The (No) Shame of Low Libido
The other morning, Reece tried to initiate sex.
It didn’t go so well.
We’d both been working so hard lately, and I saw it for the beautiful attempt at connection and closeness that it was. In theory, I was open to it. But in the flesh, it was a different story.
He started by kissing my back, lovingly massaging my body, paying extra attention to my legs and my butt.
My response? Nothing. Not even the faintest of stirrings.
It’s not that I didn’t notice. It’s not that I was ignoring him. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just that there was literally nothing in me to ignite.
And so, in order to clarify my unresponsiveness, Reece paused and straight up asked me:
“Do you want to play?”
This is something we’ve agreed to do to help avoid ambiguity and unintended rejection in the murky waters of mind reading that often come with initiating sex. Because we have an understanding in our relationship around sex – it’s an essential part of keeping the connection, the love, the playfulness, the intimacy and desire alive between us.
We’ve come to recognise that if we go any longer than three days without sexual connection, we start to notice a distance between us. A slight chilling of the air. An unintentional shutting down.
So yes, sex is important to us. (Something that is no doubt obvious if you follow the work that we do).
But all this only made it harder when I checked in with myself and found nothing. No sexual desire. No stirring. No interest whatsoever.
I felt numb.
No, I’m not always in the mood for sex. But I can usually muster up enough interest to get me started, and then let my responsive desire take care of things from there.
I’ll play with the idea of what will come next if things heat up. I’ll feel the desire of my partner and his sexual heat. I’ll check in with my vagina and feel her yearning for pleasure and play.
Usually these things are enough to tip me over the edge into fire and excitement.
But not this day.
And as it became exceedingly clear that there was no way that things were going to take up spark…
That there was so interest in me at all…
That I was completely and utterly cut off from my desire…
In flooded the shame.
Shame that I couldn’t meet my partner in his desire.
Shame that I was letting our relationship down.
Shame that I’m a sex coach and yet I had low libido.
But mostly, it was the shame of realising that even though I know all the things I need to do to keep myself feeling juicy and hot and alive, I just hadn’t been doing them lately.
It was shame that I’ve been letting myself down.
Ok. Deep breath. Let’s slow down a moment.
Seeing all of that shame, I tried to dial it back a bit. This had all happened in only the space of a few seconds – ah, the human mind – and so I decided to reach out to Reece with vulnerability and love, instead of spiralling myself down into a big black shame hole.
“Can you just keep giving me a little massage? I need some help waking up my body and getting energy moving again.”
Lovingly, he stroked and massaged and kissed my body for a long few minutes.
But still, nothing.
At this point, the shame threatened to swoop in and envelop me whole. I felt tears coming, and a sense of standing on the edge of very deep and very lonely chasm.
I felt broken.
Empty and cut off.
All the things we so often feel when we’re struggling with low desire.
Until I stopped myself.
‘Hang on a sec,’ I wondered. ‘Why the fuck am I judging myself so much?’
I have low libido. So what?
That doesn’t mean anything’s broken. There’s nothing actually wrong with me. My sexual desire is absent because there’s a lot of shit going on in my life.
Where’s the shame in that?
My libido is doing exactly what she’s supposed to – she’s a reflection of my life, and right now, I’m dealing with a lot. I’ve not been taking the best care of myself, or doing practices that make me feel centred and calm and good. And so yeah, desire is a bit low right now.
I kept going, being compassionate with myself as I gently reflected.
I recognised that it had actually been a pretty tough week. I’d been to an extremely emotional funeral only a few days earlier. We’d had a cow miscarry, go missing, and leave her young calf dead in the paddock for us to find. I’d been working long hours night and day to keep on top of a big upcoming project. And I’d let my self-care rituals and practices slip.
Oh. Right. I’m human.
So instead of the shame and judgement, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards my libido.
Thank you for showing me the areas of my life where I’ve not been taking care of myself. Thank you for reminding me to ease up on myself a little, especially in the wake of a sad and grief filled week. Thank you for making all of this so abundantly clear.
Because really, all of this insight is a beautiful, rare gift.
Our sexual desire is one of the most telling signs of what’s going on for us in our lives. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually.
It’s of course unique to each person, but we can learn to interpret our libido and to understand what’s really going on for us at a deep and personal soul level.
And whilst it can be easy to do, judging this process is not only painful, it’s downright destructive.
Don’t shoot the messenger.
Your sexuality is an integral part of who you are, and it’s not something you get to control. Just as there is no shame in desiring sex with your partner every minute of every day, nor is there shame in having a libido that tanks when things get stressful.
Yes, they each come with their challenges, and how we manage these responses is a completely different discussion unto itself.
But as much as possible, we want to accept and embrace the unique sexuality that we have, without judgement, without shame.
We’re not broken. And we don’t need to be fixed.
And so for now, I’m sitting with gratitude.
Gratitude for this body of mine. Gratitude for my libido. Gratitude for my unique and complex sexuality.
After all, it’s what I’ve got, and resisting it isn’t going to make anything any easier.