I am writing because I have been struggling for many years with my sex life. I have had several sexual experiences (all with men), but most of the time I end up feeling like sex has no meaning or purpose for me. I just can’t get into it and when it comes to talking with my girlfriends, I just have to make stuff up because I feel left out. I feel like everyone else is having great sex all the time – and I am just missing out. Is it just me? I just don’t get it.
It really sounds as if you are at the end of your rope with this and I am glad you contacted me. The good news is you are not alone and what you are experiencing and feeling is very common, especially among women. In my practice I meet a lot of women for whom sex feels like something that happens to them, rather than something they create or participate in. A lot of women just “zone out’’ during sex and they don’t even realise they are doing it. No wonder they feel nothing, experience nothing and sex leaves them feeling cold!
The reasons this happens can be complex but in many cases the antidote boils down to just a few simple things; paying attention to your likes and your dislikes and expressing them.
Recent psychological studies suggest that women can get caught up in thoughts that distract them from sex. That’s not to say that men don’t experience this too, but the reports seems to discuss this being much more of a phenomenon with women. Much of modern science has debunked the whole ‘male brain vs female brain’ thing as any reliable measure of gender difference, which still leaves us wondering why this is a more commonly reported issue among women.
To answer questions like this, we must look at much more than brain formation. We must look at our experiences of sex as women and how they sit in contrast to men’s experiences.
Firstly, in many parts of the world, including the West, women are not able to express their sexuality in ways that are meaningful to them. Not only can it be dangerous to express our sexuality (‘she’s asking for it’ is still considered a reasonable justification for rape in some places,) but it can also mean that we don’t have a lot of freedom.
If we express ourselves we are called sluts and mistreated and if we don’t we are frigid and also mistreated. With only two options and neither being fun, it makes sense that women can get easily distracted by this and are less able to focus on how they feel rather than what their partners think of them.
Secondly, if we are encouraged to be sexual, we are often expected to focus more on being desired (e.g. acting sexy and looking hot) than being the desirer or the one who creates the erotic play for what we want. This is fine and being desired is great, but the trouble is a lot of women have never been given the opportunity to think about what they would like to experience sexually, let alone do it. More often than not we have only experienced sex as being there to please male partners.
The trouble is not whether we like to please men sexually, but that the tables don’t get turned nearly often enough. After a lifetime of just ‘doing it because he wants it’, it can be hard to reconnect with what you might like.
What I can say for sure though is that women who prioritise the worthiness of their sexuality have a better time in bed. There are no magic secrets, magic potions or magic pills that can change this for you, but what can create the change you need – is a little C.I.C. Curiosity, Investigation & Courage.
Curiosity is fundamental. Seems simple enough – but when was the last time you embraced sex with the curiosity that children use to approach play time? Sex is playtime for grown-ups. It deserves the benefit of open curiosity. Try attending classes or workshops about sex and pleasure to see what kinds of sex you might be interested in.
Investigation means having a genuine interest to enquire more deeply into yourself and what turns you on and what drives your desires. You don’t have to act on them but it can be a helpful thing to know about yourself.
Courage means being able to step closer to experiencing your erotic potential and minimising the anxious thoughts that get in the way. It could mean discovering what you like. It could mean telling someone about your feelings. It could mean trying a new approach to sex and pleasure. It could mean spending more time learning about sex.
People of many genders deeply struggle with sexuality. The truth is you are not alone and it’s not your fault. Without meaningful discussions about sex in our day-to-day lives, we are left feeling isolated; as if there is something wrong with us, rather than the silence and shame associated with sex. By taking action to change the way you think about sex, you may find it will become more enjoyable too.