For the uninitiated, a dry spell is when you go through a stretch of time without hooking up or having sex. There are plenty of reasons you might want to abstain for awhile: Maybe you're hyper-focused on school or work, maybe you're healing after a breakup, or maybe you're experiencing an unfortunate string of first dates with people who have never learned the importance of dental hygiene. No matter the reason, you might wonder
how long a normal dry spell lasts — and the thing is that there's no typical length.
Not even the rich and famous are immune from occasional droughts. As Jennifer Lawrence told
Vogue in 2015, "Cheers to my hymen growing back!" The next year, she told Extra TV, " What dating life? ... I haven't felt the touch of a man in..." (here, she trailed off for dramatic effect). And earlier this year, she told The Sun, "I am making it clear that I have not had sex in a very long time." So, look, if it's been awhile for you, you certainly have some pretty sweet company. There's no shame in taking a break from getting physical.
If you need extra reassurance, these women get exactly what you're going through. Clearly, there's no time limit on how long it's "OK" to go through a dry spell. Everyone's different and that variety can actually be pretty comforting. So, you do do (literally), and don't sweat if it takes awhile to get back in the game.
This woman was afraid she'd forget how to have sex.
I once went about four years without sex in between my high school boyfriend and I breaking up and my first casual hookup experience (with a friend of a friend) in college. When it finally happened, I remember being even more nervous than I was while losing my virginity because it had been so long that I was sure I'd forgotten how to do it. Is muscle memory a thing in regards to sex? Apparently, yes. Unfortunately for me, the sex itself wasn't great. But it did 'awaken' me, in a sense, to hookup culture and get rid of some of the cobwebs down there. I was much more open to casual hookups after that, and even looked exclusively for those for awhile when I felt too busy for an actual relationship.
— Heather*, 25
This woman took a few months off from sex after a bad breakup.
The most notable drought in recent memory was probably two or three months about a year ago. It was a mixture of my own doing and external forces. I was getting over a recent blindsiding breakup and a personal depressive episode regarding my living situation, career, and other non-romantic relationships involving being slut-shamed by a roommate. It was hard because getting laid probably would have helped me out of that funk, but I didn't feel sexy or outgoing or that I was wanted, which resulted in it lasting longer.
— Kaela*, 24
This woman's dry spell taught her an important lesson about anxiety.
I'm closing in on a year without hooking up or having sex — my longest dry spell since I started having sex five years ago. I've taken a pause from dating to focus on grad school and I recently started a new job, so putting the effort into dating/hooking up has been close to last on my list of priorities. I have mixed feelings about it. The lack of intimacy sucks really bad sometimes, but I feel good about my decision to place more value on other parts of my life that need attention right now. I'm glad I've learned my capacity for dealing with things that lead to anxiety for me, and if that means that dating/hooking up takes a back seat for a little while, that's OK!
— Holly, 26
This woman missed having sex regularly with one person.
I'd say the longest amount of time I've gone without hooking up or having sex is three months. It was right after a guy who I had a friends with benefits relationship with decided to end things because we were both starting to get really emotionally involved. He didn't think it was good because I'd be moving to a new state soon. I felt really conflicted about it, to be honest. I enjoy sex and think it's healthy to want and have it. However, I got so used to having a partner who I trusted and who knew what I liked/didn't like that I was worried I wouldn't enjoy sex/hooking up with a new person as much.
— Sabrina, 22
This woman had an empowering experience.
[The] longest time I’ve had a dry spell was around a year. I did it on purpose because I knew myself and how attached I get to even hookups. I had just broken up with my ex-boyfriend and was far more interested in getting my life back to center around just me than to worry about where my new hookup would be. It was honestly really empowering and an unconventional goal of mine!
— Emily, 19
This woman took a break from sex after surviving rape.
My friend raped me so I decided not to have sex for the next six months or so. It wasn't so much a decision but a bodily response to the trauma. It was a protective barrier ... It was just a clean slate I needed to carve out for myself. I had to completely re-shift my sexual identity.
— Celia*, 26
If you or a loved one have experienced a sexual assault, harassment, or trauma, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Call the National Sexual Assault hotline at 800.656.4673, or visit Rainn.org, to seek out aid, advice, and the resources you need.
This woman stopped having a sex for a year as a form of self-care.
I lost my virginity to a friends with benefits two summers ago, and once that ended, I decided to go a year without sex. I felt as though I needed time to focus on myself — my mental health, college education, and family — and [focus] less on boys. I felt as though I truly didn’t know myself at that time of my life, and I wanted to get to know and love myself before I opened my heart to someone new.
— Lizzie, 22
This woman remembers exactly how many days her dry spell lasted.
I went two months and twelve days without sex my freshman year of college. I had a boyfriend in a different school about six hours away participating in the same form of self-torture. Everyone around me had amped up sex drives induced by newfound freedom and Bacardi. It was difficult to not envy my single friends, even if they did have to do it in lofted twin beds. The relationship I had with him was strong enough to withstand my whole freshman year and a bit of sophomore year. However, eventually, I succumbed to the allure of being single in college. It just felt like something I had to do. Now, I cannot go much more than two weeks without sex. I get cranky.
— Allie, 22
This woman had sex less often during a long-distance relationship.
[It was] probably about three or four weeks when I was in a long-distance relationship. I often had boyfriends, and when I was single, I was a bit of a serial dater who's super sex-positive, so I never went too long without sex.
— Molly, 27
This woman went through a dry spell right after she started having sex.
The longest I went without sex was one year and 10 months. It was right after I lost my virginity. It didn’t bother me too much, but I guess I felt re-virginized because it was like I forgot everything.
— Taylor, 22
This woman is learning to embrace her inner Miranda instead of her inner Samantha.
The longest time that I have gone without sex have been about eight months. In my mind, I have always wanted to embrace having sex with strangers, meeting random men in bars and owning my sexuality — [to be] a "Samantha". The reality, although harder to admit, is that I am a Miranda through and through. I only enjoy going out if I can have a reasonable conversation with the people around me and find myself shy and uncomfortable when meeting men I am interested in. Against my better judgment, the longer time I go without male validation, the more I think I need it in order to feel confident.
— Annie*, 22
This woman's dry spell went out with a bang.
I was 21, had just ended a long-term relationship and moved to a new city, and didn't really know anyone. It was frustrating, and I remember constantly joking with my roommate about it. I finally ended the two-month dry spell on my 22nd birthday and celebrated by playing 'Birthday Sex' on repeat.
— Katie, 28
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