Not surprisingly, our desire for sex is influenced by the quality of the actual sex we’re having (or, in this case, not having.)
And if we believe certain myths about sex, any bonking we’re doing might be overshadowed by unrealistic expectations of what we should be doing or how sex should be.
Many of these myths can contribute to our lack of libido because we believe in something different than the actual reality of sex.
In my search for my libido I realised I had some really unhelpful beliefs about sex- ranging from believing my partner had the sole responsibility to make me horny right through to thinking I was the only one in the world with a low sex drive! And learning the truth about sex really helped me to see things in a totally different (and healthier) way.
So, read on for my take on three of the biggest myths about sex that might be killing your sex drive, and how to combat them.
Myth One: “Foreplay begins just before having sex”
We all know the drill right? Women need longer than men to get warmed up for sex- say about 20 minutes of foreplay- so set your clock, get heavy petting, and soon she’ll be warmed up enough to get going.
Well, this is kinda true, but there’s more to it.
Firstly, let’s put this concept of foreplay to bed (literally) and take a read of this article about how the term foreplay should die in a fire.
Foreplay is problematic because it suggests other sexual acts (cunnilingus, fellatio etc) are always the preamble to the main (best) event. Which is really, penis in vagina sex.
Instead, (as Coffee and Kink argues) sex should be seen as an umbrella term for ALL sexual acts.
So foreplay- get in the bin. All sexual acts ARE sex.
However, because we traditionally think of sex as layered- having a build up, then the act- to replace the idea of sex-foreplay we could instead think about foreplay as the other things you do pre-sex to get each other in the mood.
Foreplay in this sense becomes about setting the scene and building relationship patterns and habits that cultivate desire for sex.
Basically, foreplay that is the antithesis of the five thieves of desire because it involves turning on a woman in a way that acknowledges her emotional, social and environmental needs AS WELL AS her physical ones.
So, that includes respecting her, making her feel comfortable and confident to have sex, sharing chores, initiating sex the way she likes to be approached.
That way sex becomes an integral part of your relationship because you’re always thinking about it and working towards the next event, but in a way that means your whole relationship thrives.
Esther Perel believes that foreplay should begin the moment the previous sexual encounter ended.
What could be better?
Myth two: “Sex just happens”-
For many of us, sex does “just happen” at the beginning of a relationship.
We can’t get enough of it because of the intrigue of someone new.
However- fast forwards ten years and two kids, and the mystery is all but dead. Sex can feel like effort.
When I lost my desire, I expected to find it behind the sofa or for it to just drop from the sky. Genuinely- I was in the dark about why it was low, and had no idea that having a good sex drive, just like a good relationship, takes work.
You have to make time for sex to happen, and plan for it.
I don’t mean plan for it like how many sex therapists say “sex is like exercise- no-one likes it at first but after you’ve done it you feel better” whilst advising you to schedule in nights of the week to have sex. I mean WTF- sex should be GREAT, not be something you’re dreading or booking in like a smear test!
Instead, to bring sex back into your relationship it requires you to plan time to keep yourself and your relationship well so that sex becomes something that you remember fondly and naturally make time for.
This means firstly getting in touch with your sexual side- understanding what turns it off, e.g. tiredness, stress, anxiety, bloating.
And instead looking after yourself (eating well, exercising, socialising, laughing, learning) so that you keep yourself feeling healthy rather than feeling like you’re running on empty.
It also means taking time to understand how your sex drive works, and allowing yourself time to fantasize and know what gets you hot.
Planning for sex means reducing your busy schedule if that’s making you feel exhausted or irritable so that you have time for the possibility of sex.
It means scheduling in date nights to increase the health of your relationship to reconnect (not necessarily involving sex).
It means going to a relationship counsellor if that’s what you need, or working together on conflict resolution.
It’s about working on yourself to speak out when you’re upset rather than building resentment.
Sex doesn’t “just happen” just as a healthy relationship doesn’t just happen. It’s a three part delicate balance like the picture below. But the more you know to place effort in other areas of your life, the more sex will come.
Myth three: “Your partner turns you on”
OK you got me- this one is partly true.
However, us women have been socialised FOREVER that we should be passive about our sexuality.
Sex is done on us, in us, to us.
The man penetrates- we just lie back and think of England whilst it happens.
This notion of our neglected sexuality has left us stranded without our secret weapon…..
Knowing how to turn ourselves on!
By this I mean, cultivating our own sexuality outside of our relationship with our partner.
If you think of your sex drive as you would a boiler in winter- it needs to be kept on low at all times instead of being fired up only when needed- it becomes so much easier to feel more connected to that sexual part of yourself because it’s already simmering away under the surface.
Yes we can touch ourselves, but it’s so much more than that.
You don’t need to put in effort to find that part of yourself when needed- like lost house keys behind the sofa- you already know where she is and how to reach her.
Don’t wait for your partner to turn you on.
Know exactly what you like and how. Take responsibility for your sexuality and then you’ll either be ready to go on your own or you can instruct your partner to suit your own tastes.
That way, your partner which will only ever enhance your experience not make your pleasure dependent on them and their skill!
I’d love to know what you think- did you believe these myths too?