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Reclaiming Desire

Reclaiming Desire

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.

 

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Fifty Things to Spice Things Up

Fifty Things to Spice Things Up

In my last post I wrote about how using the power of the placebo effect, plus attention and intention, can help you jump start flagging desire.  Notice "wild card" in pink in the graph above? It's the wild card that always keeps things interesting!

Trying new things together with the intention to make your sex life better, is the point - it doesn't even matter so much WHAT you try. It's the trying that can work the magic.

So you want to try some stuff but need ideas?  Here's a list!

1 .  Shop for sex toys together online

2 .  Be excited about their arrival, and then play with them

3 .  Watch porn together - explore the wide variety of ethically-produced porn (porn tip: if it's free it's terrible)

4 .  If you usually have sex with the lights on or off, switch it up

5 .  Set a timer for 10 minutes and agree to stop when it goes off, even if no one has climaxed

6 .  Share fantasies

7 .  Listen to audio porn during sex

8 .  Smoke pot

9 .  Make a sex video

10 . Get tied up

11 . Tie up your partner

12 . Try a 30 day masturbation challenge - no sex, but daily masturbation

13 . If you usually fantasize during sex, try not fantasizing 

14 . If you never fantasize during sex, try it

15 . Make a date to have sex

16 . Invent a pre-sex ritual together

17 . Set a goal to have sex in every room of your house

18 . Have a totally selfish session - all pleasure for just one person. The other only gives. Take turns

19 . Watch a video about Orgasmic Meditation and try it

20 . Try to make the other person climax while they read aloud from their favorite book

21 . Find a place to have sex outside

22 . Read erotica to each other

23 . Find a marriage counselor to talk about your sex life

24 . Go to a sex tips workshop

25 . Comparison shop for better lube

26 . Explore more anal stimulation

27 . Try using gloves for a new sensation

28 . Explore goingn to a sex club

29 . Write a profile together on a swinger website, just for fun. Or for reals

30 . Play with the Magnetic Graphic Sex Project and set up some scenarios to follow

31 . Sext 

32 . Buy a remote controlled bullet, and wear it on a night out

33 . Commit to thinking about sex and being aware of your genitals at least 3x a day

34 . Read a book together on improving your sex life and compare notes

35 . Hire a boudoir photographer to take sexy pictures of you together

36 . Commit to only having sex with your eyes open

37 . Get the Kama Sutra and try each position

38 . Buy a flogger and use it

39 . Sign up for a rope typing course

40 . Make out in the car

41 . Explore some herbal remedies

42 . Do more Kegels, and think specifically about sex when you do them (people of all genitalia type can benefit from kegels)

43 . Try to find someone for a threesome - just the looking is fun

44 . Have a threesome

45 . Watch each other masturbate

46 . Pretend to pick each other up in a bar

47 . Go away for a weekend and make no plans except sex

48 . Block out a chunk of time for super slow sex

49 . Get a strap-on, whatever your current equipment

50.  Sign up for a tantric yoga course together

All of these things involve 7 important steps that create attention and intention, to improve your sex life:

  1. Thinking about it
  2. Suggesting it to your partner
  3. Talking about it with your partner
  4. Deciding to together to try it
  5. Preparing to try it
  6. Trying it
  7. Talking about what it was like.

Regardless of whether the thing itself was subjectively good for you (maybe you start doing it all the time, maybe now you know you NEVER want that again), all that attention and connection and communication with your partner is highly likely to positively effect your sex life and level of desire, for both of you.

 
 
 
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Glasses of Desire

Glasses of Desire

. . . . . Desire discrepancy is a clinical-sounding way to say that one person in a relationship wants sex more often than the other. It's really common, of course! It's just another sexual preference - the length of time a person prefers between sexual encounters. It can change throughout a person's life for all kinds of reasons. In the beginning of a relationship when everything is super exciting you might be going at it all the time, but sooner or later people settle down into their default desire mode. There's no "right" frequency to want sex: once an hour, once a day, once a week, once a month, once a year. If your level of desire causes you distress, talk to a doctor: it could be medical. If one person basically never wants sex, and the other does, that's for another column.

But lets talk about just run-of-the-mill, mild desire discrepancy. Maybe one person wants sex every day and the other person wants sex once a week. That's a small difference, but it can still cause a lot of tension and distress in the relationship. One person may always feel pressured, and the other may often feel frustrated.

Let's say they compromise by having sex a certain number of times a month - a little more than the lower-desire partner (the LDP)  wants and a little less than the HDP wants. Consider this: it may be that the LDP in that situation is farther from their ideal than the HDP is from theirs.  Here's what's going on. Often in those situations there is a constant tension: the LDP applying brakes to get less sex, the HDP applying pressure in various ways to get more sex (maybe just a heavy sigh once in a while, but it can still feel like pressure). It can create a lot of relationship coolness because the LDP may avoid affectionate intimacy out of fear that the HDP will try to turn a hug and a snuggle into sex. This will continue for some time, the pressure from one partner, the resistance of the other. The LDP does want some sexual element to the relationship, so they will at some point decide their desire level is close enough to wanting sex and they will consent to or initiate sex. Even though they are not feeling 100% desirous, their desire is close enough and they know the other partner wants it so much. Think of it like filling a glass: when the glass is full you are full of desire. The LDP will have sex when their glass is only partly full because they know the other partner really wants it, and they figure they are close, so they will go ahead and have sex. The result is that they never get to have that full glass of desire. They are always having sex at half desire, which isn’t that great, especially long term. In that sense they are farther from their ideal. The sex they are having is never with the level of desire they want.  

The HDP is at full desire when sex happens, but they might want to consider -- is it really the sex they want? Presumably they would enjoy sex more if their partner had full desire, it's just that they can't seem to wait until they get there.

So what if the HDP just stops. Just takes all pressure off. What if they don't attempt to get the other person to have sex for a long time. They don't initiate, they don't ask, they don't roll their eyes, they don't do whatever signaling they do to indicate they want sex. They allow the other partner to let their glass fill all the way up. It make take a while. Longer than they thought. It might take a while for the other partner to notice how it feels when the pressure is off and to notice the sense of relief they feel. And it might take a while for them to realize they have to initiate. It might take a while to realize they do feel full desire. Maybe then they will initiate, and they will get to feel what it's like to have sex on a full glass of desire. It might be that when they have the experience of having sex on their actual time preference schedule, that they might find that their time preference can shift in the direction of the HDP's preference. Maybe it will take less to fill their glass. And then maybe they wouldn't mind trying to have sex for a while on HDP's time preference.

That's a lot of maybe's but it's worth thinking about, and talking about. See if you can have a conversation about desire discrepancy with neither making the other feel like their level of desire is wrong - it's just a difference, like so many others.

Whatever each person's activity level preference is, they are both valid, and the ideal to shoot for is that both partners sometimes get to have sex when their desire just reaches that perfect point of almost, but not quite, overflowing. At least now and then.

Posted on by Jen Beman

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