Does a Long-Term Exclusive Relationship Deaden Sexual Desire?

Does a long-term exclusive relationship deaden sexual desire? Does being with the same sexual partner year in and year out lead to feelings of monotony? Do closeness and intimacy lead to good sex, or do people have the best sex during dating, courtship and/or early marriage?

Perhaps you have some experience that no matter how hot your relationship begins, and no matter how much action the two of you used to have, sexual charge very often peters out over time. It could be that she is tired or angry. It could be that he has lost the interest he used to have, but it could also be that he has been rejected enough that he no longer tries. It could be that romance has fizzled through the years, but it also could be that the two of you have lost the close connection you once had.

Do we grow bored by having sex with the same person over time? Does sameness lead to routineness, repetitiveness, tedium and feeling mechanical? And is there anything we can reasonably do about this?

Actually, there is. Eroticism is indeed numbed by repetition—so that’s where you could start. By adding novelty, adventure and stimulation to your relationship, which may include the bedroom, but don’t limit it to that one arena. Where else in your relationship could you add adventure and novelty? By traveling to someplace new, taking a dance class together, learning a foreign language? By spending 20 minutes every night talking about your hurts, hopes and dreams? By buying a book with different sexual positions and making an agreement to try every last one of them?

Foreplay does not begin a few minutes before the main event; it starts at the previous erotic encounter. Way too many people make the fatal mistake of putting the minimum amount of effort and energy into romance, having fun together, going out on dates, talking intimately and being a friend. But adult sex that stays interesting and titillating requires continuous effort and energy—it requires you to live as lovers, not just as husband and wife.

What do you do to fan the flames of romance in your relationship, and how often do you do it? Would your spouse or lover say that you live as a sweetheart, or are you sweet when you want sex? Would your partner say you are more complimentary or critical? Are you angry a lot? What do you do to restore or enhance the connection with your lover, and how often do you do it?

How often are you putting forth real effort in listening to your spouse about his fears about money or what’s concerning him at work? How frequently are you willing to lovingly attend to her emotions? What are you doing to keep romance alive on a day-by-day basis? How often are you erotically playful with your partner—I’m thinking of lingerie, weekend getaways, naughty voicemail messages, sitting holding hands while you talk, cuddling—and so on.

If you want your relationship to be more erotically charged, go make it happen. And quit waiting for it to happen.

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