Over the weekend I had an incredible pleasure and joy of being one of the presenters at the Eros Festival in Sydney. On Sunday morning, I guided a workshop on Maintaining Passion & Desire in Relationships. The talk was hugely popular and I received incredibly warm feedback for it. One of the participants told me that “It was the best talk I’ve ever attended!”.
Let me share with you the main nuts and bolts from my presentation…
Most people see being in a relationship as a safety net that provides love, companionship, family, emotional support and an endless supply of sex. The reality is quite different as most couples start struggling with arousal and mutual desire as early as after just 1 year of being together. The phenomenon of sexless marriages is on the rise and nobody seems to have answers to one central question: How do we maintain passion and desire in a committed relationship?
The reasons for our struggles in the bedroom are varied.
The most common ones include: kids, stress, fatigue, lack of time, sexual routine and boredom, body anxiety, health issues, inhibitions around our eroticism, sexual wounding and past trauma, feeling sexually rejected by the partner with lower libido, disconnection from our own sexuality and pleasure, sexual issues, adultery, trust issues and resentment…
This is far from being an exhaustive list but it can simply serve as a reminder of just how deep, complex and multi-layered our eroticism is. The problem is that we don’t usually have access to any quality education about our intimate lives and so we struggle to unpack these difficulties. This is also the reason why sexy tips and tricks from Cosmo don’t work: we can create a hot night at home but as long as the underlying issues remain, we’ll be quickly back to square one.
So what to do to create and cultivate an ongoing passionate, playful and delicious intimate connection in the relationship way past the honeymoon period? Here are some answers:
It might not sound sexy but this one is an absolute must. Maintaining passion and desire in relationships is a DECISION. It’s a decision that we need to keep making every year, every month and every day of our relationship. People like the romantic idea of relying on spontaneity in the bedroom but the spontaneity only goes so far. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to our shared connection so we need to actively keep cultivating and nurturing it.
It’s like exercise – if you only work out when you feel like it, you might feel quite baffled when you find yourself out of shape after a while.
This is a concept I learned about from David Schnarch, PhD. Differentiation means remaining an individual in a relationship, keeping your separate identity, remaining connected to your own needs, wants and desires.
People so often tend to give up their own selves in order to feel closer to a new partner. But this slowly kills the desire and passion between the two of you. Don’t be scared to remain yourself in a couple! Don’t be scared to admit that you’re different than your partner and that you enjoy different things! This kind of sense of self-identity is exactly what keeps the fire, sizzle and spark alive…
3/ Desire needs distance
This is what Esther Perel talks about often. Spending a lot of time together will feed and nurture your love but will weaken your passion. Give yourself a permission to keep exploring your own hobbies and interests. Go on a holiday separately once in a while. Spend time apart and enjoy your own pursuits and activities.
Coming together after a period of missing each other is an incredibly delicious aphrodisiac.
4/ There’s no safety in a relationship
We tend to take our partners for granted: they’ll be always there, right? We slowly stop making an effort for each other and we don’t show our best selves to them anymore. I see so many couples who are unkind to each other! And it breaks my heart.
Tony Robbins once said that if you treated your partner after years in a relationship the same way that you did in the beginning, you would have no relationship problems.
So see if you can look at your partner with new eyes, the way you did at the beginning of your connection. Recognize that they could potentially leave you and that taking them for granted doesn’t serve either of you. Find that amazing person in them that you fell in love with a long time ago. And start seducing them again…
Loving, compassionate and honest communication is at the basis of a true, deep intimate connection. A lot of people resort to nagging and complaining in relationship and it drives people further and further away from each other.
So talk about your sex life, about your needs and desires. And then listen to each other with openness and patience. Understanding what you both need and want will lead to a much more satisfying and fulfilling connection in the bedroom.
A lot of people equate vulnerability with weakness and stay away from it. So I really want to clarify here that vulnerability couldn’t be further away from weakness! In fact, it takes an incredible strength and courage to be vulnerable in front of another human being. To be fully honest, open and authentic about our struggles, fears, pleasure, passion, desires and more takes real balls… and brings people so much closer together!
Explore sharing with each other vulnerably and openly. Allow your hearts to open fully. And watch your sex life improve!
Masturbation isn’t only for single people. In fact, it’s an amazing tool of activating and nurturing your own sensual self. So when struggles in your relationship leave you feeling frustrated and empty, carve out some time to nurture yourself sexually.
It’s healthy, it’s natural and feels so good!
If you’re into tantric practices and rituals, bring more Tantra into your relationship! It’s an amazing tool to create more closeness, fun, connection and ecstasy into your bedroom.
If you recognize any sexual trauma, wounding or hurt from your past, it’s very beneficial to seek out an experienced therapist who can help you move through these challenges.
Remember that unresolved issues from the past will keep spilling into your current connection with a partner until you address them.
10/ Play and have fun
Sex doesn’t have to be serious. So embrace your inner child and bring more laughter, fun and joy into your bedroom. Dance and strip for each other, have a pillow fight, play naked poker and do whatever else tickles your fancy.
Sex is meant to be enjoyed! Let’s have some fun with it.
Next week I’ll share with you specific practices that I took the participants of my talk through. So stay tuned!
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