One key to reclaiming desire in your relationship is to harness some sexual curiosity. Take a look at this graph from the collection as an inspiration. It was made by a 47 year old straight guy, married 20 years. There’s the “stuff we do” (red). Then there’s the “stuff we don’t do that we know about” — that’s blue.
What’s all those other colors? It’s “the stuff we don’t do that we don’t know about” The unknown unknowns, as the psychologists Luft and Ingham put it. What are the sexual activities that you have never even heard of or thought of, that might be a new source of excitement for you?
Many people struggle with loss of desire in a long-term relationship. You WANT to want to have sex, but you don’t really want to. Maybe you turn to the internet for help — ideas to kickstart your stalled sex life. There are so many pages all too happy to give you advice – the suggestions are endless. What do you choose? (You should probably check with a doctor first to see if there there is some medical reason – especially it your libido dropped off suddenly).
I’m here to say that you don’t have to worry too much about which new sexy new idea you try — they could ALL work to help you reclaim desire! Let me explain.
There was a study done once on the effectiveness of various treatments for warts (stick with me here!). They found that all the treatments were very similar in their effectiveness and that all the treatments were better than doing nothing at all. In other words, swinging a dead cat in a graveyard at midnight on the full moon (Tom Sawyer-style) will cure warts as well as Compound W, and both those things will cure them better than doing nothing. (Disclaimer: that research might be bullshit. I couldn’t find it again to cite. Colorful though, isn’t it?) The conclusion? The placebo effect is a powerful thing, and that’s absolutely true.
Sexual desire can be like that. If your sex life is lacking in excitement or passion, or if desire has waned — and face it: it is bound to in any long term relationship — then just the intention to search for a solution and trying new things could have some effect, regardless of what the solution is. And it’s not just the placebo effect, though that’s certainly a powerful part of it.
It’s also a due to a little thing called attention. Focusing your attention on what you want to change can cause movement toward that change. Think of it like riding a bicycle. You aren’t consciously thinking “I want to go right, so now I need to turn the handle bars right.” You have the desire for going right, and your body makes it happen. If you decide you want more desire and spend time, energy, and head space seeking out things that will help, your body can respond to that.
If you incorporate your partner into the project, all the better. Make an adventure of it. Together, seek out new ways to improve your sex life and try new things. Anything you discover together will have a positive effect, and the search just adds to the fun. Need some ideas for new things to look into? Check out the next post for a quick 50 new things to try.