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Jamie slumps on my therapy couch, his head in his hands. What do I do? As a psychologist and sex therapist, I work in the world of sex and intimacy every day. There is so much mystery and shame around exploring our sexuality. They bravely share their fantasies about finding sexual excitement in new ways.
His wife, like many people, longs for the easy excitement and horniness she felt when they were dating. In the beginning, attraction comes easily. Lust is a biological cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, hopes, and expectations garnished with a giant splash of novelty. His wife used to daydream about him and feel a delicious sense of thrill.
Sexual arousal flushed her body during a business meeting. The passion was visceral, and it felt fantastic. But after a while novelty wanes, the relationship settles down, and the erotic is replaced by the every day. I call this Marriage Incorporated: two people love each other but their relationship becomes a business instead of a romance.
Kids, careers, soccer practice, tax returns, and peeing with the door open. They do everything together but each other. Sex falls way down the priority list. The typical sexual encounter in a long-term relationship is less than seven minutes from nudge to snore. Marriage Inc. She started the conversation about attraction, passion, and their sex life.
This is the best-case scenario. Sneaking around for secret sex is a common way that a partner who has lost attraction recreates sexual thrill. So research on sex, desire, and monogamy challenges us to face the facts. Wanting monogamy is one thing—actually creating sustainable passion is another. The details are worked out by each couple, but the basic idea is simple: partners openly agree to engage in sexual exploration with other people while staying emotionally exclusive. As difficult as it is, together they are starting to face the facts, which is what I hope all couples with sexual desire disconnect will do.
She thinks new experiences will satisfy her. And they might, but only for a while. So what can you do about it? Talking honestly about these big—and very threatening—feelings and ideas is a brave and intimate act. And it can be a pivot point to a far more satisfying relationship. But not an open relationship. Because Jamie wants monogamy.
In my clinical experience, even when the terms are negotiated and both partners are on board, jealousy, guilt, and unresolved relationship issues often tear couples apart in an agonizing failed experiment. But what if he can become the new partner she seeks? Instead of opening their marriage to other people, what if they open their marriage to each other? If his wife is willing to play ball, I suggested he commit to changing their relationship from the inside out and vow to re-ignite desire, attraction, and sexual thrill with each other.
Since almost all of us want monogamy, but passion fades with familiarity, the challenge is to make monogamy hot again. Bring Buddha into the bedroom Mindful sex makes the familiar exciting again because attraction is all in your head. Because paying attention to this truffle with mindfulness makes the familiar experience fresh, alive, and sensory-each chocolate tastes new and interesting.
You can create erotic novelty the same way by getting your head into bed. Research shows that mindfulness practice increases sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction. Instead of kissing someone new, kiss your same old partner for the very first time in this moment. When you are mindful of lips, tongue, heat, and breath, excitement can surge, and this kiss feels new and exciting. Experience the thrill you used to feel, one kiss, one breath, at a time. Pleasure is available right now, with the one you are with.
Treat sex like exercise Just do it. Sure, in the lustful dating days spontaneous desire swept you away and you tumbled into bed like a pair of mating otters. But in long-term relationship, it helps to schedule sex. Make a weekly sex date and no matter how tired you are, or how compelling the couch and Netflix seem, honor your commitment to your passionate life. Have gourmet sex Complacency and laziness lead to boring sex. Many of us forget the vast possibilities for sensual exploration that two bodies multiplied by five senses offer us.
The erotic menu is vast. So stop relying on fast food. Give each other a slow, erotic, sensual massage, or visit a love shop and get some sexy toys to bring the play back into foreplay. Explore your dark sexual energy When a person seeks an affair or open relationship, they are longing for the excitement of the taboo.
But often we hide this side of our sexual self from our partner. So, instead of denying this part of your eroticism, take a risk and share it with your mate. Tell them, in explicit detail, one of your secret fantasies. Now there is a difference between fantasy and reality, so you may not choose to act this scenario out, but it can be highly arousing to expose our deepest sexual desires to our beloved.
Create excitement with sexy scenarios. Kick Marriage Inc. Expand your orgasms with tantric sex The typical climax orgasm lasts for 7 seconds for men and 21 seconds for women. Imagine extending that to minutes, and beyond. If regular orgasm is a firecracker, tantric orgasm is a bonfire. You can learn to play with your sexual arousal by changing how you breathe, connecting more deeply with your partner while you make love, and staying intently conscious at orgasm instead of swooning into fantasy or zoning out. Read my book or take a course in tantric sex. With practice, you can experience orgasm all over your body and have multiple waves of pleasure.
Put the OM into Oh My. Cheryl Fraser. With a rare combination of academic credibility, humor, straight-talk, and life-changing advice, she has helped thousands of couples jumpstart their love life and create passion that lasts a lifetime. She has taught for Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield, appears on countless podcasts, and writes about love and sex for magazines. Register for a free Passion Masterclass here. For more information, visit her website and check out her videos here.
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