How to discover (or rekindle) your sexual identity, Understanding how your sex drive works

The five thieves of desire

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve experienced issues with my sex drive for nearly three years now.

The problem is mainly, being young (31!) but not ever really wanting or feeling bothered about sex.

Lacking desire feels like you’ve lost that spark that makes you human.

It’s tough, lonely, numbing. (You can read more about my experiences here).

But from my journey I’ve realised that there is one big secret to getting back your sex drive, and it’s not necessarily a pill or some sexy hack or food you can eat.

It’s a straightforward understanding of yourself and your libido to work out:

  1. what in your life makes you feel unsexy, and then
  2. how to remove those things from your life whilst incorporating the things that do.

I realised- the things that turn you off fall mainly under five categories.

I’ve called these “the five thieves of desire”- the main culprits behind your lack of want to have sex.

Throughout our lives, these thieves will steal more or less of our desire depending on how strong their influence is.

I don’t believe that getting back your sex drive is a cut and finish case of “before” and “after” or “recovery”, but rather it’s a constant balance of sexual self-care in the face of the ups and downs of life.

So the power in reclaiming your libido lies not in it never fluctuating, but rather in a deep understanding of your own process to improve it.

Do you recognise any of these desire thieves impacting on your sex drive?

  1. Not understanding your own sexuality

We’re not taught in school about sex, desire or pleasure, especially as women during sex ed in school. And for most of us learning about how the female sex drive works is completely unheard of. But, not knowing how you work is THE number one thief of your desire!

As they say, knowledge is power, so the more you understand what is “normal”, and about how women’s desire often differs from mens, the more you’ll understand yourself. And, I’d wager, the more you’ll find out that you are in fact pretty normal and not broken at all!

I’d recommend ALL women learn about their sex drive (you can find out more here).

Also, not knowing about what turns you on and/or not being able to express what you want in bed can mean you don’t know what the key to your own pleasure is or how to communicate it to your partner.

And lets face it, if sex doesn’t feel good- there’s very little reason to want to do it!

2. Struggling with physical or emotional wellbeing or body image

Your sexual health is at the intersection of your physical and mental health, because we rely on feeling both mentally and physically well to want to have sex.

Your mental/emotional wellbeing is central to your sexual health firstly because feelings of stress, anxiety and depression are evolutionary wired to close down any desire you have for sex. Learning more about how they can impact on your sex drive, and how to mitigate against them, is vital for improving your desire. 

Your physical health is also a major factor in your libido. Things like hormones, STD’s, medication, amount of sleep, your period cycle, nutrition, illnesses and physical trauma (e.g. childbirth, surgeries) can all steal desire in different ways. Having a good basic biology is the foundation of a good sex drive, and understanding how even everyday factors like sleep and nutrition play a part in the thievery are part and parcel of having a good sex drive (and giving ourselves a break!).

Finally, for many women, difficulty in learning how to self-love and worrying about our bodies and what we look like can impact on our enjoyment of sex, leaving us feeling anxious, unable to relax and enjoy the moment.

3. An inability to “be present” during sex/lack of sensuality in your life

Much of the advice online to improve your libido is incredibly medicalised, provided through health sites and with physical health being the priority to fix. But for many women, the biggest thief of their desire is not being able to relax and “feel” sex. They might struggle to stay present during sex (e.g. not thinking of shopping lists, their bum jiggling or work tomorrow) and enjoy the moment and get lost in the pleasure, as well as not practising engaging their senses and body and losing touch with the essence of sex- which is about sensuality.

Without these, sex or foreplay might feel flat, hard to get into, or even a source of panic/anxiety. Find out why “sensuality” can reinvigorate your sex drive and help you desire sex more here

4. Lifestyle patterns and habits that don’t encourage sexuality (e.g. being busy/stressed)

This was (and still is) a huge issue for me. Essentially, this thief is time.

Do you make time for sex? Are you like me and sex falls to the bottom of your list of priorities, and then becomes the last thing on your to-do list before bed when you’re already exhausted and CBA? This is really common- work, domestic chores, children, caring responsibilities can all erode our time until we’ve got nothing left for sex. A simple shake up of your routine as well as reducing stress can really help.

Do you make time to feel sexy? This is a tale of two parts. Do you feel sexy? And do you make time in your week to cultivate this feeling? Our desire thief tells us that it’s our partners responsibility to get us in the mood, but it’s really OUR responsibility to take time to sexually self-care and get yourself (note: yourself) in the mood for sex. Read this page for ideas for how to incorporate sexy things into your everyday.

Do you make time for fantasy/imagination? Esther Perel states that “a crisis of desire is a crisis of the imagination”, and certainly not spending time thinking about sex itself and cultivating fantasy can rob us of our desire. It’s simple really- the more you think about sex, the more you want it. And the stronger you build your erotic imagination (flexing it, like a muscle) the quicker you’ll be able to get yourself in the mood. Pass the erotica someone!

5. Relationship issues that are a cause of (or caused by) a low sex drive.

This final desire thief is one that is potentially the most complex.

Our relationships and how we feel within them can have a huge effect on our desire. Resentment, loss of control and lack of physical contact can really impact on how attracted we feel towards our partners. We can get stuck in patterns we haven’t noticed or can’t see around initiation and rejection, so as we continue in the relationship a low sex drive can CAUSE issues as well as be a result of them. So we get stuck into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are five smaller thieves hiding under this category that can all wreak havoc and rob us of our sexual attraction or want for sex:

Warmth or affection between partners: feeling cold towards your partner, because of unresolved conflict, anger, resentment, hurt, or a general lack of affection outside of the bedroom, can lead to problems within the bedroom. For many women, their desire doesn’t exist within a vacuum and (who’d have thought it?) often how they feel about their partner governs how much they might like to have sex with them. Solutions for this category involve communication, learning how to resolve conflict and using things like the power of the snog (your secret weapon. Thank me later).

Attraction towards your partner: this one probably isn’t rocket science. For many of us, sex requires attraction, and without this element we might be robbed of our desire. All isn’t lost though- often this is so closely tied to warmth and affection that increasing the former can impact on the latter.

Having engaging, varied sex: boring, predictable sex is a sure fire way to kill a sex drive. Always having sex in the same place/position/process (e.g from naked, in bed, at the end of the day etc) mean there’s no excitement, no intrigue, and nothing to look forwards to!

Initiation and control: Control is sexy. A lack of control, and getting stuck into a “he/she initiates I reject/give in” cycle is the least sexy (and most disempowering thing) possible. We often slip into this pattern as the relationship continues, so what reared its head as a problem when you shied away from sex a few times has become a self-sustaining problem that adds fuel to the fire and drives a wedge between you the more it carries on.

Pleasure and sex education: This is something we can all learn from, and is arguably the most widespread desire thief of all women everywhere. The golden rule is: if sex doesn’t feel pleasurable, it’s not going to inspire you to want it. So, learning more about what feels great, how your partner can also make you feel great, and surrounding yourself with a sex positive and well-informed community is like putting your sexuality into a well-guarded bank vault- good security against those pesky libido robbers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the post- I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences on desire thieves below 🙂



Leave a Reply