I tried a martini, dirty.
I tried stilettos, zebra.
I tried steamy French films and my favorite erotica, my go-to fantasies and sultry lingerie. He put on his sexiest jeans and most mischievous smile. What was next – oysters for breakfast, oysters for lunch, oysters for dinner – and toys for dessert?
All I know is this – out of nowhere I’d been slammed by an unquenchable desire for … nothing.
The spirit was willing, but the flesh said “meh.” Frankly, I was baffled. I’d been a happily sexual creature only two months earlier, then my penchant for playfulness took a dive. Suddenly I was the pinup girl for “not tonight I have a headache,” as I lamented the possibility of “not this month and pass the Tylenol.”
To say that the man in my life was disheartened is, well … an understatement. Fortunately, one of the hallmarks of a good relationship is the ability to talk, so we discussed what was happening (or wasn’t), which was a bit like groping in the dark but a lot less fun.
It didn’t take long to figure out that it wasn’t him and it wasn’t “us.” It was crystal clear that I was the problem.
When it comes to surviving a partner’s low libido, I’ve been there. It’s miserable. It’s isolating. The longing is physically painful. You stretch out in bed next to the person you love, wishing for the smallest indication of interest and hoping for a sign that tonight might be “the night.”
When you’re consistently rejected sexually, you feel diminished, unworthy, and increasingly invisible. You compensate by eating too much, drinking too much, smoking too much or worse. You may pour yourself into your career. You may lavish attention on your kids. You may amuse yourself online, seek satisfaction elsewhere, or you shelve your sexual self with the conviction that you can abstain altogether.
And maybe you can. But at what cost to yourself and the relationship?
Not one to accept such a profound loss, much less impose it on the man I love, I let my fingers do the walking … all over the Internet. Research reveals numerous reasons why sex drive dwindles, including hormonal changes, health issues, side effects of medication, depression, drugs and alcohol, chronic pain, sleep-deprivation and stress.
Those last two items?
I don’t know about you, but dammit, I’m pooped! I put in a lot of hours to make ends meet – a common scenario in this economic climate. When it’s time for sex? I may indeed prefer a roll in the zzzzs.
Apparently, I’m not alone in this preference. A 2012 CNN report on the effects of fatigue indicates that 25% of married and cohabiting couples in America are too tired for sex.
“It’s not surprising why sleep trumps sex: Between work, family and social obligations, our need for shuteye often suffers … Add in problems such as financial stress, health issues and relationship woes, and you can see why sex tends to drop to the bottom of our “to do” list.”
All other things being equal, I was certain my lapse in libido was at least in part due to fatigue and stress. I also noted that diet and exercise had been compromised by my crazy schedule. And yes, I booked a checkup to ensure there was no underlying medical cause.
So I’ve been working to bring the sexy back. We’ve been working to bring the sexy back – everything we can come up with to get in the mood for sex, from libido foods and spicing things up to alleviating the sources of stress.
This is a special time in life – my kids are raised, there’s a good man in my heart, I’m reasonably healthy and I don’t take that lightly. Nor do I discount the realities of growing older, natural changes coupled with the complexities of the human mind. I know my worries to be real and stress to be a daunting adversary.
A sex life that goes from sizzling to fizzling?
Meanwhile, I’m anticipating the upcoming weekend – with martinis, Manolos and movies on the menu. I refuse to turn my back on an essential element of who I am, or to put passion out to pasture as if it’s somehow inevitable.