Make It Stop: “I Used To Be Sex Positive, But I’ve Lost My Mojo”

I used to be a very sex-positive person. I never felt regret and happily owned my sexual decisions. I loved talking about sex and having it and reminiscing in it. I was confident under the sheets … and in the back of taxis … until now. Six months ago, I ended my most serious relationship to date. During our relationship, I stopped feeling sexually confident. I would zone out during sex, stopped initiating, reluctantly pulled my panties to the side when I knew I wasn’t feeling it. I hated being on top and being on display. Now, in the wake of our breakup, my mojo is gone. The freedom, confidence and enjoyment I felt so easily with others and alone is nearly nonexistent. I don’t feel like myself and I don’t know what to get it back. I’ve been dodging friends, ignoring mirrors, and putting off dating attempts. This is not me. My sex-positivity mirrored my drive for life, and I miss it. I told myself I’d jump back on the horse in six months, but as that deadline nears, I’m pretending horses don’t exist. Who is this person? What do I do? Have you seen my mojo?

Come here. I want to give you a hug. This stuff isn’t easy. Parts of your personality seemed to have fluttered away and you don’t know how to move forward.

Sexual mojo is a shy kitten. If you try to dominate her, she’ll run under the bed and refuse to come out no matter how much you beg. But if you ignore her and choose to say, unbox your new Birchbox on the bed, she’ll emerge on her own accord to bat around a stray eyeliner or maybe chew on some hot pink tissue paper. In the act of ignoring her, she made herself present. That’s how you had your mojo in the first place, right? You didn’t force it. It just showed up to play.

So what do you do to get your mojo back? It’s the same thing you did to get it in the first place: stop worrying about it. The anxiety of losing your mojo might be the very thing that’s preventing you from getting it back.

For starters, get ride of this ridiculous six month deadline. You can’t put a timeline on your soul and spirit. It doesn’t work that way and only serves to hike up the unease you feel because sweetheart, you’re not the same person as you were before your relationship. You’ve had some unpleasant experiences that have taken their toll in unexpected way. Trying to shoehorn your old personality into today’s body isn’t going to do anything but frustrate you.

You had a mostly negative sexual experience with your boyfriend. Sex, this thing you championed, your ultimate expression of freedom, made you feel uninspired. It’s unfortunate, but it also opened your mind. You now know both the pleasures of wonderful sex and the trappings of routine sex. As much as you know about the kind of sex you’d like to have, now you specifically know the type you’d like to avoid. It’s not information you sought, but it’s information you now have. It’s understandable that it might take some time to synthesize this new information with your world outlook. Give yourself permission to let the process happen.

I swear I can almost hear you through my computer monitor: But what if I ignore my mojo and it never comes back?

Well, it’s possible your fabulously free sexual phase might have always had a time limit on it. All phases run their course, like going to music festivals or drinking vodka and Red Bull. Sure, maybe you were destined to be Blanche Devereaux wearing silk robes in Miami and dating twice-divorced men with a combover named Richard. But it’s just as possible that you’ve grown out of it.

Maybe your path is to take this wild, wonderful phase of your life and carry it with you on your next adventure. Then you chase that feeling sex previously gave you—the spontaneity, the adventure, the newness—with something else. People do it all the time. One passion wanes and another pops up in its place. That’s what growing up is; seeking out new passions, fortifying our lives with a range of experiences.

I know it’s a titillating problem because sex is still seen as lascivious in our society. But substitute sex for skydiving or gardening and it’s the same problem that results when one confuses passion for identity. A food blogger who suddenly gets sick of going to restaurants. An actor who wants to direct. A model who wants to sing. People’s passions shift and instead of mourning it, embrace it. You identify as a free spirit so that’s why it feels so distressing when the free spirit doesn’t feel like coming out to play.

You’ve caught a lightning bug in a jar but your lightening bug died. Unscrew the lid, and shake out the sad, still insect. Lift your eyes, look for a new lightening bug not to trap, but to admire.

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.