Ways to keep the flame alive as a relationship progressesWritten by Lori Hollander | | email@example.com
Racing hormones often make sensual bliss a regular and spontaneous experience in the early phase of a relationship. No real work is necessary yet everything works perfectly.
But since our hormones refuse to go it alone in keeping sexual intimacy ablaze as relationships age, we need a good Plan B.
Donning costumes, pretending you are strangers or visiting adult toy stores are common recommendations to break the dreaded “routine” that often weighs down a couple’s sexual intimacy. But even if those ideas worked for half of the couples who tried them, the effects are short-lived.
Disappointed, couples often say they want their sexual intimacy to work “like it is supposed to,” easily, naturally, intensely. They wish they could just turn to each other and have those feelings again.
But then they would have to do just that: turn toward each other.
And here is the reason these tips often fall short for many. The focus on performance and turning away from rather than toward your partner is the opposite of what real intimacy requires. Further, encouraging a fantasy about being (or being with) someone else has a dark subtext: the only way to get that feeling back is to pretend you just met.
Don’t buy it. Couples who have shared a loving history compared to those who have only shared a drink have far more potential for deeply fulfilling sexual intimacy. But tapping into this potential will take more energy than typical tips to “get your spark back.”
Why? Because most couples have not actually lost the spark, per se. Rather, they simply never fully discovered what would truly work well for them on a meaningful, satisfying, and deep level in the long term. So how about that plan B? How can you determine what might inspire intimacy rather than relying on the same old same old?
If your spark has dimmed, the following steps are for you. But if your spark has vanished, outside help can make a huge difference.
Break the stale routine.
Identify all routines during sexual intimacy.
Notice where, when, how and what you do during intimacy. Are there any patterns that occur more than 50 percent of the time?
Distinguish between enjoyable routines compared to “default routines.”
Ask yourself, “Is this a routine that I would honestly choose over again right now, or we do it just because we do?” If the latter, these insights will help you identify routines that must go.
Now, go ask your partner for his or her answers to No. 1 and No. 2.
Now, build a new routine that inspires intimacy
Don’t do it out of a sense of obligation
Are you engaging in any aspect of your sexual intimacy out of obligation or is it due to genuine desire on your part? Stop doing the former (recipe to obliterate sexual desire) in favor of opening up room for the latter.
Get your partner to feel like you truly get it
Helping your partner feel understood and feeling understood yourself in general triggers intimacy in the moment. Easier said than done?
Get laser focused on each other’s feelings in general (absolutely no discussion about work, kids, or the house).
Replace performance focused behavior with a focus on intimacy
A performance focused sexual relationship can yield positive results upfront, but tends to get old. Worse, the added stress is a detractor from real intimacy.
Examples? Gaze into each other’s eyes for a few uninterrupted minutes. Share a little thing your partner used to do that you loved then and would love again now. Corny? Maybe. Does it work? Absolutely.
On the other hand, common efforts like losing weight to improve intimacy target a focus on performance. Surprising numbers of clients tell me they recently lost 25 pounds (interestingly, men more than women), and they are pleased with the results. But it did nothing for their sexual intimacy.
Keep dating each other. Always.
Make time for just the two of you: talking, going out to have fun, and telling your partner (in lovely detail) all the ways you adore him or her.
Apply the above to create the focus on intimacy you need to find a different, more meaningful and intense intimate experience on a regular basis.
Lori Hollander is a dual-certified couples and sex therapist at the Center for Intimacy in Ann Arbor. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Real Intimacy