Picture this: it's Friday night, and you can't wait to get home and have your date night with your partner. You're excited to "get busy" tonight, but you finally get home, and you argue, or your date doesn't go as well as you expect….So the night ends with you both falling asleep together. You think, "This has been happening for weeks/months." "Are we ever going to have sex again?" "Is my partner still attracted to me?"
This is the reality plenty of couples go through, and there are many variations of this issue: lack of sex and intimacy in a relationship. Through the ebb and flow of relationships, there may be times when we don't feel connected or sexy; we have outside factors that are keeping us from really engaging with our partners.
While our sexuality is a complex subject that can be impacted by many different factors, such as hormones, relationship issues, life transitions, stress management, medication use, alcohol and substance abuse, amongst many, there are some concepts that are helpful to understand as a couple to begin having a helpful conversation about improving intimacy.
Let’s discuss the barriers that hinder us and what increases our sexual experiences. Psychologist Emily Nagoski, the author of "Come As You Are" discusses in her book what she calls "accelerators" and "decelerators" that control our level of sexual desire/arousal. As you can imagine, accelerators are the little things our brain turns to when it notices sexually relevant information. This can be part of different categories such as mental and physical well-being, partner characteristics, relationship characteristics, setting, life circumstances, and your actions.
For us to have "mind-blowing" sexual experiences, there are factors that need to create just the right context, including, of course, trust and low stress. However, other factors in those categories stated above can be set. For example, you may like the thrill of having sex in a public place, or perhaps you enjoy the occasional sext from your partner before meeting up. While there are so many accelerators, there are many decelerators. This also falls into the categories mentioned above. However, our mental state, such as feeling anxious or worrying about body image, can make us feel disconnected from our partner, thus leading to unpleasant experiences or withdrawal from sexual relations at all.
Here are some important areas to focus on:
Creating an environment ripe with desire. It is essential that your partner feels trusted and relaxed. It can also be important to set the mood (sometimes this can be as simple as cleaning up your space! Women find that HOT! wink), But it can be setting up candles, dimming the lights, or going on vacation.
Take time to learn your partner's accelerators and decelerators. You can use this sheet as a possible guide! Take the time to learn more about your partner, experiment. Communication is key!
Be Patient and open. It may be frustrating to be in a place where you want to be intimate. You may find out new things and be surprised. You may also find that your partner decelerators have to do with negative interactions or aspects of your relationship. It is important to be open with your partner, and if you find it might be a deeper issue, consider reaching out for couples counseling.
Consider Couples Counseling. Couples can benefit from couples counseling to learn to discuss their concerns clearly and calmly, as our sexuality can bring up a lot of complex feelings, so the guidance of a professional can be a wonderful resource.
Here at ITS, we have therapists who are trained in evidence-based couples treatment modalities and are willing to work with you through these types of concerts.
For more tips, please check out our other tips here: https://www.plantationcounseling.com/blog. You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.