My Libido Died. And It Didn’t Kill Me.

by Spiraling Up on November 4

Which was a surprise to me actually. It was something I had dreaded and struggled against for years. I mean my libido, my sexuality, was an integral part of me. I didn’t even know who I was without it. Heading into my 50’s the loss of my libido was one of the foremost worries in my mind.

Despite the common perceptions about the death of sex in long-term relationships ours had always been good. In quality and frequency. Even after 25 years. Looking back now that descriptor—good—seems ridiculous. What does that mean anyway? Good compared to what exactly?

While it’s not something I really talk much about, from time to time discussions would arise (casually and jokingly usually) about people’s sex lives (or lack thereof). Men would joke about not getting any. A friend mentioned that he agreed to have another child in the hopes of finally getting some. Another friend talked about how, you know, a week turns into two, then four, and next thing you knew it had been six months since you had been intimate.

Whaaat? I listened politely but really didn’t grasp it at all, so I usually just stayed quiet. I didn’t share that I had never gone a week with sex (save the time around the birth of my two children) since I started at age 17. And I had been with my partner exclusively since my mid 20’s, and sex had been then, and continued to be, and integral part of our relationship. After a few days without I would be practically climbing the walls.

Sex, from my perspective, was the glue that held us together. And that could be a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it is great to have a compatible and active sex life to share with your partner. On the other hand, fights and disagreements, and discussions, would often get pushed aside in favor of an “easier”, and more enjoyable, way of dealing with conflicts. Probably not the healthiest, but that was who we were, and it worked for us.

So when the shift first began to happen, it was kind of terrifying. My partner is several years older than me, so the fact that it started with him threw me for a loop. Although it is probably fairly normal for a man in his 50’s to no longer want daily sex, I was horrified. What was happening to us? What was wrong with me? Why didn’t he want me like he used to?

Poor man, I must have driven him crazy with my insecurities. Despite his assurances that he still wanted to be with me, and only me. Despite him telling me he still found me attractive. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wouldn’t be happening if that was true. That he “needed” someone else to kick start his desire. Someone younger, or thinner, or prettier. Let’s be honest I was driving myself crazy as well.

In hindsight I can see it probably wasn’t even about the sex anymore. I mean, it’s not like anyone ever died from only having sex twice a week. It was more about what that meant. It meant our relationship was changing. It meant we were changing. It meant I was getting old.

I used to be offended when someone would talk about the “comfort” of being an older women. Of how we could let go of the standards we had set for ourselves (or rather had set for us). Not me. No matter how old I got you were never going to catch me in mom jeans and running shoes.

I didn’t want to be old, but most of all I didn’t want to have an “old people” relationship. I would cringe when people would look at an older couple, who had been together for years, and label their relationship as “cute”. Good lord I didn’t want to be cute! I wanted to be sexy, and sensual, and invigorated. And sexuality was how to do that. How I proved that I was still who I believed myself to be. Right?

So I tried desperately to hold on to that—to hold on to “my sexuality”. Maybe my husband was going to get old and “lose it”, but I sure as hell wasn’t. And to be honest I considered looking elsewhere, outside of my marriage, in a desperate attempt to prove—what?—I don’t even know. That my sexuality would never change? That I would never get old? I even considered leaving my marriage. Surely there was someone out there that would fill my need for passion.

But time marches on, and despite our best efforts we can’t hold off ageing forever. And of course I was not immune to the changes and fluctuations that come along with that. It struck me too, the dreaded death of my libido. Now that is a bit of hyperbole (writer’s prerogative?), it was actually more of a decline than a death.

But something interesting happened along with that. I didn’t die, my marriage didn’t fall apart, and I didn’t even find myself with one foot in the grave. I had to admit to myself … that it was kind of enjoyable. I couldn’t even believe it myself. Who knew? The thing that I had been dreading for years not only wasn’t that bad, it even had some upsides.

A friend of mine posted an interesting question on social media: Why do you have sex? And I had to admit to myself that I had never really seen it as a choice, it was something I had to do. Almost immediately when I finished, it was time to look towards the next time. It was like a constant nagging itch that is just there, beneath the surface, day in and day out.

Looking back it actually sounds exhausting. And it kind of is no? And I wonder why the hell I was so afraid of losing that? Because when it changed, sex became more of a choice I was making. And along with that it actually became more enjoyable. It became more love based, and less “need” based. And even though we had already spent half of our lives together, my relationship with my partner deepened.

We had entered a new chapter, and that helped to foster an even greater intimacy between us. I realized that we don’t “lose” our sexuality—although we may express it differently, as we move through different stages of life. And I learned that that is not something to fear.

For me that change also seems to have triggered changes in other areas as well, with renewed intellectual curiosity, and a boost in creativity. Maybe that has something to do with chakras. The sacral chakra is said to be the home of our sexuality, as well as our creativity. Maybe my creativity was buried beneath my sex drive all this years, just waiting for its turn to shine.

Most of us are afraid of change, especially when that change involves ageing–something that society keeps reminding us is bad, and to be avoided at all costs. How much time I wasted on that. I don’t know what the future will hold for me, but from now on I am determined to look forward to it not with dread, but with curiosity and an open mind.

**Thanks to Helen B. from the Spiraling Up community for sharing this piece. Have something you would like to share? Submit at submissionspiralingup@gmail.com.**

 

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