You’d swear based on everything in popular culture that sex is all anyone thinks about, and it’s inherently wanted and understood by everyone 24/7. People start having sex in their teens; we’re encouraged to think about dating from the ages of eleven upwards. Some people get the idea that most people want tons of sex. Women are taught that men always want sex and will never turn it down; men are taught that something’s wrong with them if they’re not horny enough. It’s an insidious idea that worms its way into all of us: sex is the be-all, end-all.
There are lots of people who don’t feel that way. Nobody’s going to puff up their chest and admit in front of the lads that they’ve got a low-to-medium sex drive, but lots of people do. “You’ll just know” or “You’ll know when you meet the right person” are not universal. Some people are asexual and will never want to have sex. They know they don’t want to have sex and get no pleasure from trying or thinking about it. That’s a totally valid way to be; many people have happy and healthy relationships without sex, believe it or not. This article, however, is not for those people. This is for people who do want to have sex, yet find themselves with a low, weird, or puzzling sex drive. Some people don’t get sexually attracted to people until they’re in a relationship, very rarely feel sexual attraction, or just have trauma or anxiety that stops them from fully embracing their urges. Some people masturbate and enjoy sex, but don’t mind who it’s with, if anyone. Some people happen to have low sex drives. Some people are just really nervous! Certain circles call these people grey-asexuals, with brackets like demisexual; it might comfort you to look into those labels, and it might not. Either way, know that if you fall into that category, you are not alone. To those of you out there wondering how your sex life will work out without a ‘normal’ desire for ‘normal’ sex, have no fear! Here’s six tips for having weird sex, less sex, no sex, or learning to enjoy sex.
- There’s nothing wrong with you. There is no such thing as a “normal” sex life, or a “normal” relationship. There are as many different sex drives as there are people in the world, and you can’t make assumptions about what’s “normal”. Your sex drive is yours, it’s unique, and it’s completely fine. You can work on your insecurities about it, or explore it, or learn what does and doesn’t work. You can even see a doctor if it’s causing you unhappiness and your mind craves more sex than your body does. You should seek help if you have a lot of fear or anxiety, but you do want sex eventually. But, at the end of the day, your best version of you has a sex drive and there’s nothing wrong with it. No matter how much or how little you want intimacy, it’s normal. Your sex drive is not a problem that needs fixing. Get that into your head. As long as you can live your life, respect people, find happiness, and find someone who wants what you have, don’t worry about it. If anyone ever makes you feel deficient or like a freak for having a different experience with sex than them, go ahead and bump that person’s ass out of your life and look for someone who respects you.
- Go slowly. Your first kiss doesn’t have to be in a romantic moment, spontaneous and yet simultaneously decided unanimously, and you both kiss and it’s amazing and nobody says anything. You don’t have to cuddle for exactly one month, then instigate sex. You can ask before you do anything. If intimacy is a lot for you to handle, then take it slow. If the idea of seeing your partner naked makes you nervous, let alone doing the nasty with them, then get naked together and go no further. If you’re not sure about being touched down there, guide your partner through it without going all the way. Heck, if you’re nervous about kissing then mention it and go through the process slowly. Your comfort comes first, and the romantic-ness and spark of the moment comes second. Don’t ‘bite the bullet’ when it comes to your own body. You’re trying to experience closeness and love with another person, not rip off a plaster. You can work your way up to these things. You don’t have to understand or be okay with everything immediately. There is no worse feeling than going further than you meant to go, or realising that you’re overwhelmed. Everyone, including people with high sex drives, can be overwhelmed by moving too fast and getting too intimate. Take care of yourself and feel no pressure.
- It’s not a big deal. There are people who get into healthy relationships without sex. There are people who get into healthy relationships with very little sex. There are healthy relationships with tons of sex, weird sex, and healthy relationships with sex but not with each other. Some people don’t enjoy penetrative sex, don’t masturbate, don’t fantasize about having sex with their partner (but enjoy doing it in person), don’t watch porn, only watch porn… There’s no wrong way to have a sex life, as long as both of you are happy. If you don’t want a typical sex life, you can be perfectly happy with it, and so can your partner! Don’t give up hope on finding anyone who will accept you and finding someone who is satisfied by you. Don’t settle for anybody who expects more from you than you can give. You can be happy, and so can your partner. If someone tells you that you’re enough for them, believe them.
- It is a big deal. Contradictory, right? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not craving sex, having a different experience of attraction, or even just being anxious or having baggage around intimacy. However: there is nothing wrong with your partner having a high sex drive, either. To many, sex is an essential part of a relationship (if not an essential part of life). That’s completely natural. There’s nothing perverse or greedy about it, and, indeed, it’s not something that can be changed or controlled. Just because you’re happy with a certain amount of intimacy doesn’t mean it’s wrong if someone else isn’t. Understand that sexual satisfaction is important, meaningful, and essential to your partner; ensuring that they feel looked after and accounted for is important. If your partner doesn’t want an open relationship, isn’t satisfied with masturbation or foreplay alone and feels unsatisfied by how much sex you have, then you need to accept that as a sad, blameless incompatibility. On that note, here’s the most important thing for you to remember…
- Communicate. Life is not like in the movies. Talking during sex is not a turn-off, talking about sex when you’re not having sex is essential, and honesty is key. This is advice for everyone. If you don’t know what you can do better, ask. If you don’t know if your partner is satisfied, ask. If you can’t find the clit, y’know…that’s a fixable problem. If you can’t take an honest, hard-to-hear answer, then you should work on yourself; if your partner can’t give you honest hard-to-say answers then go date a real adult. If you have concerns about your compatibility and about your sex life, then the first and most important step to addressing them is to say them to the person involved. Discuss solutions, establish boundaries. Don’t judge and don’t let someone judge you. Ask: “Are you satisfied?” “Is this good?” “What can I do better?”
- Compromise. You absolutely cannot and should not allow yourself to be pushed beyond your boundaries. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with and don’t do anything more often than you feel like it. However: You have to make sure your partner’s needs are accounted for. I can’t tell you what those needs are, but they can. You can’t expect them to just lower their expectations and stay that way if that’s not something they’re happy with. Getting involved in kinks, dirty talk, porn, or masturbation without participating physically is doable. Opening up your relationship is absolutely fine as long as you both are absolutely sure what the boundaries are. Even if all your partner needs is the emotional reassurance that they’re attractive and desirable, you have to talk about that and decide how they’ll get it. Negotiate, ask for what you want, give what you’re asked for (if you can). There are solutions. You just have to figure them out together! You can do it.