Even the most dynamic of couples have to face the challenge of maintaining a vibrant sex life after living together over a period of time…
Most sexual relationships tend to move from an initial heady excitement to a regular pattern that fits into the work‐life balance. Find out how you can avoid the most common pitfalls with ways to keep the fires of romance and intimacy burning bright.
1. Loss of romance
Many couples complain that they have no idea where the romance that brought them together has gone. You know your sex life is in trouble if it is reduced to a fixed pattern, an automated physical response. It comes from being stuck in a routine – of doing the same act in the same place, possibly at the same time or day of the week.
Research shows that sex is as much about engaging the mind and imagination, as it is about learning the right technique or about erogenous zones. Most people tend to flirt back when someone flirts with them, so bring back the excitement of the dating days. Reinvent the thrill of the early days with surprises, tenderness, compliments, saucy messages, thoughtful gifts and special ‘dates’. The unexpected phone call, text messages or special present will indicate that you’re thinking of them even when you’re not together.
2. Not figuring out what works for you
One partner is left feeling like they are not getting ‘that certain something’ out of sex. This is more often a problem for women who find it hard to express what they want their partner to do right. It could be that you haven’t really figured out what really gets you turned on and yet somehow your partner is expected to know this intuitively and supply it.
Some self‐exploration, both of your own body and your imagination, is necessary to figure out where’s the magic switch that turns you on. If you haven’t worked this out it can be a wonderfully exciting road of discovery. Share the secret formula with your other half, either by telling them what you want them to do or by guiding their hand when he or she is touching you. If there is something that’s turning you off, you also need to convey this gently to your partner.
3. Becoming complacent
This is perhaps the biggest passion‐killer of all. It’s when you begin to take your partner for granted and hang around in grubby home clothes, saggy pants or unattractive nightwear. Coming to bed after doing all the grooming rituals, with your hair in a ratty scrunchie and greasy night cream on your face, is a sure‐fire passion dampener. The same goes for clipping toenails or trimming nose hair in front of your partner.
Throw out any unattractive ‘comfort’ nightwear and if you must wear old trackies at home, make sure that you have sensational lingerie on underneath. When getting dressed to go out, for that element of surprise, don’t let your partner see you until you’re ready. Every now and then, rearrange your bedroom and each month buy one item that is just for the both of you – it could be anything from scented candles and massage oil to chocolate body paint or an erotic movie to watch together.
No, this is not about using an exotic sex technique, it’s about when you allow your mind to wander off during sex. Thoughts relating to work or money or just mundane stuff like food shopping!
Learn to live in the moment ‐ it seems that most of our thoughts are either about remembering the past or worrying about the future. Being in the ‘now’ means letting go of any thought other than the present. This is the basis of Eastern teaching and can be mastered with some effort. When an unwanted thought pops into the brain, instead of resisting it, the trick is to acknowledge the thought but then to let it go and return to savouring the pleasure of now.
Sex is a highly sensitive area for most of us and any negative comments can cause permanent damage to the relationship. Showing displeasure by complaining or sulking is not helpful. Sometimes even incessant ‘talking about it’ can make just make things worse.
Choose your words, tone and moment carefully. Gentle instructions work better than complaining and appreciation when your partner gets it right is a great morale boost. Also, non‐verbal communicating sometimes works better than words; take your partner by the hand and show them what you want them to do.
6. Not initiating
Often it’s left to men to make the first move or express an interest in sex for it to happen. There are women who complain that their partners aren’t interested in sex, yet don’t seem to be doing anything to initiate intimacy.
Surprise your partner by setting up a romantic, sexy night. With a bit of imagination you can find no end of the ways to turn your partner on. Remember that building anticipation is fantastic for sex as it uses the most powerful aphrodisiac in the world, the imagination. Many men report that they would find it exciting if the woman took the lead at least once in a while.
Too much pressure at work, exhaustion, caring for children – all lead to loss of libido. The irony is that research shows that sex is one of the best de‐stressers around.
Learning to switch off from your worries is an art that requires a bit of effort. Work on yourself before you try to get your partner to relax. Things that help are disconnecting actual gadgets such as the TV, mobile, internet, etc, then ‘switching on’ the things that make you relaxed – could be anything from a soothing warm bath, meditation, yoga, listening to music or going for a walk. Remember that the activity should allow your mind to turn off the everyday worries.
8. Being self‐conscious
With all the emphasis of perfection in the media, it is possible that you may be bringing your physical insecurities into the bedroom. Thoughts such as, ‘do I look fat’, ‘am I making too much noise’, etc.
Understand the fact that you are not in a competition with fashion models or porn stars. Accept that there’s more than one type of body shape and that this has to do with each person’s genetic make‐up. Learn to love your body, even its imperfections, as they are what make you an individual. Your partner wouldn’t be with you if he/she didn’t find you attractive. For a truly fulfilling sexual experience, let go of inhibitions, focusing on the entire erotic experience rather than particular parts of the anatomy.
9. Looking for the perfect moment
With all the demands of work and family, it’s often simply not possible to find the perfect time or privacy for intimacy. Gradually it falls lower and lower in the list of priorities of things to be done.
Despite the demands of hectic schedules, small children and daily routines, do make time for cuddles and sensual touches every day. New research shows that we pass emotions through contact and so, a hug may often convey more than words. Readjust your thinking: having the perfect setting and all the time in the world is great when you can get it but ‘fast sex’ can be hot, exhilarating and sexy too. Also, it doesn’t have to be at night or in the bedroom. Alternating times when you have fast sex to with occasions when leisurely sex is possible means that your sex life will be full of variety and excitement.
10. Too much focus on technique
We are constantly bombarded with advice on how to improve our sex lives – with advice on the ultimate ‘40 minute orgasm’ or ‘101 tantric sex positions’. This leads to thinking that unless we are using the latest sex toys or trying out some complicated position, we’re just not doing enough.
Too much focus on position or technique can kill the mood and can be frustrating. Imitating porn is usually not practical as the positions are designed for the camera rather than to provide pleasure for the actors. Trying out new stuff can lead to greater fulfillment if done in moderation and when you both have plenty of time. Besides, just because you like it in the missionary position doesn’t make you boring – research indicates that, from the point of providing satisfying sex for both, it’s one of the best sexual positions after all!
11. Enjoying the journey, not just the arrival
One of the great things about being with a long‐term partner is that we get to know what turns them on. However, this can lead to lazy habits with the focus limited to just a couple of areas of the body. It can also become routine‐like, like just another task that needs to be crossed off the list of things to do.
Recognise that the entire body is an erogenous zone and take time to explore it. Massage is a wonderful way of involving every part of the body. Teach yourself the basics of relaxing massage and remember to cover the entire body, not just the ‘bits’. Extending foreplay (and women need this more than men) can lead to greater feelings of closeness and a higher intensity of arousal. Remember it’s not just the arrival that matters, it’s also the journey
12. Taking it too seriously
There is a great deal written about sex in the media, which can lead to taking something, that should be natural and spontaneous, into something that becomes something that is taken far too seriously.
Bring in an element of playfulness, fun and spontaneity into your sexual relationship. Sex can be sublime at the best of times, but it can also sometimes be a bit ridiculous – especially when you’re struggling to get into an impossible ‘kama sutra’ position or fiddling with the latest sex gadget. It’s fun to experiment with new ideas, but with the attitude of seeing if you like it and just not repeating it if you don’t. And ultimately, you know that you have a healthy sex life when afterwards you are both lying there in the afterglow, feeling good about each other.