I’m not sexually turned on by my partner like I used to be but I still love him/her. What should I do?”
Ahh, the age old “desire” question. This is the number one question sex therapists hear from clients.
Sexual Desire in Long-Term Relationships
How do I increase sexual desire for my partner? How do I keep the spark alive in my marriage?
These are good questions. We all wonder about it from time to time if we’re in a committed, long-term relationship.
Sexual desire is affected by so many things in our lives:
- our physical health
- how rested we feel
- what happened at work that day
- how close we feel to our partner
- how attractive we feel
- how attracted we are to our partner
- boredom in the bedroom
- financial problems
- our overall stress level
What to do when you notice a dip in the sexual desire you feel for your partner
When you notice a dip in sexual desire for your partner, that’s an opportunity to get curious. Notice what’s happening in your life and in your relationship.
One of the questions I ask couples in therapy is “when was sex the best in your relationship?”
Most often people share that sex was best in the beginning, when they were first together. It’s new, it’s exciting, you don’t know what to expect.
As we deepen the relationship, we develop a sexual rhythm. And things start to get predictable.
On one hand, that’s a positive. It’s nice to have familiarity and stability in a relationship. However, that can get boring. And it’s hard to desire something that’s rote and follows the same script every time.
So if familiarity and predictability decrease desire over time, mystery and variety can increase desire. Change up your sexual script. Don’t have sex in the same place at the same time in the same way every time.
Sexual Desire has five components
Leading sex researcher and couples therapist Barry McCarthy, professor of Psychology at American University, explains that a healthy sexual relationship needs five components:
- nonsexual affection
- genital sex
Most couples just focus solely on nonsexual affection and genital sex. They’re missing the big picture.
I help couples to expand their thinking and rewrite their sexual script. I give them homework to brainstorm two to three dates that focus on playfulness, eroticism, and sensuality.
When couples focus on those often-ignored elements, desire tends to increase as new life and new energy is pumped into their sexual relationship.