The Sunday Telegraph - Stella
In my own words
‘Lockdown has killed my libido, and I don’t even care’
IT WAS A random Saturday morning day in January. I was lying in bed, my husband having taken our three daughters (twins, aged seven, and the eldest, nine) downstairs, and I was trying to remember the last time we’d had sex when I realised I could not recall it. But what hit me even harder was the realisation that I did not miss it. There, I’ve said it. In fact, sex was the last thing on my mind. Ironic, given the fact that less than two years ago I wrote a whole book about the awakening of my libido in my 40s. All I can say is that Covid, lockdown, juggling work and homeschooling, stress and the general gloominess of winter had officially killed my sex drive.
During last year’s first lockdown, my libido was still functioning. Something about drinking G&Ts in the garden at 4pm made us a little randy, plus I discovered Harlots on TV and I’m not going to lie – watching sex in a barn at the right moment can be a real turn-on. But then winter hit and we were back in lockdown, forced to homeschool again, and so my libido died a slow death.
Being at home, all day, every day, surrounded by the same people and having absolutely nothing new or exciting happen that could possibly spark that initial flame, did not help. There is also a lack of opportunity. Daytime sex is impossible and the kids not going to school has meant later bed times, so by the time they’re asleep, we’re just too knackered. Not to mention the fact our daughter walked in on us a few months ago and none of us have yet recovered from the trauma.
I spoke to a few girlfriends about it. Some admitted they felt ‘guilty’ because their partners were still in the mood, while others said their partners’ desire had also evaporated. Then someone told me I should watch Bridgerton as it would be ‘the answer to all my problems’. I couldn’t wait to get to episode five, when the big sex scene happens. I shaved my legs (the first time in months), wore the only sexy underwear that still fits and braced myself for the wild sex I was about to have. I’m sorry to say that I fell asleep during the sex scene itself and not even the gorgeous RegéJean Page (aka the Duke of Hastings) could revive my libido.
But here’s the thing, I am not upset about it. The way I see it, sex is not an ‘event’ that just happens. It’s something that builds throughout the day, week or month. All the little moments shared between couples – a touch, a kiss, a private joke – create intimacy that eventually leads to sex. But when all we are doing is surviving, we have very few opportunities to create those moments.
A few weeks ago, I broached it with my husband – I felt it was important to acknowledge my lack of libido rather than pretend it wasn’t happening. To be honest, it was the best conversation we’ve had in a while because the only other things we talk about these days are how much we hate fractions and why there’s never enough food in the house.
I decided not to try and fix it. I think we are already under so much pressure at the moment, I don’t want to make any more demands of myself. I know it’s temporary, I know it’s a result of the reality we are living in and I know that one day it will come back (I hope).
Someone asked me if my husband ‘agreed’ and wondered if I should ‘put out’ for his sake, but my answer to that is that my libido has nothing to do with my partner. Sex is not a job, it’s a joint experience that both parties should want to take part in and being in a loving relationship means being patient, supportive and understanding.
So I have allowed myself to feel a lack of lust for the time being and if and when I decide to do something about it, I will proceed with caution. But it will be a gentle approach, suited to my own pace. Who knows? I might even give another chance...
Tova’s book ‘F*cked at 40: Life Beyond Suburbia, Monogamy & Stretch Marks’ is out now in paperback