In some cases sexual disinterest is a longterm prospect. Emotional factors are high on the list. Chronic depression or stress are frequently associated with loss of interest in sex. Alan became depressed after a series of business failures when he was in his thirties. ‘At the time I just wasn’t getting any sleep. I had so much on my plate that months would go by when I hardly thought about sex at all. It wasn’t until I saw the light at the end of the tunnel when things started to improve at work that I realized how little interest I had had in sex.’

How interested you are in sex depends heavily on the target of your affection. Sexual chemistry is a funny thing. ‘Chemistry’ implies a cocktail of ingredients — triggers — that set off another person’s sexual interest like a smile, a perfume, hair color, body movements. Romantic poets depend on it. No scientist has been able to explain it. It defies logical definition, yet it is such a vital element in any successful sexual relationship. Two people can be totally compatible as friends, enjoying each other’s company and sharing the same interests but if that intangible we call chemistry just isn’t there, then libido might be a bit evasive.

Being with the wrong partner can be the reason for a relatively lower interest in sex but consider the effect of partners being the wrong gender for you. The possibility that you are not interested in sex because you would actually prefer a partner of the same gender can be immensely confronting, particularly as it goes against the grain of a lifetime of conditioning. This rarely becomes an issue until strong sexual feelings are ignited by a person, an event, or a fantasy. And it can come as quite a shock, as it was for Kate.

‘I remember, as a teenager, having crushes on older girls at school but that wasn’t anything unusual amongst my friends. I started dating boys when I was about sixteen but I wasn’t really that keen on the whole process. When I met my husband we got on incredibly well together and I knew I was in love with him but I always had the feeling there was something missing. Although I didn’t avoid sex with him, I certainly didn’t initiate things very often. My girlfriends had always been very important to me but when I met Marie it was totally different. It sounds like a clich? but it was like I had been hit by a bolt of lightning. I remember being acutely aware of an intense sexual attraction between us and thinking, “I don’t want this to happen; it’s just too hard”, but it was impossible to stop the feelings. My libido felt like it was turbo-charged, and I realized this was what I really needed.

*121/17/9*

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