Hello, fellow human, let me ask you something. How often are you having sex these days? And how does it compare to the sex you had when you fell in love?
If you are in a committed relationship, your sexual desire is almost certainly lower than it used to be. Heck, I remember when I was dating my now husband, we had sex twice a day. We even set the alarm for 5:30 am so we could have a quickie before he left for work. And that was only six years ago. Today, like other real couples in real relationships, if you don’t make sexual life intentional, you might go a month without making love.
Who can relate?
As you read in my last article, if your sexual desire has waned, You Are Normal. There are a lot of myths about this touchy topic—the topic of not getting touched. Let’s demystify a few more.
For myths, the first two myths, read part one.
Myth #3: I should only initiate sex when I’m in the mood
Terry*, a student in my online Become Passion immersion program put it this way: “When my sweetheart initiates, I eventually get into it. But why don’t I ever think to start sex? It’s like it’s never on my mind…”
Terry is treating his sexual life like an old car. Here’s what I mean. Recently, I purchased a little red Miata. When I gently caress the gas pedal, I love the feeling of immediate response. My sports car is like a great lover: it is thrilling, it is fun, and it feels good. But as time goes on and my new toy gets a few scratches, the novelty wears off. I start to take my ride for granted. It sits in the garage, and unless I think about it, grab the key, and go turn on the engine, we won’t be hugging any curves together. My spontaneous desire to drive my Miata has gone way down.
Hang on, Cheryl, what do lust and sports cars have in common? I’m glad you asked. Let me teach you about what I call the two keys to your erotic engine: desire and arousal.
Desire is the mental aspect of sexual motivation. For example, you might create a fantasy and imagine touching your sweetheart or making love, or you might decide it would be nice to carve out an hour so you can connect erotically. These thoughts motivate you toward your partner.
Arousal is the physical aspect of being turned on (e.g., lubrication, engorgement, yummy tingles, perky nipples). It’s the physical motivation to begin sexual connection.
“Now here is the cool thing,” I tell Terry, and all the other couples in my program. “Either key, the desire key or the arousal key, can start your erotic engine.” Since Terry does not easily experience much spontaneous physical arousal, I coach him to cultivate the mental desire key and use his head to get into bed. He feels empowered by this knowledge, and for the first time in years, he begins to initiate lovemaking even when he is not in the mood. Here’s how he does it.
He tells me, “When Erin wants to make love in the evening, I am not into it at all. I’m thinking about work and distracted by chores and… just really not present.” So I help him plan for passion. He decides that he will take a long steam shower after work, relaxing his muscles and slowing his busy mind. Then, he imagines how nice it will be to lay down with Erin and entwine naked bodies. “I still may not be actually horny at this point, but I am at least mentally interested in the idea of being sexual, you know?”
I do know. As sex educator Emily Nagoski says, desire is curiosity. Terry is deliberately choosing to think about sexuality instead of waiting around for a great sex life to find him. He learns that sex is not a drive, but that his inherent sensuality is like a beautiful vehicle sitting in the garage gathering dust. And he had the keys.
Not in the mood? Don’t let that stop you from taking a spin with the wind in your hair, because great sex is all in your head.
Myth #4: Great love and passion should occur naturally
Remember Jose and Talisha, the couple in a sexless marriage from my last article? As they work with me through my Become Passion program I have them and all the couples create what I call a Passion Plan.
Because great couples make their love life a hobby. They choose to make passion a priority. They invest time in their relationship, they set goals, and they stop taking their love life for granted. By the end of my program Jose and Talisha have each created some daily, weekly, monthly, and annual Passion goals. For example, they commit to kissing goodnight with tongue. Talisha vows to schedule a fun date out of the house, no kids every Sunday. Jose commits to learning more about tantric lovemaking and says he will bring some new moves to bed. They agree that once every year they will take a romantic vacation to somewhere with sun and sand. Their goals are specific and they pledge to keep each other accountable. I am there to help make sure they do.
I think each of us should ask ourselves: how hard am I trying to create a fantastic relationship? Because great love and passion are not an accident.
Exceptional couples are just like you except they learn the keys to relationship success and then they use them. So let’s all commit to keeping our motors running—one gesture, one hug, one touch at a time.
*All names changed for confidentiality.
Dr. Cheryl teaches her free Passion class in October. Register here! In this class she teaches the three keys to passion and introduces her upcoming Become Passion online couples program, mentioned above, which begins November 1st.