When I moved back to the States from England last summer, I fell into an almighty funk. Suddenly, I was living in a town with 8.5% the population of greater London and most of the men on my dating sites were now sporting man buns, doing wheelies on their mountain bikes and french kissing their dogs. This Pacific Northwest hipster species has his own kind of charm. But it wasn’t the kind I had become accustomed to; the suave English gentleman, a variety who wasn’t afraid to hold my gaze for more than a nanosecond and could touch my arm without thinking I was going to accuse him of harassment.
After I unpacked the things I needed to function, like the coffee grinder and the bottle opener, I had a hard time getting off the couch when my son was away at school. I think of myself as a hearty optimist (though I also concede this can make me a pain in the ass), but my optimism was waning, along with the long days of summer, and if I was going to get all angsty about my dating wasteland I should at least put my limited energy into something educational. I decided irony might at least keep me entertained while I was going through my Adjustment Disorder, so I picked up Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
I don’t generally let things I have no control over bother me (which is a good skill to cultivate when you’re single and dating). So, the first half of the book Manson was preaching to the choir. I began to perk up when he started talking about the benefits of our problems, as the struggle to come up with solutions is what, essentially, gives our lives meaning. We spend a lot of time trying to avoid our problems when, in fact, addressing those problems is often what helps us grow up and get better at quite a lot of things.
If you’re like me – and Mark Manson – it can take a huge effort to drag yourself off the couch. And when the task at hand feels overwhelming, the trajectory involved in dealing with it makes your knees knock. But instead of trying to muster inspiration in order to start working on your problem, without needing to feel momentously motivated, what does Mr Manson say is the solution?
Just do something. Fuck inspiration. Fuck motivation. Just start. Even if you’re flying blind.
This is a brain-changing concept and can be applied to just about anything we’ve been procrastinating over. Manson cites a successful, prolific writer as saying, “Two hundred crappy words a day.” is all it takes to write a book every year. Since I’m fixated on all things love and sex, and loads of people tell me how their relationships began to break down when they stopped having sex, it seems clear that this method of problem solving could help repair a stale sex life, perhaps even inject new enthusiasm into your long-term relationship.
Don’t feel like having sex? Tough. Just do it. That’s the whole point here. Because what research has found is that the more sex you have, the more you’ll want to have sex and the happier you’ll become. Benefits of frequent sex include:
-Better cardiovascular health
-Lower levels of stress
-Increased mental function
-A stronger vagina (I practice weight training – why not vagina strengthening?)
-An overall greater sense of wellbeing and meaning
Even without orgasm, sex triggers the release of feel-good hormones throughout your body. Women can generate oxytocin, the bonding hormone, simply from having the vaginal walls and cervix stimulated. Isn’t that cool? And for those of us who are unpartnered, I’m going to assume my dildo will do almost as good a job.
In surveys people reported that more frequent sex was nearly as equivalent as having an extra $50,000.00 in the bank. But actual studies of people who intentionally increased their frequency for the sake of a study didn’t always feel the same. Some will argue that frequency is less important than quality, but I’d suggest that you mix it up and embrace having more frequent adequate sex than put a whole lot of effort and big expectations into a monthly marathon session. What if that special night turns out to be a bust? Oh well, you can look forward to your quicky the next morning.
I know I’m simplifying this issue. An asymmetrical sex drive within a relationship is tough stuff. It’s not easy asking why your beloved doesn’t want to have sex with you. New research on the female brain confirms that women need to be comfortable in every respect before they can get aroused, let alone even desire to have sex. If a person is pushing too hard for sex, using this article perhaps, to convince his partner she should just put up with his demands, that completely misses the point and will backfire in its intent. This ‘Do Something’ principle needs to be an agreed-upon activity, one imbued with respect and good humor. It needs to include curiosity, imagination and a ready supply of really good lubricant. And, yes, it requires consent.
Now, granted, desire wanes with age and plummeting hormones for many of us women, but so does the robustness of our vaginas. The ‘use it or lose it’ mentality we apply to our bodies and brains is especially pertinent to the health of our woman parts. Go too long without sex and the next time you get a little nookie it’s possible things will be painful, a condition known as vaginal atrophy, which I experienced in my early 40’s after an unfortunate gap in my sex life due to to arrival of…a baby! Don’t despair though. When you find that wonderful new lover, even at the ripe old age of 70, a little patience, a good lube, and maybe some locally directed hormone therapy, will have you feeling like a randy bonobo in no time.
Here’s Mr Manson’s Do Somethin Principal as intended for all the other shit we have piled on our modern-day plates. I say, apply it to sex and see yourself rocking all your other tasks because you feel so much better. And if it doesn’t work? Who gives a f*ck.