And what you can do to get it back.
1.The desire for sex is raised verbally.
It’s simply not sexy to ask for it.
Because we become familiar over time, it is easy to fall into a pattern of raising the idea of sex as a verbal suggestion. Fancy a root? ¬in the Australian vernacular, or any of a large number of possible variations, becomes the preferred method of foreplay. Of course, this isn’t foreplay at all, it is unlikely to warm anyone up, and often serves as a turn-off. Perhaps it works if both of you are ‘in the same place’ and already feeling sexual but what I hear in the consulting room is more often negative.
This verbal approach also appeals to cognitive functioning and so is more likely to elicit a cognitive response. Want sex? Let me see, I’ll have to think about that…
2. Loss of spontaneity as a consequence of a lack of opportunities.
When two people feel amorous and can express that with uninhibited spontaneity – which usually means privately – sexuality can be set free. However, when we are overloaded with work commitments, or when children appear on the scene, or some issue preoccupies your mind, then such opportunities become reduced if they ever existed in the first place.
Opportunities to be intimate have to be made if they don’t happen naturally. Otherwise – they don’t happen!
3. Sex becomes operational rather than an expression of love, romantic or erotic.
Many couples fall into an operational mode whereby it matters less how they are actually feeling. Sex happens because it is part of the structure and process of being a couple. The underlying belief that “we should be sexual because we love each other and that’s what happens in a good relationship” can become the only prompt for sexual interactions.
Perhaps it goes like this: we haven’t made love in a while, so we should.
When sex becomes a practical business, it still might feel like a relief and you might even feel closer for it. But the prospects for truly erotic sex as an expression of love and romance are reduced. They may be reduced out of existence so that sex is alienated into something not much different from any other practical matter; such as paying bills, walking the dog or brushing your teeth. While we have to do many practical things regularly whether we feel like it or not, it is not surprising for sex to drop off the list if it’s only done operationally.
4. Routines become sedimented, regimented and too predictable.
Many couples have sex in much the same way every time. Nothing wrong with that if it works for you. The erotic quality is better served if there is unpredictability, if the physicality of the moment has a fresh quality and sexual contact is different from time to time. When the time, place and ‘method’ of sex is same, it can grow stale and less appealing.
You are more likely to hear “not tonight, darling, I’m tired” or “I just don’t really feel like it”. And then the feeling of rejection can also be discouraging to keep on initiating. Thoughts like: ‘you don’t really want me sexually’ arise. Time passes and then you book an appointment with me (a therapist) and say “we used to be so passionate, but I don’t remember the last time we made love.”
5. Low or no libido.
Low or no libido is a complex subject. It is a consequence of all of the above four points plus other factors such as general health and fitness, emotional health, relationship health, and more specifically, the build-up of resentments is a fire extinguisher for libido. When energy is channelled into work that is all-consuming, when children’s needs take over or a project demands your total attention and input, and also some people fantasize about grazing in greener pastures or indulge in porn – all of these reasons can be causes or contribute. And that is not even an exhaustive treatment of the underlying factors for low or no libido.
Once, many years ago, a patient said she had never felt sexual at all, didn’t miss it, didn’t want it, wasn’t interested. There was no apparent underlying trauma or psychological or biological reason that I could determine. Maybe some people are more sexual than others, too?
What to do about it?
As I write in my book; How Two Love, love needs to be made, and often remade. And when love is unmade, this is the time for reflecting together on what aspect of your relationship needs attention.
Prevention is better than cure. Understanding is required to pre-empt problems and to rectify those that haven’t been avoided. Gaining an understanding of what to do in order to sustain the emotional health, and sexual charge in your relationship is a matter of education.
How Two Love aims to do just that – provide what you need to know to renovate a relationship, restore and renew the energy between you. To enliven your sexual connection, to enloven, the bond of faith, trust and commitment between you.