When we first get together with our loved one there is not usually any problem with desire or libido. In fact there is a Chinese aphorism that says that if a stone is put into a jar every time a couple makes love in their first two years together, and then a stone is taken out of the jar every time they make love after that, they never get to the bottom of the jar. In other words, the first months and years are the hottest, most lustful and energetic.
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After that, the level of physical activity can drop to once or twice a week (or a fortnight) – more or less, depending on the couple. The actual amount doesn’t matter too much provided both parties are content. The arrival of children is usually the point when sexual activity changes. Which makes sense because, from a biological perspective, the point of our pairing is to reproduce and once that has happened, the necessity to have sex lessens.
However sex has more than one function. As well as for procreation, it provides an essential emotional glue and an emotional intimacy that helps the couple ride out the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life. It’s just plain fun. But as the relationship becomes more comfortable and familiar, the passion can subside and sex can become a real chore. Once that happens, there can be a disconnect that festers.
So, how to keep this essential aspect alive and thriving, and how can you keep the freshness and passion over years and years together?
The answer lies in our brains, where our libido and sex-drive originate and where our imaginations are also located. There is a complex network of electrical and chemical neurotransmitters, hormones and nerves that are responsible, among other things, for sexual desire and responses. It is the brain that mediates input from all the senses, including sight, hearing and touch and transmits signals that start a cascade of reactions that lead to genital arousal.
Much of this happens below our levels of awareness and control, and is most easily triggered when the relationship is fresh and there is novelty. However as the relationship settles into a routine we can do much to bring control and triggering of our libido and sex-drive into our consciousness.
In other words, by accessing our imagination we can manufacture and heighten our natural levels of libido, thereby increasing our levels of passion and desire back to their original levels, or higher and deeper.
This is not news to anyone who has engaged in role play sex games or had sexual fantasies. Our brains are unable to distinguish between what’s real and what’s in our imagination, so as far as it is concerned it makes no difference whether the story we are telling it about hunky firemen or sexy nurses is true or made-up – the brain responds in the same way regardless of whether its fact or fantasy. It is this inability to know the difference between true novelty and made-up stories that enables us to trick the brain into reacting as though what we are only seeing in our imagination is actually happening. We only have to think hunky firemen or sexy nurse, and the physiological responses and sexual arousal are the same as though they were really there in the room with us.
These sexual arousals based on falsely constructed ideas, but the brain doesn’t know the difference so reacts in the same way as through it was real. This physiology is something that we exploit when sex becomes boring and we start to take intimacy for granted. But for it to work properly, the emotional connection between the two of you needs to be robust enough for each to be able to express their innermost fantasies without the other getting upset. There can be no room for jealousy when fantasies enter the relationship, and both need to understand that it really is a fantasy and there is no way that it will ever become a reality.
There needs to be boundaries. A common fantasy is for group sex: threesomes, foursomes or more. But in real life, entering into an ‘open’ relationship or encouraging others into the bedroom is hugely dangerous. In my experience, ‘menages a trois’ never last, but can leave lasting damage. They can be great fun to fantasise about sex with others, and to watch or read porn about group sex, but there should be a clear understanding that it is just fun and it is just fantasy.
Another fantasy might be for abuse – many men and women like the idea of being tied up or being dominant, but again, it should remain a fantasy and in the bedroom. Whatever you think of, believe that it is normal – provided it is consensual. There are no limits to your imagination, but if anything upsets your partner, its vital to reassure them and know what’s out of bounds.
If the rules and trust can be established, your sex-life and your relationship can be spiced up immeasurably, but it has to be safe. If there is trust and confidence you can find that using your brain in this way can become incredibly erotic, and you can find yourselves sharing a secret intimate life that has an overall deepening effect on your relationship. I recommend it as a way of spicing things up, and taking your relationship to a whole new level.
For more information and to get in touch with Annie, head to www.anniegurton.com
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