Many will subscribe to the idea that people really get to know each other in bed and that nothing describes the erotic self better than the way you behave in bed: our performance as desiring and desired beings, our greater or lesser capacity for seduction, the ability to innovate and even the gymnastic-anatomical feats that we are capable of carrying out without accidents. But very few will notice that another of the important markers to get to know anyone sexually is to notice how they react when sex is non-existent, when fasting, lean times and even famine arrive; because the void is always full of highly enlightening messages.
Pepa, 62, has already thrown in the towel and, although she would like to have a partner, there is an absolute truth in her belief system: “Men my age look for women in their forties,” she says. She lives, therefore, resigned to loneliness, which she pairs with Netflix series and her latest erotic toy. Mary and Ruth, 42 and 39 years old, have lived together in peace and harmony for five years, but without sex. They have both discussed it and have come to the conclusion that, for the moment, they don’t feel like it, but everything is fine. On this island without desire, even though Ruth doesn’t feel like having sex, she would like Mary to feel wanted so that she feels wanted. Óscar, 55, has been on an erotic hiatus since his divorce. He masturbates, but each time the feeling of emptiness and frustration is greater. He feels that it is almost impossible to find a partner. He feels that he is missing the last train. He feels that his abilities to get closer to the object of his desire are dying every day.
The periods of abstinence (voluntary or involuntary) through which all humanity inevitably passes are often accompanied by various doses of undervaluation, as befits a world that has capitalized on sexuality. “Sex is the consequence of successful behaviors,” said one coach in seduction. From which it follows that if you don’t have relationships, it’s because you’re a failure. “Just as in the 1970s we were sold that social freedom was achieved through sexual freedom, now we have assumed the idea that sexual life is a reflection of your status. It is one more market value, which should always be priced upwards. So spaces of inactivity have a bad press because they are synonymous with failure”, explains Guillermo González, doctor, sexologist, specialist in bioethics and law and vice president of the Spanish Federation of Sexology Societies. “In any case,” he points out, “I think that, after a period of much sexualization, we are now heading towards a more moderate era, which is looking for a middle ground.”
Generally, the lack of relationships in a couple tends to cause feelings of guilt (especially in the one they don’t want), while those who don’t have sex because they don’t have someone with whom they tend to feel frustrated, according to Antoni Bolinches, a sexologist and professor Master’s in Clinical Sexology and Sexual Health at the University of Barcelona. Bolinches is also the author of several books, such as love on the second try, sex wise either my best thoughts, a compilation of reflections and personal aphorisms, also about sexuality. “We don’t know how to manage these dry periods because we associate quantity with quality. However, sex has been devalued by excess, not by defect. As Bolinches recalls, the French writer and aristocrat Ninon De Lenclos (1620-1705) already said: “Love almost never dies of hunger, but of indigestion.”
The sociologist and sexologist Delfina Mieville affirms that the first thing would be to know what we understand by having sex. “If it is coitus, if there must always be an orgasm or ejaculation or if our concept encompasses many other things. Start with the senses, by returning to the body and not directly to the genitals. For the pleasure of living in, which is always healthy, ”she explains. If you can’t find the right person to practice it, the expert recommends patience: “Better not to find it than to find it wrong.” And, meanwhile, she assures, it is advisable to learn from one’s own tastes, limits and self-exploration. “The fertile void is a concept that is used in Gestalt therapy but also in other currents. The void itself scares us because it is the transition between what is no longer and what is yet to come. It’s letting go of a rope before having another. But, if this emptiness is lived with attention, and not just covered (with the fact that it is sometimes uncomfortable and painful), it can be very fruitful. In fact, in mourning we bring out and discover qualities that we did not have, ”she maintains.
Curiously, that emptiness becomes more unbearable when you live in company. Having a partner and not having sex, an increasingly common dichotomy in a world where opposites get along better and better. “All couples can go through asexual phases, but if they go on for a long time they can create a lot of suspicions,” says Bolinches. Above all, he warns, because generally this reluctance does not affect members in the same way: “It is accepted that work stress, child care and other chores in life can inhibit desire or take time away from other more pleasant activities , but unanswered questions are the ones that erode coexistence the most. Although it is also true that there are couples who have completed their sexual cycle and others who can do without sex for long periods, as long as both members are comfortable in that situation”.
The recommended English series wanderlust, in which an unmotivated couple recovers their desire thanks to the freedom that each of the members grants to the other, unfortunately, it does not always have its equivalent in real life. “For most of the couples that I have had in consultation, it is one more problem to add, because if one does not agree with this philosophy, adopting it at critical moments is not the best idea. In any case, more than resorting to the open couple, what is usually done is to sign up for liberal sexuality games. My advice is always the same: before starting to run you have to learn to walk”, says Bolinches.
Seeking the spontaneity and fire of the first encounters, discarding everything that does not reach this level, is another of the mistakes of long-term lovers. As Mieville emphasizes, there is nothing spontaneous about sex, even if we think so. “Desire is a mixture of having and not having, of attachment and emptiness. Most couples do not have the same type of desire, what happens is that at the beginning of the relationship we prepare, we do not fix, we fantasize, we leave the house already horny. But, over the years, we have to accept the challenge of becoming good lovers because hormones are no longer doing all the work. A lover is the one who loves, the one who does it, the one who wants to know what the other is like. It is present continuous and there is no universal good lover. We are someone’s lover. And for that it is important that we see who the other is, the specificity of him, his changes and evolutions ”.
A golden piece of advice for couples in abstinence is to never lose bodily communication because it is very difficult to recover. A stranger will be touched sooner than the one who one day decided not to touch your skin again. “It is difficult because the one who feels rejected gives up asking for attention and the most reluctant parks the gestures of affection so that the other does not misinterpret them. In this way, physical contact gradually disappears, and it is very difficult to resume it”, says González.
The world is full of single people looking for stable sex and companionship. As time goes by without finding the right person, erotic self-esteem thins, becomes flaccid and loses its strength. Seductresses and wild dicks can end up becoming insecure teenagers, looking for the opportunity that never comes to lose their virginity. A friend in her early fifties told me that she had already closed the “closed for retirement” lock. The secret to not falling into this is knowing how to live the parenthesis in a healthy and creative way. According to Bolinches, “practicing autoeroticism, without frustration, already places us within sexual activity, even if it is with oneself. But, in addition, you have to look for substitute pleasures, gratifying leisure and practice creative sublimation, directing sexual energy to the world of creativity, with which it has so much to do”.
Relationships come from occasions, and occasions from situations. Therefore, there is no need to shut yourself in, but add dynamism to life. Nor is it too much, in González’s opinion, to learn some relational tools. And, as the expert recommends, “if you don’t have anyone to have sex with, recreate your fantasies, write down your experiences and get a good coat to spend the winter, knowing that spring comes every year.”