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No sex in a long time

No sex in a long time? How to manage your anxiety

Relationships

No sex in a long time? Worried about trying sex again with someone? Anouszka Tate writes about how to deal with your anxiety.

Sliding into the DMs (I liked your article) because I’d be curious for your advice on having sex after a long hiatus. It’s been no sex for a long time. For me, it’s 10 years and I, hopefully understandably, have some anxiety around when it next happens…

Sex is funny because when you’re having it you don’t necessarily think about it all that much, but when you’re not you’re hyper-aware of it. Every time a friend / film / song / stranger mentions sex you feel as though they’ve seen into your soul and are trolling you personally for the lols.

In reality, no one knows, and with the greatest of respect, no one particularly cares whether you’re having sex or not. It can feel like everyone cares because we have a collective obsession with knowing how much sex people are having, but we’re never asking because we care about them, we’re asking so we can scramble to compare ourselves to some arbitrary norm. As always, quality over quantity is what matters.

So that’s the first thing: a hiatus only matters as much as you decide it matters.

A new partner will take their cue from you – if you don’t perceive this as a big deal, neither will they. I like the fact that you’re reassured by the pandemic (hey, gotta take the positives where we can) because that more laid back attitude means that when you meet someone you’re interested in, your walls will already be a little lower.

You’d be doing yourself a disservice to assume people will only see you as a Man Who Hasn’t Had Sex in Forever. Others won’t think to see you that way unless you somehow tell them to. You’re a multifaceted human with a lot of good stuff to offer. Build your confidence by identifying and leading with the stuff you’re good at and proud of.

You can actively use the anxieties people might have around the pandemic to your advantage too. (Less callous than that sounds, I promise). Everyone will be coming out of this shit show with their own concerns and boundaries around personal space and human connection. That’s going to give us a reason to start a conversation about consent and levels of intimacy (like, literally starting with how close to you someone is willing to stand).

Some people might want to chat online or over the phone for a lot longer than normal before meeting in person, while others will feel entirely comfortable shagging on a first not-very-socially-distant date. But the point is we will all have to communicate those limits. You’ll both be sharing how you feel, as opposed to you feeling you’re alone in having to admit something catastrophic.

Next up: don’t expect yourself to be perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect sex anyway.

Let’s flip your potential anxieties to make you a firecracker in bed. If you’re concerned you don’t know what this exciting new person might want from you… Good! Ask! That’s what we should all be doing anyway. Some people can fall into the trap of thinking they’re Good At The Sex, and therefore copy and paste the same experience regardless of whose bed they’re in. No, not you. You’re far more conscious and empathetic than that. This might be your first time in a while, but remember it’s also this person’s first time with you – the same nerves and unknowns apply.

Another thing I like is your use of ‘hiatus’ as opposed to the more common ‘dry spell’ – the latter being a desperately barren place one wants to escape from at the earliest opportunity. Get comfortable with the place you’re at, and use the time to work on self-esteem and self-pleasure. Actively reconnect with your own body and desires. The better you understand those things for yourself, the more confident and forthright you’ll be by the time you bring them to a partner.

Finally, sex is often not just about sex. It’s about bonding, and feeling attractive and wanted. So take the pressure off the few moments the mechanical sex will be happening, and focus on all the moments around it that will satisfy your human need for connection – the laughter, the eye contact, the listening. That’ll gently ease you in to the more physical parts with you barely noticing you’ve got that much closer to the thing you were so apprehensive about in the first place.

 

What are you confused, curious, or concerned about? Ask me a question in the comments below or on my Instagram page, and I’ll do my best to answer in my next column! 

Photography by Max Budny.

 

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