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I miss enjoying sex, but I'm just not interested anymore. What can I do?

Q:

I am not myself anymore. I don’t feel that great about me, and have been feeling very self-conscious. Worst of all, I don’t want sex these days. I want to want it, but I can’t seem to get there; the slightest thing will turn me off. I am losing my mind and I don’t know what to do. Can you help?

A:

There’s a lot to unpack in that question. I’d venture to guess that you, like a lot of my clients, are experiencing a lot of stress in life outside of sex right now, right? Are you doing anything to manage all of that stress?

First, I want to reassure you that your current state of mind isn’t a fixed state; you can feel sexual and desirous again. I would also like to advise that it could take some time, patience and work to get through this and move on to feeling sexy again. There is no quick fix to what you are experiencing.

Think back to the last time sex felt good, and you wanted it. What was different about then compared to now? Has something significant changed recently? If you had to imagine the most ideal scenario that would guarantee you would feel sexual and desirous, what would that look like? The answers to these questions will help you begin to sort our why sex has become so off-putting for you.

You also said that you aren’t feeling good about yourself and are experiencing self-consciousness. That sounds new. Are you doing anything for yourself? When was the last time you worked out, went shopping, got your hair done, or whatever was your "thing"? Are you neglecting those habits of self-care in the midst of all the other stress in your life? If yes, that's understandable. In fact, it's most people’s natural tendency. However, I must tell you that your brain is your largest sex organ. If your brain isn’t feeling good, if it's crowded and stressed and hates you, then sex isn’t going to be enjoyable any time soon. Doing things to take care of yourself, even when life is nuts, is a way of helping you to feel better and get your brain on board with experiencing pleasure.

That being said, life will never be perfect. What are the things that are turning you off? Is there something to be done about it that will alleviate them enough that you won’t feel turned off by them anymore? Or, is it more of a thing where you may need to practice a certain amount of acceptance, prioritize what matters, and simplify your life to include time for that which is enjoyable?

For example, if you want to get into better physical shape, are you going to practice celibacy until you reach your goal? Or, could you maybe decide that this is the body you have right now, you are working on it, and you deserve to feel good and have good sex while working on your goals. Does the house have to be spotless before you can consider intimacy, or can some of that wait until later or tomorrow or whenever you can make time to get to it? I get that there are deadlines and much bigger problems than these two examples, but I find that under stress, people often allow small things to get in the way because it's easier than dealing with some of the big stuff. It won’t get you any closer to returning to the you that enjoys sex, though. So put some effort into figuring out what will. And go easy on yourself. There are times in life when you feel sexy and you have great sex, and times when you don't. Both are OK.

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Written by Karen Washington
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Karen Washington is a graduate of the Adler School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in sex therapy, with a foundation in communication and self esteem. Karen works with couples and individuals through discrepancy, dysfunction and disorder to achieve their desired sex life. She firmly believes in presenting education and information through the lens of humor, especially when it comes to sex. Full Bio

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