September 24, 2021
Pleasure & Desire

What to do when sex dwindles in a longterm relationship

Anyone who has been in a relatively sober long-term relationship knows how challenging it can be to maintain a juicy sexual life over the long run. Your sex life may or may not have been exciting and fun in the beginning. Regardless of how exciting it was or was not, after the initial newness wears down, you get used to each other. Your bodies know the smells and trails of one another and so the refined delight of that new relationship energy–the one that makes pheromones dance–dissipates.

There are stages in a relationship. In the beginning there is more mystery, more unknowns, more reasons to be excited. The not-knowing is delicious. It’s a good movie you can’t wait to watch. It’s a brilliant song you’ve never heard. It’s a first trembling touch that reminds you how very much you are alive.

Once you know one another and you get used to each other you move into more of an intimate stage, where there is deeper closeness, more familiarity and the excitement wanes, but the reliability and deeper appreciation might grow. With that closer emotional and physical intimacy, if you maintain sex as a priority it can be the stuff of stories and transcendent experiences.

But we’re busy. We are doing a lot in our lives. If you decide to have kids then you have even more schedules to keep. Sex can wane. It can fall deep on the priorities list and can for some, feel like “the last chore of the day before bed,” to quote a woman from one of my workshops. Ouch. That’s an unfortunate way to approach sex.

We want the excitement of sex and desire because it reminds us how alive we are. It gives us things to look forward to. And like the humans we are, it’s so easy to start to take what you have all the time for granted, to stop acknowledging it or talking about it, to let it fade into the landscape of your routine to the point where it’s on auto-pilot and you don’t need to consider it anymore.

Thinking we don’t need to consider sex and how it impacts our relationships is a nail in the coffin of the sexless marriage. If you are perfectly fine with your relationship entering a companionate stage where sex is not a part of the dynamic anymore, then it’s fine and good. Still, should you choose to go there, I think it’s important to go there consciously—and agree that this is what you BOTH are choosing.

If you want a sexual life, then consider sex. Talk about sex. Even if it’s just to say, “I don’t know how to talk about our sex life but I’d like to,” that will break the ice. Sex is always a negotiation. To think otherwise is to minimize its impact, import and the exchange. If you negotiate by not talking about it, that’s not a very strong negotiation. The problem, of course, is that most people never learned good sexual negotiation skills, so what does that look like? It starts with knowing what you want, or saying you don’t know what you want, but want to find out.

It really is possible to keep a juicy sex life for the long term.It may not be the same as it was in the early years, but it could be really delicious if you choose sex consciously, choose the negotiation, choose to honor that it might matter to your partner and let yourself care about it. Give yourself permission to want and work towards meeting both people’s sexual and intimate needs. Amazing things happen for couples who do.

If you want help opening up the sexual dynamics and figuring out how to make it juicy again, consider taking my Bringing Sexy Back course. There are some dynamics that are complex and difficult, some that are pretty cut and dry, and some that are malleable and which can improve and shift into perfectly satisfying sex for both partners, which improves the whole relationship and makes our lives happier. I’d love to help you get there.



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A’magine, formerly Amy Jo Goddard is author of Woman on Fire: Nine Elements to Wake up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power and Sexual Intelligence and co-author of the best-selling classic Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men. She earned her Master’s degree in Human Sexuality Education at New York University and has been teaching and speaking about feminism and sexuality for over two decades.


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