I never realized how much I liked sex until I stopped having it. Like...stopped.
September 23, 2011 9:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm straight, midthirties, a woman, considered attractive, yet haven't had sex in a very, very long time, and I'm a little worried about the effect it's having on me. NSFW inside.

I'm a woman in my early 30s living in New York City. I haven't been in a relationship since 2005, and I haven't had sex since early 2006. I have kissed a bit, fooled around a tiny bit in other naked ways, but nothing else.

I'm not sure really if I've passed up opportunities. I was never a big "hook up" person but sometimes I'd do some of these making out/undertheclothes type scenarios with near strangers, and just feel empty and not great about it.

I've made do with masturbation, a LOT Of masturbation, but I just really feel the need to have sex in my life. It's getting unbearable, and I feel like it's getting weirder and weirder. At first, I'd masturbate to online literotica, then porn ( not paid for). Now I'm finding myself playing online sex games where you solve some challenge and then have sex with another character. These are all straight male focused of course which is a bit weird but I mostly don't care because at least it's sex and I can masturbate to it.

I think a lot of people i know would be SHOCKED to know about this. They probably don't think much about my sex life, but everyone knows I haven't dated much in years. They'd probably be shocked more by the porn/games stuff. I go on a lot of online dates and don't have trouble getting those, but they don't progress past first dates in most cases, and only a few have ever even gotten to kissing. Never mind the fact that I want to make a connection on dates, not just get sex. I have a lot of friends, I'm personable and sociable...I might not be **flirty** enough. I dont know. I can't really observe myself. I'm a normal weight, not like that matters because of course people of all sizes can be found desirable.

I don't really know what to do. One of the games I was playing involved a guy hitting a girl before having sex with her -- like, I feel like it's kind of bizarre people even make those games, let alone me playing them.

What can I do? I do see a therapist and he knows about my dating woes but I haven't told him anything about this. I KNOW I should. I didn't tell him about the literotica or porn because it didn't really bother me, but the games with the violence, etc, I just feel like is really weird. I fantasize about sleeping with a random on Craigslist but I know I'd never go through with it. So like, is this really weird for five years without sex? How do I tell my therapist? How can I deal with this if this goes on for a lot longer? Forever? Halp.

Also, FYI: I get drunk before playing the games or watching the porn.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

If you have a lot of friends and you live in NYC, maybe ask them if they know any guys who might be suitable? There are probably hundreds if not thousands of guys one or two degrees separated from you who you could connect with. It's totally acceptable to find someone nice and attractive and have sex with them, whether you have any intentions beyond that or not.
posted by clockzero at 9:33 AM on September 23, 2011

Also: I suggest making a concerted effort to stop focusing on isolating forms of sexual experience and start making a real effort to meet new people. Masturbating by yourself and playing games is not bad, I don't mean that you should feel badly about it, but it sort of holds you over without really satisfying you or moving you in the direction you really want to go, which is real-life physical intimacy.
posted by clockzero at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2011

I think the getting drunk part might be a problem. To be honest, being celibate isn't actually going to hurt you, but the lack of intimacy and closeness can be demoralizing. Are you comfortable with your body? Have you ever thought of taking a class in something like belly-dancing to explore your sensuality and to feel better in your skin?
This might sound weird, but getting a boudoir portrait done is also a way to see yourself as sensual and sexy and then, you've got an image to keep in your head of yourself.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

A while back, I realized that I hadn't dated anyone in close to a decade. (and, in fact, my primary sexual outlet was getting boozed up at home and mucking around on the internet.) One of the things I did was look around and ask myself what I was actually doing that would bring a date or a date-able person into my life. Next thing was to start asking around some friends for suggestions of friends of friends who might be out there, available, and reasonable. And then I went on a couple of dates and it worked well and it turned out we dated for a couple of years.

Start asking around!
posted by rmd1023 at 9:48 AM on September 23, 2011

I wouldn't stress about the "games" or the porn.

You're a single woman with an active libido, and you also have higher standards for sexual partners than "the guy I met 20 minutes ago when I was drunk". That means, you don't have a partners outlet for sexual release right now, so you're going with what you've got until you meet a partner.

And you're not the only one in that state of affairs, if it helps to know that. (looks distinctly fidgety)

If it still is bothering you, though, go ahead and talk to your therapist -- not because "omigod that's sick", but because whether it's empirically healthy or not, what I'm doing is creeping you out, and your therapist will help you figure out out whether you need to get more comfortable with what you're doing or think of something else.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on September 23, 2011 [9 favorites]

I don't think your masturbatory habits are weird at all. What's more striking to me is that you seem to think they're weird and shameful. You may wish to work on your shameful feelings about sex in therapy when you're ready to have sex with someone IRL again.
posted by Lieber Frau at 9:57 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I gotta say, I'm in a very similar situation, only I've gone even a couple more years than you without sex. However, I am overweight, and my feelings of self-consciousness about my body is what has stopped me from dating and sex. But I, too, feel like casual sex is really not what I am looking for.

When I was seeing a very trusted counselor, I did come clean about having met several men online over the course of these years with which I would carry on phone sex relationships. I, as well, masturbate while viewing porn, though I have never played any online sex games.

I guess what I came here to say is basically that you're not alone. And also that when I came clean with my counselor, as ashamed as I was to admit this (what I felt was ridiculous) stuff, she was actually so non-judgmental and quite surprisingly pleased and proud of me that I'd somehow found an outlet where I felt desired and wanted without the embarrassment of my physical body getting in the way. It wasn't interrupting my life in any sort of way, or causing harm or damage to myself, nor was I spending money on it. It was just a way for me to feel desired and connect to another on a purely sexual level.

I understand the violence part of the games thing is what makes you more squirmy, and I don't know if I have advice about that sort of thing. I can tell you, though, I think it's kind of normal(?) to have some weird things that turn you on. I have found myself reading and/or watching and/or thinking about things while getting off that, after I climax, I go, "Omg, WTF!?" and feel ashamed for. But sexuality is weird, and what turns us on is sometimes weird.

So I guess my question to you is - is this disturbing your life in any way? What harm is this doing, if any? Is it keeping you from seeking real life connection? Is it costing you money you don't have? If the answers to these are no, I don't know if I personally see anything wrong with it. But that's just my $0.02. Others may disagree.
posted by Falwless at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2011 [8 favorites]

Maybe there's a friend that's been crushing on you for awhile that could 'help you out'? It seems to me that you're in your head about 'omg its been so long so my first time back has to be super awesome and with a perfect person or all this time will be for naught'. This is not true and is probably keeping you from having some perfectly good sex with some perfectly nice people.

It need not be the 'first time you never had'. Maybe if you take some of the pressure off of yourself, things will be easier.

Also, girls who are into porn are awesome.
posted by softlord at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think all of the above suggestions are good ones for finding a dating relationship, which it sounds like is what you're looking for as opposed to random hookups. Have you ever taken a closer look at why your online dates don't seem to work out? Could you perhaps not be picky enough? You don't provide a lot of details here, but I know that was my problem with unfulfilling online dating for awhile.

And I think that you should talk to your therapist about what's going on. I personally don't think your habits are that out there and I'm sure it's not the most outrageous thing your therapist has ever heard. I'm a little worried that you're drinking before engaging in your sexual outlet and that you seem to feel so ashamed. I think that would be worth talking about.

If you would be ok with having more casual relationships, I would suggest maybe going to Meetups of a sexual nature or trying to meet some people from Fetlife offline. I totally get not wanting to have random sex with strangers and that's not really what I'm suggesting. But my experience from going to events like this is that you may find people who you have a personal connection with who are not necessarily interested in having a serious, long-term relationship. Maybe they're in an open marriage or just want to date casually. Their threshhold for having sex with someone may be a little lower and more casual than someone you meet on, say, Match.com. Even better, the people at these kinds of social events are often very sophisticated sexually and practice safe sex. This kind of relationship may be something to help you get back into things as you search for long-term relationship.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 10:09 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd be a lot less concerned about the online sex games than about your compulsion to judge yourself for it. My guess is the drinking stems from that; you're not doing it because you're drunk, you're getting drunk in order to do it. If I were you I'd deal with that first. Getting laid will not solve your "I feel like I'm weird and disgusting" problem. (NB: you are not weird or disgusting)
posted by desjardins at 10:11 AM on September 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Ahem...guy here. This problem is not isolated to women. I think NYC can be the problem (or any big city) quite often. If you are financially able to do it, and your job allows you, I would suggest a two to three week vacation overseas. I'm sure you are quite well traveled, so forgive if this sounds patronizing, but other countries have a much different approach to casual sex then Americans do. By that I mean that it's not all wrapped up in drama and high anxiety and such. I think you might find it a) easier to meet someone without being in a bar and b) easier to get both the sex and the closeness if only for a brief time.
posted by spicynuts at 10:12 AM on September 23, 2011

If you just want to get get it on, go out to a bar and get drunk. Wait until last call and see who's around. They are looking for the same thing you are. You don't even need to get drunk. If you do this, though, make sure someone knows what you are doing and that they are "monitoring" you, as in you will check in at a certain time or you will check in with them, just to be safe.
posted by TheBones at 10:14 AM on September 23, 2011

...but the games with the violence, etc, I just feel like is really weird.

There's a MeFi group on Fetlife. Try talking to them about your activities and feelings. The only red flag I see is the getting drunk before participating in the fun. Sounds like you need to make peace with your desires, so you can enjoy them while you're sober.

Dating wise, ask your friends for help. Maybe you're giving off bad signals. At the very least, if they know you're looking and what you're looking for, they can suggest a friend or two.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 AM on September 23, 2011

Your use of porn and games doesn't seem like something to worry about.

But you might want to be concerned about developing a dependency on alcohol here. You should talk to your therapist about all of this, including your drinking habit.
posted by General Tonic at 10:19 AM on September 23, 2011

How the hell did I miss the FYI about getting drunk before you did these things? Yeah, that'd be the only red flag I see. Otherwise, knock yourself out, girl.
posted by Falwless at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2011

I wouldn't worry too much about the porn or the games. Lots of people have fantasies about sexual violence. It's not necessarily wrong in and of itself. Even acting on those fantasies isn't really wrong as long as everything is consensual.

The thing that jumped out to me was the fact that you get drunk before playing the games or watching porn. Do you feel that you need to get drunk in order to do these things? If so, that's a problem that you should address, possibly (probably?) with your therapist.
posted by asnider at 10:26 AM on September 23, 2011

As to bringing up something difficult with your therapist, a friend of mine who needed to bring up being an incest survivor with her therapist said some version of this, which seems really smart. At the very end of a session, she said:

"There's something we need to talk about, but I can't/haven't been able to bring it up. So, next time, I need you to bring it up and make me talk about it."
posted by Pax at 10:37 AM on September 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

First of all, don't feel ashamed or weird about your porn habits. It sounds like you feel ashamed about doing them, so you don't do them sober, so you get drunk and then do them. Stop worrying about what other people would think if they knew.

As far as actually getting sex, It doesn't sound like the guys you are meeting online are very appealing sexually for whatever reason. It could be the guys you meeting, but you said you make out but then feel weird about it. I wonder if there is some kind of mental block or something preventing you from enjoying yourself? Maybe coming from the same place that's making you feel weird about masturbation.

Maybe it would be good if you had a male friend you could work through these issues with.
posted by Paris Hilton at 10:48 AM on September 23, 2011

I was ashamed of my porn preferences for many years. My partner at the time found out about them and was terribly judgmental. She insisted I go to a therapist and divulge my deep dark secret so I could get HELP.

I sobbed while telling the therapist because it was so hard to let go of my shame. She (the therapist) waited until I was quiet and then looked me straight in the eye and said, "And so what? What are you worried about? Is that it?" I screamed (yes literally screamed), "Didn't you hear me. I like to watch/read porn about (insert much more extreme fetish/porn interests than yours). She told me that I was completely normal and had nothing to be ashamed about. As the months progressed, I opened up to two carefully chosen friends about my sexual interests. Both admitted to similar fantasies/porn habits. And both cheered me on in my sexual discovery and shame purging.

I am no longer with that partner. I realize now that her judgement was unreasonable and in some ways abusive to my well being. I realize now that my judgement of myself was abusive and unreasonable.

Tell your therapist. You'll feel so much better for it. Get it out anyway you can. If you can't speak the words, scream them. If you can't make it come out at all, write it down and give it to your therapist.

I think some people are unfairly harshing on you because of the drinking. There's nothing in your question that indicates you have a drinking problem. It appears you are drinking in this one circumstance to overcome your shame. Get rid and the shame and you won't need the alcohol in order to fly your freak flag.

Good Luck. I've been there, and I've been miserable about it. And I mean really, really, despondently miserable and broken. But it's okay. You're fine. You're better than fine. You're a sexy beast. Own it.
posted by dchrssyr at 11:19 AM on September 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

A couple of years ago that was me. And I fixed it ... Or at least have made massive progress. Memail me for details.
posted by bunderful at 11:27 AM on September 23, 2011

Professional massage is a good way to get some physical human contact without feeling ooky about it in the morning. It's not a solution to your problems, but it might help take the edge off while you're getting the rest of it sorted out.
posted by colfax at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2011

Like everyone else is saying, your porn habits are nothing to worry about. I, too, like strange porn. I think in this day and age it's actually way more the norm than not.

But I have to second the idea that getting drunk beforehand is not the most healthy of things. Think about your liver! Just get rid of the shame and you'll be fine. No need to stop unless you get bored of it.

I didn't see anyone suggest this, but if you're just looking to find someone decent for sex, OkCupid is a pretty fertile hunting ground. And who knows? You might actually get a relationship out of it if that's what you're looking for. I have friends who have used it for all sorts of things from just casual sex hunting to looking for a long term partner and it seems to work out well for them. You just have to be clear in what you write. Also, you can include your porn preferences in your profile there. I'm sure it'd be a turn on for a lot of men.
posted by telomere at 12:07 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree that your shame is the issue. Maybe you've never been part of a circle or culture who stressed this enough: so long as no one is getting hurt, you can be sexual in whatever ways you want. Isn't that fantastic? It's fantastic. So stop feeling ashamed about your masturbation habits. And while it sounds like you would rather have sex in a relationship or at least with someone dateable, there is nothing wrong with sleeping with random strangers from craigslist (take safety precautions, of course). I've done it; it was fun and I have no regrets. I'm very glad I decided to sow some wild oats before getting married and having a family. For us ladies especially, it often take a conscious effort to embrace having sex when, how and with whom we want. It's life-affirming and it's awesome.
posted by kitcat at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2011

I think the problem is that the poster CAN'T be sexual in the way that she wants- which is in a committed relationship.

NYC can be really tough for mid-thirties single females who aren't into casual sex with strangers and/or near strangers (or so I've heard). You have a therapist, definitely tell them about how you feel. You don't have to get into details about what you are doing to deal with your situation right away, but definitely tell them that your lack of sex life is a serious source of anxiety and stress for you.
posted by bquarters at 12:47 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was just about to say what bquarters said. You sound liek you don't want sex, you want a committed relationship with sex. If you really just wanted sex, then you wouldn't feel icky having sex after a date or two with an internet match. Focus on dating a bajillion people until you find one to commit too then have sex with them.

In the meantime, no shame in getting your rocks off. Nothing that you mentioned using to stimulate yourself sounds icky or unusual to me. Maybe try searching for female centric role playing games though as if you're trying to play a male-oriented game it might be causing some cognitive dissonance and not really enabling you to let go and enjoy your self love session.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:53 PM on September 23, 2011

Focus on dating a bajillion people until you find one to commit too then have sex with them.

With all due respect, this isn't always quite that easy...

In the meantime, no shame in getting your rocks off. Nothing that you mentioned using to stimulate yourself sounds icky or unusual to me.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing the thoughts that your choices aren't icky or unusual, wonder if you've thought about why there's so little progress via a lot of online dating (and dunno how much of the lack of it is a matter of you making the decisions to end things, the guys making those decisions or both).

Gobs of people, independent of gender and orientation, relate that it can be easy to get dates via online sites, challenging to get good or half-way decent ones... but I know a slew of people who've tried online dating (and weren't out for action) and it was far more than once in a blue moon that things went beyond a date or two and a little smooching.
posted by ambient2 at 3:46 PM on September 23, 2011

Just came here to say that I can relate to your situation and don't think anything you wrote is weird. Although casual sex is usually "easy" for women to get, the aftermath is often not easy: possibly (very) disappointing sex, possible emotional attachment, possible health and pregnancy risk, risk of creepy guys, etc..

I'm not trying to be moralistic, just pointing out that frankly masturbation can be safer and more satisfying until you find the "right" person. Which, I know, I know, is the big question. I'm facing the same one! But I've found that casual sex usually doesn't do too much for me either (sometimes it's nice to feel "wanted", but then, you still don't know if it's even you the guy wants...)

To women getting satisfaction from casual sex: great! I seriously applaud you and none of this was meant as a judgement.
posted by bearette at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry about this long dry spell. That totally sucks.

Like everyone else, I don't find it weird at all that you'd masturbate to some online game, even ones with violent aspects. If you were my friend, I'd be impressed with you for having found something like this that you enjoy; it sounds quite adventurous and I'd assume it was something you did out of sexual self-empowerment.

Because you mention them all together, I'm curious what you see as the connection between the long dry spell and the way you relate to these fantasies? I can completely imagine a dry spell leading you toward more and more relational and interactive ways of masturbating. That makes sense. I'm sorry it's not a great substitute for the real thing. Clues and puzzles and role-playing? Oh man, I can only imagine how hot that might be to some guys. Anyway, back to my question: is there some other connection here?

Example 1: Your inner kinky side is trying to come out. You don't find your dates to be people you'd like to make out with because they're not into that. Hanging your freak flag out to fly would attract people who would play those games with you in reality, people whom after 2-3 dates you would want to kiss. But because you are trying to date vanilla types, it is leading to years of "meh."

Example 2: You have some shame about sex. Drinking and feeling beaten into submission are what it takes for you to let go. This same shame is making it difficult for you to relate sexually with someone else. Letting go of the shame could help with both issues?

Example 3: This dry spell has started to make you really angry at yourself, maybe even at some side of your personality that is holding you back from finding the connection you want. The punching fantasies give you the catharsis and peace that you need to get off, but for dating to really work for you will require dealing with this inner conflict and brokering a peace (and maybe siding with the side that is frustrated at whatever parts of you are holding yourself back).

It may be that none of these are right, that the dry spell is just bad luck and a numbers game not working in your favor, and that the fantasies are just something that you kinda randomly find hot. But you kinda link them and act like they're worrisome, so I am curious what you think the links are, if any.
posted by salvia at 10:45 PM on September 23, 2011

Hey anon, I have been in your shoes before, feeling very guilty and ashamed about the types of things I would watch online, to the point where I'd written about it anonymously online much like you did here. But I've been able to get over it and have a very satisfying sex life (in my mid-30s in NYC), and would be happy to tell you what worked for me if you want to memail me. I hope you can find some peace of mind - there's nothing to be ashamed about!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 9:10 AM on September 24, 2011

I think not getting laid is a New York City thing. Try not to think about what you masturbate to too much right after you get done; it's always a little shameful afterwards. With a few variations, I'm in the same boat as you, so are many people, you're not alone, etc. Good thing there's limitless porn on the internet. How can the psychological effects of this be mitigated? I don't know.
posted by fuq at 1:56 PM on September 25, 2011

I just want to support everyone else in saying that your masturbatory habits are not weird or horrible. I know a lot of people have already said that, but it's true. I'm in a committed relationship and guess what? I have a whole pile of weird porn on my computer. And so does my SO. It's okay to have desires that you enjoy alone. I can't give you advice on finding a relationship that it seems you are looking for. I hope your therapist hasn't given you any reason to think that he would judge your sexual habits?
posted by persephone's rant at 9:11 PM on September 29, 2011

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