find yourself void of intimacy and alone, which leads to me to my final possible factor:
As a young single woman, my independence is extremely important to me and as an only child, I have always been content in my own company. However, in recent years I have found this to be both a blessing and a curse, struggling to bridge the gap between independence and loneliness, needing time alone to escape overwhelming social situations, then desperately needing people when no one is there. Often when we need help the most is when we project an exterior of strength, not wanting to admit our weaknesses to those closest to us in the hope that the problems will eventually disappear. For me, this meant pushing away any possible chances at intimacy for fear of losing the independent, single version of me that I had learned to love so much over the years. If I opened myself up to one person, would all of the work I’d put in to build up my strength immediately disappear and I’d revert back to the fragile girl I’d been, broken by previous relationships? To me that felt like an all too possible reality. My version of independence then seemed to mean ‘solitude’, which inevitably led to loneliness, so to save myself, I needed to redefine it.
I think that losing my sex drive was a symptom of a much bigger problem and, ultimately, a warning sign to myself that I was not okay. Not okay with the environments I was in, the way I was feeling, the people I was surrounded with or the lack thereof. Talking with friends was a good start to unearthing this mass of confusion that had embedded itself within my head and removing myself from stressful situations gave me a chance to stop and breathe again. As for finding those intimate connections? It’s tricky, but I’m working on it and, slowly but surely, I’ll know I’ll find a way to be vulnerable again. It’s a long road, but I’m hopeful that, much like Austin Powers, I’ll eventually get my mojo back.
If you’re worried about your mental health, speak to your GP. For more information and advice on mental health, visit: