Intimate love — 29 October 2003
Spicing up your sex life

Many long-term partners lament the fading passion in their sex lives.
They longingly recall the initial intensity and excitement within their
relationship. Does the spark have to fade with time or can we keep the
flame alive throughout our years together?

The expectation of a life-long chemistry is institutionalized in our
culture. George Bernard Shaw put it this way: “When two people are under

the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most
transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain
in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until
death do them part.” It appears that he did not believe that this was
possible.

Romantic notions promoted in literature and poetry glorify the images of
passion abound for all lovers. Movies and the media do their share of
portraying intense sexuality as a measure of eternal love.

Real people, however, commonly report that sexual intensity was at its
peak for both partners at the onset of their relationship and has within
two years evolved into a more secure, familiar, loving, and less intense
intimacy. These normal changes are welcomed by most couples and are
disappointing to others.

Some pairs see the change in their sexual intensity as an ominous sign,
perhaps even foreboding of problems. Some say: ” I don’t know what
happened to our sex life, it is not what it used to be.” They then may
follow this observation by ascribing fault to themselves or their
partners. “I think she no longer wants to be sexual with me because she
no longer loves me.”
Though reluctance to participate in physical intimacy may be a sign of
loss of love, more commonly it is a sign of issues within the relationship. The avoiding partner may be harboring some resentments, anger or hurt
and is thus less likely to be sexually receptive.
Some people feel less inclined to be intimate when they do not feel
appreciated enough. Family problems, jobs, children and life’s demands
often exhaust lovers so much that they do not have the energy to
undertake even that which is most pleasurable and relaxing.

The efforts to re-create the magic of sexual intensity interestingly
enough are not within the sexual realm.

Those efforts are psychological and behavioral. We need to be clear that
though men and women view their sexuality differently, the emotional
components are identical for both genders.

Women often give sex to get affection while men give affection to get
sex. Both genders are equally in love with being loved. Research found
that the greatest “turn on” for either gender is knowing that the other
person likes you.

Ann Landers_ survey found that seventy percent of more than ninety
thousand women said that they “would be content to be held close and be
treated tenderly and forget about the act.” One explanation for women’s
greater interest in affection comes from research findings that mothers
touched their baby girls one third more frequently than they touched
their boy babies. That initial warmth, admiration, and safety women
received in infancy may have become their prerequisite for adult intimacy.

For men, the sexual receptivity of a woman is viewed as evidence of her
love and acceptance.
This sexual variance explains why many men desire sex after a fight,
while most women are least inclined to be sexual at that time. Women are also taught that “good girls” go to bed with men who love
them, while “bad girls” go to bed with men. Since every woman wants to
see herself as a good girl, she needs behavioral expressions of love to
become sexually receptive.

Men view highly sexually active males more favorably. They support the
notion that being received and well responded to by more women, makes a
man more esteemed.

In a committed relationship for men the number of conquests is no longer
relevant, what matters is the quality of his loving behaviors and how
well he can convey to his partner that she is loved.

To spice your sex life you need to more effectively convey to your mate
that he or she is special to you.

® Find out what makes your partner feel loved and do it.
® Daily courtship heightens passion.
® Research found that mutual self-disclosure (being honest and open
about yourself), eye gazing, and knowing that the other person likes
you, increased intimacy even for strangers.
® Get to know your partner’s world, daily concerns and joys, remember
them and ask about them with sincere interest.
® Create shared new and adventuresome activities- they deepen emotional
connection.
® Be physically and verbally affectionate and pleased with your partner,
he or she will feel desired.
® Be flirtatious and appreciative of your partner’s physique and
attributes. Comment about them with delight.
® Talk with your partner of how he or she may be better pleased
sexually. The desire to please is the first step for mutual arousal.
® Be respectfully playful and positive- it is arousing and creates
safety for intimacy.

Spicing your sex life at any stage of the relationship starts with the
choice to be loving and a mindful attitude toward making your partner
feel loved, desired and treasured. Sex will most likely follow with
mutual passion and satisfaction for both of you.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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