On Not Getting Laid

I went to get my birth control prescription renewed at Planned Parenthood today, and one of the questions the nurse asked was the last time I had intercourse. Uh… I couldn’t really remember exactly. I lowballed my estimate a little because I felt embarrassed. Not that the nurse cares. But I do!

My sex life has been rather mild-mannered for the last couple years. It’s my decision, of course, and that makes a big difference. I’ve passed up opportunities that didn’t seem right for me, going for quality over quantity. Most of the time, I’m fine with it, but other times it gets to me. Here is a description of the various attitudes I can take on it, depending on my mood; maybe you can relate.

Denial: Not that it’s not happening, just denying that this is an issue for me. I tell myself, it’s no biggie. Remember the first 22 years of my life? No partnered sex then. I was fine. Some people go their whole lives without sex, and they’re fine. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy life without sex. Plus, most people go through dry patches. This is normal. And masturbation is grand. I have nothing to complain about.

Anger: In which I shake my fist at the sky. Why me?! This is bullshit. I would be such a good partner, I have the capacity for giving and receiving so much pleasure, this is outrageous. And the frustration can easily turn inward; saying, you must have done something wrong. If only you would change, the voice says, you could be having a rollicking good time right now. You don’t like taking risks. You’re too sensitive. You’re missing out. Because you’re a prude. And nevermind the meanness this voice can launch into about my not being in a relationship right now.

There’s frustration at people who are getting happily, regularly laid at this time when I’m not getting any. Ire toward at the culture at large; was I socialized into this state of affairs? Anger at the lack of clear answers, and my seeming powerlessness (or refusal) to change the situation in a way that works for me. Stuckness..

Shame: Unfortunately, there’s a taboo against both getting laid and not getting laid, and talking about either one in an open, unabashed manner. In some ways, I’m fine with my sex life being private, but at times I really wish I felt more free to talk about it, to tell it like it is. I’m part of an online community in which I feel free to bemoan my lack of a sex life or celebrate it when things get exciting, but beyond that, I don’t hear a lot of frank, open conversations about sex. So I largely keep my cards close to my chest.

Also, I have probably internalized some shame about wanting sex. So here goes, if you haven’t figured it out already: Sex is important to me and my happiness. There’s a lot I want to experience that I haven’t had the opportunity to try out yet.Clearly I’m not going to die from not having regular partnered sex. But it’s important to me nonetheless. At times like these I feel chagrined about how few people I really feel comfortable telling that to. I know they can’t necessarily change anything about my situation, but it often feels good and validating to be able to tell it like it is and have my experience confirmed and be reminded about how common it is. And that it’s not (necessarily!) going to last forever.Acceptance: Most of the time I’m OK with things as they are. I know why I’m not getting laid; it’s because of my relationship status (single) and guidelines I’ve set for myself, based on past experience, about what works for me. I look back and realize that I’ve gone through dry patches in the past and they’ve ended. Some day, this too shall pass. Right?!

Celebration: A mentor with a red-hot sex life told me that when she’s single she likes to use that time as a time of learning, a sexy sabbatical, to discover what she’s interested in exploring in the sexual realm and educating herself about it. She steered me toward some hot instructional videos by Nina Hartley, pointing out how enthusiastic the stars are; she encouraged me to envision myself in different actors’ roles, to find out what turns me on. Erotica and fantasy can also help me step into someone else’s shoes, exploring new personas and scenarios that I might not have considered before but which might enrich my sex life, solo or partnered. So far, so good; and it sure beats shaking my fist at the sky!

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