Clients often come to us and say “I WANT to want my partner…” feeling frustrated they don’t know how. And there’s nothing that pleases us more as psychosexual therapists to see people leave with richer, warmer relationships and desire itself rekindled. Nobody needs to resign themselves to a partner that’s more like a Friend… with No Benefits. Whilst we can’t replace the solid work we can do in psychosexual therapy at Relate Bradford here’s some starting points for those of you wondering about this very thing.
Long term relationships
The Honeymoon Period is ACTUAL SCIENCE. There’s a load of chemicals that collude and collaborate in the early days of a romance, all the stuff that makes you unable to focus on anything else, and daydream about the next time you’re together. This period usually lasts between 6 months and 2 years, but some couples ebb and flow in and out of the honeymoon for decades by maintaining curiosity and awe for their partner. Embrace change and adventure, keep having new shared experiences, and remember to flirt. You don’t finish romancing your partner after the first couple years, instead keep on doing it.
You’ve got 2 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 jobs and a mortgage between you, and you wonder why it doesn’t feel buzzing with passion? The joys of the long term bonds you have together may mean that some of the spontaneity has gone. But everyone else is spontaneous right? No, it’s a myth that sex is spontaneous, there’s usually some planning in it somewhere! Scheduling a time you can actually have it doesn’t mean you can’t also keep up seduction. Adjust your expectations and flex to changes like the natural process of ageing.
Couples can often fall into patterns of unhelpful behaviour, and one of the most common ones we see with desire issues is one partner always saying no, and the other partner always chasing. This can become a vicious cycle of pressure, rejection and everyone feeling bad. Both roles are uncomfortable. Nobody can want something by being told they should want it. In fact, for the pursuer of sex to step back and give the other one space is an essential part of the distancer being able to feel want. It’s good to get a little hungry before a meal, right?
For manycouples, not-so-good communication can be a key cause of low desire, bad sex and general relationship issues. Try using “I feel” statements in discussions – “I feel hurt when you don’t kiss me back” is less blaming and shaming than “you never kiss me back” explains what is going on for you. Swap negative feedback for positive: “mmm yeah, I like it gentle like that” reinforces and compliments rather than gives rise to a row!
Closeness can be a passion killer too! Sometimes a couple know each other too well, are too much best buddies, too fond of all the same things. Security and cosiness feels wonderful and safe but to feel desire you need to feel a bit hungry…and wanting requires a leaning toward someone rather than having it on a plate served up already. This doesn’t mean playing ‘hard to get’ but rather understanding you and your partner/s as separate people with different lives.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Whilst partner’s feel rejected by your lack of desire, it is often the ‘low desire partner who is struggling with rejection of their own sense of worthiness or attractiveness. Not wanting anyone else can often be a defense against feeling so unwanted themselves. And unfortunately feeling unwanted or unloveable can’t be substantially resolved by someone else – rather it is inner work to transform the person’s own idea and vision of themselves.
If you want to go a bit deeper we love…
This TedX Talk by Esther Perel…
Blog written by Relate Bradford Therapist, Tabitha