What is libido?
When we talk about our libido and about it being low, if feels like a real negative. The implication is that something is broken: I am no longer working as I should be. For the most part we have come to see libido as being simply about our sexual drive and to think of this as a biological thing. Libido is actually about sexual desire, or the emotion and mental energy related to sex. I have found it less helpful to see it as biological and easier to understand and manage as a social and emotional aspect.
While I realise that there will be factors to do with our biology which do play an impact (age, health conditions, medication etc), often those are things that we can’t control. The other areas, however, are easier to work on. It seems no surprise to me that I have heard people talking of a loss of libido during the past year: we have been under pressure emotionally, psychologically and environmentally. It makes sense that this is not going to contribute to a rise, or even a maintenance in the levels of sexual desire, or desire of anything for that matter.
Focusing on the idea of desire
So if we throw out the idea of libido for a moment and replace it with the idea of desire, does that change anything? Our levels of desire fluctuate in the same sort of way, but often we don’t view it as being part of our biology. We tend to think more about desire as being organic and as being a response to other factors: a person, a song, pornography etc. So if our levels of desire move up and down a continuum, what is it that impacts that movement?
For each of us these elements will be different, but there will be things which increase or activate your desire, and others which decrease or inhibit your desire. It is worth having a think about what these things are. Factors like stress, tiredness and boredom tend to inhibit, whereas feeling sexy, being noticed and feeling in control can be activators. While there may well be biological reasons for some of these things, there will likely be other reasons too.
My sexual desire
I did quite a lot of thinking about this back when I completed some reflection for the Dom Sub workbook. I thought about what made me feel sexual desire, but although I came up with a list of things I know that I should be doing, I have not really done them. It is within my control to change things, but really, I am not putting in the effort. There are reasons for this too: currently my environment is not encouraging, my work is stressful, and my body image is not great.
I have a very high sex drive when all things are going well. The more I get the more I want, so basically, things usually work well around this. I have also chosen to be with someone who usually has a high drive and that impacts on me in a positive way. Submission is a good thing for me because it keeps me wanting more. If things fade, I can plod along quite happily without it. I had an entire marriage previously where sexual desire and the intimacy around that was not a significant part.
Where the D/s come in
So basically I know that I can live happily enough without it, but I also know that isn’t what I want. I think that feeling desire and feeling desired is important, not just for me but for a relationship, and so I am not happy just to let this go. This was one aspect of wanting a D/s marriage. I saw that as a way of making sure that there would always be that intimacy and desire there. The more I get the more I want and I would always be getting it with someone who I knew wanted it too!
When you think about desire, it can be like a switch which is flicked on instantly. Other times, it can be a slow burn. HL will find it hard sometimes that I am not immediately ‘on’. What usually happens, though, is that I respond to him and he turns me on. He will ignite the desire in me and then lead me to the point where it actually gets out of control. That feeling is not about penetrative sex. It is much more complex than that. It therefore doesn’t end when the orgasm happens. I am still switched on at that point, hence the more, the more.
There for him whenever he wants me
In this way, submission works. There is no option to say no, as in other relationships. Clearly I don’t mean that in a non-consensual way. I mean that I have agreed to be his and there for him whenever he wants me. That works for me. I may not feel that desire initially but he will create that need in me. More than that, it will create a bigger need in me going forward, so that even after, I will be left feeling desire for more of him, and feeling that I am desirable myself.
It sounds fool proof, right? Well not quite. It is reliant pretty much on HL to instigate and be consistent in his desire for me. Like me, he is influenced by extrernal factors and psychological and emotional things. If he is not able to keep me on a simmer then I go out. This means that I am not there simmering for him, which keeps him going, so he then goes out too. Rather than more brings more, we get less brings less.
So is my libido lost? Am I broken?
Human nature can be strange in that when things go wrong sometimes, we look for the big fixers. We look at things which are not always within our control and think, if only we fix that then this will fix too. Really, we need to look at the small things as so often they will make up the bigger picture. Yes, there might some larger issues to work through, but that shouldn’t stop us from making small changes in a manageable way.
So in answer to my own question, I don’t think my libido is lost. I don’t think I am broken. I am just not working hard enough on something which is important to me. I need to look again at the things which activate my desire. I need to look again at the things which pull away from me being in a place where I am looking for more and thinking about it. I need to make a list of the things that I will change in both areas.
Things that I can do to help myself
I know that in order to fix my libido, these two questions need to be a start. What turns me on and what stops me being turned on. These are just short lists off the top of my head of the sorts of things which help and those which don’t. Some are quite big areas but I can work at them in small ways which will lead to small changes.
Things which activate my desire
- Time for myself
- Time with HL
- Doing things which make me feel sexier – dress nicely, do my nails, take pictures
- Making plans together – plan a hotel stay, plan
- Reading some erotic fiction
- Focusing on diet and exercise
Things which inhibit my desire
- Feeling out of control/overwhelmed at work
- Feeling fat
- Feeling frumpy and old!
- Being stuck on my own head
- Planning alone
It takes two to tango
I haven’t put dancing on my list but when things open up again, I really want to start, so the tango heading may actually come to fruition. I know that for me, dancing, like listening to music, is one of the things that can activate me. I don’t mean that it turns me on, but it does put me in the mindset where I can be turned on and that is what I mean by activating desire. It is about more than just a desire for sex. It is a desire for life in a sense. It is about feeling passionate and excited to be here.
My secondary tango point is that my desire is not only down to me and I cannot fix it alone. Basically, I want to be made to want him. But he wants to feel that I want him too so we both need to do some work here I think. I am easily dissuaded if I make an effort and it leads to a one off, rather than igniting something. It means that I am left in my own head and that makes it harder when he is in the mood and suddenly wants me to come out.
Courage to eat the elephant
I wrote yesterday about lost sex and how we can end up in a place sometimes where we are less connected sexually and have have forgotten why we don’t do what we do as much. Being able to talk about low libido or low desire is not always easy. It can be the elephant in the room because of the connotations that it means something is wrong with you, or one of you. There is a feeling that this is someone’s fault and that they are not doing the right things for the other.
Viewing the situation like this is not helpful and it is not going to make a conversation easy. Thinking about the things that help and the things that don’t might be a better route to breaking that elephant down into parts and making the small changes that are going to help. D/s is about working together and supporting each other so even the conversation will help you to connect if you are looking at positives. For me, spending time with HL and feeling seen and heard is a huge activator for me, so it will already have ignited something in me.
As it happens, we did have the conversation and the lost sex was part of the result so let’s hope we can continue to build on that. I know that the current social constraints and the events of the past year have been a huge part of the inertia that we feel a little stuck in, but there is still space for us to do something about some of this right now. As things beyond us change too, that will allow more room for improvement and, although I feel quite excited about that, I don’t want to just wait for life because this is about us.