This is the question I kept asking myself. I miss my sex drive. In the past I’ve been told by friends that I have one of the highest sex drives of the people they know. I don’t recognised myself in that description anymore, and I wish I did. I want my sex drive back, but I’m not going to do something stupid to force it to kick back in. Something stupid like having casual sex to fuck my sex drive back to life.
Content note for discussion of mental illness and grey areas of around consent. This post also includes affiliate links.
And not just casual sex, I was considering having sex with someone who doesn’t really care about me.
It would be easier if we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic. Right now, for very good reasons, I cannot hop on a train and travel to see my enboifriend or one of my play partners. Instead I’m stuck in a city where I don’t have anyone who I can invite round for recipriocal oral sex – even if COVID regulations would let me do that. There’s always phone sex, of course, maybe with my partner using an app on their phone to control the butt plug that’s vibrating in my ass, but right now I just don’t want to have sex.
I almost feel ashamed to admit that the last time I saw my enboifriend, we didn’t have sex. I told them before they came to visit that I didn’t think I would want to, but I’d half hoped that seeing them would have made me feel something again. I did feel more present in my body while I was with them, but only enough to take the edge off my depression. The idea of sex felt so wrong, and I’m fairly sure I flinched a few times when they touched me. It freaked me out: I didn’t understand why I didn’t want to fuck them, and it made me feel broken.
My enboifriend respected my boundaries and told me that they didn’t mind that I wasn’t down to have sex. They just wanted to spend time with me. They touched me softly and kissed me gently and were so kind that I could almost believe that they really didn’t care that we weren’t spending the brief time we had together cramming as much sex as possible. They really didn’t: it was me who had got it into my head that I was failing because I couldn’t bring myself to fuck them. Apparently I’ve really internalised the idea that my self-worth is based on my fuckability.
But the way I was thinking about fucking got more, well, fucked up.
My enboifriend had given me time and patience and space and understanding, but I didn’t feel anything. I wanted so desperately to want them but I didn’t feel anything. Somehow I caught that feeling in my head and twisted it around: if I didn’t feel anything when didn’t push me, maybe I needed something to push me. Maybe waiting wouldn’t work, and what I needed was to have sex. Maybe what I needed was to fuck, to fuck until my body remembered what it felt like to want to fuck.
I haven’t read Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are, but it’s through other sex writers and educators talking about her work that I understand the idea of arousal non-concordance. Arousal non-concordance is when your subjective arousal (essentially how turned on your mind is) and your physical arousal (how turned on your body is) aren’t aligned. So when your dick is suddenly hard but you have no idea why you turned on? That’s arousal non-concordance. If you’re super horny from watching porn but when you touch your junk you find you’re not at all wet? That’s arousal non-concordance.
Arousal non-concordance is really common – according to Nagoski’s research it has happened to 90% of cis women and 50% of cis men. And it’s possible to close the gap between your subjective and physical arousal by getting to know your body well and understanding what really turns you on. For example, if you’re in the mood for sex but your body isn’t quite on the same page, clitoral stimulation, lube, and thinking about the kind of touch you’re craving can help your body ‘catch-up’ to where your mind is.
It was this seed of an idea upon which I was basing my flawed theory: if I pushed myself to have sex even though I didn’t want to, my physical arousal would kick in and I’d start wanting sex again. Except I wasn’t experiencing any arousal at all, so I wasn’t struggling with arousal non-concordance… but it was easier to think that than accept how wrong fucking felt. I wanted to feel like myself again, and feeling like myself meant wanting to fuck.
For some reason – probably because it’s an incredibly silly idea – I didn’t feel like any of my play partners would help me try it out. I didn’t think that anyone who genuinely gave a shit about me would have sex with me when I was consenting but didn’t actually want to fuck. I was almost certain that if I tried to have sex that started slowly, with soft kisses and foreplay, I’d spend the entire time wanting it to stop and would call it off before we got anywhere close to anything that could kick-start my physical arousal.
And because I’d feel comfortable to ask them to stop – and because they would – I decided that sex with someone who cared about me wouldn’t work.
I thought I needed casual sex. Casual sex with someone who didn’t know how ill I am right now, who could fuck me without knowing how fucked up I am. I usually like casual sex with that comes with intimacy, but intimacy would mean vulnerability, and didn’t think I could admit that I needed someone to push past my boundaries so I could stop feeling so broken. I mentally drafted a Tinder bio that would tempt someone to fuck me. I needed something, anything, to help me feel like myself again.
Looking back more logically, I can see that even if this would have been safe for me (which it wouldn’t), it wouldn’t have been fair to whoever I was fucking. To have sex with someone without explaining to them where I am mentally, to have sex with them because I wanted them to push my boundaries a little but not tell them that? Using someone like that would be a dick move. Even if I was consenting to that sex, they couldn’t have consented to what I was asking them to do, because I wasn’t going to tell them.
I’m no longer considering casual sex with someone who doesn’t care about me as a way to fuck my sex drive back into existence. I’m doing something far harder: being patient with my body and my mind, trying to accept that my sex drive will fluctuate and that’s normal. I’m telling myself that I’m not broken because I don’t want to fuck right now. I’m not broken, I’m not broken, I tell myself again and again as I apologise to my partner because I can’t be horny with them right now. Maybe I’ll start to believe it soon.
And sure, maybe the thrill of breaking lockdown for a quick and dirty hook-up would have finally turned me on. But what if it hadn’t? What if I’d let myself be pushed, thinking that’s what I needed, and my body and my mind both stubbornly refused to feel anything? If I felt broken then, how broken might I have felt after that? I might have done something unsafe just because society has taught me that all I need to fix me is a good fuck.
I wanted a callous, casual fuck so I could feel in control again, but I wouldn’t have.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.