The other day, my friend and I had dinner at a Japanese restaurant with an old friend and went back to my friend’s place just to relax and talk in her room. I hadn’t seen this person for at least a year and a half because of the pandemic, so eating ramen together as a trio was somewhat nostalgic of when we used to eat lunch together. My friend, however, had seen them a few times throughout the pandemic to hook up, so I suppose us actually hanging out was fun though a bit strange.
Regardless, they still hooked up shortly after I left.
After talking for hours on my friend’s bed, I knew that I had to leave, not so much because I knew that they were going to fuck despite not having planned to but more because I was starting to feel my eyelids close and my body slow down. As I left their house at midnight, I felt happy for them but also a tinge of embarrassment for myself as I drove back to my house while listening to “Blue” by MARINA. If you’re wondering, I was not ashamed of them for having sex, but rather, I was ashamed of myself for not having sex.
If you have been keeping up with my column until now, you have probably realized that I don’t have very much sex (which is, to say the least, ironic considering I write this column). In fact, I’ve only had sex a few times in my life, and that was all in the span of a couple of weeks. In case you missed it, I wrote about these experiences in previous columns. After that, I have remained largely sexless — unless you count masturbating, which I do on a regular basis.
This isn’t to say I haven’t tried to set up hookups or that I don’t want to have sex. Rather, it’s almost embarrassing how much I’ve tried — at least in the beginning. After having the only people message you first be older men who could potentially kill you and messaging people and never receiving a response, you start to feel incredibly drained and are left with nothing except a destroyed self-confidence. So, I decided a break might be the healthier option.
Presently, my sex drive is pretty low — so low, in fact, that it has even affected my desire to masturbate. I reassure all of you that I haven’t stopped; it just hasn’t been good at all lately. However, it is not necessarily caused by any sort of physiological factors, because I’ve found that my sex drive is greatly determined by my confidence.
For example, sometimes, I feel a strong burst of energy to hook up with a random stranger from Tinder, or Grindr if I’m desperate, only to be immediately disappointed when they inevitably ghost me even after they called me cute.
When I first started really using these dating apps, I would have described myself as desperate and lonely, but that desperation has somewhat dissipated as I’ve realized that the chase of online dating apps was not giving me any long-lasting satisfaction or validation. I do not want to completely push the idea that people should be mentally healthy to engage in romantic or sexual relationships, but I can say that it was not healthy for me to join these dating apps with the expectation that sex would somehow make me feel happier. If anything, it has done the opposite.
And it’s not so much that I care about being alone, but I am not even given the option — and that is what’s bothering me. I have devalued myself and have destroyed my self-image all because I wanted someone to like me sexually and romantically, regardless of whether or not I liked them in return. While it might be selfish, in my mind, I just wanted to be seen as attractive enough.
I know that I wrote in my first column that I would accept every part of myself, but I also wrote that it would be a journey. And it has been a journey, to say the least. Right now, I am just in a spot where my self-esteem is low, but I recognize that this is something I have to actively change within my life. Instead of relying on the validation of strangers, I should — and I know this sounds a little cliche — rely on myself and form my own image.
I suppose that is the whole point of writing this and my entire column. I came into this position not to write about my sexual experiences so much as to write about my critique of the world around me in relation to myself in hopes that it would help other people. But I can’t lie and say that I am unaffected mentally by the things I see. After all, it is impossible in my life to completely avoid sex and sexuality.
I’ve enjoyed parts of my summer when I was hanging out with my friends and when I wasn’t busy doing my summer class. But by the end of this summer, just for fun and for my own enjoyment, I want to at least have sex one more time before returning to school in the fall.
And well, you’ll know whether or not I did by the end of the summer.
Joaquin Najera writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact him at [email protected].