My child is now 18 months old and sleeping through the night. I’m no longer breastfeeding and we have a family routine, except for in the bedroom. I used to be the one with the sex drive, now I’m not interested at all. What’s wrong with me? How do I get my libido back?
Sexpert, Desiree Spierings BA (Psych) MHSc (Sexual Health); Sex Therapist; Relationship Counsellor; Director of Sexual Health Australia and Editorial Advisory Board Member of Virtual Medical Centre and Parenthub responds:
There is nothing wrong with you and it is very common for your libido to go out of the window as soon as there is a baby on the scene. The good news is, though, you CAN change this!
First of all, when your sex drive has diminished, most often it does not mean that you are not into your partner anymore or not attracted to him, it just means that your love has grown and evolved.
There are 3 types of love. There is ‘lust’, the lust for sex, where all you want to do is have sex with someone and nothing else. Then there is ‘attraction’, where you fall in love and just want to be with that special person and have sex with them all the time. This is often referred to as limerence, where your spontaneous desire for sex is high and all you can think of is each other. And last but not least there is ‘attachment’, where you start to really bond on a deeper level and you want to build a life together and raise children.
The limerence phase, where spontaneous desire for sex is high, simply can’t last, because think about it, all we would do is have sex all day every day and we would never go to work again! Limerence is really nature’s way of bringing two people together. With familiarity, so once you get to know one and other, this love changes. Either you realise this person isn’t the right fit for you after all, or at least not someone you want to be in a relationship with. Or as in your case, your love has evolved and grown from attraction to attachment. Where it is not just about attraction for one and other, but it is about having this special bond which keeps you together to raise your children.
Additionally, when you have just had a baby and especially with breastfeeding, your skin hunger goes out of the window as well. Skin hunger is where you long for human touch, as all individuals do, but when a baby is hanging of you all day long, you have satisfied your skin hunger and you often don’t long for more touch from your partner when he gets home. But remember his skin hunger has not been satisfied yet and he is most likely longing for your touch very much so.
However, when skin hunger and spontaneous desire have left the building, it does not mean you won’t be able to bring that spark back and have an active, fun, pleasurable sex life again! Instead of waiting for your ‘spontaneous desire’ or sex drive to kick back in automatically (then we can wait forever!), we need to learn to rely on our ‘response desire’, which kicks in after we are aroused. So the key is to allow yourself to get aroused first, without spontaneous desire being present, once you are aroused you might get in the mood to have sex with your partner, which is your response desire.
For example, even though you do not feel like actually having sex, you might feel like an intimate massage, or a shower or bath together, or some hugging or kissing on the couch, or you might like to watch some porn or read some erotic literature, either by yourself or with your partner. In turn, from these sensual, intimate, or perhaps somewhat sexual moments, your response desire will kick in and you will possibly feel in the mood to go further and have a sexual encounter after all.
It is important though to not feel any pressure to have sex, either pressure from your partner or the pressure you might put on yourself when you allow yourself to enjoy an intimate moment. As soon as you feel pressure to have sex, your response desire will most likely stay away. Just enjoy the moment for what it is without the expectation that sex has to happen. If more happens great, if not then remember some kissing, touching, or intimacy is always better than none!!
Also note that when it comes to sex: ‘if you don’t use it, you will lose it’. So once you start using it, chances are your spontaneous desire for sex might make a comeback too. Putting intimacy back on your to-do-list is important to stay connected and to ensure an active sex life for longer.