Let's talk about sex
Are you having it? Are you not?
Do you want it? Do you not?
Do you talk about it openly? Do you 100% definitely absolutely not?
There is something about sex that makes people shut up. But not in therapy. As a counsellor, I have heard everything and anything. Nothing shocks me, nothing surprises me, nothing bothers me. And sex is something that seems to affect pretty much everyone I meet.
A recent survey revealed that British people are not having as much sex as they want. In fact, this is more of a problem than ever. (Of course, I’m always very sceptical of these surveys as no one has ever asked me or anyone I know, so who are they asking exactly?) Yes a lack of sex is definitely an issue for many people. We hear about it all the time. On TV, in films, and in books, characters speak of their loneliness and their frustration. Neglected husbands, single women in their 30s, teenage boys…all the normal stereotypes.
BUT what about the other sexual problems that no one does talk about? The ones that are less socially accepted and don’t fit in a neatly packaged romantic comedy suitable for all the family? There is a silence surrounding these, that may cause you to think that you are strange, or unique with your feelings. But I can promise you that you absolutely are not.
Whether you want more sex, want less sex, have a high libido or no libido at all, whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual or asexual, monogamous or in an open relationship, nothing is too unusual and nothing is unique or wrong. You may be addicted to sex, you may have had a traumatic sexual experience and never want it again. You may not be able to physically have sex, you may feel shamed because you want it with someone unexpected.
Whatever it may be, NONE of this is something to be judged.
When I speak to clients, I always make a point of finding out what is normal for them. You may be someone who is having sex 3 times a week and this is not enough. You may be someone having it once a month and this is too much. What is not acceptable in one relationship, may be completely fine in another. If someone tells me they are having sex with someone other than their partner, I ask if that is actually a problem for them. Because why should I assume it is? We are living in an age that looks down on the swinging sixties with scorn. Sex and relationships are freer than ever before and people are shaking off any previous assumptions they had about it.
People are doing what they want, with the people they want.
What you decide to do with your sex life is nobody’s business, and what other people are doing with theirs, is none of your concern. However, what IS important, is that you have as much or as little sex as you want with the person or people who you choose.
You should feel comfortable, in control and safe.
You should never feel pressured and you should always be respected.
You should be made to feel wanted.
If only it was always this simple.
When life is hard, things are changing and feelings are low, one of the first things to drop is your libido. It’s a physical reaction to an emotional problem and it’s completely and totally normal. It doesn’t mean you are no longer attracted to your partner, or that you will never want to have sex again. Feeling depressed, stressed, anxious or emotional? It’s a perfectly natural reaction for your body to shut this part down temporarily.
If you are struggling to find joy in other aspects of your life, of course you may struggle to find joy in sex as well, let alone have enough energy for it.
But don’t feel embarrassed about this, it’s not your fault and it won’t last forever.
Talking to your partner can be difficult at first, especially when they may mistakenly take it personally. Talking to friends can be embarrassing if you haven’t broached the subject before. Talking to a counsellor can be nerve wracking when you don’t yet know or trust them well.
BUT if you want to talk about sex, talk about it. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, it will empower you, and I’m confident you will feel better for it.