For the past nine months, I feel like I’ve been struggling with low sexual desire. People I’d normally be sexually attracted to don’t interest me anymore, even though I’m pretty sure my physical sexual functioning is fine. What should I do?

Merri: If you’re in a new environment, it could very well have to do with adapting to this novel sample size. If that’s not the case, however, maybe you’re disillusioned, or perhaps as you’ve garnered more and more experience, your standards have risen — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But if this period of celibacy is really bothering you, if you’re willing, perhaps just try hooking up with someone for kicks and see where that takes you (maybe it’s a mental block!). I mean, you never know — turn your brain off for a couple hours next time you’re in an environment conducive to such opportunity and who knows?

Or, maybe your sexuality is telling you to look into personality more and that you actually want a relationship and not just a hookup. Something to think about.

Webster: There could be a lot of moving parts here, so it’ll be hard to know for sure what’s caused a change and what to do about it. If you think outside the box, there might be a mound of different factors: stress, being too busy, a new medication, or your feelings might have just changed, or a million other things.

In any case, don’t feel like you have to toss someone a bone or fit a square peg in a round hole if you’re not actually interested in them. Don’t clam up; branch out, look in new places for people you might be interested in, try new things with yourself and your potential partner if it’s not exciting anymore. It doesn’t seem like you’re that worried about any physiological causes, but if you find yourself very concerned, then I’m sure there are professionals who will help you get over this hump.

I know college is supposed to be about meeting new people and exposing yourself to opposing ideas, but I feel like when I speak with people holding opposing views, we just don’t have productive conversations — each of us remains rooted in our ideas. On the other hand, if I speak with people holding similar views, we have very productive conversations with ideas for actions to further our cause. How can I make my conversations with people holding opposing ideas more productive?


Merri: Personal experiences and upbringing can contribute a lot to deep-rooted perspectives; it’s hard to remove oneself from something so integral, and many times that can contribute to our tendency to get locked in our own views.

It’s helpful to hold conversations in an environment specifically meant to be productive (see: “Ask a Feminist” panel this Thursday). Otherwise, just ask earnestly and take seriously why people think in different ways. Understand that the aim of your conversation might not be to change someone’s mind — obviously it’ll be hard to make your conversations productive in this sense. But they can be productive in that they help you consider factors that you hadn’t, or you come away with an understanding of how to improve your own arguments.

Webster: First of all, kudos to you for even trying. You’re already ahead of so many people who insist on keeping their heads buried deep in their asses.

Second of all, just beat the shit out of them.

(I’m totally kidding. Don’t do that. That’s called fascism.)

Third of all, you just have to go for it sometimes. Fight everyone. Fight Donald Trump. Fight Hillary Clinton. Fight Ted Cruz. Fight the chupracabra. Fight William Marsh Rice himself. Fight your mom. Fight your mom’s grandmother. Fight your mom’s grandmother’s purebred poodle.

They all have opinions, and your arms will be much buffer after you fight all of them. That’s the most productive you can be.

“Ask Merri and Webster” is an advice column authored by two Thresher editorial staff members. Readers can email their inquiries to thresher@rice.edu.