• Wed, Mar 24 2010

The Heart Monitor: Love In the Time of Zoloft

We didn’t sleep together on the first date.

We waited until early the next morning, when the sun was just peeking through the crack of my shades. By that point we couldn’t take our hands off each other. His touch felt magnetic and his lips were hot on mine. It wasn’t wild sex—it was passionate sex, open-eyed sex, poignant sex. It was the sort of cinematic, Hollywood starlet sex that would fit in a romance novel and deemed love-making. It was the kind of sex that made our post-coital exclusivity a given.

Two weeks later I was masturbating alone in the shower.

It didn’t happen overnight—it happened over the course of a week. By the time the SSRI had fully kicked in, his cock had all but checked out.

He wasn’t depressed—it wasn’t that at all. But his therapist suggested his job-related anxiety would be managed with a little white pill. It was a great idea. He was stressed and his nerves were shot. The bad dreams, the panic attacks and the career neuroses dissipated—and so did his sex drive.

We were great together. He took me to fancy dinners, delighted my friends with hilarious stories and surprised me with my favorite desserts. He held my hand at we walked down the avenue and kissed my cheek adoringly. We spent hours lying in bed talking about my problems, his arms wrapped around me like a seatbelt, his fingertips wiping away my tears.

He just didn’t want to fuck me anymore.

“It’s not you,” he would say, rolling over to the other side of the bed. “I just don’t think about sex anymore.”

But all I heard was: “I just don’t think about sex with you anymore.”

I was distressed. It was impossible not to blame myself—and my love handles. In the spirit of all happy relationships, I had gained five pounds. My hourglass figure was swollen and I felt permanently bloated.

And it wasn’t just my figure that weighed on me.

I was waking up in the mornings next to him with last night’s makeup crusted around my eyes, my lashes gummy with sleep, in sweat shorts. I didn’t care. I wore the same nude, full-coverage bra for weeks and forgot to wash my hair. He didn’t want to have sex with me anyway. I ate my feelings and drank excessively so I’d be too wasted at night—and too hungover in the morning—to fuck. It was like we were an old married couple and I had let myself go—but we had only been together for two months.

He wasn’t supposed to drink on the pills but he did anyway, and instead of dirty messages he’d send me texts like: “I just want to snuggle you so hard” and “I’m gonna spoon you like you’ve never been spooned before.”

I rationalized everything. The text messages were cute. The cuddling was what women really wanted. The lack of sex was empowering, and a smart basis for a strong, intellectual relationship.

We had sex every few days.

I was the guy in the relationship, horny and greedy and frustrated with the situation. When we had sex, I came multiple times and felt badly when he couldn’t. He could fuck me and fuck me and fuck me, but couldn’t come. “It still feels good,” he assured me. “Sort of.” Then he would set the alarm, snuggle up against me and fall asleep.

We had sex once a week, tops.

“It’s like it’s all numb,” he later told me. “It’s like it’s numb…but that’s not the worst part. The worst part is I don’t care.”

I heard: “The worst part is I don’t care about you.”

I went on the internet and looked up Zoloft side effects. Zoloft sexual side effects had its own section.

Ejaculation problems — up to 19 percent.
Decreased sex drive — up to 11 percent.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t comforted by these statistics. Did that just mean 90% of men were still turned on by their girlfriends? And 80% were still fucking them to completion?

I felt cheated out of the passion we had shared in the beginning. I started arguments and was edgy around my friends. New relationships weren’t supposed to be like this—I was supposed to be happy, carefree and blissfully floating in the fog of new romance. Instead I was cranky and fed up.

One night, we met up with some of his guy friends, and after a few—okay, a dozen—drinks, asked if anyone had ever been on Zoloft.

“I have,” said one. “Why, is your dick broken?”

“Yes!” he exclaimed, slapping my knee.

“Yeah, that’ll happen to you. I didn’t have sex with a girl for, like, six months. I wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t even jerk off much. Me and my dick just wanted to be left alone.”

This time I slapped his knee. Six months? How could I have sex once a week for six months? Sure, it was better than no sex. But we felt more like line-crossing roommates and less like lovers. I burst into tears in front of his friends, a dramatic climax born of of whiskey and frustration.

He hugged me. “It’s not going to be that long, I promise.”

He was right—I didn’t have to wait six months. Work improved, he learned to handle his stress positively and his therapist cut his dose in half.

So now we’re back to having sex every few days. It’s a lot better. I even lost a few pounds and bought a new bra. I know it wasn’t me—I know it was the Zoloft that killed my sex life—but it felt good to make an effort. It feels even better to fuck more often.

But I still masturbate in the shower.

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  • Lacrimosa

    I have this reaction to Zoloft too. Having sex until you’re too tired to continue, or she is sore or fed up with it. I remember noticing the desperation in her eye, like she failed. I felt terrible, so i always made sure she came, I always enjoyed the actual sex until I got tired. I grew less and less interested in satisfying her. I got the “I have needs” speech, we separated.

    I am amazed that you two stayed together. I am now single for three years. I don’t think anyone suffering depression should stay in a relationship. Let them escape.

    I am bitterly miserable, but there is no partner to bring down.
    The depression might kill me, but me alone.

    The worst though is seeing women give me the long lingering look in the eye. Dear god woman you have no idea how much I long for company, but I simply can’t do that to you.

    If I ignore her, a healthy man can meet her and they can be happy.