A horny hormone story in four parts.
First hint I liked a dominant lover, I was 23 and being kissed hard, pressed against a wall, my hair gripped tightly in his fist—eliciting an immediate wet panty response.
The boyfriend before this unexpected encounter was all about permission—tentative for cues it was okay to sex me up, and even then, taking me with the ardor of a worn out stud-horse.
Maybe it was just bad chemistry, but that first (and almost four-year) sexual relationship was about as hot and steamy as Iceland. And it left me wanting a whole lot more. It left me wondering if I was too frigid or timid to inspire a passionate, I-want-to-fuck-you-baby response in a man.
Maybe it was my fault? After all, I came from a born-again Christian stint in my late teen years that left me feeling queasy about premarital sex. Maybe I gave off guilt-waves that kept my boyfriend from wanting to ravish me (and no, I don’t mean rape).
Then came the hair-tugging, wall-pressing kiss with a man 18 years older. A man I married because I was insanely, irrevocably smitten with his primal, unabashed maleness.
This was a man who would think nothing of luring me away from the dance floor at a party to do me in the bathroom; who would initiate sex on a semi-public beach at dusk under the cover of a barely-there blanket; who would pull me back to the bed and cover me in kisses, morning breath be damned.
After a year of living together, we started getting serious about sex play. He introduced me to bondage lite—just simple ropes around bed posts, arms and legs splayed kind of thing.But the turn-on factor soared.
I began to fantasize at work about coming home to my sex slave duties. I began to dream up more elaborate restraints, and even ventured into domination-submission role play. Oh officer, was I speeding?
And then, I got married to him and had kids.
My sex slave life faded fast. It was as if there were unspoken rules about what parents should be up to in the privacy of their boudoir, rules that said be proper for god sake, what will the children think!
And frankly, I wasn’t in the mood anymore. I was a stressed out, tired, overworked mother who was happy to have vanilla sex once a week or less. My hormones were in oxytocin mode, wanting to cuddle and snuggle versus rattle the bed frame. It wasn’t until my divorce that I rediscovered my horniness, and my dormant kinky side—which it turns out was not dead, just languishing for almost two decades in suspended animation.
Three: Horny Peri-Menopausal Bitch.
The post-divorce Italian lover (now I’m 44) was my first clue my kinky-as-all-hell inner-Anastasia Steele was still doing the salsa and meringue with my domesticated womanhood.
Damn it, I could have written Fifty Shades of Grey, but with me cast as an intelligent, muse-driven writer who never, ever, says Holy Crap just as a guy reveals his dick for the first time. No, I would simply purr, and remark cleverly about its girth. Bring that huge Italian salami over here now, please.Or something like that.
The Italian lover was relentlessly passionate. He also loved to role play and play withsex toys.
Until then, I assumed a butt plug was something in a plumbing shop. Until then, I had no clue that dildos were great optional add-ons for coitus, and that given three orifices are available, why not fill them all? Until then I didn’t even know that anal and pleasure fit together, that anal was more than a psychological fixation. You could say that I was a late bloomer in the land of free-spirited sexual experimentation.
But boy did I bloom into a BDSM black rose. Soon I was shopping in sex shops, finding the latest gadgets for him and her—nipple clips, prostate massagers, strap on dildos, leather-thonged whips, blindfolds, handcuffs and more. I think I kept the neighborhood sex shop in business that fall.
And then, it ended. Not just the whirlwind relationship, but my desire for far-out sex. It’s like I exhausted a reserve of hyper-erotic fantasy, tapped it bone dry in four months of crazy sexing.
The next two boyfriends, I backslid (a good old born-again term) if not to vanilla sex, then to strawberry. The occasional sex toy made an appearance, but for the most part I was happy to be experiencing pleasure, no pain needed. No hold me down, tie me up. Just basic love me here and now, preferably with a modicum of manly ardor.
Now I’m in a new relationship to my sexuality, so new that it’s as uncharted as the dark continent pre-Livingston. It’s a land dense with the unknown, and those who have gone there before me seem to be pretty well mum on what’s in this new land—no books, yet, filling the airport kiosks with much-needed navigation tips.
This new land is the continent of menopause. Now, my sex drive is all over the map—here today, extinct tomorrow. And did I mention how arid this land is? Not the lush, wet and steamy terrain of my fecund years. It’s the Sahara-years, and thank god for Silk and coconut oil.
Not long ago, in a comic attempt to get some passion flowing through my veins, I signed up for the pilot of an online course called Ignite Passion Now. In it a husband and wife team teach couples how to restore polarity and juice to the dried up sex circuit. My partner (now husband) and I were assigned an online episode (video clip instruction) that was, uncannily, about domination and submission.
And we procrastinated. We got sick; the dog got sick; my kid got sick. All in all, we played the sick card to avoid having to tie each other up, just to get hot and horny again.
Yes, I am a drop out from Ignite Passion Now. But in the months since this ill-fated attempt at jump starting my libido (and yes, my husband’s is fine) I have come to a new understanding of my life as a sex slave.
Forget the kinky game playing and the wet-panty love. Because even then, even as I was gorgeously aroused and panting with desire, I was a slave to something hidden and something unspoken.
I was a slave to estrogen.
Don’t laugh. It’s true. I realize sex used to be a drive, and kinky sex was sex on overdrive. When I am hungry, I eat; thirsty I drink; tired, I sleep…and it used to be, when I am horny, I have sex (with myself or a partner).
Now that my estrogen (not to mention progesterone and testosterone) levels have plummeted to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I’m no longer ravenously horny or precipitously sexual. And that good old mid-cycle fuck-me-now spike is missing in action. In fact, horny feels like a fond memory, the kind you have when you think back to puberty at the rush of anticipation and excitement even the thought of kissing someone could elicit.
Horny is like that—it’s a build-up of pent-up hormonally driven anticipation. Don’t take my word for it. Hit menopause and find out for yourself.
Well, let me back up this contention. Because I am kind of suspicious when menopausal women relish me with tales of never been more sexually alive. Yeah right. Perhaps if you’ve been in a sexually dead marriage for years, new lover novelty feels like a libido rebirth. It’s all relative.
But according to author Jill Shaw Ruddock, in her cheerfully written book The Second Half of Your Life, most research shows most women suffer a libido drop at menopause. It’s not freakish. It’s normal.
I’m 50 and my periods are as unreliable as my sexual desire. Yet I don’t miss my libido. because instead of horny, I am in steady state of something that is beginning to feel like self-love. It’s a state where the body and its drive for sexual satisfaction stands down. And where giving and receiving pleasure is not a drive, but rather a playful choice.
All these sex slave years, in bondage to my reproductive hormones, driven to dance to an incessant endocrine drum beat, I am for the first time dancing to my own new beat–the beat, not of my loins, but of my heart.
This heart, the heart of a woman who has lived, loved and lost, is the new dom. And my body, for once, is the submissive. This heart is learning to be the one in charge.
Don’t worry, body, the heart is a gentle lover. She will only take you by force when you are ready.
(This article first appeared on elephant journal under the same title.)