When all is said and done, there’s not much to like. I mean, really: What is the big deal?
So writes essayist Lauren Slater in this week's Modern Love section of The New York Times. If you suspected Mr. Lauren Slater may not be too pleased that "sex interests me these days about as much as playing checkers," you'd be correct. The authoress writes that her husband's sex drive far surpasses her own.
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The tricky thing about differing sex drives is that assumption, which hangs over the relationship like a storm cloud, that "something's wrong" with the less interested partner. Fear? Guilt? Anxiety? Depression? Medication? Anti-depressants? Painful intercourse, called dyspareunia? Some might even try a visit with a sex therapist to explore possible reasons or apparent cures, like testosterone shots. But what if you find deep down, conclusively, that you just don't like sex?
This is a question Slater asks herself in her piece. She writes:
I have no answers for how one exists with almost no sex drive. A gulf of loneliness enters the marriage; the rift it creates is terribly painful. My sincerest hope is that once we make it through these very stressful years, assuming we come out the other end, my husband and I will be able to reconnect.
Until then, I could get treatment, but I’ve had so much treatment — for cancer, for depression — that in this one small area of my life, can I claim, if not health, then at least the absence of pathology?
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She cites a University of Chicago study, published in 1999, which says that 40 percent of women suffer from a sexual dysfunction, specifically low libido. But what we wonder is, if 40 of women are suffering from it, is it really a "dysfunction"? That's almost half of all women. Who decides what a "dysfunction" is, anyway?
We think Slater is very brave. Not liking sex is not something you're 'supposed' to talk about, lest you risk a branding as 'cold' or 'frigid.' That's a scary label to risk acquiring. We can only hope her essay brought hope to all those other women out there with low libidos who saw something of themselves in her piece.