Take a moment to ponder these questions:
Do you feel desirable when you and your partner make love?
Can you tease each other playfully before and after you’ve been physically intimate?
Are you still discovering new things about each other?
When you think about your partner sexually, do you look forward to your next encounter?
Do you feel secure in your partner’s love and interest during lovemaking?
Are you sad when your intimate experience is over, wishing it could have lasted longer?
How did you do?
Have you reached a point where you’ve just “accepted” that lovemaking becomes a matter of routine as a relationship matures?
What you’re experiencing is a very common phenomenon of committed relationships. I see it all the time in my counseling practice.
Unfortunately, disappointments in the bedroom can wreck your entire relationship—IF you don’t catch what’s happening and take the necessary steps to get things back on track. The first step is to understand how your lovemaking has changed— and why.
It is not true that women prefer romance and men would just as soon, literally and figuratively, get in and get out. Many women are well able to enjoy a purely lustful connection at times, and many men are innately romantic and prefer a long buildup before they are intimate.
There is a significant difference between lust-driven sensuality and romantic sensuality. When love enters the picture, physical intimacy changes, and the primary drive becomes a four-stage process that ensures complete satisfaction for both genders.
You might not have known it at the time, but when you and your partner first became physically intimate, you likely went through these four predictable stages:
The feeling of falling in love is familiar to us all. We feel an intensely focused, joyous desire for connection, yet willing to play with the idea that we may not connect this time. When courtship follows its course, both partners begin to feel more welcomed and confident in each other’s realms.
Initially obsessed with a mutual urgency to secure the treasure, the lovers no longer feel pressure to move the process quickly because it has become too sweet to rush. Filled with a delicious desire to prolong the tension, the lovers allow their bodies to store the excitement and anticipated ecstasy.
The lovers have electrified one another’s complete being, fully engulfed in the discovery of every dimension. Emotional and loving affection becomes erotic, as erogenous zones call out to be touched. The new lovers have an almost unbearable urge to fuse as one.
They search to please one another, directing their foreplay to their partner’s wishes while communicating their own. Every dimension of their being vibrates with desire. The time they have given during their courtship phase has allowed their hunger to mature.
As the lovers move towards their individual climax, they become less aware of each other’s presence and more exquisitely tuned to their own desire for release. If the lovers are skilled, experienced, and responsive to each other, they may be able to share simultaneous release.
They can also find deep satisfaction in taking care of each other in sequence, sharing the pleasures of alternately giving and taking. As long as they feel confident that their partners are close and similarly entranced, their mutual enjoyment is reborn in these moments of total vulnerability.
The experience that follows climax is an intertwined state of wonderment, satiation, and openness. Like children in a state of bliss, they are able to share their most vulnerable fantasies and their deepest fears. Not wanting to feel the inevitable separateness of quieted arousal, they reach to one another in a different way, searching for new understanding and deeper connection.
Still in the afterglow of their sensual connection, lovers may begin to flirt again, deliberately pretending they are farther apart than they are, and begin to build desire anew.
When you go through all four stages in sequence, you will experience the epitome of sensual intensity. All too often, however, long-time partners go straight to stages two and three—shortchanging both themselves and the relationship.
If that shortened connection becomes the norm, the lovers will find it hard to return to the longer, more romantic process.
Without the timeless build-up and moments of safe vulnerability, the lovemaking experience becomes only goal-oriented, lust-driven, and dependent on sexual expertise and physical stimulation. The mystery of courtship and the sweetness of the afterglow intimacy are lost in the compromise.
If the pressures of daily life have led you to take shortcuts in the bedroom, now you know why passion has faded. And if you continue this way, you risk the danger of completely losing the depth of true lovemaking.
Falling in love is a process of continuous discovery. When flirtations evolve into love, the partners, filled with curiosity, want to completely know the other. Every interaction is permeated by new tastes, new smells, new experiences, new secrets, and new surprises. Emerging revelations continually reawaken the partners.
Their own love of self is also renewed in that rearrangement of fascination and satisfaction. They revel in the wondrous experience of positive reflection in their lover’s eyes. Life becomes a series of enchanting experiences.
As people spend more time together, they too often believe that they have learned everything they need to know about each other. They devote their resources to practicality and efficiency, instead of the challenges they once sought so eagerly.
The adoration and timelessness that marked their romantic sex cycle becomes we-know-and-love-each-other-already-so-we-really-don’t-have-to-make-any-unnecessary-waves habitual sexual ritual.
A lot of my work is spent helping couples rediscover each other. I’ve worked with many couples who thought their passionate feelings were long dead, and I’ve helped them not only rekindle their earlier positive emotions but go on to feel even more excitement for each other than they did before.
If you’re open to changing how you and your partner relate to each other in order to spark more intimacy and passion in your own relationship, you’ll want the kind of insights and guidance I’ve given thousands of couples in the course of my 40+ years of clinical practice.
But I can’t possibly work one-on-one with everyone who wants my help.
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