Low libido can wreak havoc on a relationship if left unchecked. It can cause resentment and start to erode other areas of the couple-system. The fact is, there are about a million things that can drive libido into the ground, especially for women. And there are no little blue pills that can help, for women. A woman’s body can be compromised, injured, inundated with medications, surgeries, and difficulties aging. The consequences to the body and the person when taking certain medications, or recovering from a surgery (i.e. hysterectomy), and often times during menopause can be a reduction in sex drive. Even though most women are physically still able to have sex after these events, there can be significant withdrawal of the psychological drive to want to be a sexual being. The problem is not a figment of a woman’s imagination. Often additional medical help is required to make adjustments in the hormonal and neurotransmitter activities in the body and brain. But it is frequently a new normal that many women learn to live with. The question then becomes a matter of HOW? How does she adjust and continue feeling lovely, sexy, feminine, and desirable? There are a few ways to continue feeling and experiencing every bit of womanhood when low libido is a part of life. Let’s examine a few ideas that can bring hope in this situation.
We’ve heard it a million times… Sex starts in the brain! Sex and intimacy are cognitive constructs before they are physically experienced. What we think about sex and intimacy is critical to how we experience them. Thus, the first myth to bust is the notion that the only way to be intimate is to have sex. If intimacy must involve wine, candles, and Bruno Mars’ “sex by the fire all night”, then your starting point may be an unattainable and unsustainable expectation as you grow and age. The female body is equipped to do many things, but regular and frequent love-song-sex may not be one of them. As we mature, we often re-conceptualize intimacy and its parts. Intimacy can reasonably look like holding hands on a long walk, sweet talking in bed without distraction, kisses that last at least 6 seconds, cuddling while watching a movie, receiving and giving compliments up close in whispered tones. The possibilities are limitless and quite fulfilling. This must be a cognitive and purposeful activity to begin with, something to practice until it becomes habit. It may or may not lead to an increase in sex drive and actual sex, but that’s not really the point here. The point is to breathe deeply into your relationship and nurture romance inside and outside of the bedroom. Intimacy is actually much deeper and more difficult to pull off than good sex. Intimacy is a revelation of your whole self in your most vulnerable state, coupled full acceptance by a partner eagerly waiting to receive you. Intimacy is honesty of heart and fullness of spirit given freely to another by whom the same is given in equal measure. Intimacy runs deep! Take a minute and ask yourself the last time you were truly intimate with your partner. Be careful not to confuse the fleeting (albeit necessary) moments of playfulness, working together, or sharing space for the depth of connection that sparks the rush of that falling-in-love feeling that comes when you are wholly and intimately engaged.
Make a Pro-Relationship Decision
Yes… Love is a decision. And at times when our bodies don’t make it easy to show our love, it is incumbent on us to make a pro-relationship move. This means paying attention to the needs of our partners and moving in to meet those needs, as opposed to moving away from them. We are usually one of the best readers of our partners; we know them best. We can see and sense their needs, their wants, their whims. In fact, we signed up to get to know them better than anyone else when we said, “I do”. We vowed to be there for them through everything life could possibly throw at them. If you are facing the difficulty of low sex drive, then your partner is facing the difficulty of that same low sex drive—your low sex drive. The difference is, while you’re trying to manage your body and make it cooperate, they are trying to reconcile two drives (yours and their own). They may be doing it poorly—berating you about wanting sex, making sarcastic comments that cause feelings of guilt and anger. They may be doing it well—being supportive and understanding and patient. Either way, their needs have probably not changed. Time to make a pro-relationship move. Move into your partner’s need for intimacy. Initiate conversations about the issue of sex and talk about possible ways to demonstrate your love. Attempt small moves and grow into larger gestures to please your partner. Thank your partner (no matter their disposition) for making the issue a priority; their behavior is telling you that this is important to them and vital to your relationship. It is easy to move away from the very difficult areas of our relationships; it’s frankly easier to avoid those things we’re not good at (anymore). But easy is not always the right answer. When it comes to our relationships we must be FOR it and not against it. Our actions, our words, our intentions must state unequivocally that we are FOR our relationship.
Get Your Needs Met
But what about MY needs? I hear you… But it’s imperative that you know what you need. When we are unaware of our true needs, we often make an argument for something we don’t need. Get clear here. A few things are desperately needed in this situation. Regular visits to your physician are important, even if the doctor says there’s nothing physically wrong. Stick with it and make it clear to your medical professional what is occurring; the more information physicians have, the better equipped they are to help (and then there’s that squeaky wheel thing). Also, be clear that your relationship is important as well. A relationship wherein you are valued and loved, where you give love purposely and with mastery. That’s right… I said, be a master of love. Something that’s needed in these situations is a feeling that you are still needed, desired, and sexy. Master the art of loving and giving love to the point of irresistibility. I’m not talking about being overbearing, nagging, or manipulative. I’m referring to the side of woman that is generous, intuitive, strong, and life-giving. Learn how to tap into these aspects of yourself and dole them out liberally, not only to your partner, but in reasonable fashion to all those you love (your children and grandchildren, your co-workers, your sister-friends). The beauty that emanates from this type of movement in a woman is attractive and lovely. She is deep, and intimate, and many will desire to know her (including her partner). Get your sexy back!
Kisa McKinney is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist trained in family systems and psychodynamic psychology. She is dedicated to helping individuals discover, accept, and bring a whole cultivated person to every relationship. She has worked to support hundreds of individuals and families improve interpersonal relationships since 1998. She believes gaining insight can cause transformative action in every life. Proud of the influence and growth she has facilitated amongst families, women, the LGBTQ community, and couples, she has a practice in Farmington Hills, MI and is accepting new clients. (CLICK HERE to explore working with Kisa.)