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Your Campfire Sex Life: Rekindling Desire

Hi Yana,

I love reading all of your stuff. I was wondering if you had any advice on getting back into a sexual relationship. My partner and I have been together for over four years and our sex has fizzled out a bit. I think now we feel really nervous about it and don’t know how to get back into it even though we both really want to! If you have anything to read or any advice to give that would be amazing.

— Rekindle Our Romance

 

Dear Rekindle,

It’s perfectly normal for long-term partners to feel their sex life fizzle a bit. While mainstream sex culture seems to embrace the notion that sexual flames between partners may falter, we don’t have as much acceptance of how rekindling those flames means that you might have to do some fanning. As in, that sexual fire certainly isn’t going to stoke itself!

Lust, sex drives, and turn-ons carry the narrative that they must be spontaneous in order to be acted on or “real.” Waiting for two people to both fall into The Mood at the same time, in the same place, at the right time, and the right place, is a great recipe for waiting around for your sex life to happen … for … quite … a … while.

Creating blazing, amazing bonfires in long-term sexual relationships takes kindling, fuel, tending, and intention. Don’t wait for lightning to strike. Make it happen. On purpose.

Here are some tips:

First: Learn how to build a bonfire. Each of you do some homework — whether that’s watching porn (see my earlier column “Gimme That Grass Fed Porn” for my suggestions), doing one of Emily Nagoski’s great turn-on and turn-off worksheets (thedirtynormal.com/worksheets), or reading an excellent how-to book about sex in general (Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon, for example). Reacquaint yourselves with what turns you on and share that info with each other once you know.

Gather your kindling. What’s going to fuel your fire? New sex toys (Oh My Sensuality in Northampton, Adam and Eve in Greenfield, babeland.com online)? A fancy lube? Just a nice afternoon of self-grooming and a new pair of jockeys? Get ’em!

Build your fire pit…continue reading…

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Help! I’ve Depo Shot my Libido in the Foot

Hi Yana,

I’ve been on the Depo shot for two months now and I have no sex drive. No desire whatsoever. I Googled it and it’s normal for women on the shot to feel this way.

Do you have any tips or sex hacks to help me and my BF out? I’m sure he’s tired of coming home to me not wanting to do it.

– Feelin’ Low on the Depo

 

Dear Feelin’ Low,

There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing this noted side effect of the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which is said to be felt by about 8% of people on it. Changes in hormone levels caused by the Depo shot or other forms of hormonal birth control like the pill or patch can cause diminished sexual interest and/or physical responsiveness.

However, most research reports that these side effects greatly decrease or disappear after one or two months of using Depo-Provera. Physically, that is. But sexual desire, libido, and sexual responsiveness are all influenced by our physiology, including our hormonal levels (oh hey, Depo) and also our psychological, mental, and emotional states (oh hey, the emotional impact of your libido being shot down).

This is where the idea that your boyfriend is “tired of coming home to me not wanting to do it” comes in. Having a temporary loss of sexual desire can be very jarring for individuals and their partners. You’re both used to your libido functioning in a familiar way. But then you start on a new birth control and suddenly your drive has seemingly run out of gas. You try all your familiar tricks like more candles, new sex toys, or your favorite kinky role play, but nothing works. Your desire is DOA and you’re freaking out!

To make matters worse, your boyfriend is seemingly getting discouraged or feeling dejected. So, when it comes time to try to get busy again, you think, “Oh no! If I can’t get my engine revving this time, we’re really in trouble.” Performance anxiety and low sexual self-esteem compound what may have previously been a temporary lack of Depo-influenced libido and, and, and … Two months of this cycle would exhaust anyone, Feelin’ Low!

First, break this powerful cycle by letting yourself off the hook. Your libido is not actually a drive, waiting for you to just push the gas pedal a little bit harder. Your libido is a complex network of context and comfort, heavily influenced by your stress levels, relationship security, and yes, which birth control you’re on. You are not the only one responsible for creating a positive sexual space in your relationship where sexual desire can flourish amidst stressful setbacks…continue reading…

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Why Can’t I Have Sex Without Drinking?

Editor’s Note: Sexual trauma is addressed in this week’s column.

Hi Yana,

I can’t seem to want to have sex unless I’m drunk.

This has always kind of been the case, except for when I was a teenager, and horny all the time (and not drinking). Then when I got to college, there were many instances where all my friends would be going on about how much they “needed” sex, and I could never relate. It was only when I got drunk that I would feel the same sort of uncontrollable desires.

Whenever I date someone, there’s that beginning period where we’re wooing each other, so we go out all the time (and drink) and I can’t seem to get enough (so we have a lot of sex). Now I’m in a relationship with someone I really care about, we’re about seven months in, and I just never want to have sex.

My significant other has noticed and thinks I’m not really attracted to them [Editor’s Note: The letter writer requested the use of they/them pronouns for the partner]. That’s not the case. It’s more like, I can’t “let go” and enjoy myself if I’m sober. I have too much racing through my mind, or I’m frustrated because I can’t orgasm, or I’m frustrated because I can’t make them orgasm.

Our short term solution has been to just not have sex until we both feel like it, but the problem is that I literally don’t even think about sex unless they bring it up. They’re okay with it for now, but I’m worried the lack of physical intimacy is going to eventually drive them away.

I don’t know if it’s the birth control I take (I’ve been on it for a few years), if a past trauma is for some reason rearing its ugly head now (I was raped in college and assaulted once as a child), but I feel like something is wrong with me!

— Confused with a Low Libido

Dear CLL,

This sounds like a really hard place to be in and I’m grateful that you’re verbalizing it. As my readers know, consent is extremely important to me.

It’s one thing if someone enjoys a drink before sexual activity with an established partner they know and trust and have built familiar consent practices with. It’s another if someone feels like the only way to experience sex is to get to the point of intoxication, a state of mind that renders clear consent impossible. This jeopardizes the safety of you both — you as the intoxicated one and your partner as the person attempting to honor your boundaries and make you feel good rather than unsafe.

The human brain and body are quite amazing machines. When someone has experienced sexual trauma as you have, our brains and bodies can put up barricades to potentially triggering situations like sex to protect us. But sometimes these barriers can also block up other things we would like to enjoy — like sex with our partners!…continue reading…