So you're stuck in a sex-slump and you don't know how to get out? Well don’t panic: according to a recent survey, you’re not the only one looking to get back into the game — TODAY conducted a poll in conjunction with iVillage.com in regards to how long some people have gone without sex and the results were startling: 30 percent said a few months, 24 percent said a few years, 22 percent said about a year, 13 percent just a few weeks and 11 percent can't go more than a few days.
What stands out about this survey is that the highest percentage of people, more than 30 percent, have been in a slump for a few months or more, and many have been in a slump for a few years. It may seem like only yesterday since you last had sex, but watch out: yesterday can quickly become yester-year!
As it turns out, there’s actually some truth to the phrase, “use it or lose it.” People who go without sex for extended periods of time often develop a “dearth of drive” and become habituated to living a sexless existence. Testosterone levels in both men and women go down, self-esteem plummets and anxieties go up — so a little dry spell can quickly become a slump and lead to a vicious cycle.
This is true whether you’re coupled or not: Surveys of single women show that the longer they went without sex the less they actually thought about it, or even wanted it. This wasn’t as true of single men, but I counsel lots of guys who deal with a dry spell by getting “graphic with their graphics” and retreating into a hidden world of porn, often becoming tuned out and turned off to real women along the way.
Sure, when you’re single there may be opportunities for casual sex, but there's generally a shortage of opportunities to have sex that involves genuine emotional intimacy. And in our commitment-phobic culture many singles are actually afraid of the intimacy and emotional intensity that comes with sex, so in some ways it's easier to turn away from sex and altogether than risk rejection.
When you're in a relationship, dry spells often seem to be the rule rather than the exception: you become too busy for sex, or you lose interest, or you're experiencing bigger relationship problems that prevent you from being intimate. Remember, in the end your sex life can only be as strong as the relationship that supports it, and so if you’re stuck in slump it probably means you’re stuck in other aspects of your relationship too.
As the survey results show, people in slumps start to live quiet lives of desperation and wait way too long before finally dealing with the issue. Like a baseball player who gets into a slump, the psychology behind a dry spell is often pernicious: you may not hear “booing crowds” in the stands, but, worse, you boo yourself: you internalize the feeling of being a loser in love, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So if you’re stuck in a slump, stop beating yourself up and get back in the game with these tips:
- Indulge in a "quickie"
If you’re in a relationship, start with some non-pressured, non-sexual, intimacy outside of the bedroom. Studies show that even a 20-second hug raises oxytocin levels, "the cuddle hormone," in both men and women. So get handsy with each other and indulge “little quickies” that don't necessarily lead to sex, but build anticipation and sexual self-esteem. Give it a whirl even if you're not in the mood. Sex is its own aphrodisiac; It raises testosterone levels and gets those nerve endings tingling.
- Hit the gym
This is especially true if you’re a single guy. Studies have shown that guys who work out and lift weights are more likely to have success with women and more sexual partners than guys who don't– and that's not because women are more into brawn than brains, but because working out boosts testosterone as well as self-esteem: both essential parts of getting back in the game with gusto.
- Stop getting graphic with your graphics
Again, this is mainly applicable to men, regardless of their relationship state. Porn is easy and accessible, kind of like junk food: it may satisfy a short-term craving, but it doesn't provide any real nutrition. Over the long term it leaves you deadened and disconnected, and guys who spend too much time retreating into a world of digital fantasy are all the more likely to develop sexual and social issues when dealing with real women. So log off the laptop and log in to life.
- Go on 10 first dates
Maybe your standards are too high, or perhaps they’ve become too low during your dry spell. In either case, the latest computer simulations of dating scenarios (yes there are actually computer simulations of dating and hooking up) reveal that you need to go on 10 first dates to set an "aspiration" level: a realistic view of who's out there for you and who's going to be interested in you. Going on a bunch of first dates without the expectation of a second also allows you to have fun and take the pressure off. And while a hook-up may be just what the night has in store, always remember to practice safe sex with somebody new.
- Be prepared for malfunction
Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, be prepared for a possible mechanical malfunction. After a dry spell, it may take a little while to get back in the saddle so to speak. Sex isn't like riding a bike, because bikes aren't living beings with fears, pressures, and anxieties. It may be harder to relax and let go. If everything doesn't go as you planned "under covers" don't panic or develop a complex or retreat back into your slump.
So don’t let a dry spell take you out of the game. Step up to the plate, take a deep breath and swing for the stars. Striking out is a thing of the past.
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