I just want to hit my crotch until it starts working again
June 26, 2015 11:44 AM   Subscribe

My partner just broke up with me, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I have no desire to have sex. Can I be fixed? What do I do about us?

We were together for three years, long-distance. The first year we had a lot of sex, the second year it tapered off, the third year, absolutely nothing (though not immediately noticeable since we were long-distance).

I would usually feel very annoyed and unhappy when we tried to have sex, but I wouldn’t be able to figure out why. (I have some psychological baggage from my childhood, but I can’t tell if it’s affecting me...??) Also, I was never able to come, but I can’t tell if I tapered off because I stopped enjoying it for some medical reason, or if I never enjoyed it in the first place and was just pushing through due to new relationship giddiness. On my own, I get turned on occasionally, and get off maybe once a week.

I made a mistake and didn’t listen to him telling me that sex was important to him; I should have gone to a gynecologist or therapist much earlier. Him breaking up with me was a totally reasonable thing to do.

I think both of us really liked the rest of our relationship. We have a lot in common and this is the only (though major) incompatibility. I would really like to stay together if my partner agreed, though he has no obligation to put up with my hangups now.

With regards to medical things, I’m female. I have a slight history of depression (gone now) and no other health problems. Here’s what might be happening, in decreasing order of likelihood:
  • I just have some sort of physical problem or deficiency that CAN be fixed
  • I just have a lot of psychological problems that CAN be overcome
  • I just have a lot of psychological problems that CANNOT be overcome
  • I’m actually asexual and this won’t change, ever [cue Darth Vader “noooooo”]
  • I’m not physically attracted to my partner specifically
  • I’m not physically attracted to men
  • I have some kink that’s not being fulfilled
I can’t tell which of the above is happening. If it turned out I were asexual, I would be very unhappy.

So, what should I do, both WRT my problems and the breakup? Should we try to make it work?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

My level of desire is similar to yours, and I am normal. You, too, are normal. You are now free to find a relationship with someone whose sexuality is compatible with yours and with someone who is willing to stick by you and make things work when times get tough.

Have a look at Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. It's a feminist, sex-positive book about female desire, what's normal, and how to work through problems with your perception of it.
posted by theraflu at 11:51 AM on June 26, 2015 [17 favorites]

First things first, get yourself to a gyn to make sure everything is in proper working order. Bring all of these questions up with her. (And specifically, her. I'm sure not every male gynecologist is terrible, but there's a much smaller chance that a female doctor is going to be dismissive of your very real concerns.) If you're in Chicago, drop me a memail and I can recommend an awesome gyn for you.

It' is really entirely possible that this has much more to do with having no desire to have sex with that particular partner than something about you in general. You'd hardly be the first person to experience this.

Spend some time on yourself (strongly consider going to therapy to work on those issues from your childhood) then see how you feel dating new people when you're ready.
posted by phunniemee at 11:53 AM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

I’m actually asexual and this won’t change, ever [cue Darth Vader “noooooo”]

If you have experienced desire and you want to experience it again, and the idea of being asexual is scary, then you're not asexual. Especially given this: On my own, I get turned on occasionally, and get off maybe once a week.

I'm like a broken record with recommending this book - I <3 Female Orgasm - because it made me feel so normal after years of feeling like a freak because I wouldn't figure out how to really really enjoy sex. Buying it was step one in a very long process of figuring out what I do and don't like, and learning to ask for it.

Forget the ex for now and focus on yourself. Read the book. Get some lube and a vibrator and masturbate. Read all the erotica you can find, with every unusual kink or configuration that catches your eye. Note how often you want to do these things. Note what you really wind up enjoying and what's just kind of meh.

Basically: get to know your own sexuality. Not within the context of a relationship, which is so incredibly fraught with assumptions and expectations, but just in the context of you, yourself.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:57 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

On my own, I get turned on occasionally, and get off maybe once a week

This sounds healthy and normal. Which make me think our clear winner is:

I’m not physically attracted to my partner specifically
posted by French Fry at 12:11 PM on June 26, 2015 [21 favorites]

I think I'm like you. My sex drive is low and it has damaged relationships. I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with me and that it's OK to have a low sex drive. I have spent several years being single and am actually enjoying myself. It's such a relief not to feel obligated to have sex. I suggest trying to be single for awhile and see how you like it.

I think it's unfair to people with low sex drives to make them feel like something is wrong with them. Not everyone has the same sex drive and it's perfectly valid to have a low one without making it into a disease.

It doesn't sound like you are asexual from your description of yourself. You could have some sort of hormonal imbalance so getting checked out by a gynecologist would be a good idea just to rule out a physical issue. The psychological part is a grey area to me and I know that sexual issues can be caused by psychological issues. At the same time, it rubs me the wrong way that people assume a low sex drive is always caused by a psychological issue.

Basically, I just wanted to say that a low sex drive isn't necessarily a disease or a sign something is wrong with you.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:12 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Believe it or not, there are men out there who do not find daily sex a desirable prospect. A lot of men, more than you would believe, would be perfectly happy with the once-a-week schedule. Even if you do turn out to be asexual (which seems unlikely, IMO, given the nature of your query), you can still find asexual men to date, if that's what you want. Or you could be in a non-monogamous relationship where you and your partner have no sex, if that's what you want. My point is, even your most apocalyptic scenario (being asexual) does not mean you could not be in a happy relationship with the right person.
posted by deathpanels at 12:50 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

There is a lot of discussion about this in DeadBedrooms, where couples just can't get their libidos to match. May be worth a read.
posted by eas98 at 1:04 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

It sounds like maybe your attraction to your partner just ran its course? That's not abnormal by any means! You may not know until you're in a new relationship or have done a bunch of experimenting by yourself, but keeping up sexual interest in a long-term, long-distance relationship is pretty difficult. If you're still getting yourself off at least once a week (or less!), don't despair. You still sounds pretty normal to me. If you're very worried, you can still talk to a gyno or a therapist.

Also, when I was young, one of my boyfriends broke up with me because I never came. I thought something must be really wrong with me. After I dated around some more, I learned it was because he was just bad at sex.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 1:12 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Double checking your physical health is a great first step. If absolutely nothing else it can alleviate anxiety that maybe there's an unknown problem. As for figuring out which factor from the list is going on with you, don't discount the possibility that it could be more than one.

Other than the medical stuff, a good therapist should be able to help you figure out any the other stuff. To get the most out of therapy it's best to go in with a clear goal. In your case (not to put words in your mouth) it might be figuring out what's going on and deciding if it's something you can and want to change.
posted by estelahe at 1:25 PM on June 26, 2015

This is a really hard thing. I've definitely not been that sexually excited about boyfriends before and I shamed myself so much, looked for all sorts of reasons, much like you.

Of course it's a good idea to get screened for health troubles, including depression, which sometimes changes the way it presents.

My big question is if you've been attracted to other people. You said you masturbate weekly or so, so I'd imagine you think about other people (even if they're just on your screen), but that can be a big determining factor in seeing if your libido is generally low or just for your partner.

I was very sexually incompatible with one boyfriend that I otherwise liked. Some of the reasons I was able to sort out included that his sensibilities about sex seemed very crude. He'd frequently make childish jokes about sex, and that turned me off. Also, I hated the way he'd go about initiating sex, but I was never able to articulate exactly what it was. I remember feeling pressured to have sex any time he'd touch me, however innocently. I guess my point here is that attraction is a really complex thing, and it's not your fault if it's not there.
posted by mermaidcafe at 1:36 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Why are you blaming yourself?

It sounds like you guys just were not compatible, specifically, he was not sexy to you. Your libido isn't broken, I can almost guarantee this based on your description. Here's a tip: don't have sex with someone if it makes you feel bad/annoyed/turned-off and/or otherwise negative. This is a CERTAIN sign you should not be having sex with that particular person.

Intimacy and attraction are not things you can force. Learn from this and stop feeling badly. Again, you are not broken.
posted by jbenben at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

You can have orgasms on your own but never did with him. Sex without orgasm can be fun, but sex with orgasms is usually a lot more motivating. Have you had orgasms with other people? What kinds of things did you two try to help you come? Was he upset that you didn't come, which added stress/ pressure to having sex with him?

My experience is that having good sex makes me want to have more good sex. I'm not sure that the two of you ever worked out how to have good sex together. You may be much more interested in sex with someone you're having good sex with; it sort of builds on itself.
posted by metasarah at 2:30 PM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Your never being able to orgasm during sex with this partner coupled with a 3-year-long long distance relationship sounds like a real libido killer. Was he aware that you weren't having orgasms? Was he enthusiastic about making sure sex was pleasurable for you? Not only does your sexual compatibility seem off, but if he wasn't making effort to make sure you were having pleasurable sex, I think that breaking up is the right decision.

I think that there are enough situational reasons here that are libido destroyers. It could very well be that if you're in a sexually fulfilling relationship with a local person, you wouldn't have a problem with your libido. I mostly say this because you're able to get off regularly on your own.
posted by quince at 3:13 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

OP says she never came with this partner but never says if she was able to orgasm with previous partners. Unfortunately that seems like a pretty important bit of information since it would help determine the accuracy of some answers above speculating that this is simply a case of current partner being a dud. If it's never been a problem before then, yeah, this partner may simply not do it for you. If it has been a consistent problem then it's probably something you need to work on yourself.
posted by Justinian at 3:40 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you know you have some childhood unresolved issues, I think that going to a mental health specialist might be more useful than a gyn - particularly because you say that your desire waned over time as you became more emotionally intimate.

Sometimes if there is guilt and shame associated with sex, at all, then it becomes even less a thing you want to do with someone you emotionally care about, especially if you've got wires crossed.
posted by corb at 3:55 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Could it be the LDR itself? In my experience long distance relationships don't provide enough mundane shared experiences/everyday intimacies, so you not only have to get used to the other person's body/smell/etc. all over again when you see them once a month or whatever, and have them get reacquainted with you, but you're also putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be like YEAHSEXYTIMEZZ when you might not actually feel like getting physical right then.
posted by stellaluna at 4:17 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just wanted to second Come As You Are - it will give you some ways of thinking about things are going wrong without getting all judgemental.
posted by metahawk at 5:34 PM on June 26, 2015

From the OP:
Hi, OP here. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. God bless America.

Another factor I just thought of is that I'm strongly into a particular kink (subbing) which fit well with his (domming). However, I was never able to get into it because of the inherent gender power differential, and because it felt weird playing these roles with someone who was also my best friend. This is probably a whole 'nother anonymous AskMe question.

re: various questions:
- Yes, he knew I was never able to come, and we did try things together that ended up not working.
- This was my first relationship. I haven't had sex with anyone else.
- It was long-distance, but we lived together during the summers, so I know what it's like when it's not long-distance. There wasn't that much more intimacy.
- I've never thought about a specific person while getting off... I don't look at porn either.
- I'm in college, so it's not very easy for me to go to therapy (cost issues, plus school therapists tend to leak information to family).

Sorry to complicate things further!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:01 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Since you brought up the attraction-to-men-in-general thing: I am a woman who is attracted to men and women, and at times my attraction to men in general hibernates for months at a time. Before I realized I was attracted to both men and women, I thought during these periods as you do-- that maybe I was asexual, maybe a bad partner, what if there was some past trauma I hadn't unlocked, etc.

I know it's a bit out there, but some of what you said sounded familiar to me so I share it with you.

In light of your update: maybe the kink isn't all it cracked up to be, in which case that's a sexual mismatch. Nothing wrong with you (or him.)
posted by kapers at 6:38 PM on June 26, 2015

I would avoid DeadBedrooms, nobody there is very kind or understanding of low-libido partners.
posted by schroedinger at 7:10 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

- This was my first relationship. I haven't had sex with anyone else.

Holy burying the lede. You have nothing to worry about. Meet other people. You'll find the right chemistry with someone else.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2015 [14 favorites]

plus school therapists tend to leak information to family

If you are in the US, this is a big no-no, though I know it does happen. Accessing good mental health care sounds like one of the most helpful and useful things you could do, whether that is through your school, or through an external option (perhaps sliding scale or otherwise financially accessible, if that is an issue).
posted by Dip Flash at 8:28 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would avoid DeadBedrooms, nobody there is very kind or understanding of low-libido partners.

It's also kind of a misogynistic shithole, and trends towards being one of those parts of reddit. I scrolled down specifically to not recommend it if you want to feel ok with yourself(which you should, you're totally fine and this isn't your "fault").
posted by emptythought at 9:23 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

On my own, I get turned on occasionally, and get off maybe once a week

Go find someone who can offer you whatever it is you're fantasizing about once a week.
posted by pracowity at 6:56 AM on June 27, 2015

I'm strongly into a particular kink (subbing) which fit well with his (domming). However, I was never able to get into it because of the inherent gender power differential, and because it felt weird playing these roles with someone who was also my best friend.

50+ year-old feminist submissive woman here. Just wanted to note that I sometimes have mild orgasms from energetic, missionary-style sex but this did not happen until after I was in my early 50s and had left my husband because reasons. The only way I have had orgasms to date is by touching myself, using a vibrator or the method above. So my partner and I have incorporated some toys into our sex play to help me get off. I discussed this once with a female ob/gyn who told me I was totally normal in that a huge percentage of women do not orgasm from intercourse alone. Ever. Which was a relief to hear given all those media images of multi-orgasmic gals coming the minute a guy just looks at them. (And congrats to those women who are actually like that, I'm simply not one of them. :-)

I'm mostly writing because of what you wrote about "the inherent gender power differential". I didn't realise I was kinky until after I left my husband after 20+ years of a vanilla marriage. And I freaked out during the first year in a new relationship with a very dominant man (who also had a vibrator. Yay!). I was tormented by thoughts that I was a self-hating feminist, yadda yadda. Also, this guy was into lifestyle kink, which I'm not. Eventually we parted ways. Next month I celebrate my third anniversary with a great, bedroom-dominant guy who both cooks for me and and fucks me silly. It took awhile but I was able to make peace with myself as a bedroom-only submissive who is both fiercely feminist and strongly aroused by sexual dominance. Maybe you're not that into kink or maybe you just need more time to process and accept that aspect of your personality. Also, thanks to the posters with reading suggestions--I'm totally checking them out.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am very pro-kink, but if you haven't been in a relationship before, then you probably won't need the same level of 'your kink' in a relationship that you need in your fantasy life, because it is... Real, and intense just by being physical, not imaginary.

Something that works as a fantasy may not work in real life, it may be a turn off, but more usually a kink that doesn't do it for you will generally just feel "silly". This is also why to strive to be respectful of other people's kinks, because from the outside, not just your kinks, but everyone's sex life looks a bit ridiculous. It just means it is a "Not My Kink" (for now, at least).

You sound so, so fine/OK. What most people above me said.

Just because no one else has mentioned, health: not being deficient in iron or zinc has been helpful to people I know.

And yeah, when you say you tried to orgasm with your partner, did you try having him just lie with you while you masturbated? Or used a vibrator? Because that is a pretty simple place to start if you can come.
posted by Elysum at 3:12 AM on June 28, 2015

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