How is your communication? Communication is one of the most challenging things within relationship. There are so many reasons why it can be difficult to express your needs, wishes, and desires. And nowhere is this more true than when it comes to the arena of sexuality.
Whether you believe that your partner is open to experimentation, or fantasy, or sharing your innermost secret sexual thoughts and desires, it is still incredibly difficult to express your sexual needs in an assertive way while still respecting your partner’s boundaries. Some of us cannot do it at all.
Some of us can do it only with aggression. Some of us avoid conflict; some actively search it out. In any event, not being able to talk about sex is certainly one of the reasons why sex diminishes within a relationship. Each partner feels that their needs are not being met, but hasn’t got the capacity to express what it is that they actually desire.
Or each partner secretly resents something that is happening within the relationship or chooses to say nothing for fear of conflict or disrupting the apparently harmonious surface of the relationship. Again, we look at communication skills in a later section of the website.
High on the list of reasons why sex becomes less frequent (or faithfulness is called into question) in a long term relationship is that sex has become boring! And yet when you think of the number of ways in which human sexuality can express itself, this hardly stands up as a sound reason for lack of sexual expression between two people in relationship. The key to sexual boredom is not to find another partner!
Video – Dr Ruth on sexual boredom
The key to dealing with sexual boredom is to overcome the routine that you have established with your current partner; overcome in the sense of “move beyond”. Getting stuck in a sexual rut is very common: it happens because we have certain beliefs, whether we are aware of them or not, about the right way to enjoy sex.
The most obvious indicator of this would be if you try another sexual activity of some kind and you come away from it with a sense of guilt or shame.
Sometimes this sense is so subtle that you have to search for it, but if it is there, this is a good sign that you might not be as sexually liberated as you like to believe. In any event, getting into rut because it is comfortable or easy is exactly how sexual boredom begins.
The answer is simple! Try new sexual activities! New sexual techniques will offer inspiration and new ideas to overcome sexual boredom.
And if you are doubting that this will help your sexual relationship, think back to the days when you were a teenager or in your early 20s perhaps. You found almost any sexual activity exciting: petting, frottage, deep kissing, fingering genitals over clothes, under clothes, or through clothes, oral sex in the back of the car, masturbation at any time of day or night… and so on!
Why do you think those activities were so exciting then, and you’re not doing them now? Surely it’s not because your capacity to be excited by them has diminished? It’s much more likely that you’ve simply got into a sexual rut and you have simply given up trying them.
This may be the time for experimentation! There’s a peculiar experience that people can have within long-term permanent relationships: the experience of being lonely. Sometimes the keenest sense of loneliness within a relationship can be during sexual activity.
It’s bizarre. Sex is supposed to bring us closer than any other human activity! Yet it can actually be conducted with one partner psychologically at a distance so great that the other partner feels isolated and lonely.
This issue probably afflicts more men than women. That’s because men can be more threatened by intimacy, feel more invaded, and feel their boundaries being dissolved more easily than women. Women are perhaps are brought up in a way that makes these experiences more familiar and so less threatening to them.
It’s also entirely possible that psychological distance can come from a desire to be a perfect lover: that the perfectionist in bed is more obsessed with technique and bringing his partner to orgasm than with intimacy. (More here!)
The truth is that these men often do not know how to communicate intimacy and love, and they offer all kinds of excuses as to why it doesn’t happen. It’s also true that some people do need psychological space and a relationship can be very “suffocating” at times.
Nonetheless this does not really explain the psychological or emotional distance between two lovers as they enjoy the most intimate of human acts.
And yet at the same time is it possible that some of us expect our partners to be more intimate, communicative, and present during sex than at any other time in relationship? Some of us do need closeness and emotional contact for a sense of reassurance and safety. The secret, of course, is always is to find the right balance.
Some authors, particularly John Gray, have described what is almost a dance between the man and woman during relationship. Here, his need for distance is satisfied by emotional withdrawal followed by a return to intimacy. This is a cycle that can threaten women who have a fear of intimacy abandonment or loss, or indeed a fear of sex. They may respond to this cycle with cloying behaviour that “threatens” the man.
As always, the answer to these issues is to develop communication skills. That way, each partner knows what the other is experiencing. Without training in the necessary communication skills, it can be hard for us to find a way of expressing what is going on to each other.
And some of us do not even know what we need in relationship. We look at some ways in which these issues can be helped later in the website.
At this point I want to return briefly to the subject of fear. Perhaps the biggest inhibitor of our sexuality is fear:
- fear of pregnancy
- fear of sexual inadequacy
- fear of loss of erection (Perhaps A Warrior Archetype wound)
- fear of not being aroused
- fear of not being good enough (A King / Queen archetype wound)
- fear of a partner responding negatively to our bodies or our sexual advances (A Magician Archetype wound)
- fear of intimacy (A Lover Archetype wound)
- fear of exposing ourselves to another person
- fear of feeling our sexual needs and desires.
This may sound strange, but the truth is that our sexual experiences with a lover, particularly in a long term relationship, are the experiences that bring us most closely in contact with our deepest needs and desires.
Perhaps, then, it is no wonder that we find sex such a frightening and overwhelming prospect, and even more understandably, something that can disappear all too easily from even the best relationships.
Fear of rejection, fear of not meeting the partner’s expectations, and fear of not being able to perform are among the most common emotional barriers to intercourse.
Video – how to overcome fear of rejection
Some people harbour feelings of guilt over their sexual needs, or lack the skill or desire to stimulate their partner. Even mild anxiety can impede or disable sexual performance. Ignorance and inexperience contribute their own problems.
Finally, you may simply not know why you have stopped having sex.
Perverse though it sounds, many couples find themselves in a situation where they stop having sex just because it is more comfortable not to have sex or take the trouble to initiate sex. As we shall see, a way to deal with this is simply to program sex into your diaries.
This, bizarrely, can not only help you to enjoy sex, but it can also help you to rediscover the joys of spontaneous, uninhibited, playful sex!