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The V-Spot: We’ve Got Different Sex Drives

Hi Yana,

My partner and I seem to be in different places when it comes to sex. We have fabulous sex when he’s up to it, but in general I have a higher sex drive and want to be more adventurous.

We both have histories of trauma and deal with it in different ways. I’m mostly into reenacting/reclaiming the trauma, and he wants to avoid it. I don’t think either is better, I just want to know if you know a way that we can find some common ground.

Thanks,

Opposites Attract

Dear Opposites,

Our individual sexual desires are like cake (Okay, I just spent my holidays binging on “The Great British Bake Off” and, subsequently, baked goods. So just bear with me here). Our sexual-desire cakes are all influenced by a variety of factors, some easier modified than others.

First, we’ve all got our basic batter ingredients that went into our specific cake early on in life that formed the foundation of our desire templates: biology, parenting, cultural contexts, and social messages about sex and sexuality that we didn’t even know we were receiving.

Then, we put that cake in to bake. Our batter doesn’t change that much, but as our cakes get golden-brown in the oven, our relationship to sex solidifies. As we get older, we absorb more information and log more experiences with sex and sexuality that we can actually remember: sex education classes, media and marketing messages, early sexual experiences both good and bad, traumatic experiences processed and unprocessed.

We get together with our partners and add on some frosting. Maybe even some of those cute decorative flowers or sprinkles. Our sexual desires shift in how they look and feel based on current life stuff: our jobs, stress levels, body image, medications, kids, health, communication patterns, or rooted feelings about our relationships. Decorative elements as these can be shifted with relative ease compared to the foundational ingredients in our batter or how long we set our bake-timer for. The latter are more deeply rooted and may be harder to change or maybe won’t ever.

So what are your options if, as a partner, all you can do is worry about your own cake and/or contribute to your partner re-frosting theirs?…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: Changed and Confused

Hi Yana,

I’m a queer non-binary femme. My partner (also queer and non-binary) and I have been together for just about three years. In the past year, I have been doing a lot of emotional work — processing lots of trauma, shame and doing a lot of digging and learning. It’s also been a year of more depression and anxiety on my part.

The first year and a half of our relationship we were incredibly sexual, we enjoyed sex a lot, loved to explore, and had sex pretty much as often as we could. One of the side-effects of all this trauma-processing is that my sex drive and sexuality has changed a lot. I don’t feel sexy, often feel uncomfortable in my body, and can’t stay present during sex.

My partner is incredibly supportive of me and the work I’ve been doing. We communicate A LOT and they’ve been super patient and kind about the shifts in my sexuality. However, their sex drive has not changed and I know it has been tough for them as I have gone from someone who is super sexual to feeling anxious and uncomfortable in sexual scenarios. I miss the physical connection with my partner.

I guess my question is a multi-part question: 1.) How can my partner and I re-enter sexual spaces with a sort of sexual reset? How do you handle sex with someone you know so well when things have so drastically changed? 2.) What can we do to help me become more comfortable with sex again? 3.) How can we share intimate and intentional physical space in a way that is not stressful?

Thank you,

Changed & Confused

 

Dear C&C,

Congrats on doing the hard work of processing old stuff! Opting to move through the mud rather than skirting it indefinitely is a brave choice that’s tough to make so pats on the back to you! Now let’s tackle these question parts.

1.) Knowing our sexual partners well can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because we are comfortable. We have history, a repertoire, and trust. A curse because with that can come assumptions, expectations, and overconfidence in our ability to read the other person.

Pushing a sexual reset might not be possible without some memory-erasing spells a la Harry Potter, but embarking on discovering what’s new about your sexuality with fresh eyes, hands, and ears is a great start.

You might do a Yes/No/Maybe list together (find them onyanatallonhicks.com, I prefer the one by Autostraddle.com) to detail the definitelies, unsures, and hell nos of your new sexual frontier or do a worksheet from Emily Nagoski’s book about sexual turn-ons and sexual turn-offs (thedirtynormal.com – update! looks like she recently axed this website. find her and her work here instead) to see where the new limits lie. Putting pen to paper before putting hands to skin can be a really impactful way to visualize new sexual territories.

2.) Becoming more comfortable with sex again is much like the process of learning how to trust again, which, unfortunately for the impatient among us, is a process of experience over time. Continuing therapy, moving at a comfortable pace, continuing your communication, and collecting positive, new sexual experiences are all great pieces of the healing puzzle…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: I Get Ghosted After One Night

Hi Yana,

I’ve had an above-average number of sexual partners (70+) and at least half have been one night stands. The pattern is: I start talking to someone on OKCupid, we arrange for a date, we have a few drinks, have sex.

Sometimes, it’s more mutual, and neither of us wants to see the other again. More often, I’ve enjoyed the sex (and they have too) but are not interested in meeting up again. Among those are situations where I’m interested in something casual but continuous. A few of them, I actually like a lot and am interested in something more than casual. However, overwhelmingly it seems that first date sex means no more dates. And I’m ghosted/soft rejected (“I had a fun time”).

There have been other situations where I’ve been sexual with someone on the second or third date, and it’s also happened. And that’s partly my dilemma. I tend to date a lot of women who identify as sex-positive, and though I don’t believe in a timetable for sex, it seems to happen sooner than later. And I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that but I’m a bit tired of one night stands, despite my love of sex.

My hunch is that the fault lies with both parties in failure to communicate. Perhaps either one of us should take a moment before sexual activity to briefly discuss STIs and expectations. I have had only two such conversations in my life, both initiated by women. If I know it’s likely a one night stand, the interaction resolves better.

Still, why do you think first date sex seems to kill long-term potential for me? What do you think I can do to adjust my behavior for a different result? I feel it’s more complicated than simply delaying sexual gratitude.

—One and Done

 

Dear One and Done,

I think it’s great that you end your reflections about this pattern with wondering how you can adjust your own behavior for different results. A great way to wait a long time for change is to wait for other people to change while we kick back and stay the same. And this is especially true when it comes to sex and relationships.

I think initiating an up front conversation about sexual health and expectations for the interaction is a great idea. It sounds like having mistakenly high expectations for the date distresses you the most and adjusting them might make a big impact. Think of how much confusion you could clear up by simply asking someone if they’re interested in having sex or not, if they’re open to something other than a one-night stand, or if they want to be just friends, etc. Sure, it’s not “slick” but it certainly helps keep expectations and your date’s boundaries clear and intact.

Online dating apps like OKCupid make it a little easier to have these chats up front and could even be included somewhere in your profile that you’d like to talk expectations before you go on a date.

Of course, we can’t plan and account for everything before it happens…continue reading…