My 24-year old daughter recently told me she has a very loving relationship with her live-in boyfriend of three years but does not feel like sex at all and has never had an orgasm. She said they have discussed it, but it didn’t lead anywhere. I even suggested she tried masturbation, but she screwed up her nose and said she doesn’t feel like it. I told her I never wanted sex until I met my present partner 8 years ago at the age of 46, when I enjoyed it – and felt like it – more than ever. This faded after 4/5 years, so I am back to square one. He is a sexually-active 64 year old and wishes I was more keen. My daughter is a warm and loving person who is not afraid to show her affection, with no major hang-ups, but with no libido. Are we both frigid?? Is it hereditary? I believe my mother is the same.
Freud said that when two people made love, there were always four other people – our parents – in the room, at least in spirit. And often, we imagine that they are disgusted and disapproving, which puts a damper on passion to say the least. Sexual attitudes are hereditary in as much as we learn to be frightened of the power of sexual desire, to see sex as dangerous and ourselves as dirty if we enjoy it, from our family.
Whether you realise it or not, there seems to be a script in your family history that says sex isn’t something a proper woman should enjoy and lose herself in. However much your conscious minds might like to enjoy sex, this holds both of you back. Self consciousness and inhibitions can fade with age and self confidence, or when an assured partner can set a more positive tone. But as you’ve found, fears can reassert themselves unless you really deal with them.
Both of you might benefit from talking with a sexual counsellor or therapist – from Relate or one attached to your own doctor’s surgery. A therapist would help you explore what holds you back and why, and aid you and your partner in making some changes. But I gently suggest that although open and free discussion between mother and daughter is wonderful and to be encouraged, there are limits. Pass this suggestion on to your daughter and show her that you value the idea by doing it yourself. But leave each other to get on with it, with your own partners. Parents and children can often get into less than helpful competition when it comes to sex.
I don’t think it’s a total coincidence, for instance, that you found passion when your daughter was 16 and lost it when she found her own boyfriend, or that her sexual development has been difficult during these years. Love and support her by all means but leave her and her boyfriend in that bedroom alone together!