Maintaining desire: Keeping sex exciting in a long term relationship.
Although difficult to believe for some, research by Laumann (1994) has found that the best quality sex occurs in couples who have been in a committed relationship for 15 years of longer.
The best sex doesn’t, in fact, happen between young couples, or first time sexual experiences, which most of us assume.
Most couples begin their relationship as a romantic passionate love affair, complete with idealization of their new love and a strong sexual desire for each other. This is a very short lived but important stage because it gives you the courage to take the risk to become involved in a serious relationship.
But, once you’re settled in the relationship, and it becomes both more serious and secure for you both, the challenge then becomes how to integrate both your intimacy and your eroticism.
No one has a perfect sex life. Great sex, especially in a committed relationship, is uneven and is also variable.
The best research suggests that regular frequency and variable, flexible couple sex that is fully integrated into your real life is the best quality, most satisfying wonderful sex for you as a couple.
Realistically great sex serves a number of purposes in your life: for pleasure, to relieve tension, for self esteem, to feel emotionally close, and also to have babies.
Quality couple sex is made up of a blend of intimacy, desire, pleasure, eroticism and satisfaction.
To have long term satisfying sex, here are some crucial points to remember:
- Take care of your physical health.Sex is important at any age right up to your 80’s. You are a sexual person right up till you die. In enjoying sex at every age, it is important to take care of your physical health; by sleeping well, exercising regularly and eating healthily.
- Trust, love & Commitment.Trust, love and commitment are essential fundamentals in great couple sex. The essence of a healthy relationship is respectful and trusting commitment. You need to feel your partner respects and loves you for the person you are, including your vulnerabilities; that your partner has your best interests at heart; that he/she would not intentionally do anything to hurt you, and is committed to you and your relationship.
- Intimacy. You need to feel that you both put each other first above anyone else; that you are safe and emotionally connected with your partner, and that he/she can empathize with you emotionally.
- Sex as a regular event. It is important to maintain a regular pattern of being sexual with your partner, no matter what comes along. Whether it be twice a week or twice a month, being able to count on and look forward to making love helps it continue to be enjoyable.
- Broaden your definition of Sex. Change your definition of sex from “intercourse” to “mutual pleasure” to encompass the fullness of what the pleasure of your lovemaking can give you.
- Have realistic expectations. Be realistic with what you can expect at each age. Research has shown that periodic sexual problems are common, sexual enjoyment varies, orgasm is not essential to sexual satisfaction and men and women have different physiological and psychological experiences. Count on the 85% guideline: this means that in 85% of the time you make love, sex will flow from pleasure to arousal to intercourse. When it doesn’t flow, you can just choose to transition to an erotic, non- intercourse scenario of pleasuring each other, or even a cuddly scenario, so that the lovemaking still ends in a positive way.
- Resolve Desire stoppers as soon as possible. “Desire and positive anticipation” are essential core components in maintaining a great sex life, so knowing what factors inhibit desire is important. These include illness, medication side effects, tiredness and unresolved relationship conflict. So addressing and overcoming these as soon as you can reasonably do so, helps maintain a great sex life.
- Celebrate your Eroticism. A healthy eroticism, which is a desire for an energy charge with high levels of erotic flow and orgasm; the freedom to let go, to get lost in pleasure, and abandon yourself in passion.You can anticipate and feel deserving of sexual pleasure in your life and your relationship.
- A Team sport. Great sex needs to be seen as a team sport; that is a team of 2. The ultimate goal of satisfaction is not so much only orgasm, but feeling energized and bonded as a couple. You need each other as intimate and erotic friends.
- Relaxation is the key. As strange as it may seem, relaxation is the foundation of a great sexual experience. All 3 dimensions of relaxation are important – physical relaxation,psychological comfort, and feeling open, desired and accepted as a couple. Relaxationleads to pleasure which leads to arousal which leads to eroticism which can lead to intercourse and then orgasm.
- Value and explore all forms of touch. It is really important to include many variations of touch in your lovemaking. These include affectionate and comforting touch, sensual touch, playful touch, erotic touch and or course intercourse. Too often couples can over time revert to going directly from a quick kiss to intercourse, and miss all the pleasures of multiple modes of touching which helps you slow down and become really present and enjoy your mutual pleasuring along the way.
- Balance intimacy with eroticism. Too much intimacy can smother the spark of sexual desire. You do need to have some interests of your own and spend time experiencing your native sexual essence, eg women doing things that feed their feminine, and men doing masculine activities in order to feel that magnetic arc of attraction of masculine/feminine.
Ultimately your sexual relationship is meant to play an energizing role in your relationship, one that enlivens and bonds the two of you together, while giving a regular charge of energy to your love.
To Check which of our Psychologists are closest to you, please use our Find our Psychologist Search box on the right hand side of the page.
Or you can phone us on 1300830552 for more details.
Julie Hart ( adapted from “Enduring Desire” Michael Metz & Barry McCarthy)