How to keep the passion alive in the long term

In our monthly Love Life Lab Experiment, Sarah Abell invites you to improve your love life with small changes

by Psychologies

Early on in a relationship, passion comes very easily to most couples. Almost every touch, glance or word is loaded with desire. But what happens to passion when you are six months into a relationship, or even 60 months in – or 60 years? Is it inevitable that it will fizzle out eventually or can you expect passion to last and even grow? Dr Sue Johnson, clinical psychologist and the author of Hold Me Tight (Piatkus, £13.99), believes that ‘the passion of infatuation is just the hors d’oeuvre. Loving sex in a long-term relationship is the entrée’.

The theory

If we want to have great sex in a long-term relationship, then  we need emotional connection and if we want to have emotional connection we need great sex. The two go hand in hand. Johnson believes you will have different goals for your sex life, depending on how comfortable you are with closeness overall and how safe you feel in needing your partner. She calls these three kinds of sex Sealed-Off Sex, Solace Sex, and Synchrony Sex.

  1. Sealed-Off Sex: The goal with this type of sex is to release your sexual tension, to achieve orgasm and to feel good about your performance. You are quite likely to have this type of goal if you have never learned to trust, or struggle with being emotionally vulnerable with your lover. Johnson says this type of impersonal sex is toxic in a loving relationship, as your partner is likely to feel objectified rather than valued as a person.
  2. Solace Sex: The goal here is reassurance. If you feel insecure about your attachment you are likely to look to sex for proof that you are valued and loved. If your partner doesn’t want to have sex for any reason, you are  more likely to take it as a personal rejection. If this type of sex is the norm in a relationship you might find yourself trying to perform to please or being so demanding that it is a turn-off for your partner.
  3. Synchrony Sex: The goal for sex here is that it fulfils, satisfies and connects. It is when emotional openness, responsiveness, tender touch and erotic exploration come together. Johnson explains that this is the way sex is supposed to be. She suggests that the best guide for erotic and satisfying sex is ‘practice and emotional presence make perfect’.

Try this

This month write a ‘Brief Guide for the Lover of ________ (insert your name here)’. Include anything that you want your partner to know about what turns you on before and during sex, your preferred positions, anything that you want to try or don’t want to try, and what helps you to feel connected during lovemaking. You might want to share what you have written with your partner, you might not. If not, you could perhaps start a conversation with them about how hard you find it to talk about these things.

Sarah Abell is a relationships coach and the author of Inside Out – How To Build Authentic Relationships With Everyone In Your Life (Hodder, £8.99).

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