Libido is deadJul 29, 2023
'I'm 55 and having the best sex of my life."
The landscape of female sexuality in the 2020s is certainly changing.
This was the headline in the Body + Soul Magazine in the Daily Mail and Sunday Mail last weekend - a comprehensive article written by Angela Mollard about women's sexuality in midlife. Angela interviewed me for this article to find out more about The Making Love Retreat that I hold in Noosa, Queensland.
Women are more and more feeling a right and empowerment to claim their own desire in sexuality. Angela's article explores the full breadth of what women are exploring right now and many are not shy in seeking what they need.
From where I sit as an educator, and psychotherapist specialising in Menopause and Intimacy, it's not just about great sex, (though that is certainly invited), women are certainly wanting more in terms of love and connection.
One of the biggest myths we dispel in the book I co-wrote with Diana Richardson, Tantric Sex and Menopause, Practices for Spiritual and Sexual Renewal is that having so-called 'low libido' can inhibit one's ability to make love in mid-life and beyond.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The shameful secret for many and the seeming bane of one's identity when it comes to sexuality - to have low libido, for man or woman, can actually be an opportunity rather than a roadblock to intimacy.
According to my co-author and leading authority on Tantra, founder of The Making Love Retreat, Diana Richardson says that having a high libido can often be a distraction to being fully present in lovemaking. A high sex drive that is overwhelming and difficult to tame can impede one's ability to be present with their partner and being lusty and goal-driven can sometimes lead to being quite absent to the other and subsequently disconnected.
While the mainstream is still very entrenched in sex which is high excitement, and high sensation, more and more couples of all ages, from their 20's and beyond, but particularly in midlife, are turning to an alternative, a more mindful approach to intimacy.
In midlife, the hormones that drove reproduction for women when we were younger, may be subsiding through perimenopause and menopause (for some). This actually offers us an incredible opportunity - an opening to another way of making love that is more sensitive and not necessarily driven by sensation and high excitement.
Angela Mollard speaks to this in the article. Here is just some of what she reported from her interview with me about The Making Love Retreat. The full piece is available in the link below.
“Often, it’s high sensation, high tension, over quickly and women are left thinking, ‘Is that it?’ or, ‘Do I have to do that again?’ Men are the opposite – they can come too quickly or struggle to get an erection.”
Before couples attend her six-day retreats, which aim to reinvigorate their intimacy as part of a broader examination of their relationship, she speaks to them via video call. The tension is often palpable and entrenched.
“I can see the dissonance on the screen,” she says. “He’s angry, she’s angry, but I can start helping them feel hope because where there’s blame, there’s shame. Couples are yearning for love and connection.”
In fact, the biggest changes often happen in the first 24 hours (on the retreat), when she’s urged the couples to become more present and given them exercises to try in their private time together. One key element is eye contact. “We think of sex and we just think of the genitals, but through eye contact hearts open and soften and the brittleness falls away.”
According to McGeever, menopause and ageing can influence sex. But she believes we need to quash the misconception that libido is required for intimacy.
“You don’t need libido to make love. You need love to make love, and we can work with bodies that have varying degrees of arousal because we take a mindful and conscious approach.”
Just one example? She tells of a recent client, in her 60s, who had sworn off sex because of a lack of lubrication, but after a few sessions she came in one afternoon glowing. McGeever laughs: “She was saying, ‘I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it.’ It’s something that I constantly tell women: ‘You’re not broken.’”
While she cheekily points out that her retreats don’t include “nudity, group sex or partner swapping”, committing time alongside others brings results. As one former male client says: “Through slow sex, I can heal my pattern of feeling ‘not good enough’. Sex and being a confident lover were major missing pieces of my puzzle. I now feel at peace, at home and, most importantly, centred.”
This makes up only part of the article. You can read the full 4 page piece here.
While you may not feel arousal in your body, what I say is, the 'idea' of libido is dead. Really, just let it go. The word itself implies a measurement we have to live up to.
Do not be identified with it at all. Rather be more interested in how you can open your heart to love, to being in your body in such a relaxed way in presence, that you naturally open in aliveness and juiciness.
If you'd like to explore this approach to lovemaking more, the new 2024 dates for the Making Love Retreat have now been announced. You can view it here.
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