My interest in having sex is essentially 0. What?
April 7, 2011 8:55 AM   Subscribe

My interest in having sex is essentially 0. What?

I'm a late 20's male and have just basically broken up with my last lady friend after not being able to have sex with her - we both agree it's an important thing to *have* sex and she's not interested in finding another partner, while stilling going out with me. We've been going out for maybe 2 months or so. We've had sex before, with mild amount of success, but haven't had sex for a few weeks, I usually stop right before it seems appropriate. Given we're both in our twenties, this seems really strange. She is a very, very willing partner but I seem to not have any interest to go much further than happy naked fun and haven't been able to even get an erection for a long enough time. Foreplay is long and fun and I'm extremely happy to give and show a GIGANTIC assortment of affection, from holding hands, kissing, touching, giving blow jobs - you get the idea, but blow jobs received or having sex either never happen or aren't successful - I'll lose whatever erection I have - condoms don't help matters, but we've been very open about things and neither of us find it appropriate to forgo using them.

I would brush this off as a fluke, but this is starting to be a serial thing for me. My last lady friend and I went out for 5 months before calling it quits, having never have sex with each other. Other partners before that feel neglected (in hindsight, it's obvious to me, why) with my disinterest. Many relationships lose steam and I just want things to turn into friendships. In the start of my sexual history, I never was one to be extremely picky on any particular needs/fetishes, I've always enjoyed pleasure given to me and I've always been able to make sure my partners are satisfied. I'm more interested now in like, reading a book, or spending a lot of time with myself, hiking, cycling - lots of exercise, outdoor activities.

I'm racking my brain into why this is, since I *want* to want to have sex, but almost pragmatically, I don't: I'm not very interesting in ever being married, or having kiddos and I can logistically see sex as nothing but the evolutionary payoff in attempting to get someone preggers. I love giving all other sorts of affection to someone, I'm a hopeless flirt, a hopeless crusher on a wide spectrum of people and I have no problem getting erections in general or masturbating daily - or more. But, I'm also a loner and wondering perhaps if I've become ultimately too self-sufficient with my own skin. I'm aware of the idea that there's no better long term happiness than to find a special someone to share your live and dreams and fears with, but I have no idea how to get my body chemistry to allow that, even though part of me emotionally wants it.

I'm considering therapy, or going to the doctor to see if I have some sort of hormone imbalance. I think I'm just flipping crazy, to be honest.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

I think getting a full blood panel done would be the first order of business.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:57 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by procrastination at 8:58 AM on April 7, 2011

Masturbating daily? Maybe stop that for a while and see if something changes.
posted by Triton at 9:02 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you are putting a lot of terrible pressure on yourself.

Eliminate medical problems as a reason, since there may be something to it and it's obviously a worry for you. If you are young, want to get an erection, and can't, it's perfectly reasonable to visit the doctor.

If that doesn't work, maybe see a therapist and talk about it so you can . I myself would spend time alone really thinking about the issue and building support with friends.

In the end, sex is a big deal with an a lot of emotional and physical repercussions. But it's also just a roll in the hay, too.
posted by amodelcitizen at 9:03 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you on any medication? Specifically, antidepressants?
posted by Slinga at 9:16 AM on April 7, 2011

I find the best cure for a lack of interest in having sex is to start exercising for a bit. Getting your blood flowing has a good way of, well, getting your blood flowing. Just go for a walk or a run somewhere and see how much better it makes you feel, provided it's not some more serious medical issue.
posted by msbutah at 9:18 AM on April 7, 2011

You need to talk to a physician about this. This might be indicative of a more serious health issue. If it's not, your physician should be able to make other suggestions about what to do.
posted by grouse at 9:18 AM on April 7, 2011

Doctor first, just to rule out physical issues. And an ironclad rule in life is that if something is making you unhappy (as this obviously is), you are ok to talk with a therapist.

Don't worry about what is "normal" -- focus on what you need to be happy.
posted by Forktine at 9:29 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a late twenties female and I have the same problem. I have described it as the female equivalent of "can't get it up." Since the OP is anonymous, I thought I'd point out that although it may be a physical thing, it may also be an emotional thing.

Since we've got the medical side of this pretty well covered, maybe we can address the psychological side as well, since that's what the question appears to be asking. Are there answers that aren't "doctor" or "therapist"?

On preview, focus on what you need to be happy is a good start.
posted by lover at 9:43 AM on April 7, 2011

What would Dan Savage say? One interesting observation of his is that the more types of things you consider to be real sex, the more real sex you will be able to have. What you describe as "happy naked fun" but which you do not consider to be sex, would be considered as a form of sex by many people. If you think of it as a fetish, it would be a very mild form of fetish, considering what some other people find to be necessary for their sexual satisfaction. Of course, your girlfriends have not been satisfied, but that may only mean that you have not found the right match for your particular sexuality. Or it may only mean that they should have been more open minded about what sex actually is or can be.
posted by grizzled at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe you're asexual? The following is not quite what your question asks, but may be of some use...

I really want to have sex with people I love but when I do I feel nothing and it's horrible. What's wrong with me?

If you don't enjoy sex or find it deeply disappointing this might be because you don't actually want sex, you want your idea of what sex is. If you've come to this site, you probably suspect or know that you're asexual, so it's unlikely that a sex drive is motivating you.

Think carefully. What does sex mean to you? What do you expect to get from sex? Do you think you're looking for extreme pleasure? Perhaps you want some amazing shared expression of your love. Maybe you want to make your partner happy and think that you should be satisfied with their pleasure. Could it be that you want to be as intimate and close as is possible to them?

Once you know what you're actually looking for from sex, you can look for other ways to achieve it. The important thing is to talk to your partner, figure out what you want, tell them what you're feeling and discuss each other's needs.

posted by knapah at 9:51 AM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]

Putting aside the medical questions for a moment, which you probably want to look into, what's wrong with having a low sex drive for now? Maybe it's just not what your mind or body really want to be doing at the moment?

I understand that you want to be the person they expect, you sound like you're a pleaser and that you want to make them happy, but what if it's not who you are? There are people who choose celibacy or alternative models of sexual engagement for exactly the reasons you've laid out.

Why not consider that the right "special someone to share your life with" is someone who loves you for exactly who you are, someone who, right now anyway, is "more interested ... in reading a book, or spending a lot of time with [yourself], hiking, cycling - lots of exercise, outdoor activities. "
posted by jardinier at 9:53 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: 1) Check this out with a doctor--both physical workup and explore anxiety issues
2) Have you considered you may be attracted to men?
3) If you're fine and sure you're not gay, then perhaps you're asexual. It does happen.
posted by Anonymous at 10:04 AM on April 7, 2011

What came first, the boner loss or the just-want-to-cuddle feelings?

Because if you've always been more interested in cuddling than sex, maybe that's just how you are and maybe you would be ideally paired with someone with a low sex drive who puts a low priority on PinV sex. Nothing wrong with that, just might be harder to find a suitably matched partner, but they're out there.

If you used to enjoy sex and then lost your ability to have an erection with a partner present out of the blue one day, and then decided you just want to cuddle anyway, maybe you just don't want to face up to the performance anxiety. I don't have a penis, but from what I've heard from penis-owners tells me this happens to many or even most of them at some point in their lives, and often its temporary and responds to psychological reframing.

What do you fantasize about when alone? (I'm not asking for an answer, just something to think about). Or is masturbating sort of a compulsory thing for you, like scratching an itch without much sexy feeling attached?
posted by slow graffiti at 10:08 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

So what I'm hearing here is, you like getting off alone, and you really like getting other people off. It's just getting off with other people that you can't seem to manage.

Which sounds to me like it's either performance anxiety, unfulfilled kinks and preferences, or shame.

Other folks have covered the first two bases. But I wanted to mention the shame thing in case it strikes a chord with you. Some people don't like to be seen in a vulnerable situation, or are specifically embarrassed about being visibly turned on; and some people feel selfish if they're not focusing on their partner's pleasure all the time. Could it be one of those things for you?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:18 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

msbutah, it sounds like he's maybe getting exercise (hiking, cycling). But I agree, that'd be a good place to start if not.

Anon, I'm so sorry you're going through this. It sounds really frustrating. It's great that you are trying to address your concerns. I would also suggest seeing a medical doctor and a therapist/counselor, too. Who knows, maybe just talking it out with someone will take off some of the pressure that you're putting on yourself and that you probably have felt from your previous partners. I have my own sex-related issues so I kind of know how you feel. I'm sending you good thoughts for getting this figured out and getting you to a place where you feel happier about the situation!
posted by sucre at 10:23 AM on April 7, 2011

If you're masturbating daily or more, that's where your sex drive has gone.
posted by musofire at 10:49 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hey anon,

I know this can suck but it may be" fixable" or temporary.
I've had this happen a couple times in my life.
Once was due to emotional stress that I needed to address.
A second time was due to medications such as psychiatric drugs, but others can be culprits as well.
Recently I've had a couple of instances where its simply bad timing (too late at night) and due to chronic pain which can kill a libido rather quickly.

Yet I've found a couple of solutions. For the first instance, a shrink helped with the emotional shit.
Second instance was to get off of any S*RI or mood altering substances, came right back after a couple weeks of detoxing my body of the medication

The best thing I've found is to not worry about performance as that can just multiple issues. Yet nothing works better than working out...and HARD! That has worked the best for restoring and accelerating things if you know what I mean.

Also definitely check out things with your doctor.
posted by handbanana at 10:54 AM on April 7, 2011

Far be it from me to discourage a doctor visit because, hey, who doesn't love a good trip to the doctor, but if the OP has no trouble maintaining an erection when he is alone and is masturbating once a day or more the odds on this being a (physical) medical issue are not so high.

OP: Dude, if you're masturbating more than once per day it's not exactly surprising that our libido isn't where you would like it to be for sexy times. Maybe you should stop with that and see how things go? I mean if your girlfriend kept trying to bake lovely cakes for you and you didn't understand why you never seemed hungry for them because you have no trouble scarfing down a dozen cookies every morning... well I'd tell you to maybe stop eating the cookies for a bit.

If you go two weeks or so without masturbating and you still don't have a desire to have sex with your girlfriend then, yeah, it may be shrink time.
posted by Justinian at 11:02 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ditto on the potential for overmasturbation, particularly if you're really into porn.

Do you smoke weed? Over time it can really impact the ability to sustain the erection, not to mention depress the sex drive itself.
posted by Alcibiades. at 11:13 AM on April 7, 2011

Wow, get to a doctor! Don't Google and frighten yourself, but you make me think of a hormonal imbalance. Low adrenal function, low testosterone, or low thyroid can cause these feelings. Blood tests usually catch these things.

Second, if there is nothing wrong, consider therapy, but --
I was in a committed relationship with someone like you for years, who did not want sex. I thought therapy would help, but that's just the way they were. Leaving in order to have sex more than 3 times a year was SO good for me, seriously.

Until you work this out, DO NOT, I plead of you, DO NOT burden yourself onto a sexual person. If it turns out you re asexual, find another asexual to be with. Repeated fights about sex/sexuality/sexual desire will ensue and you will just make your partner feel inadequate.
posted by ElisaOS at 12:50 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

You like cuddling - find someone else who likes cuddling. See how you go from there.
posted by mleigh at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2011

In other words - why beat yourself up over the things you think you should be doing when you can actually enjoy the things you like doing.
posted by mleigh at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2011

There's nothing wrong; basically, in my experience nothing you describe is 'abnormal' or weird enough to require intervention. Work on accepting yourself. It's not a big deal, what you've described. It's only society (mostly) that lets you think otherwise. Otherwise, just somewhat ordinary-level frustration/difficulty in finding the right match, but we all have that issue.

I know a lot of geeks and/or asexual people, maybe, but I think it's just the flip-side of the 'maybe you're ashamed' comment: society shames people with low-end sex-drives so consequently they generally don't speak out. This isn't to say you've got a shame 'issue', just that it's a societally expected response to what you're talking about. You're expected to need 'help', but in reality there's nothing wrong. What is there to 'help'?

The only thing that *may* be wrong is making your partner(s) unhappy, since they want to make you feel good just as you want to make them feel good. The solution is to find a partner who has a compatible-level sex-drive. This is not uncommon in women; if you were into guys you'd have a bigger challenge. Find a really geeky/cerebral girl. Talk about sexuality. Make sure you're on the same wavelength. Have fun doing sports stuff together. Go from there. Maybe one day try masturbating together? Optional.

I know what it's like to be 'too comfortable' in your own skin, self-contained, self-satisfied-- it's an introvert problem. I have a medium-high sex drive, but being introverted enough means I've little need to express it (or much else, socially), even though I'm pretty affectionate. Consider yourself lucky you *have* semi-frequent relationships-- clearly you're not as self-contained as you think. These are all opportunities for the right match to be more likely to occur. I don't think not masturbating is a solution; in a 'average' sex-drive person, there's no numeric limit on how much you can get aroused and get off per day. Certainly, porn has little to do with it (another societal meme gone awry). Bottom line, if you don't want to have sex, don't. You can still have relationships-- it just takes a bit more effort. In ten years, maybe no one will even notice (sadly?). Certainly in 20.

Do be upfront with your needs/desires and don't drag it out, please. As a former high-ish-sex-drive girlfriend of someone like this, that's all I'd ask. There's no actual need to have sex for affection-- friends can be affectionate. Wait till you're really romantically intense before having a romantic relationship. Don't assume romantic relationships are the standard for 'a' relationship, at least with the opposite sex. Though I will say, at least once, try it out. Either don't masturbate for a week (month?) or take an aphrodisiac, or get drunk, or all of the above, and like, really let it all hang out. Just like paragliding or going to Paris, really good sex is worth trying at least once.
posted by reenka at 10:08 PM on April 7, 2011

Are you on any medication? My ex (whom I also dated for 5 months-- you don't happen to be a 27 year old male living in Seattle, do you?) was on a fairly high dose of anxiety meds that seemed to totally shut down his libido.
posted by wansac at 12:32 AM on April 8, 2011

There is nothing wrong with you.

I understand that part of you wants to have this wonderful thing, but there seems to be a larger part of you that is not ready for that.

I can relate. I've been caught in the "wanting to want to", myself, and there's nothing in it. I would say, Let it go. You think you want it--meaning, you think and think about it because you are attached to it as an idea--but, in fact, you don't. Not in a total way.

There may be a time when you want to have sexual intimacy beyond affection, or there may not. If it does happen, it will happen naturally in time; it will just grow in you if you allow yourself to grow from where you are without getting caught up in ideas that just aren't you, right now. There are many people who don't feel sexual, and there are all kinds of ways of feeling sexual, less sexual... We live in such a sex-obsessed culture, where relationships are so defined by sex, that it can be hard to understand that it's not the center of everything. I know people who aren't interested in sex with a partner, but they still have intimate relationships with people who feel likewise. That may not ultimately be you, but I'm just trying to point out there are many possibilities and it is fine that you are experiencing this right now--go with it. You may be able to find someone who isn't interested in it, either, who likes the kinds of things you are comfortable with, and experience that kind of relationship while you are figuring yourself out with regards to sex and what your sexuality and confusions mean. The kind of sharing and intimacy you are talking about is not dependent on sex. Sex is like a bonus!

Put your energy into doing those things you talked about really being interested in. Follow your energy. See where it leads you.

I'm aware of the idea that there's no better long term happiness than to find a special someone to share your live and dreams and fears with, but I have no idea how to get my body chemistry to allow that, even though part of me emotionally wants it.

Long term happiness come from within, joy grows in the relationship with yourself; only then can you share that with someone and multiply that joy. And that cannot happen unless you are true to yourself, just the way you are. Be honest with yourself and whoever you are with (you might find that they are understanding and still interested in being with you). You like giving and receiving affection, and enjoy touching... This is great! I think you have a lot going for you. You enjoy yourself and you enjoy relationships. Let yourself do that at the level where you're able right now.

Your body chemistry is a part or you, too. It reflects where you are emotionally, where you are as a person, it reflects how available you are--its not just a random physical disability or an enemy to your needs. There's a real reason this is happening. It's a part of this mystery only you can figure out.

On the other side of it, you could try some things and see what happens. You might pause in your masturbating for awhile--a month or two. The energy will grow in you; allow it to go into other activities. See what happens. As the energy grows it may bring you feelings or insights. Allow yourself to put that energy into reflection about your relationships, and what you want in them. It might make your sexuality clearer to you.

Who knows, if you find yourself with a lady friend, you may find that you want and are able to, after all. Maybe it would work for you to only have sex/orgasm when shared with your partner, right now, and see what happens from there.

Definitely recommend therapy. It's not a hormone imbalance, I wouldn't think, if you can perform by yourself but not with someone you are attracted to and like a alot.
posted by Thinkmontgolfier at 10:00 AM on April 8, 2011

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