Not Feeling Like Your Sexy Self Right Now? Here’s Why and What You Can Do
According to NORMAL Co‘s Love in Lockdown survey, 1 in 3 people didn’t feel like having sex during lockdown and this lack of desire has carried through to post-lockdown life. But why are we feeling less sexual? And what can we do about it?
Well, according to sexologist Georgia Grace, there is a very good reason for many of us are feeling this way.
“It’s been an incredibly stressful time for everyone, and stress has a direct impact on sexual desire and even sexual function,” she tells POPSUGAR AU.
“When we’re stressed, sex is the furthest thing from our minds, instead we’re in survival mode: fight, flight and/or freeze. This is why stress management and mindfulness practices are vital in the way I work with clients — to have great sex, your body needs to feel safe, regulated and present.”
With so much going on emotionally right now, it’s especially tough to feel safe, regulated and present.
I barely feel present in my daily life at the moment, struggling to re-adjust to life after the past two crazy years. Not only are we at the busiest end of the year — and we’re expected to be back out socialising, preparing family gatherings and navigating travel — but we’re all collectively recovering from the total disruption caused by COVID.
Through her work as a sexologist with a range of clients, Georgia Grace says she’s noticed the dynamics between couples have changed more than ever.
“Being stuck indoors with a partner day-in day-out has certainly killed the mood for a lot of couples,” she says. “Relationships change!”
“It’s normal to not want to rip each other’s clothes off all the time. And if your desire for sex has changed, it’s not a ‘sign’ that there’s something wrong with your relationship, it may just mean that you need to learn or relearn how to create a great sex life together. Even the most loving, connected, sensual relationships have to work with changes in desire.
“Sexual confidence has also taken a hit — whether that’s because you’ve noticed changes in your body and you’re not quite feeling yourself or you feel out of practice (flirting is a skill after all) many are noticing they’re not feeling their best right now. And when you’re not feeling great, it’s pretty common to not feel like sex.”
OMG. Flirting is such a skill. It’s something we learn to do over years and years of practice and it’s so easy to forget that. My sheer inability to flirt right now is a total sign that I’m out of practice, which is unsurprising, given the circumstances of the past few years.
We’ve got to remember to go easy on ourselves. We aren’t just going to bounce back into being the flirty, horny, fun, sexually active and confident versions of ourselves straight away.
Not wanting to have sex, although good to acknowledge, isn’t a bad thing.
“I can’t tell you how many people feel alone and broken when they experience changes in desire,” Georgia says. “They think they should be ready and wanting sex at any moment and when they don’t, they become really concerned.:
“If we can speak openly about these changes, provide people with useful, practical information as to how desire works and normalise the fact that it’s very human for your desire to ebb and flow, more people will experience a sense of ease in their body and relationships.”
But how do we stop stressing about our lack of desire?
“Know that you’re certainly not alone, it’s human and expected to not feel like sex at the moment,” Georgia says.
“Whenever a client is stressed I like to walk them through the two ways of experiencing desire. There’s spontaneous desire: this refers to the spontaneous urge for sex that seemingly comes out of nowhere or with very little stimuls, some people identify that they experienced this at the start of a relationship, or at different stages of their cycle or a specific time of day. This is healthy and normal but it’s just one way of experiencing desire.
“The other is responsive desire, which refers to how much stimulus your body needs in order to bring sex front of mind, that stimulus could be a long steamy kiss or a sensual massage or you’re partner going down on you or going on a romantic night out, any stimulus that makes you think ‘oh sex would be a great idea right now!’. This is again healthy and sexy and normal and actually the more common way to experience desire.
“I often find that people who are more responsive in their desire self diagnose as having low libido — but in reality, they’re not receiving enough stimulus or they aren’t in their ideal context in order to bring sex front of mind. I would encourage that you work on learning what you can do to create their context for desire.”
Here are three simple things Georgia Grace reckons we can do to help us get back to feeling like our sexy selves.
Prioritise your solo practice: this could look like masturbation, sensual eating, curating a sensual playlist, writing / journalling about exciting sexual experiences or fantasies. Small, regular moments of pleasure or sexual exploration can really help to start prioritising sex.
Find Your Context For Desire
Create YOUR context for desire: get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, in one column write down all of your brakes, all the things that turn you off (eg stress, a messy room, arguments, pressure, etc).
Then in the other column write down all of your accelerators, all the things that turn you on (eg settings, times of the day or week, stimulus like erotica, romantic gestures, holidays, smells, etc).
Then look at the two lists how many brakes are you currently experiencing? How can you eliminate some of the brakes and bring in more accelerators, if you’re in a relationship share your lists with one another.
Take ‘Sex’ Off the Cards
I know this sounds counterintuitive but often by the time you’re doing something about your changes in desire — sex can feel like a lot of pressure. So, take it out of the mix and instead do things that feel pleasurable or sensual or sexy. This could be a massage, a long kiss on the couch, showering with a partner, etc. Get back into it slowly, ask each other how they’d define a fulfilling sex life and start to redefine sex together.
Additional tip: Get your hands on Emily Nagoski’s book Come As You Are.