Save My Sex Life! Every week, my email inbox is bombarded with this plea from lost sexual souls longing for advice on how to rekindle their sex lives.
They want to know how to recapture the raging romance and raw sexual hunger that once fueled their fire. They want to know how to get their burned out better half burning with desire once again. They want to know how to fall back in love and into the sack — and with minimal effort. Talk about performance pressure — for both them and me!
First, here’s the real deal on passion in relationships. Forget what you’ve heard. Forget the notion that passion lasts for maybe two years tops in a romantic relationship.
Sure, after months or years into a romance, lust morphs into the emotional union and commitment we call “attachment.” Familiarity breeds contentment (and in some cases contempt) as sexual partners reach for the remote instead of each other. Over time, commitment and companionship overtake undying ardor in a couple’s ability to stay together … Still, contrary to popular belief, research has found that some couples can and do remain in love for a lifetime.
In keeping amour alive, any couple’s first order of business is to challenge the idea that passion dies after a couple of years. You can continue to crave each other like dogs in heat. Need proof? Some couples who have been married for over 20 years report still being in love, testing higher on romantic passion for each other than couples married for only five years. Research has also found that passionate love was the strongest predictor of relationship satisfaction for couples who had been married as long as 40 years.
So what’s their secret? They work at it.
I know that it sounds harsh, but it’s a bit hard for me to have pity for people pouting about a lack of passion in their relationship. They complain and play the blame game, often failing to take responsibility for the situation until it requires relationship CPR. What lovers — any lover — consumed with passion or not, needs to understand is that you create your own happiness. While it’s easy to peg your partner for problems, you have no one to fault but yourself.
Words from Papyrus perhaps sum up the situation best:
“No one keeps up his enthusiasm automatically. Enthusiasm must be nourished with new actions, new aspirations, new efforts, new vision. Compete with yourself; set your teeth and dive into the job of breaking your own record. It is one’s own fault if his enthusiasm is gone; he has failed to feed it.”
To get busy, you need to get busy literally. Sex breeds the desire for more sex. This is because sex releases your brain’s “love drug” dopamine, the chemical that triggers lust and desire — the one that makes you feel infatuated with your partner. Both sex and dopamine lead to an increase in and the release of testosterone, the hormone that drives both the male and female sexual desire.
I know what you’re thinking: this sounds great, Fulbright, but aren’t you putting the cart before the horse? With half of this problem having to do with a lack of action to begin with, that is a very good question.
You need to get on that horse before you can ride it. The key to doing that doing something different or new, as brain research by anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher reveals: A varied sex life and doing new things together help in maintaining high libido and remaining a passionate, connected couple. This is because anything novel increases your brain’s dopamine level, triggering the brain chemistry of lust.
So what are some activities that help to keep things smokin’ hot? Here are some tips:
1.) Spend time apart. It sounds a bit ironic, but to appreciate your time together, the occasional breather is in order. “Obstacles” make your partner want you even more, even if this is as simple as an evening out with friends sans your mate.
2.) Be funny, even if the humor is that you’re trying to be — and aren’t. Humor involves the element of the unexpected, which elevates one’s dopamine levels.
3.) Dare to be a little dangerous, as in doing things that get your adrenaline pumping. Studies, in fact, show that couples who do exciting things together are more satisfied in their relationship.
4.) Change your look or, at the very least, keep up your appearance. Fifty percent of your brain is dedicated to vision. So how you look and move is a powerful drug when it comes to attraction.
5.) Surround yourselves with erotica and sex resources for inspiration. Couples have higher levels of relationship satisfaction when they fulfill one another’s sexual desire. Such a higher level of satisfaction is also associated with greater relationship stability.
6.) Set up dating time with variety. You need to create opportunities and ones that address issues of boredom. No one else is going to do it for you!
7.) Remain affectionate both verbally and physically — and on a daily basis.
8.) Communicate. One study of middle-aged women found that nearly 40 percent complained about not having enough sex. Hmmm … most of the emails I get are from men griping about a lack of loving. Obviously, the genders need to talk to each other!
Finally, take care of yourself in addition to your relationship. The healthier, happier, and more energetic you are, the more attractive you’ll be to your partner. A positive attitude about life and your love can be infectious, awakening a lover’s libido like nothing else.
In the Know Sex News …
— Little women quite literally. American girls are showing the first signs of puberty earlier than ever, with age 8 no longer considered “abnormal” for the onset of puberty. The suspected culprits: environmental chemicals and the obesity epidemic. The time of female maturation is also lengthening, with the time from breast buds to bleeding close to three years.
— New warning for patch users. A new study, involving women aged 15-44, indicates an increased risk of blood clots for those using the contraceptive skin patch. The FDA is requiring that the results of the investigation be added to the Ortho Evra Contraceptive Transdermal Patch label since these clots could lead to a lung embolism.
— Supposed “new HIV” not even an STD. Earlier this month, researchers at the University of California San Francisco inaccurately announced that gay men were “many times more likely than others” to acquire MRSA USA300, a new strain of a drug-resistant, fast-spreading and potentially lethal bacteria. Journalists around the world were quick to report — or rather misreport — creating a bit of hysteria around the infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally confirmed Wednesday that the disease is not sexually transmitted and that anybody can be infected given it is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."