Dear Captain Awkward,
My libido has largely picked up and walked off somewhere else. I’m waiting for it to come back from a trip to the corner store to buy cigarettes, but so far it hasn’t showed up.
It started in my late twenties after a series of flopping relationships and three years later I’ve hit my thirties and haven’t had sex in about three years.
The trouble is, I’m at a point where I’m looking ahead at the rest of my life and I don’t really feel like dying alone with seventeen cats. I only have one now, but we know how this story usually goes. Plus, while I don’t miss sex, I do miss affection and sleeping in the same bed with someone.
I also miss my younger, more libidinous self. She was a lot of fun and I have some great stories because of her, but I genuinely don’t know if she’s ever going to open the front door, Fantasia’s in hand, or not.
I’ve thought about exploring sluthood. I think it might have the ability to re-awaken my dormant sexuality. But unfortunately, where my body goes, my heart often follows and I don’t want to put my emotions through the kind of rollercoaster it might entail (which, now that I think about it, may actually be why I stepped off the sluthood boat years ago). On the other hand, there’s a whole world of human experience, monogamous or slutty, I am missing out on and I think that sucks.
Option #1 sluthood=libido=emotional rollercoaster/soul-sucking loneliness and despair/fantastic sex/valuable life experience. Option #2 long-term relationship=no libido=companionship/awkward sex due to lack of libido/inflicting my lack of libido on some poor guy resulting in relationship trouble, or Option #3 get another cat.
Are there other options I’m missing?
I’m going to try to answer your question without once using the words “get your groove back,” but you need to do me a favor, too.
I don’t know how cats became the ultimate metaphor for sad, lonely spinsterhood and dogs became the symbol for carefree happy couplehood, but cats are just cats and dogs are just dogs. If you like cats, have a cat.
In my entire checkered past of dating, I’ve met exactly two dudes who were uncool with cats. One had a severe allergy. Understandable. One made a joke about how he was hoping that I didn’t have a cat, since I seemed really cool and he had trouble meeting cool chicks without cats, possibly as a Pick-Up-Artist-style trick to lower my self-esteem to get me to talk to him. You know how you don’t get me to talk to you? Pass off a shitty, lazy stereotype about single women in the hopes that I’ll try to prove that I’m not like all “those” women. I was exactly like “those” women. My answer was something like “Oh man! You’re right, I AM really cool, but I also have a cat. Too bad! We’ll never know what might have been.”
So your first step towards getting your mack back is to stop defining yourself as the the sad media picture of lonely single women whose singleness is a disease that needs to be cured and your cat is just one of the symptoms, like a furry tumor. Even in a joking, self-deprecating way. Even if Liz Lemon does it.
As Amanda from Pandagon points out, Liz Lemon has her reasons:
If I may shift to seeing the character of Liz Lemon as an individual person with her own idiosyncratic needs, instead of a generic Single Woman Cursed With Singleness, I would like to offer another interpretation: Liz Lemon sabotages relationships because Lemon doesn’t want relationships. Yes, on the show she’s always bellyaching about being single, but that’s characterized as part of her neurotic obsession with doing things the right way, filling out a checklist in life…. She’s characterized as someone who abhors having people in her personal space and is largely indifferent to sex, two personality traits that would be severely compromised by having a boyfriend. When she does date someone, it’s only because she’s convinced herself he’s not going to put any demands on her, and then when he does, she picks a fight with him and leaves. It’s a great portrayal of a loner, and I think it confuses people because we’re all socialized to believe women can’t be loners.
Thank you for your patience during Today’s Media Criticism Hour. Now to return to your actual question.
I think a good first step is to remind yourself that you have a body. One of the best parts of sex is the way that it connects you to your body and makes you fully alive in your skin. During a dry spell, it’s easy to get disconnected from your body and ignore the little things. Below, in no particular order, is a cocktail of things that might work. Pick and choose what might work for you.
Is it a medical issue? It sounds like you are not even thinking about sex or masturbating. Do you by chance live in a northern clime where this time of year it is always winter and never Christmas? It could be seasonal affective disorder or regular old depression. If you’re taking certain medications that can affect you, too. How are you sleeping? Are you eating and exercising normally? Get yourself checked out: Ladyparts and all your parts. Get tested for STDs. Make sure your birth control is up to snuff. Take your vitamins.
Get touched by a pro. By which I mean: Get a massage. Can’t afford a massage? Most any city is going to have a school of massage, and the students need to practice on people, so you can get a free or very cheap massage. Lie there mostly naked on a table and let a kind stranger rub the tension out of you, hopefully with the help of an unguent that will make your skin feel as soft as a baby’s bottom.
Eat for pleasure. I have no idea what you eat, so I don’t want to fall back on stereotypes of takeout and sad frozen dinners, but it is sometimes difficult to cook elaborate things “just for one” – it’s way more fun to do it for an appreciative audience. I don’t want to go all Eat, Pray, Love on you, but I recommended reading MFK Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me or How To Cook A Wolf. Here’s a quote from the first one:
People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating, and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security and about love, the way others do?
They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft.
The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one.” – MFK Fisher, The Gastronomical Me
Do whatever you can to skew your eating toward pleasure. Eat really fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meat rubbed with fresh garlic and spices, homemade soup – whatever you love and gets you excited, cook it or obtain it for yourself and make eating a daily ritual of pleasure.
Acquire “les accoutrements.” This link is NSFW, but it is pleasant and not-sleazy, and hopefully where you live there is a place like this that is run by women and that offers customer reviews of products. Buy yourself something nice. Also think about acquiring some new pr0n. Do you like stories? That’s a pretty not-threatening, not gross way to get your mind working again. If you’re not feeling it you’re not feeling it, but the chances that you’ll take matters into your own hands is higher if you have the right stuff on hand.
Make yourself pretty. You’re already pretty, I’m sure! But what could you do to put in a little maintenance that would lift your spirits and make you feel good? Get an awesome haircut. Donate clothes that don’t fit or flatter you and that you don’t love. Scrape the dead skin off your feet. Moisturize. When was the last time you got new glasses or contacts or had your eyes checked? Get something in a color that really flatters you. God, I hate a makeover montages in movies about single women so much that I made a whole movie criticizing that very thing, but it is true that when you look better you feel better, and this is all about paying attention and making yourself feel awesome and not about pleasing someone else.
Get your head on straight. This may require a therapist, or it may just involve a journal, but spending a little time exploring past relationships – what you wanted, what you expected, what you got, how you reacted, what your feelings were, when you settled when you shouldn’t have, when you sabotaged your own happiness when you could have let the little things go, when you got addicted to some Darth Vader in exchange for good sex, all that messy stuff – write it down or talk it out. Fully feel those feelings, have a good cry, get it out of your system. What would you do differently knowing what you know now? (The answer is usually “nothing,” but there’s no shortcut to figuring that out for yourself). Everyone has baggage from their childhoods and old relationships. If you know what you’ve packed in yours you stand a better chance of not punishing future people you meet for things that happened in the past that are not their fault.
Kick ass at your life. Be awesome at work. Be awesome in your friendships. Be awesome in your hobbies and pleasures and leisure pursuits. Be awesome at things you study. If you don’t feel awesome, act like you feel awesome until you do, or change what doesn’t feel awesome. If there’s been something that you’ve been putting off for some magical future day, do it. Or start it. Or at least Google it to death on your lunch breaks.
People are attracted to productive people who have figured out their own bullshit and who are going after what they want in life. As a bonus, if you don’t find anyone and remain single all your days, you’ll be a happy, productive person who has figured out her own bullshit and is going after what you want in life.
Which leads me to…
You have to get back on the horse sometime. It doesn’t have to be in a slutty way (don’t let Intern Paul talk you into anything), though I can write you a Craigslist Casual Encounters Ad right here and now.
“Wanted: Make-Out Slut To Make Out Like Teenagers”
I want a nice, smart, friendly, nerdy, cool man to come over and make out with me.
I’ll supply: Comfortable couch, breath mints, and a movie we can pretend that we’re watching.
You bring: Lips, good dental hygiene, and a clear, unshakeable understanding that everyone will be keeping their pants on and completely zipped/buttoned/sealed for the entire event. Bonus if you have experience building sweet blanket forts.
Please send a photo and a brief description of why it would be fun to make out with you.
You will get tons of responses. Some will be very generic and annoying and badly spelled. There will be some cock pictures – you can mock those. And some will be from someone who is nice and smart and who wants to just make out with you for an evening, and you might have a really great time – take your pick. All I ask is that if you use it (this goes for everyone here), I get dibs on any funny stories that result.
If you know that physical contact without emotional connection is not your bag – that it’s dangerous for you – then don’t start with that. You’ve dated before, so you know how to do it. Hit the online personals and date your sweet face off until you find someone who pushes your buttons in the right way, keeping in mind Captain Awkward’s Rules of Dating:
- The other person is just a human
- Do it (go out, get in touch, ask the person out) sooner rather than later, before you get too caught up in a fantasy or invested in the outcome.
- Nobody owes you time or affection, so don’t approach dating with a sense of entitlement.
- Be cool with rejection.
- You can’t control whether someone will like you, so focus on whether the actual experience is fun for you and whether you like them. To quote Commander Logic, don’t try to talk yourself into buying ill-fitting thrift-store pants because you want them to fit sooooo bad.
- Listen to the other person – pay attention to the actual interaction that is taking place and not the one in your head (In your case, Conflicted, this might be comparisons to past relationships and worries about the future).
- Don’t go on a second date with anyone who isn’t as cool as your friends.
- Acknowledge the awkward. Don’t try to be smooth if you’re not smooth.
Have fun and let us know how it goes. And let me put this out to the readers:
Have you ever lost your mojo for a while? How did you get it back?