Our mind is programmed to take notice of new things, and so when things remain the same, our attentiveness diminishes and we turn our attention elsewhere. This is referred to by psychologists as the process of habituation.
Yes, the mind notice differences. When things stay the same, the mind tunes out, because our trusty brains don’t actually register things that don’t change. And our bodies, well they tend to be oblivious to anything that isn’t likely to make a difference to us: a.k.a be something new. (You know, like when we’ve seen our lover naked so many times we become completely desensitised to the visual, despite the fact that the first time they undressed, the display was highly titillating.)
….Remember back in limerence (the ‘honeymoon phase’ of your relationship) when your lover seemed like a surreal dream you simply couldn’t keep your mind, eyes and hands off? …..When his or her touch was intoxicating and you couldn’t get enough of that feeling of a drug-like high you would get from merely being in their company? …..When being beside them gave you butterflies, watching their call come though on your phone made you feel like a million dollars, kissing them swept away to another place and time, and sex made you giddy with oxytocin (the love drug)?
Well I’m guessing if you’re reading this, those feelings are now nothing more than a fragment of the past, a memory that you hold on to and wonder where those precious and insatiable moments went and how can you possibly reclaim them.
……And you know it’s not that your lover has lost their sex appeal in general, and you know this because others find them as mesmerizing and irresistible as you once did, strangers can’t keep their eyes off your lover, just wishing to be in the place that you have the privilege to be in, yet you just don’t feel that same feeling you used to…..And you want it back, ever so desperately, but you question whether it is possible at this point.
In her 2013 Ted Talk, world renowned sex therapist and sex researcher Esther Perel perfectly puts it all into perspective in summarising our sexual expectations in committed long term relationships: “So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging, give me identity,give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe, all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that.”
Perel then goes on to share her research findings on interviewing thousands of men and women on the topic of long-term sexual desire from 20 countries across the globe. Here’s her findings summarised, into five things you need to know to reignite passion and sexual attraction in your long term relationship:
1. Understand the ingredients of sexual attraction to begin with in order to recreate them. The main elements of sexual attraction include: adventure, novelty, mystery, risk, danger, the unknown, the unexpected, surprise and spontaneity.
2. Have time apart, and long enough to be able to imagine being with your partner. Know that absence and longing are critical elements of desire. When we are attracted to someone, our imagination conjures up thoughts of what it would be like to be with them, to express a sexual moment with them. But when we are with our loving partner, we stop imagining. That’s why being away from them for a long enough time to begin imagining again how it would look like and feel to be with them, and recreating scenarios in our mind is essential.
3. We are most drawn to our lover when they are just a little out of our sight and reach. You know, when you attend a social function together and you see them mingling with others across the room and you suddenly feel an urge to take them to the bathroom and do baaaad things to them? And this can even bed an energetic thing as well, like when they are in the same room as you but are focusing on something entirely different like being on the phone or deeply engrossed in their work? It makes you wanna naughtily distract them, doesn’t it? (But contrastingly, when they’re giving you their full attention the challenge is gone.)
4. When we see our partner in their element we get turned on. Think back to those times when you’ve seen your lover doing something he or she is highly skilled at, and exuding radiance and confidence. We are automatically attracted to that. It’s when we are seeing them in their element, that they return to being a mystery to us, an elusive being that we desire to get close to. -Our usually familiar partner, in that moment becomes a separate entity to us, and that is what makes them sexually appealing. The great French writer Marcel Proust once said, “mystery is not about travelling to new places, but it’s about looking with new eyes”. So when you look upon your lover when they are on their own, passionately engaged and focussed on something, you instantly see them in a different light, through an altered perspective, enabling you to remain, as Esther Perel puts in, “open to the mysteries that are living right next to me”.
5. Become independent of your lover on all levels. There is nothing sexy about someone who is needy, we all know that. In desire, there is no neediness. Perel describes caretaking as a “powerful anti-aphrodisiac”. Make sure you make yourself as independent as you can to enable optimum desire.
So there you have five must-knows to kick-start your desire for your long-term love. -And if you implement all these into practice over a period of time and still you feel nothing, consider talking to your partner about an open or poly-amorous relationship style.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Miya Yamanouchi is an empowerment counsellor with specialist sexual health training who has extensive experience assisting men and women across Australia to discover and embrace their authentic selves. Miya has practiced in a variety of specialist counselling roles both while undertaking her clinical training and honing her skills as a health professional, including Drug & Alcohol Counsellor(DrugArm Australasia), International Student Counsellor(The Australian Institute of Professional Education), Sexual Health Counsellor(Impotence Australia) and Sex & Relationships Counsellor (The Australasian Institute of Sexual Health Medicine). In addition to her role as a counsellor, Miya is also a Reference Group member for The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, a Network Coordinator for The Mental Health Professionals Network, a Blogger for The Kinsey Institute, a YourTango Expert for New-York based international sex and relationships online magazine YourTango, and Social Media Content Creator (Instagram) for The Sydney Feminists. Miya is a published author with Penguin Group, and has also had her online articles published across the globe including The Americas, Europe, Asia, and all the way to West Africa.
This article was originally published at Sheknows.com. Republished with permission from the author.