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Desire in Relationships: How Can I Keep the Romance Alive?

Jessica Pontis, LCSW

What are some of the things that we typically think about when we consider a healthy relationship?  Some of the things that may come to mind is an open line of communication. Maybe it’s problem-solving together in a way that feels constructive, or supporting one another through really difficult times. And maybe part of it is having a healthy sex life. For those who want to prioritize having a healthy sex life in their long-term relationship, it may require a little bit more work than what we initially thought.

Why Does Desire Sometimes Fade Overtime?

Perhaps a common misconception is that sex should come easily and that partners should automatically want to remain close physically and intimately with one another, but this may not be the case. What commonly happens is that the closer that we feel to somebody and the more that we love them, the less sexual desire we may have for them over time. 

One of the main reasons that we sexually desire our partners at the beginning of a relationship is that it’s new and different, and as love grows in the relationship, we may see a decline in desire, which seems oxymoronic. It’s perfectly natural and totally normal for desire to ebb and flows over the course of a relationship. But how do we keep that passion alive if we want to prioritize having sex in a relationship? If sex is something that’s important to us and our partner, we find new and different ways to keep desire alive. Let’s explore some things that could be helpful in working towards improved sexual desire in long-term relationships.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Something that can be helpful and reigniting the fire is practicing taking a sex-positive approach in conversations. Let’s face it, sex is something that we do, but sex often still feels taboo to talk about. How can we expect ourselves to have an open and fulfilling sexual relationship if it’s something that we stigmatize? The beauty of sexuality and sexual interests is that it is so broad and so vast, and as long as everybody is enthusiastically consenting, nothing has to be embarrassing or shamed. Having a conversation about what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, and some potential sexual interests or kinks that you want to explore is a way to be able to look at your partner in a different light and start to rebuild that sexual intimacy. 

Practice Mindfulness to Stimulate Intimacy 

Another way of reinforcing sexual desire in your relationship is by practicing mindfulness with your partner. Mindfulness can be helpful in reinforcing sexual desire in many ways. Whether it’s trying to stay in the present moment and focusing on your own pleasure to reach orgasm, simply wanting to feel and appreciate the closeness of your partner, or wanting to identify if something isn’t particularly enjoyable, mindfulness can be a useful tool in helping to reinforce desire.

Reignite the Spark of Desire

In the beginning, if it’s easier to take sex completely off the table but you still want to build sexual desire for your partner, what can be helpful is seeing your partner engaged in something they’re passionate about. We tend to feel most closely with our partner if we are engaging in something new together or if we’re seeing our partner engaging in something that they are skilled in and love doing. Maybe it’s easier, in the beginning, to learn to have fun with your partner again. Creating that carefree and spontaneous attitude is one way to create that desire if jumping right into sex is something that you aren’t quite ready for just yet.  

While sex can be a beautiful experience that we have with our partners, it could also come with a lot of pressure to perform. Remember, as you go through exploring your own sexuality individually and with your partner, give yourself permission to be free. Give yourself permission to not judge what your thoughts, feelings, or expectations are. If you’re interested in connecting with a  therapist to discuss sex and intimacy or would like to connect with someone to walk with you on this journey, reach out to one of the licensed therapists with Symmetry Counseling. We offer numerous counseling services, including individual and couples therapy in Chicago, and are here to support you in your journey. Contact us today to get started!

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