How to Get Your Sexy Back When You Live in Sweatpants 24/7 and Are Sick of Your Partner's Face
Lots of lube, weed and a good vibrator might be a good start when you are wondering how to get your sexy back. But for lasting, meaningful connection, you are going to need more!
Valentine's Day passed as all days pass: My husband played chess on his phone. My 6-year-old made a mess in the living room. I watched a long string of David-and-Patrick Schitt's Creek compilation videos on YouTube to remind myself of what love could be.
The only difference? We exchanged cards in the morning.
My card to my husband featured an illustration of an arcade claw machine, next to the text, "I'd choose you all over again."
My husband's response, only half-teasing: "Would you??"
Later that day, I found myself reflecting upon the way that—despite being forced into close quarters with each other because of the pandemic—my husband and I had grown further apart. I mean, I couldn't blame us. Stuck inside for a year with my husband and my 6-year-old child, I often felt I was suffocating.
Juggling my job and my household and my daughter's distance learning, I was drowning in need. Exhausted all the time. Anxious over all the decisions we were forced to make. At the end of the day, all I wanted was to be left alone. And I certainly didn't want to be touched.
I know I'm not the only one, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research confirms it. When I was researching a piece on mental health and libido early last year, Diane Gleim, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist, pointed out that all of the conflicting feelings we're feeling—anxiety, grief, guilt, powerlessness—are draining us, leaving us with less sexual energy.
Meanwhile, Megan Fleming, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, gave a nod to that sense of suffocation I was experiencing. She acknowledged that without physical space from our partners, it was hard to find the space to decompress. What was the opposite of intimacy? I wanted that.
Still, while it was understandable that we'd not been feeling particularly horny, I didn't like what we'd become. During the day, we sat in our separate home offices on our separate sides of the house, each of us focused on our professional responsibilities. In the evenings, I crawled into bed wearing the schlumpiest pajamas ever, reading until I passed out. He retreated to the basement to watch TV, not coming to bed until hours after I'd turned out the lights. In a year of pandemic life, we'd had almost no sexual contact.
So, when Valentine's Day 2021 rolled around and I found myself marking the occasion with nothing more than a locked bathroom door and a bath bomb, I realized that things needed to change.
I determined that we would get our sexy back, and I vowed that it would only take a single week.
The Experiment Begins
In Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski writes extensively about our sexual accelerators and brakes: the things that turn us on and the things that turn us off. She suggests that increasing desire—and increasing our ability to be aroused—might be better accomplished by focusing on how we might eliminate the brakes.
On any given day, my brakes are many: My to-do list. My anxiety. My exhaustion. My horror over my ballooning body. My diminishing patience toward both my husband and my child. My despair and hopelessness over the state of the world.
No amount of lube in the world is going to touch that hot mess of an emotional maelstrom.
But a publicist had sent me cannabis-infused strips you place underneath the tongue, and this seemed promising. Maybe chemically-induced oblivion will eliminate my brakes? I thought.
So even though I've never gotten high in my entire life and hadn't even had an alcoholic beverage in maybe six months, I presented the tin of Kin Slips to my husband with a flourish as we curled up on the couch in our TV room to watch Outlander, one of the horniest works of mainstream fiction I know. We slipped the strips beneath our tongues and settled in so we could enjoy Jamie's bare chest and Claire's extensive cleavage. I felt woozy for about 10 minutes; my husband felt giggly. But then it subsided, and we forgot all about it.
After the show, we went upstairs and I suggested we give each other massages using the contents of a massive tub of body butter I keep on my nightstand. I presented this as an opportunity for sensual touch though, really, my skin has been really dry lately and I couldn't reach all the itchy spots by myself. He gave me a massage that was a little too deep-tissue for my tastes and I gave him a massage that was a little too gentle for his tastes. We considered how we might best proceed.
In the past, I'd talked to my husband about my interest in non-demand pleasure, and about my desire to expand our definition of sex to allow for intimacy that was less focused on penetrative sex. I was hoping this shift would help break me out of the endless cycle of guilt and resentment I often felt around sex, a byproduct of a past sexually abusive relationship.
Read: How to Be a Trauma-Informed Sex Partner
In Ian Kerner's forthcoming So Tell Me About the Last Time You Had Sex, he writes about taking sex off the table in order to engage in intimacy without feeling emotionally overwhelmed. He recommends this both for those who experience responsive desire (me) and those who have experienced trauma (also me). "This lack of pressure is crucial to feeling safe and willing," he writes.
I asked my husband if we could focus on outercourse that evening. Thinking some mutual masturbation might up my arousal, I lined up my favorite vibrators: LELO's SONA Cruise, their new SILA (which was similar to the SONA, but had a wider mouth), and my old standby, the Jimmyjane Iconic Smoothie. We wrestled beneath the sheets for a while, kissing and caressing and playing with my vibrators, both of us eventually experiencing orgasm. And then we went to sleep.
Hours later, at 3 a.m., I woke up with dry mouth and the overwhelming need to pee. As I stumbled to the bathroom, it felt as if there were a bowling ball rolling around inside my head. That's the last time I get high, I told myself, taking extreme care not to fall down the damn stairs on my way to and from the bathroom. I chugged a bottle of water and fell back to sleep.
I woke up. I felt like death. I had a hangover the entire day. Sex? HA!
Read: Does Getting High Lead to Great Sex?
Finally recovered from the cannabis, I had big plans for that evening. I had come into possession of some CBD suppositories that were supposed to decrease sexual pain (a problem I'd grappled with) and increase pleasure (a problem I'd grappled with). Given the choice to insert one into my anus or my vagina, I chose my vagina. Now, mind you, I've used vaginal suppositories in the past for yeast infections, so I know what I'm doing. But this suppository did not want to stay put.
I eventually removed it from my body and threw it into the trash. But then I noticed that my vagina smelled vaguely chocolatey. And not chocolatey like the delicious Cadbury mini eggs I hide in my office closet. Different chocolatey. It was at this point I decided I needed to take a shower.
The sexy levels were clearly high at this point. I mean, I'm sure my husband was waiting with bated breath to play with the chocolate-scented vagina that had actively rejected a suppository. Still, I lingered in the hot shower, letting the water run down my neck and back, letting my muscles soften and release. I even shaved my legs. I would have taken up residence in that shower if it had been an option. But eventually, I emerged.
I felt rejuvenated when I returned upstairs. Still, I knew that if I wanted to engage in sex that was mutually pleasurable, CBD suppositories and other fun products weren't really the answer. No. I had to communicate more effectively about what felt good.