“We’ve been together for a while, and the sex isn’t really hot anymore.”
I hear this all the time in my psychology practice.
Most of us buy into the myth that sex is supposed to stay just as it was when we first met our partners. This belief causes great harm to our long-term relationships. We think that something must be wrong when the heat and intensity of sex simmer down.
Yes, novelty is more exciting than what is familiar; so it makes sense that we will feel more fired up when we look at a partner of ten days, or ten months, than when we look at a partner we’ve been with for ten years. When sex cools off, nothing has gone wrong. It is simply the inevitable change that comes over time.
Does this mean that you are condemned to a lifetime of lackluster, passionless sex if you choose monogamy?
Of course not!
The notion that sex and lust will inevitably dwindle to nothing as your relationship matures is another myth that prevents people from doing what is necessary to have deeper intimacy and greater passion.
In reality, while sex cannot stay the same, it absolutely does not have to fade away over time. The thrill of sex with a long-term partner is different from the thrill of hot sex with a new partner. It usually leans more toward closeness and connection, because you have come to intimately know the person you are having sex with.
Over and over, I hear clients disparage this shift, because they have bought into the notion that sex between partners should forever retain the sizzle of newness. Everyone wants sizzle. But seeking it with a new partner is likely to block you from developing and enjoying the sexual relationship that you actually can have with your partner; and can gravely damage your relationship.
So what’s a person in a long-term relationship to do?
If you want to have a richer sex life, you have to go up against yet another damaging myth: that great sex should just happen automatically, that it should not require any effort. Over and over again, clients tell me, “if we have to work at sex, maybe it’s time to end our relationship.”
Truth is, if you want to maintain a passionate sex life with your partner, you do have to work at it.
Just as you must put forth effort for so many things to go well in life, including career success, peak performance in a sport, and deep friendship, you need to work at sex to have a satisfying sex life with your partner.
- You need to find ways to nurture romance and affection.
- You need to find ways to keep sex interesting.
- Rather than lying around waiting to be “turned on” by your partner, you have to take responsibility for igniting your own desire.
Sure, this takes effort, but it is doable. It is the path to take if you want to avoid a life of serial monogamy, staying with a partner until the excitement wears off and then seeking someone new. And, it has a much greater payoff than the deceptively easy short-term fix of stepping out of your relationship. While that move may give you some sexual thrills, it is a great way to trash your LTR.