Show me a typical long-term relationship, let’s say, one of 5 or more years, and I’ll show you a couple that has faced an unwanted reduction in the amount of saucy, ‘just like it used to be’ sex. But rather than offer my list of sexy secrets that are “guaranteed to bring the sizzle back”, I’m going to offer a slightly different perspective, one that starts with the firm belief that it simply can’t be done. In sex, there is no going back.
There are, of course, many who suggest that it’s only a matter of applying the right sexual techniques or exerting all efforts necessary to woo and romance your lover back to the good old days of passion-driven sex. A quick search of the web would provide countless suggestions, many offered by respected and learned writers, of ways to spark up any relationship. In fact, for many couples, any concerted effort taken together is enough to garner intimacy and some good love-making, and if these efforts add to your repertoire of shared pleasures then all the better. But if you have been there and done that chances are highly likely that except for perhaps an evening or two of renewed excitement, no walk in the moonlight or new sex toy will bring back the passion and excitement couples experience at the start of a relationship. This does not mean to suggest that the pleasure is also gone, only the experience.
When faced with this situation, many couples run the gamut of emotions from disappointment to resentment and blame. Therapy may be in order or medication to boost the libido, all in an attempt to reclaim what once was. This approach is what I characterize as ‘starting from pain’, where we turn concerns into problems and problems into disorders in a process that transform common issues into the pathology of sex.
As an alternative to trying to reclaim what once was, I suggest starting from what is and go from there. Rather than looking for reasons behind what can only be described as a natural reaction that should be expected, start from a perspective of pleasure and learn to adjust to changing circumstances. Consider what it is about those early experiences that ignite the passion in people, and realize that they continue to contain all of the ingredients necessary to achieve the same level of pleasure and beyond. Starting from this perspective, the only missing element is a little knowledge.
This is not to suggest that the issue of declining sexual desire is simple, and indeed there are times when therapy or medical attention are indicated. But for the vast majority of us, the differences between our sexual realities and desires are marginal, leaving us with the choice to consider them as problems and the source of anxiety, or as a catalyst for discovering new pleasures and passion.
While there is no one plan, scheme or perspective that can be applied to all situations, the following description of starting from pleasure is offered as food for thought for any couple interested in addressing declining sexual interest. The description is composed of what I consider to be baseline elements of communication and understanding for anyone interested in transitioning from a sex life of mystery and elusive pleasure to one of knowledge and unlimited pleasure.
Begin with mutual acceptance and responsibility
Starting from pleasure begins in earnest when a couple can put aside any and all sense of blame or shame for the state of their present-day sexual relationship, and acknowledge the shared goal of improving it. This may seem to be a difficult, if not an unfathomable task for some couples to consider, and if the subject is too sensitive to approach, then one must lead by example by embracing this perspective as his or her own. A pattern of no pressure, no blame may first be required before one party can attempt to convince the other that he or she is ready to embrace the ideal posture of mutual acceptance and responsibility.
Establish common objectives
The next step on a couple’s journey is the first toward a new perspective. It begins when a couple establishes some common objectives by imagining then discussing the sex lives of their dreams together. This discussion should go well beyond the obvious interests of wanting more or better sex, and consider more fundamentals goals such as:
We imagine being able to talk about sex without fear of embarrassment or shame.
Talking about sex exposes our greatest vulnerabilities, but with practice and patience, most are quick to learn that vulnerabilities are generally insecurities in disguise and that insecurities find safe harbor in a loving, supportive environment.
We imagine having great sexual desire for each other.
To be desired is to accept responsibility for being desirable, but again without guilt or blame. When starting from pleasure we can skip the critical self-assessments and historical records and go straight to taking any small step toward our goals. Positive is sexy and sexy is desirable no matter where or when we begin.
We imagine creating a safe environment where we are free to explore our fantasies and find new ones.
Exploration and discovery are fuels of the passion/pleasure cycle in the early stages of most relationships, a pattern for success that can be repeated.
Autopilot is malfunctioning, switch to manual controls
Through the course of reaching full, mutual acceptance, every couple working to overcome declining sexual interest must accept the notion that old patterns no longer serve them. The early days, where passion made any efforts to obtain pleasure seem effortless, were dependent upon circumstances that are no longer present and must be replaced with a more intentional approach. Lamenting loss never brings anything back, so we start from pleasure and put in the effort to obtain the mutual goals set earlier.
Schedule sexy time
The myth that sex was spontaneous in the old days can be replaced with the realization that all of the flirting, dating, and preparing for a special night out that “might” involve sex later all took time and considerable effort. An intentional alternative would be to set your schedules for a couple hours of sexy time each week. But rather than looking at this time as a direct route to intercourse, take the time to learn about and explore the wonderful world of sex. Talking about sex while holding hands on a walk, or reading about it together is a better way to think of the time together. And if it happens to inspire some “spontaneous” sex that might include intercourse, then all the better.
Learn the difference between the friction and energy of sex
Understanding then exploiting the differences between the friction of sex – the kissing, touching and penetration – from the energy – the waves of pleasure we experience being “turned on” is, in my opinion, the single most important element for any couple interested in transitioning to a sustainable sexual relationship. One that is based on the knowledge that sexual pleasure is available at any time, provided you take the time to cultivate the requisite sexual energy.
It has been said that if we are depressed, then we are dwelling on the past, if anxious, we are living in the future. So it is with our sexuality. Because whether it’s a couple faced with declining sexual interest, or a young person just learning the basics, each is given the choice of victim or champion. And whether it’s my suggestions or your own ideas, choose champion to overcome fear and ignorance, the obstacles to full sexual pleasure.