Recently, I was very honored to contribute to an article on Prevention.com.
The article, by Meghan Rabbitt, turned out great and really provided some good advice for couples who aren’t enjoying too much nookie in their relationship.
While I really enjoyed how she pieced together thoughts from other “sexperts” and myself, I also wanted everyone to read the full breadth of what I sent over to her as sometimes it can help to hear a single voice too.
She had asked me to answer 4 questions and here they are, along with my answers. I hope it can help some couples out there who are struggling with a relationship that doesn’t include much sex.
- Why does stressing about infrequent sex make sex worse?
Hopefully, sex for you is a joyful, stress-relieving romp with your significant other. But if it’s not and sex has become infrequent, it’s natural to start stressing about it. One of the big downfalls to that particular type of stress is that you’ll likely start to connect negative feelings to sex, which can create deep resentment towards your mate.
When sex becomes a scarcity and is no longer that wonderful, intimate release with your loved one, it can turn your thoughts to, “Why don’t we ever have sex? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with him? Is this how the rest of my life is going to be? Is he having an affair? Does he not find me attractive anymore?” The list goes on and on. This type of mindset can breed hurt feelings, insecurity, a lack of trust, and an overall negative attitude towards the relationship as a whole. That negativity can easily spread into all aspects of your life if you aren’t careful.
Beyond all of the self-doubt and resentment that a floundering sex life can cause, it can also set up great expectations for when it does come time for sexual intimacy. It can be easy to think, “Well, when we do have sex it damn well better be amazing! After all, it feels like it’s been forever since we last made love, so why shouldn’t all that built-up desire and pent-up need make the sex just that much hotter?” Then, when the sex is similar to what it’s always or recently been, you find yourself let down and deflated, rather than thrilled and excited about the next time.
The constant hope that you’ll have sex…the letdown if it doesn’t happen…and the disappointment when it does if it isn’t particularly great, can put you on a rollercoaster of emotions regarding sex and your partner that seem to always leave you wanting more.
It’s hard on any relationship, no matter how strong, when those up and down emotions become pervasive. The more you stress about it, the deeper the anxiety and feelings of rejection can go. And typically those emotions lead to even less sex, so you’re existing in a self-perpetuating situation that it can be hard to find your way out of.
So, when you find yourself stressing about how much or little sex you are having, take some time to evaluate what might be causing the situation and then try and figure out some strategies for change. It never helps to point a finger of blame at anyone, and the Blame Game only causes further stress and embarrassment. Broach the conversation lovingly and if you just can’t find a way to talk about it, for whatever reason, then step up your game the next time you and your partner make love and see if that new special technique you bring to the bedroom does anything to reawaken the sexy passion you once shared.
- What are the downsides/detriments to talking yourself into having sex — even if you’re not in the mood?
This is a topic over which there is much debate. There are experts out there who will tell you to talk yourself into sex, even if you aren’t in the mood, because once you’re in the thick of it you’ll start to enjoy it. They reinforce that the act of having sex makes you feel sexier and will eventually lead to having more sex on a regular basis.
The flip side of that is that sex is hopefully some combination of a loving, wild, delicious, lusty, bonding, and exciting way of connecting with your mate. If you go into sex half-hearted, will the passion be there? Will your partner feel your apathy?
Having sex when one isn’t in the mood can feel at worst like a violation and at best like you’d rather be getting a root canal. Creating a sexual environment in which those are the emotions that you tie to sex isn’t healthy in either the short or long term. When your feelings about sex are negative, your response to even the thought of it can become Pavlovian in nature, almost visceral. When that happens your desire can lessen even more, thereby exacerbating an already tough situation.
Sex should be the culmination of love, lust, need, want, desire and a whole host of other emotions. Not a Well, if I have to I guess I can endure it type of activity. Make love when it feels right to both of you for that is when you and your partner will achieve the closeness and satisfaction that comes with a healthy sexual relationship.
- Why is frequency not as important as intimacy?
It’s the old argument over quantity vs. quality. Is it better to devour a really good pizza once a week or eat some frozen cardboard pizza 3 times a week? I’d well imagine people could easily argue both sides. But here is why I’d vote for intimacy over frequency any time.
Think back to your most amazing sexual experience. Was it crazy and exhilarating? Was it loving and tender? Was it some yummy combination of both? I bet when you think back on it you can remember every tantalizing touch. Or maybe you only remember the overall feeling of “Wow. That was incredible. I need to sleep for a week to recuperate.” Either way, it left a delightful positive imprint in your brain about just how good sex can be.
Now, think back on the most boring sex you’ve ever had. How did it leave you feeling? I often joke with people that if the sex is not worth the cleanup, then I’m not doing it. Boring sex can be dreadful because it strips you of all the tingles and passion that we equate with good sex. It turns sex into a chore rather than feeling like you are tripping the light fantastic. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to think of sex in the same way I think of cleaning my kitchen.
So, if someone put the question to me: Would you rather have amazing sex once a week or ho-hum sex 3 times a week? I think the answer would pop out of my mouth lightning quick: Amazing sex!
It’s important to remember, especially in a long-term relationship, that your mate having sex with you more often doesn’t mean they love you more. And having sex with you less frequently doesn’t mean they love you less. It’s never that cut and dry. What you can do to show how deeply you love one another, when the sex isn’t particularly frequent, is taking the time to lavish each other with unbridled passion when you do have sex. Ensuring that both of you are happy, satisfied and feel wanted can help nurture a continued sense of closeness even when you are outside of the bedroom.
One of the most enduring results of good sex is the intimacy it breeds between lovers. Intimacy stretches itself into all aspects of life. It helps us feel loved, cherished, adored, understood, and safe. Those feelings create an overall sense of happiness and security that foster an environment where everyone knows they are valued, loved and respected.
- How can long-term couples invigorate their sex life, without the stress/pressure to have sex often?
I’m going to tow the company line here and suggest great communication. I know it sounds trite, but over time it’s easy to forget what your partner really likes in bed (or on the kitchen counter) and simply asking can remind us of the fun sexual things we did long ago.
It’s easy for sex to become rote. He kisses this. I rub that. I get into this position. Bang, we’re done. No one wants a script for sex that’s the same over and over.
If you want to liven up your sex life, try and remember the sex you had during the first year you were together.
- Were there certain places you liked to have sex?
- Were there positions you favored that you don’t do anymore?
- Are there erogenous zones that either of you haven’t paid attention to in a while?
To start rebuilding your sex life without doing anything drastic, you can go back to what you liked to do when the relationship first began—that can go a long way to rekindling the spark. It’s amazing how just feeling wanted by your partner can liven up your sex life.
You can also try something new. I’m not suggesting that everyone goes out and buys a blindfold and handcuffs, but just easing into something you haven’t done before can be titillating and kick your sex life back into high gear.
- Have you tried roll playing? If you haven’t done that before, start slow and warm into it.
- What about lingerie or sexy costumes?
- How about talking dirty?
- Are their certain scents that get you revved up?
- Do you romance each other outside of the bedroom to get revved up for fun in the bedroom?
- What about a quickie in the bathroom or the back seat of your car?
Sometimes trying something new, even if you just barely dip your toe in the pool, can invigorate a sex life that’s seen better days. The thrill and excitement that comes along with new experiences can make us relive the butterflies in our tummies that we had when we first started out on our sexual journeys.
Ultimately, while having a satisfying sex life is important, it’s achieving a balance in a relationship that everyone can live with that’ll help you endure in the long run. For some people, sex just isn’t that important. For others it’s the be-all-end-all of life. Finding a way to communicate and compromise so that both parties feel loved, desired and safe is the real path to enjoying a lifelong adventure with the one you love.
Author Jodi Ambrose
Okay, so all that above writing was me trying to sound like an adult (and trying not to cuss or be overly sarcastic!), but the short and sweet reality of it is: Sometimes couples stop having sex. It just happens. It may totally suck, but it happens nonetheless. Whether there’s an inciting incident that somehow kills the spark, or it’s the kids, the job, being tired all the time, feeling like roommates, sexual laziness, someone’s porn habit, whatever it is, sometimes the sex just falls away.
Believe it or not, one of the things I get asked about most often is what to do when the sex stops. Or why do I think the sex has stopped. And it comes from just as many women as it does men. This is not nearly as gender-specific of a problem as you might assume. It’s not just the ladies saying no–it’s a good chunk of men too. I had one male friend ask me how I can help him get interested in sex even half as much as he’s interested in football. He is not unique in asking that question.
I think there are a million reasons why the sex can peter out to nearly nothing–but the real questions for your future are:
- Is it something you can live with?
- Is the relationship fulfilling in every other way (or most other ways)?
- Do you love and adore your partner to the point where sex being a rarity is tolerable because everything else is going so well?
If you are in this type of a relationship, know you are not alone. I can’t begin to tell you how many couples are in an almost-sexless relationship. It happens WAY more than you would think. But it’s typically something no one really talks about, even with their friends, because admitting you never get laid can be embarrassing and no one wants someone else looking at them like: “What’s wrong with you? Do you suck in bed? Are you that undesirable?” When the reality is that it’s probably (mostly) none of that.
I’ve also heard from men and women that they’ve already tried everything they can think of to re-kindle the spark. Boudoir photos shoots, lingerie, stepping up the foreplay, more romance, sensual massage, talking dirty, being the best lover they can possibly be, being spontaneous, buying toys, role-playing, losing weight, gaining weight, wearing make-up more often, dressing nicer, being nicer…you name it. And sometimes none of that works. No matter what you do, the sex still just limps along like it has a broken leg. And arm. And back. And neck. And dick. And muff.
It can be so incredibly frustrating and it can be easy to translate a lack of sex to rejection as a whole. And no one likes to be or feel rejected. It hits home down deep where all the worst of our emotions lurk and eat away at our happiness.
Alas, sometimes, sex just falls by the wayside. So, it’s up to you to either find a way to fix it (with some of my awesome suggestions above!) ;) or find a way to live with it, or get out of the relationship. Walking around miserable all the time because you never get laid will only lead to resentment and pain that worsens over time. So your options are to fix it, forget it, or leave it. But you can’t mope about it forever. It will ruin all of your joy.
Of course, my hope for everyone is that they get the best damn nookie of their life as often as they want it. Three Cheers for Awesome Bang-Bang-Time! :) :) :) But if that’s not you, know that you aren’t alone and that less sex is not a direct correlation to less love. Sex is just one way of showing love. If you can’t do it that way, make sure to show it in every other way you can.