Sex. It’s a small word — three letters, one syllable — but the mention of it (and the act itself) packs a punch. Sex is sensuous and sensual. It is exciting, arousing, and in some ways hedonistic. It allows us to give into our most carnal and animalistic desires. And sex is both powerful and provocative. Sex is erotic. However, the sexiest thing about sex isn’t physical; it isn’t about ass, tits, penetration, or porn. The sexiest thing about sex is how it affects our mind and mood. It is the euphoric feeling we get before, during, and after.
According to an article on Medical News Today, “sex has repeatedly been associated with improved moods and psychological, as well as physiological, relaxation.”
But not everyone enjoys sex, at least not at all times. In fact, a 2017 study found 19 percent of adults do not engage in sex on a regular basis and 40 percent of women actively avoid sex. Many cycle through periods of low or no libido. And yet many men (and some women) believe sex is owed to them. It is a “wifely duty,” a routine — one which should be performed with frequency and regularity, whether or not the desire to do so is present. But this notion isn’t just wrong, it’s offensive and obscene.
For some, this is obvious. You may be nodding your head in agreement, as you already know that obligatory sex is bullshit. But some individuals feel pressured into sex. They are manipulated, coerced, or being controlled. Some individuals feel a sense of shame and guilt for not being “in the mood” and engage in the act anyway because of it. To them, sex is an obligation, a task they must perform, or a chore, like doing the wash or drying the dishes. And some individuals have sex just to “get it over with.” They feel that in doing so they will buy themselves a few days of peace and quiet. Their spouse will “back off” and leave them alone.
But none of these approaches are healthy. Having sex in this manner is not sustainable, for you or your partner. And it is dangerous. It treads a fine line.
“It is absolutely normal to not be in a mood for sex for some periods of time,” Zhana Vrangalova, a prominent sex researcher and New York University professor of human sexuality, tells Mind Body Green. “Our level of spontaneous sexual desires — the frequency and intensity with which [we] think about and desire sex without being ‘provoked’ by something sexual — fluctuates a fair amount over the course of our lives. These fluctuations are due to all sorts of biological, psychological, and relational factors.” In other words, there are numerous reasons why an person may not want to have sex.
They may be too tired, for example. Exhausted from a long day at work or a long day of chasing after feral children. Some are in discomfort or pain. Having sex while you’re depressed or your back is spasming is no fun. Many middle-aged women have low libido. Menopause and perimenopause does a fucking doozy on your body (and biology) and can lower libido. Trauma can impact libido too; many victims of sexual abuse struggle with intimacy and arousal.
Unless they are asexual, most people don’t want to be in a sexless partnership. It is not ideal, and it removes a key aspect of intimacy from your relationship. But no one should be made to feel like they owe somebody their body. Sex is not a chore, job, or a part of a sound marital agreement or contract. There’s nothing about blowjobs in wedding vows.
Saying “no” is your right and your choice. Your body is still yours and yours alone. You still get to decide what to (or not do) with it.
Refusing sex does not make you bad or wrong.
You don’t owe anyone anything. Not your time, your attention, your words, your advice, or even an apology. You most certainly don’t owe anyone sex, even if they are the love of your life. Because you are a person, with a mind of your own and bodily autonomy. You have a choice.
So speak with your partner. Explain your feelings and your position, and let them know if you are disinterested in sex or struggling with you libido. If they love you, they will support you. They may not “get it,” but they should empathize and understand. And if they don’t, fuck ’em. Literally. Tell your partner to go fuck themselves. Because there shouldn’t be shame or blame here. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings. You can always say “no.”
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