My partner and I have been in a relationship for eight years now. In the beginning, sex was challenging. I was afraid of showing my naked body. Negative experiences from the past made me afraid to let go of control about the situation. Gradually that changed. My partner told me how beautiful he believed I was – until I started to believe it too. We started to experiment with positions and places, getting to know each other’s bodies well and knowing how to pleasure each other. Sex was still often a race towards an orgasm (preferably both at the same time) and when there were no orgasms, it felt like we failed in a way, but nevertheless we had fun.
How sexual liberation led to sexual estrangement
Pregnancies or breastfeeding never made me hornier. Four months into our relationship I got pregnant for the first time, and in the three years following I gave birth to three daughters. We had sex about once a month, and only because I thought it was time to get myself in the mood. When we started playing, I would eventually get into the mood. But the rest of the time I was absolutely boring and passive in (and outside) the bedroom, rejecting his initiatives often.
About a year after the last pregnancy, we started opening up our relationship. My partner explored wild sex with his girlfriend. I started dating people who were tantric experts, followed workshops and read books about sex. At the same time my partner and I started to explore tantra together and took some baby steps into BDSM. Even though there were triggers because of the open relationship, sex between us flourished.
The people I saw felt sexually free, and because of that I deconditioned more and more, feeling comfortable being naked, making noise and, most of all, experimenting. I started to explore kink, BDSM and how to use sex to get to know my shadow sides. My partner explored how to get out of the rat race towards sex, and how intimacy doesn’t always have to lead to sex. Our paths diverged. We still had sex, but even though we both love both sweet ‘n soft as well as rougher sex, together we managed only to get to the soft side of the spectrum. I had lovers with whom I had amazing sex – and I started to pull back from sex with my partner. My partner felt insecure about my process and experiences, and also pulled back. In this vulnerable article he explains how he lost his way in sex.
And then we had more – and better – sex with others than we had together.
What kills your sex life?
You might not have an open relationship but experience just the same. After some time your sex life goes into hibernation mode and you want to heat things up. But you have no idea how to make that happen.
Everything starts with better understanding. These are some of the things I experienced to influence my libido:
My number one mojo-killer. Kids are of course amazing, but also a guarantee that your sex life will not remain as effortless as it used to be. All day you are giving all your tender love and care to those li’ll ones. In the evening, when they (hopefully) finally sleep, you want two things: space to yourself and rest. Not sexy. Add to that female hormones like prolactin that promote childcare and lower sex drive plus insecurity about a post-delivery belly, and you’ll get the point.
If you are into personal growth (which you probably are as you are reading this page) you will be familiar with plenty emotions. Processes of change always include emotional release. And if you are like me, your automatic response to emotions linked to your relationship will distance you from your partner. When I feel angry because some childhood fear has been touched, I pull up my walls and get my archers ready to kill anyone coming near. Especially my partner. Sex? Are you crazy? Let me alone with my misery and go away. It’s lonely here in my castle, but at least I know it’s safe.
Which, of course, isn’t the solution. Vulnerability is though. Communicate. Tell your partner you’re afraid. Dare to feel that underneath it all, the only thing you long for is feeling safe and being held.
When there are 101 things on my to-do list, I feel too rushed to ‘do nothing’. When adrenaline is rushing through my system, I don’t want to get vulnerable and get naked. I want to keep pushing myself to do-do-do things and then do even more. Very effective. Not. And not helping my mood either.
Masturbation and pornography
Intensive sexual stimulation, either visual or physical, can cause overstimulation of the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that regulates sexual pleasure. When this happens over and over, the brains will become numb and you need more and more stimulation to get horny. Sex won’t do the trick anymore. The only solution is to minimalize or eliminate porn and stick to a healthy masturbation regime.
Too little exercise lowers sex drive, but too much exercise does the same thing. Most of us will probably be aware that too much sugar, dairy, meat, coffee and fat will influence our bodies and sex drive. But did you know that cornflakes were developed as part of a diet to decrease peoples’ sex drive? Or that the artificial sweetener aspartame decreases the release of serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone’? Less serotonin means grumpier and less sex drive.
Medicines like anti-depressants and hormonal birth control can also mess with your mojo.
Why is sex important to me?
Sex is so much more than the physical act. I’m a high-level hider. When something triggers me, I close off. Hide away in my bunker and go full force introvert. The most effective way to open up to him again, is sex. It’s also the most scary and vulnerable thing to do. It’s going beyond the stories I create in my head that tell me I’m right and he’s wrong. It’s opening my heart for him and feeling the love between us.
When I feel sexually satisfied, I’m in a better mood. I’m softer with my kids, more patient, more inspired and generally a nicer person to be around.
How to get sex back?
As my partner and I are in the middle of this relational challenge, I’m not the expert yet. But I can share with you the steps we are taking. For now we’re seeing results and fucking enthusiastic. 😉
This is what we’re doing:
Talk about it
Tell each other what you are feeling and what you desire. Don’t point your finger towards your partner and tell them it’s all their fault. Start sentences with “I feel…”or “I desire…” (and make sure the first word on the dots isn’t ‘you’). Let each other talk without interruption. You can even set a timer and speak for ten minutes. Then your partner gets ten minutes. Then you both get five minutes. Repeat until you are both empty and done.
If you find it difficult to talk together, or if you become both triggered and emotional, it can be very helpful to have a third person present to hold space for both of you. If that person is a relationship therapist; even better. This is what we did. The therapist let us blurt out all the things that bothered us, and brought it back to underlying processes. We saw each other’s hurt and sadness again, we could feel each other again and pull down the well-constructed walls. At the end of the first session we were crying in each other’s arms, feeling open and loving.
Find out what decreases your (partner’s) sex drive
My partner went on a quest to find out what held him back from experiencing joyful, nourishing sex. And he found out that his head was full of rules that were not his own, but adopted as foundation for our relationship, imposed by tantric teachings, etc. He realized he needed to go back to a situation where there are no rules, so that he can create his own, intrinsic norms, values and rules as a basis to create mutual ones.
This is a delicate process that triggers a lot in me. I see the beauty in his process, and that externally formed rules don’t help. We have an open relationship, and the foundation we created by creating common rules for being intimate with others provided me with a feeling of safety. Him saying he can’t guarantee that he will stick to our rules, because he needs space to figure out his own way, brings out a lot of unsolved childhood issues, making me feel unsafe in the relationship. From that place it’s easy to pull up walls and create distance, only increasing the issue. And yes, we did fight over this one. For now it feels right to give him space to explore his sexuality. At the same time I’m clear about my personal norms, values and rules to him.
Find out what increases your (partner’s) sex drive
What turns you on? What turns your partner on? Do you still take the effort to shave yourself, or did you become sloppy? Do you always choose your comfy underwear, or will you wear lingerie on a weekday, just to feel sexy (which your partner will notice) or to pleasure your partner?
Do you still light the candles, make the bed and send those sexy text messages?
For us, it helps to have sex with others. Your intimate partner is usually also the person that triggers you most. I find it much more difficult to relax with him, than with a lover. Also, lovers bring in different flavors and different experiences to bring back home. I notice that when I have sex with others, I also sexually desire my partner more.
I definitely don’t recommend cheating, but if you’re open to polyamory, open relationships or things like swinging or sex clubs… why not give it a try?
Bring back playfulness
Taking anything overly serious will kill creativity. Move from considering an issue as a problem to calling it a challenge, and face this challenge as a team. As long as you compete and fight, your sex life won’t get better. Better sex is better for both your sakes, so get your faces into the same direction.
We both love 30-day challenges, and so I challenged my partner to have sex with me for 30 days. It helps me to stop pondering whether we will have sex or not (because we will). Both of us notice that often either of us doesn’t feel like initiating sex, but as soon as we start we both enjoy it deeply. We play with different energies like making sweet love or fucking like wild tigers. You can also experiment with different places to have sex. Be creative. Write down all letters from A to Z and find a place or way to fuck each day for each letter of the alphabet. Take something you never did before if you want an extra challenge.
What do you prefer: taking the dominant/leading/masculine role in sex, or playing the submissive/following/feminine part? And your partner? When you both prefer the same role, your sexual attraction will be low for sure. Experiment with deciding beforehand who takes which role and switch during sex, or take the other role next time. Dare to play with both roles and dare to give your partner space to experiment with something that might not feel so naturally. You might be surprised about what you will find within yourself!
You can make the role play an even more intense experience by dressing up, adopting a character and playing with emotions like shyness, fierceness, etc. Be someone else for a while, and see what it does to you.
More sex needs investment
A satisfying sex life won’t just happen. You need to invest and make an effort to get to a place where you both feel happy. You can feel frustrated and complain you’re not being fucked as you want to be, or make the path a fun and satisfying exploration.