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I'm just not interested anymore!

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Anonymous asks:

Lately I am afraid of any sexual contact.

I'm in a wonderful relationship and have been with this same person for the past 4 years. We have been having sex for 2 years, and thus far it is always both extremely safe and mutually satisfying. We have never had a sexual encounter that felt unsafe, and we talk about sex really openly.

I have no idea why I suddenly am uninterested in sex. Mentally, I want to be intimate with him. However, for the past two weeks I have physically flinched whenever we try to do something. I am not experiencing any physical pain, I just get scared. I have not experienced any sexual assault or abuse in the past (to my recollection anyway) and I completely trust my partner.

What's wrong with me? How can I learn to feel comfortable being physical again?

The only factor that I can identify as a possible explanation is that recently I tried watching porn a few times. I found it satisfying, then eventually got weirded out by how offensive it can be and the way it makes sex seem very public. I like sex to remain within my relationship, and to be very private. I felt guilty after the porn thing, and maybe that's why I'm still freaking out, but I don't know. I don't have any conscious guilt about that anymore and don't have it on my mind when we attempt to have sex. I therefore doubt that this is the real reason for my recent fears, but cannot come up with any other possibility.

Any ideas?

Sarah replies:

The term "prude" is such a heavily loaded, judgmental term that I'd really encourage you not to apply it to yourself or anybody else. The implications that come along with that are just not very helpful, so I'd suggest removing that from the way you're thinking about your situation.

There are lots of things that might explain a disinterest in sex. You know, there are lots of interests in our lives that wax and wane. Sometimes we may be really into jogging, for example. But then maybe we go through a few weeks, months, or years where we just don't feel quite so jazzed about it. Well, it's kinda the same thing with sex. As we move through life, most of us will find that we go through periods of time where we just aren't into sex for some reason. Sometimes this can be related to other things that are going on with us. There's a lot more going on in one's life than sex at any given point and with all of the other pressures on us, we may simply not have the time or the energy to devote to having partnered sex (or any sort of sex, for that matter). Stress, dietary changes, health issues, family problems, relationship issues, work, school, or any number of other things can take a lot of our attention and effort. So during times like that where we need to focus on other things, often we move sex to the back burner. If you have unresolved issues in your relationship, even if they are completely unrelated to sex, they can influence how much we want to be sexually active. Also, sometimes physical health issues can lead us to not be so interested in sexual activity. Things like anxiety and depression can take a heavy toll on our libidos. Other physical ailments (like diabetes, for instance) can be hard on our bodies too. Certain medications (like hormonal birth control, for instance) can also cause difficulties in arousal for some people. If you are having pregnancy or STI concerns (which it does not sound like you are) that can really dampen interest as well. If something has happened that's made you feel not-so-great about sex or guilty about it, that can cause difficulties. If you're feeling bad about porn use right now, there is the possibility that could be a part of the issue. Really anything that makes you feel bad or guilty about sex in general can bleed over into your sexual relationships. Porn is not something that "ruins" you, but it isn't for everybody. If you don't feel good about using it, then avoiding it is probably a wise idea. Sometimes we may not even know why it is that we don't feel like having sex for a given period of time.

The main thing here is just not to worry too much about not wanting to have sex right this moment. It really is something that happens to everybody at one point or another. In fact, for most people it'll happen many times over the course of a lifetime. The more you dwell on it or worry about it, the more it's going to stress you out and the more difficult it will make it to BE interested in sex. So I'd suggest taking some time off sex entirely right now. If sex isn't a good, positive thing for you, then there's no reason to be engaging in it. Often, entirely taking the pressure off until you feel like you definitely desire sex is probably going to help you feel better in general. That said, not having sex does not mean that you can't be intimate with your partner or have closeness with them. Intimacy is not something that is exclusive to sex. You can be close by holding hands or snuggling (clothed or unclothed). Maybe just the two of you go out for coffee or dessert and then spend time sitting and talking. You could play '20 questions' or tell each other some secrets. Or, go do something that you both enjoy doing together. Make dinner and stay in for a movie night. The key is to do something that makes you feel close to one another.

It's likely that once you take the pressure off yourself, eventually you will find that you're wanting to be sexually active again. It may take a few days, weeks, or even maybe months, it just depends. For now, take that time off for yourself. Talk with your partner about what you've been feeling and about taking some time away from sex entirely. If, after you've taken some time off, you find yourself still not wanting sex, the first place to head is to your doctor to make sure that everything physically is in line for you. A healthy body goes a long way toward feeling good about sex. If everything is physically good with you and you are not having any relationship issues and you are still feeling afraid of sexual activity, then it may be wise to consider talking with a therapist or counselor who will be able to help you get to the bottom of what is causing your aversion.

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