We all have dry spells. What do they mean and how do we get out of them? By Karley Sciortino. Image by Mayan Toledano.
I haven’t had sex in almost a year, which is pretty weird and difficult to say, even to myself. I’m 24 and grew up with this idea that your 20’s are your prime—it’s when you look and feel your best, live your life to the fullest, etcetera, and to a certain extent I feel that pressure. I live in a city and have fairly consistently had on-and-off sexual partners until this year. Part of me feels like it’s not “cool” to not have sex regularly, even though plenty of my friends have been in similar situations. I masturbate often, fantasize about sex, and have recently been pretty active on dating apps, but I feel like I’ve become incredibly jaded and cynical re sex and dating in the city. 2015 was rough for me in terms of dating—I met two guys in a row who everything seemed to be going really well with, who I actually thought I liked and could maybe love, blah blah, but both crashed and burned. It’s been a year since my break-up and I still think about it all the time and am terrified to develop feelings for someone only to be let down again. In the past, I was always able to go out and meet someone new and have casual sex and not really worry about it—which felt totally normal and comfortable. But now, I feel like I have no clue how to do that. I’ve struggled with confidence my whole life and can’t tell if this year without sex is helping or hurting that. Only recently have I realized that I’ve always struggled with my own sexuality and being comfortable with myself and my body. All of a sudden I find myself wanting to feel more feminine and sexy, which is new for me. My friends always say things like “If you wanted to, you could just go out and find someone to have sex with,” which I’m sure is true—but what’s holding me back? Do I need to just chill the fuck out and go get laid? Sincerely, Jaded AF
OK, a couple things to address here. First, I’ll admit that not having sex for a year does sound like kind of a bummer—if you wanted to be having sex, that is—but it’s not the end of the world. You will fuck again. Clearly. But of course, the reason you’re not having sex is because you’re undesirable. Anyone can get laid. Your dry spell is just the manifestation of some other problem.
Let’s address this whole “your twenties are your prime thing.” Well, I’m happy to inform you that they’re really not. If you don’t believe me, here’s one of my favorite passages from one of Candace Bushnell’s original Sex and the City columns: “There are things worse than being 35, single and female in New York. Like: being 25, single and female in New York. It’s a rite of passage few women would want to repeat. It’s about sleeping with the wrong men, wearing the wrong clothes, having the wrong roommate, saying the wrong thing, being ignored, getting fired, not being taken seriously and generally being treated like shit.”
And I’ll take that even further. In your mid and early twenties, you don’t get invited to the good parties, and you sleep with guys who you think are successful but in hindsight were actually hangers-on, and when they don’t text you back, you have a mental breakdown. You can’t afford a good colorist so you dye your own hair from a $9 L’Oréal box and in the wrong light your blonde looks green. You’re insecure, you fake orgasms, and people don’t take you seriously. Sure, my boobs were a bit perkier at 25, but they didn’t even look that great because I bought the wrong bra. It’s not until your late twenties/thirty that your life starts to naturally sort itself out. You stop caring about the little, insignificant things. You finally learn how to orgasm with a dick inside you. Bad Tinder dates are a bummer, but they don’t devastate you. You have this surprising newfound confidence and personal freedom—it’s like it just sneaked up on you in the middle of the night. So FYI, you have that to look forward to.
It sounds like you’re in a slump, or dealing with some minor depression, and we have all been there. It might be an obvious thing to say, but when I’ve been feeling down and depressed, exercising has really, really helped me. Going to the gym a few times a week, or just running for 20 min really improves my mood, and for some reason it makes me like my body more, even if my body is objectively not looking any better, lol. It just makes you feel better about yourself, and it helps to chill out your anxieties, and currently it seems like you’re having a lot of anxiety about not fucking. (Other people might sub meditation for exercise, but even the idea of meditation stresses me out, so I’m not one of those people—to each their own, though.)
Another thing—you said it’s not “cool” to not be having sex regularly. And funnily enough, this has sort of become the case. When it comes to women and casual sex, the pendulum has swung so far and so fast that suddenly we (“society”) have gone from thinking women who have casual sex are used-up skanks to thinking women who don’t have casual sex are boring prudes who can’t get laid. And while I’m so happy the double standard is on the outs, the latter is also a problem. Terms like slut, sex addict, dry spell and low sexual desire are all used to police and shame any sexual behavior that isn’t “normal”—whatever that means. You shouldn’t feel pressured to have more sex than you’re having in order to be cool or feminist or whatever. You’re only 24—you have the rest of your life to be a whore, so don’t stress :)
I think you need to chill out, work out, and force yourself to go on some dates—but just think of the dates as being for fun; don’t go in with expectations about the guy ending up being your boyfriend. You don’t need a bf right now—first, the goal is to build up your confidence and get out of this slump. Have sex on the date if it feels right, but don’t be desp. And not to sound super Cosmo, but since you said you’re wanting to explore more of your feminine side, why don’t you go out and get some nice lingerie? I have become a lingerie addict, and it genuinely makes me feel sex sexier when I know I’m wearing it under my clothes. Recently I wore a garter out under my dress, and I could feel it slightly pinching my side as I moved, and I swear it was making me wet just constantly being reminded that it was there, and I was more confidently flirtatious because of it. I recently got these new fishnet thigh highs, and I’m actually hesitant to wear them out because I’m scared I’m going to rape someone.