How to Keep Desire Alive in a Long-Term Relationship
Sexual desire in a long-term relationship can fluctuate, causing distress for both partners. However, there are ways that you can optimize your sex life no matter how long you and your partner have been together.
Sexual Dissatisfaction in Relationships
Researchers have proven that the frequency of sex tends to decline over the course of a long-term relationship. One study collected data from nearly 2,200 pre-menopausal Finnish women over a period of seven years. At the end of the study, they found that participants who stayed in the same monogamous relationship throughout the whole study experienced the greatest decrease in sexual desire.
Sexual desire has a largely physical component. The sex hormone levels of both men and women decline as we age, which can contribute to less activity in the bedroom. There are also some medical conditions that can contribute to low libido, including obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety and many more. Nevertheless, physiology cannot account for every component of a person's sex drive; desire is much more complex than that.
Familiarity can be a reason why couples have sex less and less frequently as time goes on. Having sex with a new partner can give you a rush like nothing else, but when you have sex with them for decades and decades, the novelty is lost, and with the novelty goes some of the motivation to have sex.
Another factor that can contribute to the lack of desire in a long-term relationship is the simple stress of daily life. Stress takes away your desire to have sex on both a psychological and physiological level. Stress can be magnified many times over with the arrival of children, a very common component of a long-term relationship.
The Negative Effects of Sexual Dissatisfaction
Lack of desire in a long-term relationship can make you less satisfied with your relationship as a whole. A study of over 6,500 men and women has proven this. People in the study who reported the lowest levels of sexual satisfaction were also the most likely to experience the lowest levels of overall relationship satisfaction.
There are various reasons why not having enough sex can make both you and your partner unhappy. Usually, sexual dissatisfaction originates from a discrepancy in the two partners' libidos. Most often, the man will have the higher libido; however, it's also common for the woman to want to make love more. Same-sex couples can also struggle with this issue.
The partner with the lower libido will often feel guilt at not being able to satisfy their loved one. The higher-libido partner can end up feeling unattractive and unloved if his or her partner never wants to have sex. A libido difference can lead both partners to resent each other; the lower-libido partner will resent having to carry out such a chore, and the higher-libido partner may resent the other for being "selfish." Since so much unhappiness can be brought about by this problem, it's important to know how to solve it.
Maintaining Desire in a Long-Term Relationship
The most important part of dealing with mismatched sexual desire is to communicate openly with your partner and re-evaluate your expectations and interpretations. Beyond this, there are many possible solutions to sub-par libido. Have a conversation with your partner and determine which of the tips listed below will help.
Since a person may lose their libido due to physiology, familiarity and stress, it's important to pay close attention to each of these areas to see what can be improved. You may find that stress is the only thing keeping you from getting in the mood, or you may find that all three of these factors are getting in the way.
On the physical side of things, optimize your physical capacity for sexual desire by:
- eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise
- sleeping at least seven hours every night
- avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol
- stopping the use of hormonal contraceptives, if at all possible
- trying a natural botanical supplement that contains herbs like maca and Panax ginseng to boost desire
Here are some other ways you can reduce familiarity and keep things fresh:
- Experiment with new sexual positions and sexual acts. Find new ones that you like and incorporate them into your regular sex life.
- Experiment with using sex toys. There are a wide variety of these, designed for both men and women's pleasure.
- You might even enjoy playing bedroom games. There are even sexual card games and board games, which might feel silly but could end up seriously spicing things up.
Finally, take the following steps to cut stress out of your life:
- Schedule times to have sex or at least get in bed and cuddle. It may seem un-sexy, but if you have a hectic lifestyle it may be necessary. Plus, it's likely that once you're in bed you'll find you're in the mood after all.
- If you have kids, try to get a sitter and have a night to yourselves as often as you can, even if it's just once a month.
- Find healthy ways to reduce stress, such as meditation, exercise and massage.
- Remember that having more sex is, in and of itself, a stress-reliever!
You may also need to change the way you have sex. It's perfectly normal and common for a woman to take 10 times as long as a man to reach orgasm. Be prepared to spend more time on sex, especially foreplay.