Being in a long-term relationship doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your sex life. It just doesn’t. No evil fairy comes down and casts a spell causing your intimacy and sex life to disappear. Yes, it may be different from what it was at the beginning of the relationship but it doesn’t mean it’s gone. You just need to approach your sex life in a way that actually is sustainable in a long term relationship. But, if you are like me, no one handed me a guide book when I was younger about how to actually make sex stay alive in a long-term relationship. Lucky for you I’ve done the legwork and I want to share with you the three Ps of intimacy so you can make sure that the sexual side of your relationship doesn’t disappear.
Avoid the Pressure Mindset
Physical intimacy isn’t about a perfect, movie-like performance, although that’s what many of us expect we need to do because we think that’s what it’s supposed to look like. Cue steamy movie scene where eyes lock from across the room, a lip-bruising kiss happens and after a second or two clothes are ripped off, shoes go flying and 60 seconds later someone rolls off the other person and both are sweaty and sighing in ecstasy. Is this realistic? No. Are real-life struggles like busy jobs and kids even ever considered in these scenes? No. If you try and live up to this unrealistic model of sex then you are guaranteed to feel like a satisfying sex life is unreachable.
With this pressure around what sex is “supposed” to look like you may find yourself thinking, “I just don’t have the energy or feel good enough to do the whole charade so why even bother?” Connection in your relationship is essential and so is the need to dump this perfect, all-or-nothing mindset that says sex just happens, it is quick and easy, life circumstances are forgotten and that once you start intimacy you are committed to the whole kit and caboodle, i.e. penetration and orgasm. This not only adds a lot of pressure and limits connection opportunities but it also doesn’t leave space for all the other diverse ways to connect, which brings us to the importance of pleasure seeking.
Focus on the Pleasure
When it comes to being physically intimate the movie script is certainly not realistic. What’s realistic and wonderful is that your body is a pleasure smorgasbord with numerous options for connecting. This is important to remember as you continue in your long-term relationship because your physical needs and how you feel sexually and experience pleasure will evolve. This will be the case through life changes like pregnancy, having kids, and illnesses, and menopause. When you focus on the pleasure of connecting with your partner, and away from the pressure of feeling obligated to include the genitals and need for an orgasm every time, then intimacy can look however you want it to.
To put the pleasure focus into action you can ask yourself, “what pleasure pie piece can I say yes to today?” Is it a yes to kissing and smooching on the couch? Is it exchanging naked massages in bed with some nice new oils? Is it offering your partner a genital caress? Is it soaking in the hot tub while holding hands? Or perhaps it’s taking a shower or bath together and lathering each other up with your awesome new loofah.
Keep in mind that your connection may include penetration or orgasm but it is not required and each pleasure activity doesn’t have to lead to anything specific. Remember, you are not obligated to the pressure escalator. Intimacy is a buffet of pleasure and the possibilities are endless! Wherever it takes, make sure to take your time when needed and experiment with what helps make the experience pleasurable, like using toys or coconut oil for lubrication. It’s also important to know that as your needs and your emotional world changes throughout life, what you want to enjoy from your pleasure buffet may also change.
Prioritize Your Sexual Intimacy
Just because the initial “spark” of the relationship where spontaneous desire was a bit easier is perhaps in the rearview mirror, that doesn’t mean your sex life is. Yes, your sexual self looks different that it may have at the beginning of the relationship and it will continue to evolve and change as you move through life. As we’ve talked about previously, many women experience sexual desire as responsive desire and so your sex life requires a different approach to sex.
One of the best ways to prioritize your sexual self is to put it on the calendar. I know, I know, it’s not what they do in the movies but remember, we don’t live like the movies. In the real world where jobs and kids take us for a spin, it is important and essential to prioritize and not expect things to happen spontaneously. Spontaneity is always welcome but depending on it may mean your sex life falls to the way basement bottom of the priority list. Setting time aside to feel sexy in your body and to connect with sexually helps you to honor this natural, normal and essential part of you.
Once you set the time aside then you need to be intentional, meaning you can’t just show up and expect things to happen. If you know your intentional intimacy time with your partner is Saturday evening, you want to prepare by transitioning to intimacy by focusing on things that day that help you feel good about you, such as exercising, getting out of your PJs and wearing a nice outfit, and eating healthy rather than trying to break a new pizza-eating record at dinner (say hello to feeling bloated and so not sexy!).
Preparing also means transitioning from the day into the intimate space by stimulating your mind, which is key to your sexual desire. To transition into the pleasure mindset you can listen to a sexy podcast, put some lotion on your body slowly and intentionally, or perhaps read an erotic story either alone or with your partner. Regardless of what you need to do, make sure you focus on the
Action Steps around the Three Ps of Intimacy:
Pressure: Talk to your partner about removing intimacy expectations. Create a pact against all-or-nothing thinking and movie performance expectations.
Pleasure: Write down a list of what you want on your pleasure pie. When it comes to your intentional intimacy time pick what you can say yes to in whatever form that takes. This may change from week to week and you can add or remove anything from the list at any time.
Prioritize: Experiment with what helps you feel good and sexy throughout the day and what helps transition your brain and body into pleasure mode.