Reigniting Your Flame for Longer Lasting Love

By Dr. Tiger

“We’ve been together for a while and the spark is gone, what are we supposed to do?” I regularly hear this opener from couples seeking therapy. Many couples assume that sex is exciting at first, then the excitement dies down and that is to be expected. WRONG!

While it is true that meeting a new person and anticipating and then having the first sexual contact with them can be very exciting, the sex itself probably isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, it is very exciting to be with someone new and the hormonal rush that accompanies that first contact is intoxicating; so much so that it can lead to what is popularly known as sex and love addiction. But the hormonal rush that comes along with a new conquest is not about love, it is about conquest (for male apes, having a new partner to procreate with and thus have more offspring; for female apes, to copulate with a more genetically desirable male).

For humans, good sex comes through practice with a partner you know. When you are with a stranger, sex is mostly performance based since you don’t know the partner at all. It takes quite a while, months to years, of honest communication about sex to really know your partner and to customize your sex to each other so that it is consistently mutually satisfying.

When I hear this complaint, it shows that I am dealing with a couple who does not know sex very well and/or does not know each other very well. Taking a sex history of both partners, finding out about how they learned about sex and how they pay attention to knowing themselves and their own sexuality will usually give me plenty of leads about where to take the therapy. Most of us get very poor sex education, and we are shamed into believing that if we ask questions about sex we will be exposed as being inexperienced or not talented sexually.

So, we tend to learn a habit and a routine about sex that we think works and is okay for most partners, settling in on doing that and hoping for the best. For couples, this repetitive pattern wears thin over time. Usually couples don’t have the skill to talk about it and end up bored, which makes good sense. Like any other skill, sex takes instruction, education, communication and practice. “Doing what comes naturally” is fine for animals perpetuating their species, but it doesn’t work very well for humans.

The bottom line is that good sex is intimate sex, the kind people earn with a partner they trust, whom they can talk to and share what feels good to them and find out what feels good to their partner.

Assuming that stimulating the same parts in the same ways with any partner you meet is going to build lasting intimate sexuality, keeps the sex therapist’s practice busy.

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