What's wrong with a lack of interest in or desire for sex? Nothing.
Heather Corinna replies:Before I ask this I want to say I am not some uber-conservative person, and I have a lot of friends who do the one night stand thing, et cetera, and I think it's completely fine. For them. I am just worried there is something wrong with me:. I have never had the desire to have sex and the idea of me having it is rather squicky. I just don't understand the appeal in having something thrust into you, and everything around it seems really gross. I am also almost 20 but I feel way too young to be having sex, anyway. Is this something I will ever grow out of? Is something wrong with me for not wanting to have sex ?
While it can sure feel like there is sometimes, there is no default setting when it comes to feeling sexual desire. There's no one default, nor a universal normal, for who has those feelings, how often they have them, when in life they have them or they first develop, in what specific circumstances or situations they have them, including what people they have them for, from what kind of physical, emotional or intellectual stimulus they seem to arise or get shut down. There's no amount of desire or lack of desire that is or feels right or wrong for everyone. There's no one time of life when anyone should or should not experience sexual desire.
That said, sex is a big, broad thing, not just one way people can be sexual (and sex isn't just something people do with partners, either!). Sexual desire is an even bigger, even broader thing.
It sounds to me like what you're asking about may not be sexual desire on the whole, but, very specifically, the desire to have sex with someone else, and only a kind of sex that involves one body part being put inside another body part and moved in and out. For sure, that's one way of being sexual, one kind of sex, that some people feel desires for, and that some people want to be part of and enjoy. But just one. That one specific sexual scenario represents all of what sex can be, and even larger than that, what feelings of sexual desire may center on, about as well as, say, a tunafish represents everything inside and about the sea.
So, maybe what you're saying is that you're worried there's something wrong with you because you have yet to experience any desire to have sex with a partner, a specific kind of partner (like someone of a specific gender), and for a kind of sex where they're putting -- thrusting, even, you're pretty specific here -- a part of their body inside a part of yours. If so: nope, nothing wrong with you. It appears, rather, that like the vast majority of humans, you don't have a desire -- or one right now, or one when this goes very specifically, like with the aforementioned thrusting business -- to have every kind of sex there is, and find that you know at least one kind that just seems downright unappealing to you. Just like there's no one food or way of eating everyone likes or wants, and most people have some ways of eating or foods that they feel no desire to explore or that even gross them out to think about, the same goes with sex.
By all means, sexual activities with a partner, and activities that involve body parts inserted into one another are both things that many people do desire and many people do enjoy. They're even things many people present as the only way TO be sexual, and to feel desire for, an idea it sounds like you may have picked up on yourself. But they're not anything close to the only way -- with a partner rather than alone, and with Tab A/Slot B stuff -- to be sexual, and not things everyone feels sexual desire for and wants to do, either at a given time in their lives, or full-stop, for the whole of a lifetime.
If you're interested in all of what sex can be, and what we have to mean when we say "sex" with any hope at having that word accurately represent what sex is and isn't for billions of people, take a look at this article, which can fill you in: What's Sex? And here's all of what sexuality does or can involve: Sexuality: WTF Is It, Anyway?
In the event that when you look at articles like that, and come away thinking, "Actually, I have yet to experience ANY feelings of desire for ANY of that stuff, or to feel like what it sounds like feeling desire often does, that's okay, too. Still nothing wrong with you.
So far as we know, the vast majority of human beings will, in a lifetime, experience feelings of sexual desire -- which really just means feeling some kind of spark with what you know, so far, to be your unique sexuality -- and will want to be actively sexual -- which really just means expressing and exploring your sexuality in some way -- either alone, with partners, or both. The tricky bit is that what sexual desire feels like is so varied for people that it's something we might, in fact, feel, but not recognize or name as sexual desire if what we're feeling or the way we're feeling doesn't seem to match with our ideas about what sexual desire (and being sexual) is supposed to be about or is supposed to feel like.
When the world talks about sex, so often it's really reduced to the lowest common denominators, which leave a ton of people out. Ideas about what sex and sexual desire are, can be like and feel like have also always been strongly influenced by culture, so a whole bunch of -isms -- like racism, sexism, homophobia, fatphobia -- and a whole bunch of idealizations and stigmas. Those also make it much harder to see that human sexuality is as diverse as anything you can think of, and really something we write for ourselves, rather than a script that's already been written before we even exist. When that cultural input involves telling people what to do and not to do because someone else -- like a religion, or a government -- wants to get, keep or control something, as it so often does, it can get even harder to find ourselves in it and much easier to get hung up on what is or isn't "normal."
Most of our ideas about shoulds or shouldn'ts with sex tend to be very rooted in those cultural ideas, rather than what we, as individuals, really feel and don't feel, want and don't want, and find expresses our personal experiences of sex and sexuality. We can get to that more authentic place, but it tends to take education, life experience, time and effort, and a greater focus on finding out about our own sexual desires and experiences (including a lack of them), than on anyone else's.
I lack a crystal ball, so I just can't tell you if how you've been feeling up until now about all of this (especially since I only know how you feel about one pretty specific kind of sex) is how you'll always feel. Probably not, just because any of us feeling the exact same way about anything for all of our lives is unusual, since it's not like we stay the exact same person through life, or have the exact same life circumstances the whole time. Something we know about people and sexuality, specifically, from study, is that sexuality is something that tends to be fluid; something that will tend to shift and change in any number of ways throughout our lives rather than stay the same. But neither you nor I can predict what your shifts will be, or when they'll happen.
Here's what you can know, regardless: let's say that however you feel right now never, ever changes, not in any way. There's nothing wrong with how you have been feeling (or more to the point, what you haven't felt a desire for) up until now, and nothing wrong with you just based on you not feeling a want for this specific thing, even that is about every possible way of being or feeling sexual there is. There wouldn't be anything wrong with it later, either.
Actively being sexual, alone or with partners, is a choice, not a requirement. And it can absolutely be something people really enjoy and find benefits their lives, but only if and when they want it. When it's not something people want, they're not going to enjoy taking part in it or find that doing something sexual they don't want to do is likely to benefit their lives. On the other hand, when we don't want a thing, not doing it or experiencing it is going to better support our happiness. So, truly, it's not like you'd be missing out if you never did any of this because you never wanted any of it: you'd be following your own desires that are about you, who you are, and what best meshes with YOUR wants.
While for me, not being an educator probably would have been something huge in my life I missed out on, that's because it's something I'm passionate about, deeply enjoy, feel very enthusiastically drawn to do, and that feels like it's central to who I am as a person. But for someone who could care less, who dislikes teaching, and who feels like that isn't who they are or what they're about at all, they'd be highly unlikely to miss out on anything if they didn't teach, because it would have been pretty unlikely to benefit them or anyone else if they did. Same goes with sex or sexual desire.
Here's a little mini-curriculum around all of this for you. I included an articles about sexual orientation just to give you a range of things to feel out when it comes to your feelings (or lack of them, as not everyone does feel a desire to be sexual with others) of sexual interest in others. It may be some of this is about orientation, like about you only picturing one possible way of being sexual in terms of partners, or even only WITH partners, rather than without them in the picture at all, or only picturing one way of being sexual that's mostly based in heteronormativity (in things presented as "the way" for everyone, because they're common for or important to heterosexuals or ideals about heterosexuality).
- Don't Want To Have Sex?
- What if I never want or feel ready for sex?
- Intimacy: The Whys, Hows, How-Nots, and So-Nots
- Sexual Response & Orgasm: A Users Guide
- How to Understand, Identify and Make Choices About Desire
- The Rainbow Connection: Orientation for Everyone
- Yes, No, Maybe So: A Sexual Inventory Stocklist
- To Slide or to Slice? Finding a Positive Sexual Metaphor
Here's the advice I'd like to leave you with that I think is really what's most important:
Try not to get hung up on what others want or feel a want for that you don't. After all, what other people want is about them, not you. This stuff is about who you are and what you want. Your own feelings when it comes to sex and sexuality, now and through all of your life, are the right source to listen to most. So long as we're also kind and respectful with anyone else we may involve in our sexual lives, so we're taking them into account, too, your own sense of yourself, and accepting that self, as-is, is always the best route to whatever kind of sexual life, even if it's none at all, turns out to be right and great for someone.
Relatedly, try to let go of concerns about being normal or not. If you ask me, normal is not just almost always inaccurate, it is profoundly overrated and often deeply, tremendously tiresome. Normal -- or average, or typical -- never got anyone to an exceptional life, sexual or otherwise. No one is breathlessly races to the door because they think something approximately average is ringing the bell. And there really is no "normal" in human sexuality, period, but getting all hung up on what is or isn't is something that tends to lead people away from a sexuality and sexual life that really feels right for them, and like what they want, rather than to it. You have also asked a bonafide, happy weirdo your question, so even if you were weird, I'd not understand why that's a bad thing.
If in this part of your life or any other, you feel like you might be weird, I'd personally advise you embrace it rather than worrying about it. Weirdness is what makes life fun and fascinating. Normal is just what makes life unstimulating enough so that we can get some sleep.
Your pace is going to be whatever your pace is, hopefully based on what you want and what feels right for you. You say you feel too young to be sexual with others: that's a good example of you honoring your own pace and feelings. Even if you were literally the only person ever alive who had not experienced any desire to be sexual with another person by the age of 19 (and you're so not), doing it just because it's "normal," or getting hung up on what others were doing instead of listening to what you want and don't wouldn't be the wise way to go.
All of this -- sex, but also life -- is about paying attention to and figuring out, over time, who YOU are, what YOU want, and what YOU choose to do with those wants. Whatever all the honest answers to those things are, now and later, and whatever you choose to do, so long as you don't choose to do yourself or anyone else intentional harm, won't be about anything being wrong with you, because they're about who you are. And there just can't be anything wrong with that.