I Don't Have Sex and I'm OK With That — Even If Society Isn't
I haven’t had sex in over a decade, and I’m OK with that. But I was embarrassed to admit it for a long time. On the rare occasion I have disclosed the status of my sex life, I have been met with a variety of reactions, from shock to pity to embarrassed silence. Sometimes, I’ve received tidbits of advice on how to spice things up in the bedroom, or suggestions for overcoming the challenges I face. But the one thing I’ve rarely experienced is simple acknowledgement and understanding that sex just isn’t a priority for me anymore.
Having a “healthy” and active sex life is considered important, even vital, in today’s society. The way sex is used in advertising, portrayed in entertainment, and discussed on social media can make a person believe they are the only person in the world not having sex, and that there must be something terribly wrong with them. There are countless articles, blogs, and guides on improving one’s sex life, discussing everything from how much is a healthy amount of sex to how to communicate with a sexual partner, and how to attract such a partner in the first place. Social media is filled with jokes and memes about sexual prowess, and the “losers who aren’t getting any,” and everyday conversation includes sexual innuendos (intended or perceived) and the pressure to respond with humor and wit. According to society’s perceptions, if you aren’t having sex, you are abnormal or unattractive, and if you don’t want to have sex, you are “weird” or damaged.
There are multiple reasons why my husband and I don’t have sex, including disability-related pain and illness, medication and acquired brain injury (ABI)-related anorgasmia, lowered libido, and mental health issues. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t enjoy an intimate relationship and physical affection. We know each other’s darkest secrets, greatest desires, and deepest fears. We have had profound discussions and shared our private philosophies with one another while cuddling in bed in the dark. We soothe, encourage, commiserate, celebrate, and connect with one another with kisses, hugs, cuddles, and caresses. Our relationship is stronger and more cherished than it has ever been, regardless of sexual intimacy.
I’ve learned that I’m not the only person in the world (or even in my community) not having sex. In a study looking at data from 17,744 people in the United States, 15.2% of males and 26.7% of females reported having no sex in the last year, while 8.7% of males and 17.5% of females reported not having had sex for five years or more. I’ve also learned not having an interest in sex is far from unusual. There is a vast array of reasons why many people have periods in their lives where sex is of no interest to them. For human beings, engaging in sex is not just about an evolutionary and instinctual drive to procreate. It’s can be a complicated dance that involves attraction, mood, emotion, thought, mental and physical health, past experiences, effort, ability, circumstances, and timing. Any one of these factors being “out of sync” can derail one’s interest in sex. So, it’s no wonder in the complex lives of human beings, for some of us, sex is low (or not at all) on our priority list.
After years of rehabilitation and personal growth, I am at a place in my life where I understand and appreciate who I am and what my priorities are. I celebrate my accomplishments, respect my emotions, and try not to allow society’s expectations to influence how I should feel about myself. Frankly, it’s nobody’s business, except mine and my husband’s, what the details of my sex life are. But I’m sharing them anyway because I want people to know they are not alone, and they are not “weird” or unattractive. My happiness and fulfillment in life does not depend on my sexual activity, and I don’t require sex to feel attractive or worthy of love, despite society’s expectations. I hope you can feel the same.
Getty image by fizkes