Monday, June 10, 2013

I Miss It Already

By Lisabet Sarai

I have a confession to make, one that may shock many of you who know me and have read my books.

I haven't had sex in more than two months.

And here's another stunner. I don't mind nearly as much as I would have guessed, if you'd asked me when I was younger.

I'm in my sixties now. My husband is more than a decade older than I am. Although we both are fortunate to be in excellent health, our sexual capabilities have significantly declined due to age. I won't get into the gory details, but let me just say that these days sex is a lot more work and a good deal less fun than it used to be.

There are remedies of course, that might improve the situation, hormones and lubricants, new positions and new techniques. We've tried some of them, with mixed results. We're still very physical with one another. People snicker when they see us, two old geezers holding hands or kissing on the street. Penetrative sex, though, is a significant challenge, one that we seem to be confronting less and less often (and oral sex has never been a favorite for either of us, for various reasons).

When I was in my twenties, my thirties, even my forties, I would have been appalled by the notion of such a long interval of celibacy. Looking back to my youth, it seems as though sex stood at the center of my universe. Every experience was drenched in eroticism. Any seemingly innocent encounter was enough to start me spinning fantasies. Most of my sexual adventures took place before the advent of AIDS and after the perfection of the Pill, during that brief period when true sexual freedom was possible. If I can quote from one of my own characters (the nameless narrator in “Before the Plague”):

It's nearly inconceivable to you, I know, the notion of spontaneous sex. No vaccines, no tests, no questions asked. No barriers – at least no physical ones. You might enjoy yourself, you might not. That was the only risk.

I lived in that age. The golden age, it seems now. You could revel in your own body, in someone else's body. Anyone you fancied. Maybe a stranger. Maybe your best friend's husband – or even your best friend herself! If desire called, you answered, as long as that was what felt right.

Every day was ripe with erotic possibilities. We moved through our world (well, perhaps I should speak only for myself) in a continual state of borderline arousal, ready to recognize and enjoy the next sensual adventure.

I wrote that story more than ten years ago. Even then, I was nostalgic, I guess, for what I felt myself losing.

The funny thing is, I've always lived more in my mind than in my body, even during those wild days when I was juggling three lovers plus being regularly propositioned by strangers. (I must have been sending out powerful signals. Definitely makes me believe in pheromones!) Eroticism, then as well as now, lived in the situation, in the relationship, in the sharing of fantasies, in the breaking down of barriers and the pushing of limits, far more than in the physical acts. I spent as much time writing about sex in my journal as I did in bed (or elsewhere) with my partners. The thrill of lust has always been at least as intoxicating to me as the activities it engenders.

And to be honest, I miss that thrill more than the actual fucking. Although I'm moderately well-preserved for my age, these days it's difficult to conceive of myself as an object of desire. I still have frequent sexual dreams. In those nocturnal sagas I'm usually young and nubile – probably between twenty five and thirty five, when I was at my peak. The other night, though, I dreamed that someone wanted to have sex with me, and I couldn't remember where I'd stashed the KY Jelly. Too often when I begin to spin a kinky fantasy for myself, recollections of reality intervene.

My DH apparently perceives me as sexy, despite my wrinkles, my sagging flesh and my joint problems. I'm grateful but sometimes I wonder whether he's blind. I still believe that imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Imagining the erotic, however, is becoming increasingly difficult.

Of course I worry about how this will affect my writing. I yearn for the excitement, the freshness, that poured out of me in Raw Silk, a book that celebrates lust in all its guises. I suppose that it's natural to become a bit jaded, after fourteen years of penning erotic fiction. I console myself with the certainty that my skill has grown even though my passion has ebbed. Apparently I can still create sexual scenarios with enough light and heat to please my readers. However, I find that it's increasingly difficult to arouse myself.

I've always been of the opinion that sex is important – that carnal connections can provide not just pleasure but also wisdom and self-knowledge. I haven't changed my mind. That's one motivation for writing my stories. More and more, though, those tales are based on recollection rather than direct experience. I cling to my memories of how it felt to be overwhelmed by desire, as those feelings recede into the increasingly distant past.

If I were to be suddenly infected by the insistent, incandescent lust of my youth, I'd probably be alarmed. But I do miss it.


  1. thank you for your candour, Lisabet. i've always believed relationships are fluid. there are times when sex with one's partner isn't always happening, for many reasons. intimacy can occur in many ways though & it sounds like you & your partner maintain intimacy. as to penetrative sex, if you miss that particular aspect of sex, what about both of you playing with dildos together or you doing so while he watches? there are lots of possibilities. if that's something you want. & of course, if you were into opening up your marriage, there are more possibilities too. golden age may not be here anymore, but cautious & educated play is possible.

    1. Hi, Amanda,

      Been there, done that (the open marriage stuff). It's hard to imagine anyone else wanting us in our present state of decay anyway!

      The thing is, I'm not sure either of us has the erotic energy to experiment any more... it's just not as important. But at the same time, I find that fact distressing.

  2. Wow, what a powerful post.

    I've long said that penetrative sex is one of the least intimate things I do. Holding hands, cuddling, and kissing are all far more intimate. I hope to keep these constant in my life even when aging robs me of the ability or desire for more (at at 45, I can already note the differences from when I was 20. Projecting ahead is not kind).

    At the same time, I've seen several erotica authors draw power from their writing specifically because they were de facto celibate as they wrote. I kind of hope that's my own future.

    As for the wrinkles and joints and all--heh. I suspect (and given some of my history, I'm pretty confident) I'd be with your husband on this--still seriously in lust with the person even if the flesh was not as willing. Sexy is energy and attitude, not bodies.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. "Sex is energy and attitude, not bodies"

      I certainly agree. And one of the reasons I write so much BDSM, with such a powerful emotional charge, is that my actual BDSM experiences were cut short by my marriage (not that I regret this - I mean, I wish my DH were more interested in D/s but you can't change people, and he's a wonderful partner in other ways).

  3. I love this post, Lisabet.

    It's funny, because I read your "two months" and I was like... only TWO? I realized the other week that maybe the reason I've been so goddamn irritable was that I hadn't had sex in THREE. (all that stuff with Sweet being away, and then we were not in a good place and she WILL NOT DO angry sex for some off reason)

    Anyway, we're back on track, but I was amazed how strongly I related to this post even though I'm only in my thirties. I often think back to being 19 and failing my first-year psychology exam (it was all neuroscience) because all I could think about was sex sex sex. All. The. Time. I would easily stay in a rotten relationship because it was my source of sex. I feel like a totally different person now. I write sex for a living, but it's not a big thing anymore.

    I guess the part that surprises me most is that I can go without sex and not even notice.

    1. Exactly, Giselle. Days go by when I don't think about sex. This is such a contrast with the time when sex/love was the center of my life (I was never very clear about the distinction, even with one-night stands.)

  4. Well, darlin', you're not a Lone Ranger by any means. Not that that's any consolation. A late friend of mine, who was nearing 70 at the time, would lament, albeit with a chuckle, that attempting sex was "like trying to push a marshmallow into a piggy bank." But he savored his memories. I guess imagination will sustain us too. And, for the record, Viagra is not the wonder drug it's made out to be. So there.

    1. What a great image! It's not quite THAT bad...

      And yeah, Viagra's not really for us.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Great post, Lisabet. Been thinking along these lines for a few months now. For years it was twice a week now it's more like twice a month. But Momma and I have been fairly lucky, both of us now in our late 60's and still motivated. Before her recent setback...(some of you know she had an operation recently) we 'd get it on every ten days or so. We do cuddle every night on the sofa, watching TV, still touching, smooching, like some vanilla romance.

    What Gisselle says about not noticing after awhile is all about sex becoming more and more NOT a part of one's life. Sometimes it takes purposeful initiative to get the fires stoked again

    And BB is right; Viagra sucks. Just see blue for a day, and the erection doesn't last (for me) anyway.

    We can't wait for Momma to get better so we can get our freak back.

    1. Writing erotica, one feels schizophrenic. The erotic is so much a part of my life on the page - and such a small part, these days, of my so-called real life.

  6. after my health crisis my libido was gone for 3 months, but it came back stronger than ever. & my mother at 80 still has a very strong libido too, as does my sister at 60. so i'm hoping it will continue to be the case for me. when i was too weak to do much moving around, my husband & i just masturbated together while watching porn. we've always found ways to be intimate & to give one another pleasure. the main thing i think is honest communication so that no party feels unloved or rejected. when i was in hospital all we could do was touch each other's hands. that was exactly what i needed.

    1. I envy you, Amanda.

      I've come to think that maybe my libido was never as powerful as my imagination...

  7. hi Lisabet!

    Wow. That's something you don;t hear everyday - two months? It's not that its rare, I think its more common than people imagine. It's just so bluntly honest to hear it. well, me too. And as you say it s the arousal part that's the hard thing to crank up. Hormones. "At your age the heyday in the blood is tame" as Hamlet says.

    But that's why friendship is so important. Lust fades, but friendship remains.


    1. Hi, Garce,

      I know there are couples who go years without having sex. But they have other problems, I think. I know my husband is distressed both by his lower level of libido and his reduced ability to act on the urges he does have. It hurts me to see this. All I can do is reassure him that I love him.

      Meanwhile, it also literally hurts me to have sex. And that bothers him a lot, too.


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