Expert Advice on Sex Drives, Online Flirting, and Bedroom Compatibility
Welcome to Elle Oh Elle, where Portland-based writer and entertainer Elle Stanger takes your sex life from subpar to subversive. Find more of her musings here.
What do you do when you have completely lost your sex drive? Oh boy, do I know this one. Firstly, ask yourself some basic questions:
1. Do I get enough exercise?
The Center for Disease Control tells us that American, adult bodies require about 20 minutes of aerobic activity every day, and muscle-building exercises additionally. Basically, get enough movement to make you sweat, and not just horizontal mambos.
2. Is my medication affecting my sex drive?
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- aka SSRIs -- are notorious for affecting arousal. Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft are just a few of these FDA-approved meds that have historically led to the inability to pop a boner. Talk to your doctor about finding an alternate path to happiness. As an unmedicated ADHD adult with a genetic marker for bipolar II, I’m a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy. Google it.
3. Do I get enough vitamin D?
If you rarely venture outside, or find yourself living in a region of perpetual grey (ahem, Portland, Seattle), take a supplement. If your body doesn’t need it, you’ll just piss it out. No worries.
Oregon-based certified intimacy and sex coach Stella Harris suggested, "Sometimes you’re not spontaneously experiencing desire, but you may experience responsive desire. This could mean that a partner’s arousal, or being touched in a pleasing way, or even watching porn or reading erotica might get you in the mood for sex -- you just have to start before you’re feeling it, which may seem counterintuitive."
And remember that none of us go from 0 to 100 all of the time. "It’s important to know that our bodies change over time and our interest in sex can increase and decrease at different times in our lives and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing," Harris adds. "Many people go through periods of celibacy or identify as asexual."
So, you’ve done all of those things, what’s next? Ask yourself this: what was the last thing that got you aroused? I’m a firm believer that the best sex begins in the mind, so let your imagination run wild and fantasize. We all get to live safely within our brains, so if you want to sit on the face of the hot cop that gave you a traffic ticket, or you choose to recall that time that the stripper "really liked you," in the lap dance, grab a bottle of lube and make love to yourself, via your creative fantasies.
If you don’t masturbate: it’s important to acknowledge that a small chunk of the population doesn’t indulge in sexual self-touch. If your libido is still in the no-fly zone, ask your trusted co-pilot to take control. Ask, "Hey, I’m feeling less sexy lately, can you be the one to initiate sex? If I don’t want to proceed, the safe word to stop is: [pick your safe word, I choose poodle or banana]."
Guys, and gals: pamper your purdy self. Get your nails done, or indulge in a straight-razor shave. I’ve always admired how beautiful and "porny" my hands look when I’m giving a HJ with some freshly manicured claws. (I won’t scratch you, unless you ask...)
Lastly, if you’ve recently undergone a huge life change such as a divorce, death of a loved one, or if you’ve given birth, or had a major surgery, go easy on yourself. You’re probably just incredibly stressed out.
My partner flirts consistently with other women on Facebook chat. Is this behavior changeable or worth fixing?
You’re probably not going to like my answer: what is wrong with flirting? "Flirting is a healthy and natural component of how we relate and socialize as human beings," says Buster Ross, AASECT-certified sexuality counselor.
Flirting can run the gamut of "I like your new haircut" to "Hey bb let's fuk," so let’s assume that your partner is engaging with women in a manner that leads you to believe that he is trying to have sex with them without your knowledge. If you think that your partner will cheat on you, dump him. If you decide to stay with this person, then cross your fingers that he uses condoms, and agree that you will get a wellness check at your local clinic about three times a year.
If you choose to stay with a person that you don't trust, then you’re putting both your sexual and mental well-being at risk.
If you don’t think that your partner is going to cheat on you, then why does the flirting matter?
Harris asks, "Have you talked about how this flirtation makes you feel? For some people, they get a thrill out of flirting and feeling desired, and it doesn’t go anywhere."
Says Ross, "We should be focused on how people communicate about their boundaries and agreements, vs. blanket rules. Ask your partner, 'Do I ever do anything that makes you feel insecure and left out?' Try to discover your needs."
And hey, if you’re spying on somebody’s Facebook, that’s uncool. And if he’s sending unsolicited dick pics to strangers; that’s not flirting, that’s harassment, and I give you my blessing to dump him, ASAP.
What do you do when you're in love with someone who you may be entirely sexually incompatible with?
Since you say, "may be," that leads me to believe that this relationship is new, or that you are just beginning to question the compatibility. Human sexuality is fluid, and it can develop and change over time, but if you’re overwhelmingly lacking feelings of excitement, intimacy, and connection when having sex with your new beau, that might be unchangeable.
First, determine if you and your partner are sexually compatible for the relationship that you want. For example, a marriage will rarely be successful when one person constantly feels pressured or inadequate, and the other person isn’t satiated. Feelings of insecurity, resentment, and anger will overshadow all other relationship attributes. I’ve been on both sides of this coin, and it sucks either way. If you’re not sexually compatible and you both plan to be monogamous, please don’t get married. If you love each other, want to build a life, a family, and can have sex with other people, by all means, do that: you’re already communicating better than most couples that I know.
Earth has 7 billion people, and you might be better off if you can find someone who helps you meet your needs. Or you can do what most people do and enjoy the relationship for all its other aspects... until the sexual incompatibility becomes too overwhelming to ignore, and leads to the overall deterioration of the relationship. Don’t be too hard on yourself, nothing lasts forever.
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Elle Stanger is a mother, stripper, feminist, activist, and author who entertains the masses in Portland, OR. She holds two university degrees, neither of which she utilizes in a conventional fashion. She prefers organic food, dark beer, and self-actualized individuals. Don’t ask her about her tattoos; she’s run out of clever retorts. Find her online at EroticMusePDX.com.