I’ve never felt as sexual as I’m supposed to. Is it normal for a guy to not even want to masturbate? I’ve had a couple of relationships, but they were more similar to close friends than porny sex situations.
Will this get better as I get older? I’m 26.
Rest assured that you are exactly as sexual as you’re "supposed to" be. And, I can completely understand why you’re beginning to compare yourself to the sex drives of others around you. Before I delve into WHY your default sex drive may be on the sleepier side, I want to underline the fact that diversity in libido is completely normal.
Yes, even for young men.
Low libido isn’t always a problem, although the pharmaceutical industry does its damndest to convince us otherwise. The fact is, sexual libido is on a spectrum that can fluctuate and evolve over time due to a number of both predictable and unforeseeable factors. Likewise, some people both begin and remain at one extreme end of the spectrum or the other. However, denying the variety in sexual expression and desire is always in big pharma’s best interest.
The medicalization of human sexuality has reached epidemic proportions, with doctors often arbitrarily identifying and pathologizing “low” libido and “high” libido in folks of all genders. The more libidos doctors diagnose and deem atypical, the more medications they can then prescribe to “fix” those libidos (and, subsequently, the more money lines the pockets of doctors and pharmaceutical companies alike). To say I’m skeptical of supposed “sexual desire disorders” would be an understatement.
Additionally, there is a lot of pressure placed on young men in our culture around expectations of virility. Male socialization encourages masturbation, rewards sexual experience with social capital, and projects male sexuality narrowly. Male desire is advertised as being this overwhelming drive that distracts from the daily routine of life. When men have sex, they’re often fooled into thinking that their only role is to be dominant, energetic, athletic and insatiable.
To deviate from this cultural narrative often causes men to call their own masculinity into question (or their peers or partners to ever-so-considerately do it for them). Folks socialized female, on the other hand, are widely acknowledged to have variable sex drives without their supposed femininity being scrutinized.
In short, it’s not you - or your low libido - that’s the problem. It’s society.
I did promise, however, to provide some potential insight as to why your libido wanes more than it waxes. Here are a few possibilities:
- Physical issues that can cause low libido include low testosterone, prescription medicines, too little (or too much) exercise, and alcohol and drug use.
- Psychological issues that can cause low libido include depression, stress, anxiety, and past - or present - trauma.
- You also may be asexual. From our dependable friends at Wikipedia: “Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may be considered a sexual orientation or the lack thereof. It may also be categorized more widely to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities.”
Regardless of the WHY, dear reader, it’s important to remember that no matter the (in)frequency of your desire, you are still deserving of as much intimacy and connection as you want. In terms of future partnerships, it may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel now, but you’re still very young. I promise that there are plenty of people out there whose libidos will align with yours.
Don’t give up!
If you have your own questions about sex, love, relationships, or any of the moving parts involved therein, drop Andre a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to use the subject line "Ask Andre," so we know where to direct your thoughtful questions.