I hear a lot about sex in my work with clients. I hear about their fantasies, their shame, and their shame about their fantasies. I hear about their arousal confusion, their sex anxiety, and their struggle with desire. I hear about the common arc of sexuality in long-term relationships: the high of the early infatuation stage (if there was one at all) that reaches a zenith then plateaus into normal, everyday life. And from there arises the most common statement from women that I hear about sex:
I would be fine if I never had sex again.
Like so many hidden feelings, this statement is spoken quietly, with shame laced into every word. It’s spoken with the shame-entrenching belief of, “I must be the only person who feels this way. There must be something wrong with me or my relationship. I’m sure everyone else is having fantastic sex, or at least has the desire for sex.”
Let’s break down how to work with this statement:
The first approach is to understand that you are far from alone with this thought/feeling. As I’ve said, this is literally the most common statement I hear about sex. Once you can loosen the stranglehold of shame, you can start to work with the sentiment itself. As I’ve written in other posts, shame is a silencer, and when it’s barricading the gates of your mind and voice, it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to access truth and healing.
2. Remember the Cardinal Truths about Thoughts and Feelings:
Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because you think you don’t want to have sex ever again that doesn’t mean you actually don’t. There are multiple reasons why you think you don’t want to have sex, all of which need to be explored, but the starting point is to resist the habit of taking thoughts at face value.
Just because you have a feeling that doesn’t mean you have to act on it. It might feel like you don’t want to have sex, but that doesn’t mean you actually don’t want to have sex. Confusing, I know, especially in a culture that encourages us to “trust our feelings” at every turn. Nowhere is this credo more confusing than around sexuality, for the last thing we want to do is “force” ourselves to have sex when we don’t “feel like it” because we’re afraid doing so will reenact a trauma around boundary betrayal and sexuality. .
But when it comes to sexuality in a safe, committed partnership, it’s essential to recognize that many women start out as sexually neutral, which means they’re not likely to “feel like” having sex until their motor starts running. Psychiatrist Rosemary Basson interviewed hundreds of women and learned that “contrary to the conventional model, for many women desire is not the cause of lovemaking, but rather the result. Basson’s research revealed that women often begin sexual experiences feeling sexually neutral. But as things heat up, so do they – and eventually desire is experienced.” (from an article by Rick Reynolds, LCSW).
Therefore, if you fall prey to the faulty equation that “just because I don’t feel like having sex then I shouldn’t”, you literally might never have sex again! And this doesn’t serve anyone.
3. Explore the Roots of Lack of Desire
Shame kills desire, and fear squashes it down to a tiny dot underneath your foot. This means that if you carry shame about your body or your sexuality (which most people do) and you struggle with relationship anxiety, your heart will close, your body will shut down, and you’ll be cut off from your natural desire. When this happens, it’s easy to assume that you would be fine if you never had sex again.
But this is almost always a false assumption, for the fact is that we’re wired to enjoy our bodies and thrive in our sexuality. It is our birthright. So to say, “I would be fine never having sex again,” is to fall prey to fear’s lines and convictions, the part of you that would like to curl up in a shame ball and not be touched or fully loved. What frequently happens around sexuality is we fall into a shame spiral where the topic of sex triggers shame which causes us to avoid it which then creates even more shame because now we’re in the mindset of, “I should want sex. Everyone else is having great sex. I’m sure other people don’t feel this way.” “Shoulds” and shame are bedfellows, and sexuality is a shame magnet.
Yet I imagine that there’s another part of you that longs to experienced the fullness of your sexuality, to rekindle the spark of desire the lies dormant within the shame and fear. Something inside longs to return to your rightful place in the ancestral line, to retrieve the lost legacy so that you can become fully alive and perhaps pass on these teachings on to your daughters and daughter’s daughters. Some part of you wants to remember who you are and inhabit the aliveness that is rightfully yours.
It’s time to remember. It’s time to re-sanctify our bodies, to hearken into our history and remember that we are priestesses and woodland dancers. It’s time to remember that our sexuality isn’t a source of shame and has nothing to do with what we look like or sound like, and everything to do with how feel from the inside out.
In my Sacred Sexuality course, we explore the element of sexual shame in depth, excavating it at the root so that we can expose it to the light of day and replace it with healing, cleansing waters. Alongside a group of like-minded, open-hearted, and courageous learners, we travel back in time together, bravely lifting up the latent leaves that are covering over the places of shame that are waiting to be seen and loved into healing. For beneath those leaves lives your aliveness, your passion, and your desire. And this isn’t only about your sexuality; it’s about reclaiming your vitality and creativity – the places in you that run with the wolves and dance in moonlight. The place that is wild and free, quiet and tender, fierce and brave. The place that is rightfully yours. The course begins on January 11, 2020, and I look forward to meeting you there. To learn more and sign up, click here.
Please note: As I’ve written about in other posts, it’s not only women who struggle with low desire. Despite the messages disseminated in the media, men often struggle with low desire, which carries the additional shame element because men are taught that they’re the one who “should” be the high drive partner. If you are a man reading this or your partner is a man with low drive, I encourage you to seek support and, above all else, know that you’re not alone.