Where's my mojo?

I used to be the sexiest kitten on my block, but now I'm more likely to say, "Not tonight, dear." What happened?

By Cary Tennis
Published July 15, 2003 7:46PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I am a healthy, reasonably happy 29-year-old woman living in New York, and my sex drive has all but died on me.

Actually, that's not quite true -- oftentimes I get all turned on in the middle of the day, fantasizing about any number of things, but by the time I get to a place and time I can act on these, I just don't feel like it. And if you asked my boyfriend, he'd probably describe me as frigid without using that exact language.

It's the strangest thing -- I've gone from being the most sex-kittenish girl on my block to the "typical woman" who keeps saying "not tonight, dear." I used to be insatiable. I used to get turned on watching myself masturbate. I used to be hot. I used to be what could only be described as a fantastic lay. Now I feel like I'm just going through the motions. Yesterday morning (a leisurely Sunday, no less), I found myself looking at the clock and praying that my boyfriend would just get it over with already.

I don't get it, Cary. I'm finally in a relationship I can truly describe as healthy, and my sex drive is at its least healthy point. We've been together for two years, and we're moving in together, and I fear it's only going to get worse. My boyfriend wants/needs sex all the time, and feels rejected and unattractive when I'm not interested in it.

What's going on here? How can I fix this? Not only do I not want to lose my relationship over this, but I would like to be excited about sex again. (And yes, we've tried porn. I need a real, lasting cure.)

Sexless in the City

Dear Sexless,

Maybe you are about to give birth. I don't mean to a baby, but to something in yourself that's been waiting politely for you to stop fucking so it can ask you a question. It's been huddled outside your door but it finally sees its chance. It's been quietly constructing a gift for you but now it needs your help. It's calling you but you don't recognize its voice; you keep listening for that one kittenish scream that you think of as you.

Remember: You're not an island, you're an archipelago. If you were only an island, you'd look always outward, like a lonely lighthouse. But you're an archipelago; each island that you're made of has its secrets. News travels by boat, and by coded blasts on a conch shell. Sometimes it takes months for one island to learn what the next island is doing.

What I mean -- and thank you for your patience as I indulge in a stream-of-consciousness moment -- is that there are things going on in you that you're not always aware of. Sometimes we stop taking pleasure in one thing because another thing needs our attention. We're alarmed and surprised when the familiar stops working. It's distressing until we figure it out.

I don't think you're going to lose your boyfriend or your excitement about sex. But I think this may be a signal that it's time to attend to other matters for a while. Maybe your psyche is manufacturing a new vision of life, and that's taking all the psychic energy you've got. At any rate, you're changing. Change takes energy. So does sex.

If I were you, I would ask myself, what really requires all my energy right now? There may be something you need to deal with before you can go back to fucking yourself crazy. Do you need to plan for movers? Do you need a week alone in the woods? Do you just need one good night's sleep without that upstairs neighbor with the club foot pacing and throwing beer bottles down the chute?

Of course, if this talk of unknown goings-on in the vast archipelago of your soul sounds like New Age hooey, you could just go see your doctor. Maybe you have low hormones. You could be exhausted, or not getting enough sleep, or have some exotic vitamin deficiency. Maybe you're just completely stressed out. Maybe you're having sex at the wrong time of day -- your bell is ringing in the afternoon but you're not answering it till evening, by which time the impulse has slunk off in a funk. So do take stock of yourself physically, but please don't stop there. Use this unexpected lull to discover the neglected aspects of your life, and give them the attention they've been asking for.

Want more advice from Cary? Read the Since You Asked Directory

Cary Tennis

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