I am not a frigid rock; I am not an a-sexual island
October 11, 2011 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Is it normal to start wanting sex less at a younger age?

I'm a female in my early 20's. I've always had an "okay" sex drive; sometimes I want something sexual (whether that's masturbation or intercourse) a few hours a few days in a row, but often I've shown disinterest in sex or in my male partners. However, I've always had at least a slight aversion to penises and semen, even though I also strangely enjoy giving fellatio somewhat (I did have an unfortunate first time incident where I threw up after attempting to swallow). I also enjoy kinkier things like collars, some degree of “playing pet”, some mild roughhousing, biting, some relatively mild pain-is-pleasure, etc.

I've had a few sexual partners, one of which I'm currently in an mostly-just-friends fling with. I've always been somewhat attracted to my partners, and the one I'm currently with is very attractive on a number of levels, not just physically.

But now I've noticed I'm starting to care quite a bit less about sex over a long period of time. I still like being touched, but it's definitely becoming more of a comfort thing - almost a "I just want a back rub and maybe some makeouts", like I'm some teenager that never moves beyond some sort of second base. I find myself becoming almost annoyed at being ”put upon” for sexual activity, almost like he’s intruding on me, even when I’m actually interested. He's definitely not forcing me in any way, or pressuring me (in fact, he double, even triple-checks that I'm okay after that one time), but sometimes I almost feel....annoyed? at him for being male. For being...intrusive? or so...sexual, I guess. I can't think of the right word. While I’m getting better at fellatio (something I never really learned with my other partners), I’m also becoming more and more disinterested in doing things for him, in touching him, etc. It’s like I’m enjoying it when I’m ¾ of the way into the act, but almost disgusted leading up to and after the act, whether that’s fellatio, sex, tumbling about a bit, whatever.

I feel like I’m feeling an aversion toward the male body, and in connection, sex. On the other hand, while I know I’m attracted to the female form, I don’t feel any real interest in getting with women except to admire a few from afar (I keep a rather innocent computer file of “Beauty” containing some b&w and usually clothed Suicide Girls type photos under my fashion files) and have mild “maybe someday?” kind of fantasies. I definitely still masturbate on my own, though not as often, and have a vivid enough imagination, so it’s not like I’ve stopped wanting to achieve a sexual pleasure for myself.
I guess I’m wondering if I should be concerned? It’s weird to both still feel attracted to men and at the same time simultaneously want to draw back from touching or being touched by a very attractive man. I was feeling this with my other boyfriends as well. It’s nothing against him really, and he’s not doing anything to make me feel alienated or disgusted. I just……am.
Help? Do I even –need- help?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Sexuality is a spectrum; you don't have to fall neatly into a binary distinction between being attracted to men or women. Otherwise, if you're unhappy with or confused about how you feel, therapy is the easiest answer to suggest; whether you "need" it is up to you.
posted by ellF at 11:48 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're on birth control, or other medication (SSRIs come to mind), it might be a side effect..

Otherwise, being a mid 20s woman, I can say that my interest dropped sharply after 20. It's waxes and wanes depending on my stress levels too. Most of all, I try not to worry about it, and enjoy myself when I do have the opportunity to do so.

Working this sort of thing up in your mind could be a turn off too. Some things to think about.
posted by sunshinesky at 11:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

It comes and goes. Being busy, being more interested in other things, time of the month, the normal hormonal phases you'll go through during aging, time of year (which is something that can sneak up on you but affect just about every aspect of your life), which direction the wind is blowing; it could be anything.

Nothing is forever, and just like your appetite for food or a specific hobby or the kind of books you like to read, this is going to change many times in the course of your life.

Of course, if you feel like there's other things going on - thyroid symptoms, a change in the general nature of your period or PMS, symptoms of depression, fatigue, just some weird thing you've noticed lately - you can always see your GP or GYN and pursue it further.

But the person you are sexually today and the person you'll be in 20 years will likely be nearly unrecognizable. Which is fine because people should grow and change. There's lots of literature on human sexuality that might be interesting for you as you experience one of these shifts for yourself.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:02 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm late 20s female. I can relate to your feelings, sometimes. For me it helps to remember that my (male) partner is human, just like me, he's not just "a man." He might experience sex differently from me, or have a different libido, but he's still a human and we are fundamentally the same, looking for the same kinds of reassurances. Maybe it would help you to concentrate on your partner as an individual person, and not as a representative of man, manhood, mankind, etc. Just some thoughts..
posted by little_c at 12:20 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stress, busyness levels, medication changes, even seasonal things can effect hormone levels. Also, since you're no longer a teenager, things are indeed slowing down a little. Is it too much? We can't tell you. Can a doctor? Maybe. Is it just natural? maybe.

However, I have to wonder... is it kink related? Is he, in fact, being TOO gentle and considerate? Or do you want to be on top sometimes?

Or maybe the novelty has just worn off. It happens in most if not all relationships. Nothing unusual or broken there. There are ways to spice things up as I'm sure you can guess :)
posted by Jacen at 12:36 PM on October 11, 2011

You sound like you feel your "attraction" meter is somehow broken. While that probably isn't true, it does sound like there might be some psychological stuff going on that is confusing you, or trying to tell you something. I personally don't find the male Form all that interesting, but do find individual males fascinating and attractive.

It might be worthwhile to think about whether the relationships you're currently having are working for you (it sounds like they might not be), and what you would want/need to have a sexual relationship be fulfilling. If you're masturbating, maybe take a look at the things that turn you on during masturbation versus during sex?
posted by ldthomps at 12:51 PM on October 11, 2011

Just because the guy is "attractive" in and you can have sex with him doesn't mean you will find him attractive. If that makes sense. A guy(or girl) can tick all the right boxes logically and you still don't have to want to have sex with him.

To me it seems you are having a casual relationship with a friend that is for the most part just physical by the sounds of it, when it sounds like to me what you really want is a relationship that is emotionally close with someone. There is nothing wrong with casual sex, but if you are finding it annoying or a chore to get into what exactly are you getting out of it?

I'd find a nice therapist, maybe even a sex therapist to talk this over with.

Or in my very amateur, none professional I am not a doctor opinion I'd suggest, taking the friends with benefits back to just friends because at the moment it sounds like he's the only one getting any benefits. Spend some money on a hitachi wand massager and spend a few months mentally exploring what does and doesn't turn you on. Run a whole gammit of things through your head, try some porn there is a huge range of stuff out there not all of it super hardcore, if you don't like hardcore. Explore what you are comfortable with. You might just find what gets your motor running, and heck if nothing does there is nothing wrong with that either.

Most libidos drop off a little after all the craziness of puberty, but my sex life got way better into my late 20's and 30's after I took the time to work out what really turned me on, not what was supposed to turn me on.
posted by wwax at 1:12 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds like your libidio is teliing what your intellect has not figure out yet: you are not interest in this relationship. Stop having sex with this friend. Some hypotheses about what's going on:
1. Its the guy, he's objectively attractive but not for you
2. Its the type of relationship - you need an emotional connection. Get a boyfriend or husband not a FWB

In either case - the answer is the same, move on.
posted by zia at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

It seems more like you're losing interest in this guy, not guys in general. There was a time in my early twenties where I was in a long-term relationship with someone I was in love with and found fairly attractive, but I was disinterested in sex with her to the point where I would prefer to jerk off in the bathroom. I still wanted to cuddle and make out and sleep together, but sex for the most part was unappealing. Even after that relationship ended, it took a while for my sex drive, as a factor independent of my emotional loneliness, to return.

I second wwax's suggestion of some quality time alone (sexually and otherwise) to figure out what you really want. Maybe it's that guy and you needed a break, maybe it's other guys, maybe it's girls.

Also, consider exploring your kink independent of regular sex? Like, spanking and leashes as a thing in itself and not just the lead-up to intercourse.
posted by modernserf at 2:41 PM on October 11, 2011

Could be medical condition - hormonal/whatever. Could be incipient lesbianism. From my point of view, after a 50 year sex life, I've noticed that girls in their 20's are often sexually confused. I hope this doesn't sound patronizing but most of my male friends agree that before 30 most women have not realised their full sexual potential. I remember how fully adult I felt in my early 20's, and later realizing that I actually had been still close to my late teens (not saying that is you, just my experience). I also know how much I learned about my sexuality between 25 and 30, and how much better it got. Good luck.
posted by nickji at 9:28 PM on October 11, 2011

Seriously sounds like you should investigate possible lesbianism. If you turn out to be, you're in good company with Portia De Rossi (Portia DeGeneres legally I believe, actually) and Ellen herself, now that I think of it. I am going to recommend Portia's book Unbearable Lightness, which, while it primarily focuses on how she overcame her eating disorder (warning: triggering for anyone suffering with similar issues), also goes quite a lot into her struggle with her sexuality. She's been married to a dude before and she identifies as 100 percent lesbian. She's clearly had some identity struggles. I'd say check out that book and see if anything resonates.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 1:08 AM on October 12, 2011

Been there, still there some of the time, it sucks.

1) Hormonal birth control.
2) Feeling less attractive (in my case, weight gain).
3) Depression/stress.

If you're not on medication you can rule out 1), and 2) and 3) involve basically the same things: Make time for taking care of yourself and make time for having fun. Exercise and eat well, and then wear your nicest makeup and clothes and go out to someplace nice. No sweatpants and pizza on the couch "dates".

(The lesbianism is a bit of a red herring to me. Obviously I don't know you and can't rule anything out completely, but my feeling is that you'd probably end up hovering around second base with women, too.)
posted by anaelith at 10:36 AM on October 12, 2011

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