My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time. We moved in together six months ago into our new home in New Mexico. But, I’m really not feeling our sex life lately. I feel bad because my boyfriend is amazing, but I’m never ever in the mood to have sex. Lately, we have sex once a month and it’s only because I feel bad so I just pretend. Is there anything I can do? We’re a rather conservative couple, but how do I get the mood back? We’ve just been together so long and work is so tiring that we kinda just don’t really think about it anymore. But it weighs on us. And I want a little excitement between us again. Any advice?
— Feeling Dry in the Desert
Long-term couples make a common mistake: waiting for The Mood to strike spontaneously. More-so, they both wait for The Mood to strike each of them, at the same and right time. The timing gets more particular still as we wait for the cosmic alignment of The Mood, our work schedules, menstrual cycles, etc. If we all waited for this divine intersection, we’d never have sex. You gotta manage that mood! Intentionally manage The Mood? *GASP!* “But what about sexiness?
Mainstream depictions of sex show that sex is only sexy when it’s void of outright communication. Therefore, we think that if we intentionally manage The Mood, we can’t possibly also be sexy. But this simply isn’t true and is also in fact detrimental to your sex life. So, what do you do?
1.) Ditch the idea of The Mood as all-ruling and spontaneous. Bye, Mood!
2.) Verbally acknowledge to your boyfriend that The Mood as you’ve known it has fallen by the wayside (normal!) and that you’d like to respark your sexual connection.
3.) Schedule sex. Sure, if one of you gets food poisoning that night, you won’t be having the sex. It’s not a contract. But, carving out space for sex at least gives it a chance.
4.) Redefine sex. You don’t have to do the all-out, two-hour long, multi-orgasmic marathon sex date to have it be successful. Maybe you’ll make out hot and heavy for an hour and then call it quits. If you give yourselves permission to do these smaller sexual activities, it’ll likely lead to more. But, knowing that it doesn’t have to makes the whole thing less daunting.
5.) You don’t have to feel sexual first before acting sexual. The typical order of The Mood is feel sexy first, act sexy second. But many of us have responsive desire maps meaning, we may find that our sexy feelings emerge after we start going through the actions such as getting naked, talking dirty, or making out. Ever think you’re not hungry until you sit down at a restaurant and then suddenly you’re ravenous? Same idea.
6.) Careful though, don’t pretend! Being transparent and intentional about acting sexual before waiting to feel sexual isn’t the same as faking it. Obligation sex is not good sex. From a consent and relational perspective, this time is much healthier spent having a conversation about why sex is feeling difficult.
7.) Finally, you don’t have to be kinky to reignite the fire. In our culture of “newer is better” we think a pair of handcuffs will fix our sex slumps. But after a dry spell, nothing feels quite as good as just getting back to tried-and-true basics. Focus initially on being your conservative selves and having the kind of sex that makes you both comfortable and connected. The handcuffs will always be there — for better or worse.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sex advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.