Tired of sex
April 20, 2005 8:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm 21 years old and I'm tired of sex...

I'm a 21-year-old college coed and I'm tired of sex. Does this seem strange to anyone else? When I say I'm tired of sex, I mean that it's just not on my list of fun things to do anymore. Even when I'm having a good time, maybe out drinking with friends or at home with my boyfriend watching a movie, I'd usually rather just keep doing what I'm doing. If things move in the sex direction, I usually pull back and suggest something else.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for over three years and we live together now. We don't have any relationship problems aside from my recent disinterest in sex and he doesn't seem to be suffering from a similar affliction. I used to really enjoy sex and we've always been pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new things in bed. I don't have any serious social or psychological disorders, I'm not on any serious medications, I'm a generally happy person...so what gives?

I do have some baggage: The circumstances under which I was having sex before I met my current boyfriend were not healthy (particularly the first time) and orgasms have always been hard for me (I've only gotten there once during sex with some hand-held help).

Has anyone had a similar experience? Is there any hope for me? Are my days of enjoying sex over?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

My sex drive has gone up and down throughout the years (I'm 33 now, started having sex when I was 16). I think this is a normal sex mood swing. From my experience, your interest will increase again eventually. However, if this concerns you and you want to get your desire back, you might want to explore what does get you excited. It might be something simple, but focusing on whatever desire is there can help nurture it.

You might want to check with your gynecologist to be sure there isn't a physical problem, perhaps something hormonal. However, some women tend to have lower drives than others. And like I said, this may just be cyclical, and your desire might return, as mine did. A woman's desires tend to increase as she gets closer to 30, so you have that to look forward to.
posted by veronitron at 8:12 PM on April 20, 2005

Yes, there's hope.

First, take a look at potential libido-killers in your life. Did you start taking birth control pills or switch the brand? They can take a bite out of your sex drive. Anti-depressants, alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can do the same.

Next, take a closer look at the emotional stuff. Is it possible that a relationship problem is expressing itself this way? Maybe you're not aware of some issue that's affecting you nonetheless.

Lastly, people do have different sex drives, and it's possible that yours isn't a strong one (beyond the initial excitement of being with a new partner). But it sounds like you want to be having sex, so maybe repetition is lulling your libido to sleep. Try exploring new sexual adventures: read sexy books, watch sexy movies, and see if you get inspired!
posted by equipoise at 8:14 PM on April 20, 2005

I'm a 21-year-old college coed

sorry for the off-topic, but ... coed? is that term still in use?

regarding sex interest, how hot are you for yr boyfriend? Were you just into it because it was new & exciting, rather than because he specifically made you feel crazy? Or have your feelings for him changed at all over time?

It's worth reflecting on all potential health issues if it feels like it was a kind of sudden or unexpected shift - ie, any changes in diet, medications, sleep or stress patterns, etc, might have some impact, and it never hurts to get a check-up. However, as others have said, these things will also simply fluctuate from time to time, and if you've been with the same person for over three years, it isn't unheard of for interest to wane. However, you're pretty young & in a pretty serious relationship - is it possible there's some questioning going on about whether this is the guy you'll marry, etc?
posted by mdn at 8:28 PM on April 20, 2005

Maybe I'll get pegged as simplistic but frankly I think the bulk of the issue is contained in this statement:

The circumstances under which I was having sex before I met my current boyfriend were not healthy (particularly the first time) and orgasms have always been hard for me (I've only gotten there once during sex with some hand-held help).

I'm a man, okay, so I'm coming from a different angle... but I'm also sexually active in a 10+ year monogamous relationship so I think I have something to say about keeping the sex life alive... anyway, in my book, either partner not having regular orgasms before, during, and adjacent to sex = having crummy sex. Orgasm may not be the absolute gold standard of every satisfying sexual encounter but if it isn't happening frequently you're just not doing it right, and I mean the both of you. I sure as hell would lose interest in sex if I was rarely having orgasms. How much the issue of your early experiences are affecting this is hard to say, though if you dwell on those experiences a lot (there is clearly some serious unstated stuff going on in your brief mention of your sexual history) you may ultimately need to work through those experiences in some way.

Your statement that you've only had an orgasm once during sex and it was with added stimulation suggests you may think that this need is unusual. It is not. My understanding is that many if not most women require direct clitoral stimulation, either manual or with a vibrator, to have an orgasm during intercourse. Certainly it has been my experience.

Another question this raises with me is, is your boyfriend aware you are not having orgasms during sex? Or are you faking it? If the former, does he just accept this state of affairs? If the latter, do you not see this central dishonesty in your sex life as a problem? Either way, you two have a serious communication problem in your sexual relationship. This is also indicated by the fact that you don't mention his feelings about the situation at all. So I will address that: he is unhappy about it. And if it continues it will eventually be a primary contributor to the end of this relationship (or even worse, an ongoing contributor to a relationship that ought to be ending).

There is only one effective way of increasing the accessibility of orgasm that I am aware of and that is masturbation. Whether and how well you can get off by yourself will also tell you something about whether there is some more intrinsic issue with your libido and sexual response or whether the main problem is that you are getting short-changed in bed with your partner.

In short, I think you need to communicate about this with your partner and you need to get in touch with your own sexual desire and response and needs. My suspicion would be that like a lot of late-teens early-twenties women (and a fair number of thirties- and forties- and...) lack of sexual self-experience and failure to really address your own sexual satisfaction with your partner has led to your not really knowing what truly satisfying sex is. It astounds me that women still put up with insufficient/inept foreplay, orgasmless sex, and men that think just sticking it in and out should be all their partners need. If this is so in your case you may find that, by improving your sexual communication, getting to know your own orgasms, and bringing appropriate stimulation beyond intercourse into your sex life, you will find out your are a lot more interested in sex than you realized.
posted by nanojath at 9:30 PM on April 20, 2005

Lack of libido is often pretty treatable, if you want to be treated. Might be something basic. Might as well see a doctor.
posted by callmejay at 9:31 PM on April 20, 2005

It astounds me that women still put up with insufficient/inept foreplay, orgasmless sex, and men that think just sticking it in and out should be all their partners need.

As a gay guy, I'd add that it's not only women who "put up with" that stuff. And I'd bet quite a few lesbians and straight guys encounter similar situations. But aside from that, I strongly second this: "Orgasm may not be the absolute gold standard of every satisfying sexual encounter." I've sometimes felt that the focus on orgasm has actually gotten in the way of a fun and interesting time in bed. But more important, I suspect, is this:

If things move in the sex direction, I usually pull back and suggest something else.

In all seriousness, have you thought about talking that over with a professional therapist? If you had a "not healthy" introduction to sex (and lord knows you're far from alone in *that*), it's not surprising that subsequent experiences might be emotionally difficult, and that orgasms with others might be scary territory. I've been there, and all I can say is 1) trust is essential and 2) being honest about your feelings is essential to building trust (even in casual sex situations). Therapy can really help in clarifying that kind of stuff.

Also, I think nanojath is right in asking about masturbation; if you can enjoy intense orgasms by yourself, then masturbating with or for your partner might be a good thing to try. And even folks who've "always been pretty adventurous" might have a certain sexual situation/fantasy/role-play that they'd really like to explore but are scared or ashamed to bring up with their partner. That's not uncommon. But talking about what really gets each partner most hot has always seemed to me a key part of good sex.
posted by mediareport at 9:59 PM on April 20, 2005

has always seemed to me a key part of good sex

Er, no, not always. I figured it out eventually, is what I should have said.
posted by mediareport at 10:09 PM on April 20, 2005

I don't want to be disheartening, just honest.

You at 21, this entire situation which you have described, sounds exactly like me at 24: 3 years into the relationship, unhealthy circumstances leading up to the beginning of the relationship and I was just not interested in sex. I was beginning to think perhaps I was just frigid.

He figured it out first: I liked him as a friend, we were great friends, but I was just not that into him, and I didn't want to sleep with him. Basically I was with him because he was better than what came before him. He broke up with me, it's been just about a year and I'm much better off. And definitely not frigid.

Just another angle to consider.
posted by angeline at 10:26 PM on April 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

Another male opinion here. I've had an almost zero libido for three years now (graduate school). Part of it may be attributable to my decision before school not to date anyone, but I haven't even really had the urge to pursue anyone. Why? Too much other stuff going on.

A variable libido seems to me to be perfectly normal. Lord knows there are a million things going on in the world that can distract from sex, and as wonderful as sex is - both as a physical act and an emotional-intimate act - it can, and should, be suppressed at times.

That said, when I was about 25, I was dating a young woman (24) who suddenly and inexplicably lost her interest in sex. She didn't want to talk about it, and I only found out later, after we broke up and became friends (three or so years after breaking up), how seriously a date rape in college was affecting her. Our problem was that there were essentially three people in our relationship: me, her, and that other guy.

So, if I may:

1) Talk to your boyfriend. Maybe come to an agreement that you're not even going to try to have sex for six months. Whether you go the whole time is unimportant. Just come to an agreement that sex is not an option. Explain copiously that it's not any sort of test and that you're still committed to him. If he is uncomfortable with the hiatus, don't be afraid to negotiate down to a more palatable time, but don't make it something trivial like 3 weeks. Tell him you've got to get some things sorted out, and you want to do so without the pressure of having to make excuses or make him uncomfortable. (Side note: if he can't go without for a couple of months, the problem is his, not yours. Don't let him guilt you back into bed before you're ready; don't guilt yourself back into bed before you're ready.)
2) Talk to your friends and get support. This is true with any situation in which you feel unsure of yourself, particularly a situation where you least want outside help. They don't have to know everything, but they can at least remind you that you're more than your currently uneasy sex life.
3) Once (and if) you're relatively free of the pressure to have sex, ask yourself why you're not interested in it. Take some time not thinking about it if you can before you start examining the situation. You might find that once you're free of the pressure to have sex now your libido will spring back; then again, it might not.
4) Talk to a professional. I think 99% of us here are happy to provide anonymous support and community for you, but if you have deep issues with your sex life, say, because of a bad introduction to sex, you should probably get counseling. Counseling is not a bad thing, and it doesn't indicate any weakness on your part. In fact, seeking professional help indicates that you're strong enough to recognize when you're not equipped to handle a truly big issue.
5) And finally, even though sexual health in a relationship is a "truly big issue", it's only one part of your relationship and it's only one part of you. Don't let it consume you. If you discover that your relationship is (was) only about sex, that's a good thing to find out now. If you discover that your relationship is fantastic but is incomplete without sex, you and he will find a way to make everything work.

I wish you the best of luck. Sexual issues (especially in college) are almost overwhelmed by social stigma, embarrasment, and self-doubt. You're doing better than many people simply by acknowledging the issue and attempting to deal with it in an adult manner.
posted by socratic at 10:32 PM on April 20, 2005

..I used to really enjoy sex..

That suggests that:

a. You did overcome your 'baggage' to a pretty reasonable extent.
b. Something has happened.
c. That it might not be a libido thing.

1. Go see a Dr. anyway and if that's fine,
2. Consider, like mdn/angeline said, whether boyfriend is 'still' the one.
3. Talk it over with b.friend (and if he's a nice boy he will want to know and do anything that's needed to help) - and move away from penetrating sex - go back to sensuality/manual
4. Consider a sex counsellor - even a single session to hear what they have to say about finding the big O - what you can do to help, exercises, bedroom practices etc - of course it's not of the highest importance, but you have got there before and no doubt it will be more pleasurable if you can achieve one from time to time at least

One last thing....has there been increase in stress in any other areas of your life such as college/friends/family? Outside stress can have a big influence on a sex life - in which case, setting aside specific intimacy time might be necessary.

(penis+ here)
posted by peacay at 1:50 AM on April 21, 2005

My 2c echo Angeline's comment.
posted by ruelle at 2:25 AM on April 21, 2005

Maybe you just need a bit more romance to get you in the mood than you used to. I think this would be completely normal for a woman in a long-term relationship. I know that it's hard to tell someone that they need to spend more time making you feel good (cooking food you love, giving massages, all that stuff), but you could probably get a long way with some positive reinforcement when he's doing the right thing. I'm not knocking your boyfriend, I think everyone has a tendency to get complacent over time.

Suggestion number 2 is for both of you to get some more exercise. If your BF has gotten out of shape this may be affecting your interest in sex. And a healthy level of activity just makes everything better in life. Find something you can do together so it's not going to seem like you're pressuring him into losing weight.

Lastly, I am sure you will eventually get your interest back one way or another with all the great advice in this thread, and when you do, I would like to recommend the coital alignment technique. You'll find a bunch of information on this on Google, it's hard to describe but really easy to do and you will probably find that it makes intercourse a lot more enjoyable. I've mentioned it here before but I honestly think this is something that _everyone_ needs to know about.
posted by teleskiving at 3:51 AM on April 21, 2005

Just a simple suggestion - do some kegels if you're not doing them already. Having good muscle control down there makes sex feel a lot more enjoyable.
posted by hazyjane at 5:07 AM on April 21, 2005

I think the wide range of answers here echoes what Woody Allen often points out in his movies: human sexuality is a strange unknowable thing. Personally, I can't fathom not having any libido during three years, as someone mentioned, as I at least think about sex every day. Not all day, mind you, but it does cross my mind, every day. And when my wife isn't in the mood, I am happy to masturbate on my own; going back to Woody, "masturbation is sex with someone I love!"

So how do you pinpoint your personal situation? Well, if you can have orgasms by yourself, you can rule out frigidity. If you can't get off ever under any circumstance, perhaps you have a medical condition that can be treated. See a doctor.

If you have had a good sex life with this same partner before you can also rule out left over baggage from earlier bad experiences. If so, and you can get off by yourself, but not with your partner, you may start to examine new baggage that has developed during your current relationship. Talk to him about it, talk to your friends. See a therapist. You may try a separation and seeing other people. You are awfully young, maybe you are just bored with your partner. Try someone new. There is no rule saying you have to say with the same person forever (especially at 23!).

If there is "new" baggage, it may not have anyting to do with your boyfriend, but rather with other external forces that are affecting your life. Stress is a big libido killer. Try to identify stressful situations that can be killing your libido. If you can eliminate them, obviously, do so. Take a vacation with your partner so you can get away from everyday stress. See if the sparks can be rekindled.

Sincerely I suspect that you just need a change of scenery. Whether that includes a change of partner or not is something you will have to find out for yourself.

Don't give up! Sex is one of the few things that add color to our otherwise gray and dingy lives.

posted by sic at 5:38 AM on April 21, 2005

I'll third Angeline. Sounds like you've lost interest (sexually speaking) in your boyfriend. Whether it can be revived is another matter -- presumably he'll be happy to try, as long as you don't phrase it in a way that suggests he's bad in bed -- but you shouldn't think of it as "losing your libido." You'll be amazed how fast your libido perks up in the right circumstances.
posted by languagehat at 7:00 AM on April 21, 2005

Someone above mentioned switching birth control pills -- in my experience, it's not always just new prescriptions that can fuck up your hormones. I was on one type for a year and a half and then suddenly realized I had become a moody, angry, sobbing mess. I called my doctor, went off the pill, and got my old self back very quickly.

From your question, it sounds like emotional/pscyhological factors may be more in play, but if you are on the pill, it may be worth experimenting with different brands to see if that's adding to the problem.

It's a daily dose of hormones -- it's amazing how much, and how unexpectedly, that can affect you.
posted by occhiblu at 8:24 AM on April 21, 2005

This book and a willing partner has removed orgasmless sex for many women [including moi]. Many, many women do not get off from penetration alone, especially at first. Don't think of manual stimulation or other help as 'outside' of the sex, or a fake way of reaching orgasm -- it's part of the process, and a very important one at that. The other advice above is spot-on as well, but wanted to throw it out there that you're not alone, it doesn't have to be that way, there may be other things at work [the relationship, past history, upbringing, whatever] but if all things are a go, and you'd like to have the possibility of reaching orgasm during sex, there are ways to accomplish this.
posted by fionab at 8:32 AM on April 21, 2005

Dear anonymous,

Set aside the drastic considerations for a moment and think of this: it is not unusual to get a few years into a relationship and to find that your interest in sex may dwindle a bit. That's why the first time you have sex with an exciting partner is so powerful-- and the 100th time with that same person might not seem as new and exciting.

Seriously, one aspect of sexuality is that new experiences are exciting and that sameness eventually can diminish one's interest. It's part of being human, and I think you are therefore having a normal experience 3 years in.

The depth of a relationship can be the most rewarding part of long-term partnerships, and can far outweigh the "advantages" (sexually speaking) of being single and having the opportunity to enjoy exciting sex with different/unique/ exciting partners. Allow the strength of your relationship with and love for your boyfriend of 3 years to enhance your love life, romance and sex life. It takes work, sometimes, but hey, you're 21-- you're an adult now, and in an adult relationship.

posted by dfowler at 9:00 AM on April 21, 2005

orgasms have always been hard for me (I've only gotten there once during sex with some hand-held help).

Hon, if you're not having orgasms you are not, in my honest opinion, not doing it right.

A lot of the previous advice has said that this might be a normal part of the ebb and flow of horniness, that it might be a side-effect, that it might be psychological based on past history, and that it may be disinterest in your partner.

That's all well worth considering. But I'll focus on the sex act itself:

In my opinion, the key to great sex for a female is a lot of oral foreplay, with the partner's sole focus being to bring you to orgasm via tongue alone. Note that that will be his goal. You, however, may get so outrageously horny from it that you leap atop him before he's accomplished his goal.

In my opinion, the next key to great sex for a female is to be on top, upright, fingers on clit. Ride your boy for all he's worth, and rub out an clitoral orgasm. Yes, he might feel that this makes him inadequate: you can inform him that clitoral orgasms are different than vaginal orgasms, and your peak experience requires both a cock and a clit.

Assuming he can last, and assuming you're done with the clit, you can now proceed to pound out vaginal orgasms by the score. You may find that there is no limit to your ability to orgasm, save sheer physical exhaustion!

Disclaimer: my advice is based on about twenty years with my one and only sexual partner. I think we've pretty much perfected the fine art of sex, at least with each other. It gets better and better and outrageously better with each passing year. Practice does make perfect!

Final advice: demand satisfaction by communicating with him exactly what you want/need to get an orgasm. Put yourself first for a while.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:44 AM on April 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

See your doctor - your reaction to BCPs can change even without prescription changes. Other prescription drugs - going on or off of them can change your libido. Make sure there's nothing physical causing the lack of libido.

I've read that up to 80% of women cannot have an orgasm from regular intercourse alone. Use toys, hands, porn, erotica, role playing, etc. Have your boyfriend orgasm first and then spend time on you. That may reduce some of the pressure on both of you.

Change your routine. Try it in the morning rather than evening or vice versa. Although you've said you're adventurous, continue to try different things.

I'll probably get calls of "blasphemer!" but it's possible that you're having sex too often. If it's three times a day now, try three times a week instead.

Just because you don't want to have sex doesn't mean you can't ..um.. help your boyfriend. I find that doing that can make me feel ..er.. quite a bit more enthusiastic.

As previously mentioned - orgasms are wonderful, but not always necessary to have a great love-making session.

It could be disinterest in your boyfriend, but only you can deduce that.

And yes, a person's desire for sex waxes and wanes throughout his/her life. You could just be in a natural slump.
posted by deborah at 10:01 AM on April 21, 2005

anonymous, you can also contact me offline. I was 21 not that long ago, and am happy to share more personal information, and of course, I promise not to divulge your info here! my email is in my profile.
posted by fionab at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2005

Another book recommendation: The Best You'll Ever Have : What Every Woman Should Know About Getting and Giving Knock-Your-Socks-Off Sex. Not just because of the technique information within, but because it dispels a lot of misinformation about female anatomy (i.e. the diagram in the tampon box is so wrong) and how exactly we become turned on.

How are you feeling otherwise? Are you depressed? Is this related to exam-stress? How are you eating? How is your self-esteem? Do you love yourself (in a non-euphemistic way)? Do you feel like you're attractive and worth getting in the sack with? When you do have sex, does it feel like a chore or a celebration? How are things with your boyfriend? Does he make you laugh? Often? Are you self-conscious? Do you feel guilt or remorse or damaged or violated because of previous bad sexual encounters? When things move in the sex direction and you pull back and suggest something else, what are you feeling? Fear? Repulsion? Disinterest? Anxiety? Discomfort?

From what you've said in your post, it sounds like you are avoiding sex because there's Something Bad there that you don't want to deal with just yet. When you say that you want to just keep doing what you're doing, it sounds like you are desperately holding onto the safe activity because you dread what sex might bring up for you. Obviously, I'm reading a lot into what you've said, but if that sounds familiar... well, it's not necessarily bad. It may be a coping strategy. At some point, though, you'll have to deal with whatever is holding you back, and that might be painful and difficult and might take you a while, but the end result will likely be better than how you're feeling now. It might have nothing to do with sex right now with this particular boyfriend. Maybe it has to do with your first time, or the times that followed. Maybe it has to do with how sex was introduced to you, if it was something dirty and bad and taboo and 'nice girls don't'.

It concerns me that you've only had one orgasm during sex. Women have so many erogenous zones and are fully capable of multiple orgasms with no down-time, and sure, that's not all there is to sex, but why miss out? You're aware that fetuses don't distinguish sex until 10 or so weeks (something like that), and that the tissue that becomes the penis in males becomes the clitoris in females, yes? We don't expect men to reach orgasm without stimulating the penis, so don't neglect the clitoris! It's not just a little nub either, that baby is shaped like a wishbone. Has your boy found the g-spot? Make sure he does. It's a tricky shy thing that you need to coax out and won't be available unless you're relaxed and turned on, but it is so worth it.

Take some time to read about sex from a women's point of view, there are plenty of websites run by women and I recommend picking up a copy of The Vagina Monologues. Sex has so much to do with your brain and your sense of identity and your emotional state and what baggage you're carrying around and what ideas and emotions you've connected to sex, so take some time to examine how your negative experiences are affecting that, and work on gathering new positive stories and information to associate with it.

And if you do follow the advice to take a break from sex for a while, have some pity on your boyfriend and keep him occupied even while you're taking a break. No sense putting a further strain on things.

My email's in my profile if you need to chat (24, girl).
posted by heatherann at 10:21 AM on April 21, 2005

I second everyone else's advice - one further nugget: are you getting enough sleep? Fatigue can be a major libido drain.
posted by mai at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2005

Sex is nice, mostly, but the importance that many place on it has always mystified me, a little.

Judge your comfort solely on what examination of your own desires tells you, and appreciate but ultimately ignore anyone else's anecdotes, would be my advice. Everyone, as others have said, is entirely different, for a myriad of reasons. If you and your partner are reasonably comfortable, after thinking and talking about it, with whatever frequency and intensity of sexual intimacy you have, then it's all good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:28 PM on April 21, 2005

« Older Windows XP Home as a file server?   |   Firefox downloads custom 404 under IIS Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.