Not in the Mood for Sex?

sexual desire, arousal, sexy brain When was the last time you said, “I’m not in the mood”?

What do we mean when we say that?

  • You have no actual desire.
  • Your partner isn’t very good at pleasuring you so you avoid sex.
  • Your relationship is tense and sex is the last thing you want to think about.
  • Too much stress or physical causes are occupying your mind–keeping you from thinking about intimacy.


If you’re not in the mood you have a couple of options. Because remember, you get to have sex the way you want it, when you want it, and with the person you choose.

First you have to decide if you want to have sex or not. Period. You have to be responsible for your own body and your own wants and needs. When we’re hungry we make a decision about food–what we want, what might taste good and then we take steps to get what we want. Sex is a little like that. Of course you could go without sex for the rest of your life–you wouldn’t die. But you would be a less happy person. Giving it up might impact your marriage or long-term relationship and it might create vaginal health issues in the future.

I get it. I had plenty of “not in the mood” days during my marriage. Now? If sex is on the agenda, or hinted at, and I’m not feeling it–I will take some time to think about sex with that partner. My feelings towards that person, what turns me on, how he gives me pleasure and those thoughts start to get me ‘in the mood’. I take some time to prepare myself mentally and maybe physically. I feed my desire instead of leaving it all up to chance.  If I’m really uncertain I tell my partner with a conditional statement that I might be persuaded. The moment I shut down all possibility I’ve done myself a disservice. Moods change. Desire can be stoked.

Emily Nagoski talks about desire in her new book (which I’ll be reviewing soon) and this recent New York Times article, Nothing is Wrong with Your Sex Drive.

 “Desire was conceptualized as emerging more or less “spontaneously.” And some people do feel they experience desire that way. Desire first, then arousal.

But it turns out many people (perhaps especially women) often experience desire as responsive, emerging in response to, rather than in anticipation of, erotic stimulation. Arousal first, then desire.


We live in an intercourse-driven world of sex. Procreation assured that men’s penises would be inserted into women’s vaginas. Pleasure, if it occurred for women, was secondary to the act of procreation. Secondary to the idea that men’s desire for intercourse took precedence over all else. It may be that when we say, ‘I’m not in the mood’, it’s because we’re not having the kind of sex that satisfies, that is focused on our arousal as well as our partner’s.

Numbers vary, but most educators and researchers know that anywhere from 50-80% of women don’t have an orgasm from intercourse alone. If we want to have sex that creates desire in us… the kind of sex that leaves us feeling satisfied, the kind of sex that encourages us to create the right mood, then we need to pay more attention to the clitoris—our pleasure zone.

We still live in that world. When men say, “I have difficulty with erections so I can’t have sex anymore, they are in an “intercourse frame of mind.” Fabulous sex can be had without penetration. Men can ejaculate and women can orgasm in several other ways. Even with an unpredictable erection. And, I bet that over 70% of women (conjecture) will have a more dependable orgasm when their male partner (female couples already understand this) learns about her anatomy and considers her clitoris vital to her, and his, sexual pleasure.

Let’s expand our definition of pleasure. Start by:

  • Exploring our bodies
  • Focusing on our clitoris
  • Talking more to our partners before taking off our clothes, as we’re having sex, and then offering mutual feedback when we’re done
  • Consider your own desire as vital–don’t give up your right to pleasure in any relationship
  • Work on cultivating a sense of yourself as a sensuous, sex individual.
  • Add non-penetrative sex acts to your expression of sex: manual stimulation, use sex toys, oral sex, masturbation, cuddling


If you take responsibility for your own desire and begin to express what you want there will be a transformation. You will experience more pleasure when you can express and step into your desire. Your sexual relationships will become more satisfying for you and your partner. Couples who intentionally focus on their intimacy understand the power of giving and receiving.

Check out Michael Castleman’s The Most Important Sexual Statistic and It’s All About the Clitoris, Part 1 on Madame Noire.

The next time you’re ‘not in the mood’ are you willing to commit to your sexual desire and arousal?

Wanting Sexual Intimacy Should Not be a Stigma


I’m writing about Hot Octopuss and their products because it’s relevant to our world of sexuality, specifically male sexuality. We don’t often talk about male sex toys but they are as relevant to men as they are to women–so why aren’t we promoting them? (I may get a PULSE II at some point to review, but this is not a paid review.)  I’m pleased to be able to talk about this product and the company’s new campaign, #SexNotStigma. The focus of the campaign and their products is on erectile dysfunction–for men with age-related challenges, spinal cord injuries or illnesses that have rendered them impotent or unable to stimulate themselves.

Hot Octopuss has developed two sex toys for men. PULSE II Solo, for men and PULSE II Duo:

PULSE II DUO has been developed specifically with heterosexual couples in mind and is the first sex toy ever to incorporate two separate, independently-controlled, motors that aim to simultaneously satisfy the different stimulatory needs of both male and female partners.

The PULSE II was designed as a male sex stimulator for men with spinal cord injury. The penis is placed in the toy and with a remote control, it does the work of stimulating a man to ejaculation–with or without his having to manipulate the toy. It has been used successfully to help couples when mobility is an issue. The PULSE II Duo is designed with a second vibration center for the female partner.

The toy does not allow for full insertion of the penis into the vagina, but I think a little insertion is possible. Many times when couples are not able to enjoy the ‘typical’ sex, i.e. intercourse, there is a sense of loss. Couples may find other options, such as mutual masturbation or oral sex, to achieve sexual intimacy. With the couples version of this toy, both partners can achieve orgasm while in an intimate sex position.

I am eager to learn more about PULSE II and how it can work to add variety to sex play and provide a means to pleasure for those who face challenges.

Here’s the video that shows how the toy works, explained by the inventor. If you want to read more, you might look at PULSE for older users and therapeutic use.




Selling My House-Memories, Stuff, Emotions

I’m in the process of getting my house ready to sell. So that means it’s time to go through 16 years of collected, neglected and otherwise stored ‘stuff’. It includes some of my in-laws’ possessions so there is the burden of preserving the things my children and grandchildren might want one day. I have to do the same with my ex-husband’s (now deceased) things. My feelings about those items, and my interest in what stays and what goes, are secondary to the feelings of my adult children.

I spent yesterday cleaning out the ‘utility’ closet–full of old phone cords and electronics, no longer used. Catering supplies from 20 years ago. A dozen florist shop vases, three wreath door hangers, stationary, and, on and on. It’s an emotional process–going through the collected mementos of a life. A married life that fizzled and an earlier period in time when I did different things. That life was different. It’s not a judgment or a sad assessment of the things I left behind. Just an observation.

I tried to label my feelings this morning as I was journaling. Do I feel what some people feel post-divorce or when the kids pack up and leave home? I’m not sure. There is some anticipation, a little excitement, and a smattering of fear. I literally don’t know where I’m going when the house sells. All I know is that I’m staying in this community–at least until my caregiving responsibilities are finished.

I’m trying to be ruthless in this process. Who needs 12 vases? Particularly if I move someplace without a garden? Fish-shaped plates? Out of date, no-longer-my-style purses?  And, baskets? I obviously had a thing for baskets in my more domestic days.

The last move, in 1999, didn’t involve lots of shedding. I do remember that we foolishly donated all the albums to a church yard sale. We packed up a lot of things that I can let go of now. It’s time.

This move is a conscious decision to simplify my life. To downsize from a 3.5 bathroom house to something more suited to a one-person arrangement (with room for the grandkids to come visit). I want to let go of those things that threaten to take over my life. I get to think about what I want going forward and what is no longer a reflection of how I intend to live.

I grew up in a very materialistic environment-we were defined by how we looked and what we had. Other people’s judgment reigned supreme. Any emptiness could be replaced with food, clothes, shoes…. Stuff. So, it’s liberating to look around and say, “I don’t need that.” I was inspired by an article by Amy Gigi Alexander, a travel writer, who is reducing her material possessions to what she can hold in  two suitcases. It blew my mind and forced me to think about how attached we are–I am—to items that often have little major significance. I’m a far way from decluttering that drastically, but I understand that the important things in life don’t fit in a box.

The last year has been a back and forth decision-making process. Sell or stay?  I love this house, I love my view and the daily conversation I have with the deers; the fox who trots through occasionally. The treehouse feel I get with a house that is over 50% ceiling to floor windows. My attachment has been sentimental. And, it’s been a little fear-based as well. This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life. Since marrying at age 22 I’ve lived in Georgia, North Carolina, New Zealand, Virginia, New York, Alabama (13 years) then back to Virginia where I was born. This time I’m moving alone. I’m making all my decisions alone, for the most part. And I’m looking at the latter part of life, which is decidedly different from the attitude I embraced at age 31 when we bought our first house.

I spent my 60th birthday in Santa Fe, last August. It was the beginning of a journey. And, as I look through my photos there are a lot of doorways and gates. I sensed things changing for me. I took steps, as I am doing now, to prepare myself for that journey–it is involving lots of letting go. And, some days I can rejoice and some days the letting is a little sad.



Doorway, altar

I’m closing the door on this phase of life and I’m confident a new door is just waiting for me to open it and walk through. I will be taking along my memories.

Strengthening Our Relationships-The Sex Date

romance, relationshipsThis article first appeared on Better After 50, but seems appropriate for any time of the year. Valentine’s Day is over but we always need to find ways to strengthen relationships and add a little zip!

Sex dates are so much fun!

Ladies, get out your calendars, your sexiest red pen and circle a day for your sex date. Yes, a sex date.

It feels decidedly unsexy to plan for it, right?  Not really, I think there are plenty of reasons to set up a sex date with your partner, or yourself.  I suggested planning time for sex as one way of staying sexy while coping with a chronic illness.  I believe planning is a good idea for all of us.

We lead busy lives. We have routines that keep us in that same ol’ mindset, day in, day out. Stress, rushing around, so many things demanding our attention. We make time for going to the gym; we do grocery shopping every Thursday. When we set those appointments, or plan a day around a desired activity we are taking intentional steps to do the things we need to for our lives. So why wouldn’t we give play time with a loved one the same degree of importance?

I love how my friend and her husband are working actively to keep their sex life vibrant.  With Susie’s permission, I’m sharing her story—a few details have been altered to protect identities.

Walker, I’m in my mid 50’s and my sweetie is 65. We’ve been together for close to 10 years, but we’ve known each other for much longer. We both have strong sex drives but things have changed due to age. Jack needs a little boost, and uses Levitra. I have a dead-end corporate job and often come home annoyed about work (and not in the mood). So we started Naked Thursdays, i.e., a planned sex date.  Not every Thursday but at least once a month.  We’ll crack open a bottle of wine. The clothes will start to come off over the next few hours and we’ll unwind from the day and be silly and the toys will come out and by Friday morning I’ll come to work with a big smile on my face.

Here’s what I love about this story—this couple has made sex a priority in their lives. The fact that her husband uses Levitra means that a little forethought (the drug takes about 30 minutes to begin working) is necessary. Her stress level and frustration with her job means that she needs to ease into a new mental place—for women, sexual arousal often starts in the brain. They both acknowledge and plan for their own physical needs.

The sex date is absolutely fabulous for anyone, at any age. When you plan a sex date:

  • You are saying, sex is important to me as a part of our relationship
  • I’m taking this time for us alone—nothing else takes precedence or gets in the way. Phones off, no distractions.
  • You give yourself permission to seek pleasure.


This couple is setting aside time to incorporate all the aspects of a great sex date. They give themselves time to talk and connect on an emotional level. They aren’t rushing into the bed; they aren’t just “doing it.” Note that she said, “over the next few hours.” WOW!!! They recognize that building a passionate fire takes a little kindling. Getting to the orgasm isn’t the main focus but is likely one of the many rewards of this kind of sensuous exploration.

We should set aside time for sexual play, coupled or single. When you give yourself permission possibilities abound. You could read erotica, take a shower together or enjoy a sexy meal. Give each other a massage, watch a sexy movie…Tease and play. Explore, delight, seduce.

If you’re single, you can plan a solo session to connect with your body. A sensuous bath followed by exploration of your own body, finding your pleasure zones, trying out one of your favorite sex toys—we don’t need partners to have sexy play sessions.

Structure your sex date any way you like—but make the commitment. Make a plan. Knowing that your Sexy Saturday or Naked Thursday is on the calendar creates anticipation and heightened awareness—that alone should begin to kickstart your brain and body.

Have you had a sex date? How did you plan for it?


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