Shunning quality time together in our birthday suits has to be one of the most extreme symptoms of how relentless modern life can be.
Hardship and overwork force us to make hard choices—when you’re already sleep deprived, engaging in sex means losing precious shut-eye and many of us just can’t afford the trade-off.
Is sex becoming a privilege, one that is getting less and less accessible?
Although it’s free, it isn’t the obvious choice come bedtime when you only get to sleep five or six hours a night. If sex can make you feel refreshed and energized, its wondrous effects don’t last, therefore spending a night exerting yourself could result in a difficult work day.
Sleep deprivation is bad for our health. Not only does it mess with our reflexes and our metabolism, but it jeopardizes our ability to focus and think clearly, without which nothing happens in most professions.
In this context, libido becomes an impediment, another demand on a time already in short supply. And a source of frustration when there’s nothing you can do about it.
These days, mine comes and goes when it makes an appearance at all. During the five years I lost to major depressive disorder, my libido vanished. It didn’t help that my marriage had already turned into a dead bedroom, well, two if you want to be technical.
Sex became that thing some humans do, only I wasn’t one of them anymore.
And yet, I had always enjoyed it and am reasonably comfortable with my body regardless of its imperfections. I have limits but no hang-ups. While there are things I won’t do, I’m open about sex and it is neither taboo nor embarrassing to me.
Sex is the highest level of human communication.
I only returned to masturbation after a cheeky friend asked me when I had last had an orgasm. Before their question, self-pleasuring hadn’t occurred to me for years because sex, in any variation, was no longer part of my reality.
Now that I’m back to being mentally functional, sex is something I’ve begun thinking about again—be it only as a societal issue—although its relevance to my own life remains questionable.
Thanks to my friend’s suggestion, at least I know I’m no longer dead from the waist down.
But that knowledge isn’t enough. What I miss more than sex is human warmth, that is to say, intimacy. There’s no replacement for that life-affirming closeness experienced in the arms of another human, or the sense of safety it can convey.
Regardless of whether sex comes with it, intimacy goes a long way toward alleviating mental exhaustion. When a fellow human has your back and you’re no longer going it alone, life becomes easier to navigate.
Everyone needs a champion, someone whose presence in your life empowers and inspires you to be and do the best you can. But with so many of us leading disconnected lives, sex and even its DIY relative have become commodities like any other. We’re learning to make do without, oblivious to the toll it takes on our mental health as we pare down our lives to how productive we can be.
When time is the only resource you have, as is the case with people of lesser means, you spend most of it monetizing it. And if you have others to care for, then they’re your priority and you come last, when you still register at all.
No wonder all we want to do at bedtime is sink into sleep without any interference, not even from our own fingers, as we continue to neglect our most basic needs.
Lest we forget, we humans are so much more than just a means of production.