Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS - Robyn Sal­is­bury is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist. Email ques­tions to MrsSal­is­[email protected]­ther­

I have been hav­ing trou­ble with my sex drive for some time. I am a 31-year-old male and have re­cently got out of a two-year re­la­tion­ship where I feel it fell apart be­cause of my lack of sex drive. I en­joy mas­tur­bat­ing and when I’m hav­ing sex I love it but I strug­gle with hav­ing that ap­petite un­less it is a one-night stand. I don’t know if this is a big deal? I also watch porn when­ever I mas­tur­bate, so I am not sure if that con­trib­utes. This is only a big deal if or when you find your­self want­ing an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship. From your de­scrip­tion, this sounds to me more like a re­luc­tance to ini­ti­ate part­nered sex than a lack of drive. Sex­u­al­ity of­ten de­vel­ops in se­cret as many par­ents are not good at talk­ing about this with their kids, so learn­ing to share your sex­u­al­ity with some­one else that you are in­creas­ingly get­ting to know and re­veal­ing your­self to poses some chal­lenges for peo­ple who are shy or in­tro­verted. Sim­i­larly for any­one who has, be­cause of past ex­pe­ri­ences or omis­sions, not de­vel­oped good self-es­teem or pos­i­tive ex­pec­ta­tions of in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships.

To be able to bust a move re­quires that you hold a sense of your­self as a de­sir­able sex­ual be­ing, that you have the courage to risk find­ing out if a part­ner is will­ing at that time to re­spond to you and that you have con­fi­dence that you can plea­sur­ably make love with your part­ner. To want to do so in an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship also re­quires con­tin­u­ing to find your part­ner at­trac­tive and hav­ing good enough re­la­tional and in­ti­macy skills.

In con­trast, watch­ing porn is easy as no one ex­pects any­thing of you and there are no risks, as long as your porn is le­gal. I won­der what ideas about your sex­u­al­ity and about sex you have de­vel­oped from watch­ing pornog­ra­phy. Is sex a per­for­mance? Are your spe­cific sex­ual de­sires em­bar­rass­ing to you, ex­cit­ing and erotic but not to be shared? When you have sex in a one-night stand are you re­lieved to be able to go home af­ter­wards and not have fur­ther con­tact? And what, ex­actly, do you think about dur­ing sex­ual en­coun­ters? Is it fan­tasy or re­al­ity in your head?

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