Donald Trump killed my sex life.
January 2, 2017 5:30 PM   Subscribe

So my wife and I (both ladies) have a good relationship and a good sex life. Or at least, we had one until November 8th. Suddenly, any fun sexytime feelings I had were buried under a mountain of fear, anger, sadness, and apathy. Seeking advice on how to get my groove back, with details inside.

My wife and I have been together for seven years, married for four. We've had periods of more and less sex depending on lots of different factors, but this is one of the longest periods in a while that we've gone without having any sex at all. Our relationship has been getting stronger and stronger over the past year, and had Hillary won on November 8th, I'm sure everything would be doing great in the bedroom as well.

However. Since the election, we've both been angry, fearful, and sad at the outcome and at what may be coming in the future. (We are also both big political junkies, as you can imagine.) I feel like if I have any feelings around sex or intimacy, they're buried under nine feet of these negative emotions and impossible to access. I think this is probably the angriest I've been in a long time, and it feels like I can't fully relax without my thoughts going back to fearful and angry thoughts and apocalyptic ideation.

I'm considering the possibility that this could be depression and am looking for a therapist to address that. In the meantime, I'm looking for 1) any ideas about what could be going on; and 2) any suggestions for quieting down the fear and anger long enough to engage in some happy intimacy.

Some relevant facts:

- Wife and I are both on BC for period-related issues, so our hormones should be pretty stable. We are also both on antidepressants (she for depression and me for anxiety) and I've been on the same medication for three years, so there haven't been big changes there, either.

- Nothing has drastically changed in our lives recently (same jobs, housing, expenses, health, etc.).

- Our parents all voted for Trump, which has made me angrier than I've been even with past losing elections.

- External aids like porn haven't done anything for me, despite having helped sometimes in the past.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I've been finding it helpful in this arena to imagine sex, and queer sex especially can be imbued with this, as an act of rebellion and resistance (in the personal is political mold and also the "they want us to suffer so will find joy, anyway" vein.)
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 5:41 PM on January 2, 2017 [35 favorites]

Have you tried getting away for a weekend or simply turning the TV off?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:45 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah I would recommend taking a romantic/sexy holiday trip and completely unplugging from news and social media.
posted by greta simone at 5:51 PM on January 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have been dealing with anxiety, trauma, and depression since the election (I mean, I was dealing with those things before, but they've certainly intensified since the election). I think what you've described feeling is an absolutely normal response to a totally fucked-up situation, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it, obviously! Seeking therapy is a really good idea (and you might actually want to look for a therapist versed in anxiety/trauma issues, too, not just depression). General self-care will likely also be helpful. I'm single, so I'm not dealing with the partner aspect, but I have been reminding myself, often, that enjoying my life right now and doing things that make me happy and connected are vital components of self-care that I need in order to mount as big a resistance as I can to the incoming administration. Survival -- especially survival of marginalized or vulnerable people -- is resistance. Joy or pleasure is a giant "fuck you!" to the oppressors. It's important to remember what we're fighting for -- love, connection, openness, happiness. Those things might not be immediately accessible to you right now, but it might be helpful to remember that they're important.
posted by lazuli at 6:04 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Might help to look at some good things that have happened recently.

To keep from sinking into despair I've been more focused on my local community, where my work has a tangible impact and I don't feel so powerless. I'm not completely ignoring the national news, but it's definitely on the back burner.

I also like the idea of treating queer sex as an act of rebellion.
posted by bunderful at 6:38 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I so relate to this. My ladyfriend and I had sex after sobbing for hours on election night and...that's been more or less it until extremely recently. Through reading Autostraddle, and your question now, it's clear that we're not alone in this. While it's not ideal, I think it's best to take the pressure off yourself instead of seeking any reasons why or how to get through. Therapy is rarely a bad idea but I honestly don't think you and your wife are having an unhealthy reaction to an extremely scary, shitty time with uncertainty about the next four years and beyond. Right now fucking sucks and it's out of your control. Not very conducive to sexytime.

But. You'll want to have sex again. I think you're being hard on yourself here and that pressure isn't going to help you get back in the sack. It's winter, everything seems muted anyway, the holidays are stressful and busy, etc. Rather than focusing on a lack of sex, can you focus on an abundance of connection with your wife? Fear and anger can be very isolating and exhausting. Try introducing some novelty in your routine, like going out to eat at a new restaurant or exploring a new park together at a time of the week and day when you normally wouldn't be doing something unexpected. This kind of advice is really common for couples who stop having sex for any reason, it's sexy to see your partner in novel situations. I apologize if this kind of stuff is cliche or obvious, but it's recently helped me!

Have you named the problem with your wife? My girlfriend and I had a talk a few weeks ago where we admitted sex just wasn't likely to happen because we completely lost our drives amidst our fear and anger. It created intimacy between us and removed some of the worrying over it. We've touched base on it since then but kept it super low pressure. It made it easier for both of us to reach out in other ways when one or both of us isn't thinking that we really don't have the will to follow through with all out sex — for some reason, that line of thinking made us shut down a lot of affection or flirting because we didn't want to create the expectation of sex. Taking it more or less off the table right now actually led to my sex drive coming back, slowly but surely.

I also think masturbating (by yourself) and having that release a couple times a week, even if you don't feel any need to, helps to release the feel good hormones and clear your head while signaling to your body that touch still feels good. It's cheesy, but it's a low key way to get the blood flowing and open the door for partnered sexy time in your own time.

Self care is also a good idea right now. It's easy to feel like it's frivolous to spend a lot of time doing what makes you feel sexy or taken care of, but as Audre Lorde says, it's not self indulgent, it's an act of warfare. Banish the shoulds from your mind (for me it was ignoring "I should call my congressperson/read this action packed newsletter/volunteer instead of buying clothes that make me feel attractive/rubbing in this lotion to my dry-ass winter skin/getting a haircut"). Make yourself feel well taken care of and attractive and you can better fight the bullshit happening right now and stoke the passion that's missing in your sex life right now.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 6:41 PM on January 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Start working out. If you're up to it, try something like boxing or a martial art. Lifting weights. Running. Cross fit. Whatever it is, do it hard. You'll get some of that fear/anxiety/anger channeled and raise your confidence (and testosterone levels), all of which can help with the sexytime groove. Plus it will help make you feel personally more powerful, when it sounds like you (along with a ton of the nation) might be feeling pretty powerless.
posted by erst at 7:34 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think this is probably the angriest I've been in a long time, and it feels like I can't fully relax without my thoughts going back to fearful and angry thoughts and apocalyptic ideation.

Some claim that angry sex is the best sex, in fact angry sex>>>make-up sex.
posted by 445supermag at 7:35 PM on January 2, 2017

We are also both big political junkies, as you can imagine.

Yeah, stop that. If it makes you feel guilty tell yourself you're saving your strength for the coming apocalypse or something.

Anxiety is not a political virtue; appropriate self-care is.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:51 PM on January 2, 2017 [14 favorites]

Being in spaces with joyful people has helped me a lot, especially queer dance scenes, site of resistance and liberation since forever. If y'all swing in the club direction at all I say get thee to a dance floor and boogie/grind and watch others do the same.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:36 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Like a lot of people, I've had to step away from the news altogether.* It makes me feel powerless, frustration, outrage, and worry, and that is a recipe for bad mental health.

Exercise, good sleep, and healthy eating is a recipe for good mental health. Maybe it will help in the bedroom as well?

* I've found it easier to step away if i pick one significant thing: volunteer to mentor a local child, hold an annual fundraiser for immigrant deportation legal defense, do every Action Alert that the Southern Poverty Law Center sends around, or whatever. Then I say to myself: "I'm doing X and that's all I can do."
posted by salvia at 8:51 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, this mention of your parents makes me think about how the politics-related emotions are probably connected to deeper emotions. Example: "under capitalism, we're all just pawns of the machine" might be the political version of a deep feeling like, "deep down, I'm desperately worried I'll fall into poverty, so I feel like I have to do anything my employer asks, no matter how ridiculous." Uncovering the latter is helpful, because it's much more actionable -- building a savings account is easier than overthrowing capitalism. What deep personal emotions are driving you to care about the aspects of politics that you do?

I don't mean to imply that it's IRRATIONAL to be upset or that you're tricking yourself. But, you and I probably obsess over slightly different (both rational) issues, because our underlying motivations are different. I've found that taking care of myself around the underlying issue helps me stop the apocalyptic ideation (great phase btw). And having this deeper conversation with your partner might build intimacy?
posted by salvia at 9:01 PM on January 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

I prescribe a listen to the song Lovers In A Dangerous Time. It was written by Bruce Cockburn, who said he wrote it in response to seeing his daughters go through getting crushes in the 80s - he and his kids were very aware of the Cold War and the dangers of US and USSR nuclear weapons proliferation, and yet his daughters were still getting crushes and wanting to hold hands with boys at school, and he says he thought that that kind of thing was incredibly sweet and hopeful, rather than misguided - a sort of "life and love will win out" kind of thing. The last lyric always gets me:

"When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
You've got to kick at the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight"

Bruce Cockburn did it originally, but I recommend the Barenaked Ladies cover for especial beauty.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 PM on January 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

Trump put a damper on my sex drive too. It's so fucked up and scary right now. But we do need sexuality and connection and pleasure and joy.

I agree that a weekend getaway is a great idea. If you're broke can you house sit for someone or just get a motel in the next town over or go camping?

Early in our relationship, my partner suggested a rule we have stuck to almost 100%: we have sex once a week. This keeps us from getting into a pattern of not having sex, which seems to me to be self-reproducing where the less a couple has sex the less they want to. Some weeks, especially after the election, were not ones where I felt at all sexual, but once we got started I was able to find my feelings again. For us this is a good system. Sometimes you just need a kick start then momentum kicks in and you feel it again.
posted by latkes at 10:52 PM on January 2, 2017

i imagine escaping the news on your side of the puddle can feel a bit monumental, and its been on my mind too, like figuring out how to weather out the things that are unavoidable and libido-killing and make you wanna hurl a brick into your tv. great advice above so far! knowing this is how it is now, i've just been trying to work out on creating gaps in between snafu.
things that have helped thus far:

1. listening to very loud pearl jam, mumford and sons, ani, bill withers, aretha – whatever gets your soul meats stirring

1.1 dancing like a bunny to that shit in my living room, be it alone or with my 5 yr old niece (who thinks i'm a bit nuts but whatever) or whoever is down to boogie

2. the headspace app. i'm just doing the first guided 10 sessions (they be free!) and it has made me sleep SO fucking well. meditation, man (!), and i can't say i'm even particularly good at it

3. super clean (/new) sheets & making the time to just snuggle.

4. buying really good quality coffee, before that zone where the coffee grows gets wiped out. i'll tell my grandkids about it.

5. reaching out to dear old friends, nothing quite like "you seeing this shit?" convos and making sure we're all okay

6. just touching your SO, and really just looking at them. take the time. these things take time

things will be okay. xo
posted by speakeasy at 10:03 AM on January 3, 2017

It is not just you. I saw an article suggesting this is pretty widespread among women in the US. (I am not posting the link to it because I thought it was a terrible article with terrible advice, so much so that I wrote a rebuttal, one which is not relevant to your situation.)

I agree that you need to cut back on watching politics.

I had a not nice childhood and I was a very angry young woman. Long ago, I learned that the best antidote to my rage was a plan of action for how to cope with the thing making me angry.

I wonder if you need to cut way back on your relationship to your parents. Your feelings about how they voted imply something deeper there between you and them. You can't change how they voted, but you can stop being the dutiful daughter or whatever role you are playing and do your best to protect yourself from potential harm from those closest to you, in terms of blood relationships. It is the folks closest to us who typically have the most power and opportunity to harm us. Do whatever you can to protect yourself from that.
posted by Michele in California at 2:05 PM on January 3, 2017

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