A Sexologist Weighs In On Sexual Desire In Long Term Relationships - En Route
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A Sexologist Weighs In On Sexual Desire In Long Term Relationships

Quantity is a common concern for couples

Let’s start off by saying that sex is meant to be what it looks like for you and your partner. We each have our own sexual context, and while that’s easy to say it’s hard not to generalise when you’re feeling some type of way. The enigma of a female’s sexual desire and libido has even been the subject of research and speculation by Sigmund Freud, he states “Where they love they do not desire and where they desire they cannot love.”

In a long-term relationship, and in any type of relationship really, there is no standard number to define the ‘normal’ amount of sex you should be having every week. “Quantity is a common concern for couples, they will often use it as a measure for a successful relationship,” Certified Australian Sex Coach, Georgia Grace tells En-Route. “Rather than focusing on the number, focus on the pleasure you experience.”

Quantity is a common concern for couples, they will often use it as a measure for a successful relationship

What Sex In A Long Term Relationship Should Look Like


Typically a long-term relationship is defined as 2-3 years, but “It’s your relationship, you can call it what you want,” it’s also relative to your situation. You may have already experienced a number of milestones in the timeframe of a year like moving in together, having a baby, surviving the pandemic, and even traveling – all or any of these factors can make the relationship feel more long-term than previous relationships you’ve had.

The importance of sex in a long-term relationship all depends on your relationship and the amount you should be having is a number that only you can decide. “For some, it’s a vital part of their relationship, for others, it’s not essential.” Rather than seeking out what the norm is and “Turning to others or relying on anyone else telling you what’s important, turn to your partner and ask them what (they) need for a fulfilling relationship,” Georgia advises. “Co-create a fulfilling sexual relationship together, free from the opinions of others.”

“Quantity is a common concern for couples, they will often use it as a measure for a successful relationship. However, they can become fixated on ticking a box. Rather than focusing on the number, focus on the pleasure you experience.” Sex isn’t only defined as penetrative, Georgia continues to explain that “Some of the best sex you have may be mutual masturbation, dry humping, oral sex, role play, kissing, a sensual massage – expand your definition of sex and you’ll be doing it a lot more.”

For some, it's a vital part of their relationship, for others, it’s not essential



“Yes, it’s totally normal” for your sexual desire to fade in a long-term relationship. As Georgia says, “Desire is all about context,” and said desire is affected by your stress levels, mental health, relationship concerns, body confidence, and overall health and well-being.

Take for example an evolving relationship, “At the start, everything was new, exciting and uncertain. It’s likely you didn’t live together, you’re learning about this new person, every time you touch it feels electric, and it’s likely you’re doing spontaneous new things all the time. Naturally, as the relationship progresses you fall into routine, you may move in together – see each other at your best and worst. The intimacy builds but the desire wains.”



Desire is defined as a motivation or longing for sex and “It’s entirely normal for desire to fluctuate throughout life…with a myriad of factors affecting how we feel about sex, know that you aren’t broken if you desire sex more or less than your partner.”


Georgia On The Dynamic Nature Of Desire:

1. Spontaneous: As the name suggests, spontaneous desire refers to the spontaneous motivation for sex that seemingly comes out of nowhere. It’s the hot, spicy, can’t-be-tamed kind of desire we see in movies, porn, and even stories from friends. Often people identify that they experience this at the start of a relationship.

2. Responsive desire: A more common way to experience desire. Responsive desire refers to how much stimulus you require in order to bring sex front of mind or a priority e.g. after a long sensual kiss, receiving a massage, or experiencing a romantic gesture you may think, “Oh yes, sex. I want this.” Responsive desire may not be front of mind – in fact, it often refers to the experience of physical arousal first and the mental desire that follows.

“When I work with my clients on the distinction between the two I will often hear them say, ‘All this time I thought I had low desire – I just didn’t understand the different ways you can experience desire.”


Georgia’s Tips On Increasing & Maintaining Desire:

  • Do a sense check. Desire is a motivation, a wanting, a longing for sex. It can feel complex, and edgy to talk about it, so the convo calls for sensitivity, awareness, and open communication. Get clear on what’s affecting the desire for sex.
  • Learn how to create the context for desire together: Our sexual response is made up of two systems; the Sexual Excitation System (SES) aka the things that turn you on and the Sexual Inhibition System (SIS) aka the things that turn you off. We often refer to these as The Dual Control Model. 
  • Get a piece of paper and write down all the things that turn you on (accelerators) and all the things that turn you off (brakes), as well as how sensitive you are to each. How can you manage or remove some of those brakes, and if you’re in a relationship what responsibilities can you both take on to create a context for desire?
  • Reconnect in new ways. If sex doesn’t feel possible right now, it may be helpful to take the pressure off and instead agree to small accessible moments of pleasure. A 30-second kiss with tongue instead of a peck on the cheek, jumping in the shower together, a naked hug, bum tap, telling them they look really fkn sexy etc. Removing this stress or pressure allows for reconnection on other levels – emotional, intellectual and physical (without the expectation of sex). 
  • Professional support


For more, follow Georgia Grace at @gpot._


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