In this age of panic over Tinder and “hookup culture,” it’s easy to overlook those who aren’t having sex. And the reasons people aren’t getting laid are more complex than you might think, according to a recent episode of WNYC’s “Death, Sex, and Money” podcast, which recently explored this subject in its episode “Why You’re Not Having Sex.”
Academics are calling the phenomenon of willingly going without sex “secondary abstaining,” where formerly sexually active people are putting the stops on sexy time for religion, preventing pregnancies, or avoiding STDs. Yet there is a growing group of people, both young and old, who are better categorized as the “accidental abstaining,” simply because they just don’t want to have sex unless the right mood strikes. As the episode shows, the reasons people aren’t regularly having sex are varied and complicated, and this is true whether the person is single or in a relationship.
There’s the guy who’s in an open relationship — he has a girlfriend who lives with his wife and him. You’d think this setup means they’re having sex on the regular, but it’s been about a year and a half since any of them have done anything sexual together. When asked if he missed sex, the man shrugs it off. “Sometimes,” he says. “But because we’ve been doing this for so long [not having sex] I don’t even have the desire anymore.”
Or the couple whose unhappiness with the no-sex situation may only be outweighed by each person’s unwillingness to be the first to make a move:
[Sigh.] I’m not having sex, because, like the old Barry Manilow song, the feeling’s gone, and I don’t know how to get it back. We haven’t even slept in the same room in over seven years. I’ve stopped initiating, kind of to wait him out, and we’ve been in a stalemate. “
There’s also the 34-year-old virgin, a therapist who’s heard the sexual troubles of some of her clients but can’t exactly relate:
I think when I was much younger, I had this idea that I would get a boyfriend and it would just happen. At other points in time, I even thought about kind of propositioning a friend of mine so that I can say, “I’ve had sex with somebody, I’m not a virgin anymore,” you know, it’s not this cross I have to bear any longer. But when I thought about it, it wasn’t — that wasn’t who I am. It’s taken me a little while to kind of get to a place where I’m okay with that.
And then there’s the brutal honesty of this bibliophile, who told WNYC, “I would rather read a book than be intimate with him.”
The reasons people aren’t having sex are all over the place, but one thing’s for sure: Even if it seems like everyone is getting it on pretty regularly, it’s not abnormal to be going through a dry spell. More people than you might guess are bringing the literal meaning back to “Netflix and chill.”