Keeping a sexual connection in a long term relationship is not a given, but with some intention and self-awareness, I believe it’s possible. In some ways, I think it’s a choice to believe that it’s possible—I am invested in loving someone over a long period of time, and I want it to be possible. I think, like many of life’s great adventures, that my choice to continue loving and working on myself and this unique combination of myself with this partner will make a difference in whether or not it, for the long haul, works
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you’re in a relationship that you are invested in and want to stay in. You’ve been together long enough for your lives to be fairly strongly intertwined with each other, somewhere in the one year to eight years range. You know each other well, you support each other, your emotional connections are good, you’re working on improving the ways that you fight. You want to be together.
But there’s just one little hitch: your sex life isn’t what you want it to be. “Everything else is great!” you say. “But I just want more sex / dirtier sex / different sex / to be on the top / to be on the bottom / to have threesomes / to do this kinky fetish thing I’ve always wanted to / to get used / to be rougher / to fuck their ass / to do more more more.”
How do you change it
In many conversations with friends, folks in my various communities, people who attend my workshops and performances, and in emails that I frequently receive, this is really common. It’s so easy to stop prioritizing sex in a long term relationship. In the beginning, there is an early passion stage where you are discovering each other’s bodies and cannot keep your hands or mouths off each other, but that doesn’t last. Let me rephrase that—it doesn’t last without work. It doesn’t just happen automatically. Pretty soon, sex becomes at best a serious hobby that you both pursue and at worse, something you skip over because the demands of life are so vast.
So how, once you find yourself in a significant relationship with someone you want to continue seeing, do you improve or change your sex life? How do you make sure to keep the sex going?
I am studying a lineage of queer Tantra, and one of the core principles is “Everything is an experiment.” Therefore, conduct an experiment and collect the data. This is the basis, I believe, in keeping your sex life satisfying, exciting, and alive.
The first thing you have to do is take a good look at your sex life and identify what’s going on. Admit you have a problem, in other words.
Ask yourself—and your partner—two questions: What do you want? And: What is prohibiting you from having that?
What someone wants is usually either a change in quantity (more sex!) or a change in the content (different sex) or both. What is prohibiting is different depending on the couple, but frequent reasons for not having the kind of satisfying sex that you seek could be, but are not limited to: too tired; not enough time; life events (job, obligations, kids, illness, overburdened) in the way; weight gain is causing body insecurity and discomfort; incompatible schedules or not enough free time together; one or more people have had a change in their sex drive (higher or lower).
Try to be specific about what’s going on. Where is the discomfort coming from? Do you not want to get naked anymore because your body has changed? Do you fall asleep right when you get into bed because your job is so demanding? Are you ready and raring’ to go in the morning, but your partner prefers having sex at night?
Identify it, as accurately as possible. Once you have a sense of what’s going on, you can make up some experiments and see what might be able to shift.
2. Self Care
Next, work on your self care. Sexy self care. Immaculate self care. Look at the basics of your life: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting enough exercise? Are you getting enough decompression time, where you can engage your brain in an easy, simple way that stimulates you instead of exhausting you? Do you feel good about your body? Do you feel good about your apartment? Are you getting enough time to yourself?
Do a self care experiment. Set up something that you’ll practice and experiment with for one week, once daily. Maybe you’ll go for a quick jog. Maybe you’ll do yoga. Maybe you’ll cut out some of your after work activities and make sure to be home by 8pm so you can have more time at home. Maybe you’ll set a timer on your phone to go off at 10:30pm every night and you’ll commit to being in bed by 11pm. Maybe you have been eating too much heavy food late at night and resolve to only eat salads for dinner for a week.
Just see what happens. Observe the changes, how your body feels, how your energy changes or doesn’t, how your emotional state changes or doesn’t, when you do this experiment. Maybe you’ll love the changes. Maybe you won’t notice anything. Maybe the experiment will end up being even more stressful than not doing it, so you stop mid-week. That’s okay. All of it is okay. There’s no wrong answer here. You’re just trying to figure out what variable pieces you might be able to shift and improve, to have a strong base of yourself to bring to your partner and to your sex life
When you’ve started to untangle some of the things that might be in the way of getting the sex that you want, and hopefully your partner is doing similar experiments or self reflection, the next experiment to look at is how you will reconnect and start doing the sexy fun times together that you both want to do. Were you able to identify some of the things that you’d like to change or tweak in your sex life? See if you can create some experiments based on the things that you want.
For example, if you want to have sex more often, create an experiment where you have sex five times in one week, or every day in a week, and see how that goes. Can you make time for each other every day? Does a ten minute quickie count? You get to decide the parameters of the experiment, and you get to collect the data of the experiment when it is over and decide which parts served you both well, which could be tweaked, and which are unnecessary to try again. All the data is good data—all the data will give you information that will better serve you to get what you want in the future.
Maybe you want to learn a new skill, so the experiment is to find a book or a workshop to attend in order to start learning that skill. Maybe you want to get involved with more local leather community, so your experiment could be doing research on some of the groups in your area. Maybe you want to practice asking for what you want, so your experiment could be making it one person’s responsibility to state verbally what kind of sex they are craving. Maybe you want to get better at dirty talk, so your experiment is texting and having phone sex to inspire more words.
Once you start seeing hurdles as potential experiments, the obstacles that have been in your way can become opportunities for insight and connection. And beyond that, you can start untangling the messiness of daily life that has been getting in the way of the fabulous sex life that you—and your partner—wants.
Long term intimacy and sexual connection can happen. We can deepen as we get to know each other better, year after year, and our sex explorations can deepen, too.
Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this article, which will be published soon!