By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
You can have a good relationship with your partner and still suffer from a lack of sexual desire. So, for all the talk about the importance of good communication for a healthy relationship, it is also important to apply this communication to the bedroom; and then do something about it. I recently heard Barry McCarthy, author of Rekindling Desire, give a talk, sharing some important concepts for revitalizing your libido. These are:
The “goal” of sex is pleasurable touch, not orgasm. Sex is more than intercourse. It includes sensually arousing touch that is best to enjoy for its own sake. It does not need to lead to intercourse.
Regular sexual experiences are essential in keeping your desire alive. The lack of sexual touch can lead to accepting (even if unhappily) an asexual relationship. Also, when couples have a sexually arousing experience less often than approximately every other week, they might experience a cycle of anticipatory anxiety, tension, failed orgasm and sexual dissatisfaction – all leading to an avoidance of sex and sensual touch.
Sex must be given freely as a gift, not forced or used as a reward or punishment. Once it becomes a tool for exerting power, it cannot be fully shared and enjoyed.
It is essential to respect your partner’s style of arousal. While men are often aroused and then pursue sex, women often need a sense of emotional intimacy before feeling aroused and ultimately pursuing sexual intimacy. It’s important to understand these differences if they exist in your relationship so that the two of you can bridge that difference together.
Both partners are responsible for sexual satisfaction in their relationship. Each partner is responsible for seeking to create their own sexual satisfaction, but they are also responsible for helping each other do this.
As with all other aspects of a relationship, good communication is essential to sexual satisfaction. It is important to talk about what turns you on and what turns you off. Share desires and fantasies, as well as sexual hangups. Consider, talk about, and use props from candles and romantic movies to vibrators or other sex toys. There is no crime in modesty or boldness. What’s important is to be comfortable with how you connect sexually and the frequency you do so; and that you connect in a way that leaves you sexually satisfied.
If your desire is low, talking about sex can feel threatening. You might fear that your partner will feel hurt, or you might feel inadequate. But by acknowledging the problem, you are taking the first step toward addressing it and improving your relationship.
The Art of Relationships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.