You can’t have great sex if your relationship is in tatters. Identify the deadly sex poisons that could be threatening yours and get set to confront them head on.
This is a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ piece. Toxic lust killers are things that poison your sex life.
We all battle with some of them – even happy couples! – and you have two choices of how to deal with them.
You can stick your heads in the sand like ostriches and pretend nothing’s wrong and they may go away for a little while. But long-term, this will achieve absolutely nothing. The longer a problem continues, the harder it is to solve.
The second choice is to confront them head on.
Be brave! Read this, be honest with yourselves about things you’re struggling with, then sit down and have a bloody good long talk about where you’re at. Get help if you need it: find an accredited therapist at cosrt.org.uk, bacp.co.uk and relate.org.uk.
THE TOP THREE
COMMITMENT AND GETTING MARRIED
“Not tonight dear, we’re married” isn’t just a cutsey, funny little line they throw around in sit-coms, it’s reality for a lot a couples.
A common perception is that it’s the wives who start saying ‘no’, having ‘bagged their man’. But it’s actually more often men saying ‘I don’t’, after ‘I do’. Familiarity is a desire dampener for both sexes because it instantly strips away the three top turn-ons: unavailability, adventure and mystery. For men, commitment also feeds into their age-old primitive belief that once the chase is over and the prey conquered, it’s no longer worth having.
Fix it: Both stop making pre-marriage comparisons and replace the hot urgent you used to have, with something equally as satisfying: sex where you both know each other’s triggers so well, orgasms are guaranteed. Anticipatory sex, where you’re both in a hot, sexy fluster all day at work because you’re about to try something new and naughty that night, is also a more than adequate stand in.
ANGER AND RESENTMENT
Chronic anger is poison to your relationship and sex life. If the person you’re living with is no longer your friend, they’re the enemy. Why would you want to open your heart – or legs – to them? They can’t be trusted to do the right thing by you. Feeling attacked isn’t sexy. Attacking someone you’re meant to love isn’t sexy either. Simmering below chronic anger is resentment: get told off often enough and you feel nagged.
Fix it: Problems outside the bedroom tend to cause this. Think back to when it all started and you’ll find the original cause, all the other grievances are lumped on top. If you feel angry with your partner or they are angry with you, get yourself to see a good therapist now. Like, right now. Great sex can cure a lot of things, but it’s impossible to have great sex if anger and resentment are standing by the door watching you and sneering.
NOT FINDING YOURSELF OR EACH OTHER ATTRACTIVE ANYMORE
Keeping your partner attracted to you long-term is a two-fold process, according to US sex guru Jack Morin. The first way, is for you to maintain what attracted them to you in the first place –a great body, quirky personality, an infectious laugh. The second way is for them to recognize new attractions as the relationship develops: you being supportive, nurturing, a whiz at the finances, a great Mum or Dad. You should both rely on both. It’s not always possible to maintain all the initial attractions but you can keep a sense of them.
There are plenty of ways to turn your partner off you physically. Heavy smoking, hygiene habits that leave a lot to be desired, slobbing around in hideous clothes that would be better used as dusters. Either of you putting on or losing significant amounts of weight to alter, unfavourably, your appearance and putting your healt at risk.
Fix it: Love responds to intelligence and emotional intelligence, sex is physical. Lust is strongly influenced by what we see. It’s insulting when your partner really lets themselves go: it means they’re taking you for granted. It’s not just physical things that turn us off. Attitude will do it as well: turning into a Grumpy Old Woman or Man. Being cynical, nasty, combative. If this is you, have a chat to yourself and find practical ways to get back to how you were. Ask for help, if you need it. If this is your partner, do the same. Have a chat and try to find the causes.
AND THE REST…
BORED OR TAKING EACH OTHER FOR GRANTED
“You’re either single and lonely or married and bored,” says the comedian Chris Rock. There’s a strong element of truth in that statement. We spend our lives desperately searching for someone to share it with. Then when we get them, we’re bored having to hang around the same person all the time. Boredom and taking each other for granted tend to go hand-in-hand. People are 23 times more likely to forget their eighth anniversary than they are their first.
It’s not just sheer exhaustion from the relentlessness of bringing up children that puts sex on the back burner. Lots of women find they can’t switch off from ‘Mum mode’ during sex, one ear is always pricked to hear what the kids are up to. And both of you worry their ears are pricked, listening to what you’re up to.
SUSPECTED OR ACTUAL INFIDELITY OR GUILT AT HAVING BEEN UNFAITHFUL
If your partner had an affair, or you suspect they have, you feel judged and insecure. Not to mention a wee bit angry. A common reaction is to withhold sex: sometimes as punishment, sometimes because doing it is too painful a reminder that they’ve done it with someone else. If you’re the one who cheated, guilt sits on your shoulder during sex, creating an unhappy threesome. Or you have regrets about ending it if the sex was good.
COMPETING SEX OUTLETS
Men particularly are guilty of this – if sex with their wives takes too much effort, they’ll sometimes take the easier option and replace it with masturbating to porn. Ironically, the female equivalent replacement is often children. Children (obviously) don’t provide us with sexual stimulation but they do a damn good job in the affection and love department. And if affection and connection were big players in why you had sex, it can reduce your motivation.
STRESS, ANXIETY AND EXHAUSTION
Let’s face it: the last 18 months haven’t exactly been terrific. We’re all worried about money, jobs, the health of our family or friends. All of this sends our libido into a downward spiral. You need to be reasonably relaxed to have good sex and anxiety isn’t a helpful bed companion.
BAD OR BORING TECHNIQUE
The better sex is, the more you’ll want it. It really is that simple. Technique can be easily learnt with self-education and feedback from a partner. Speak up now or forever have awful sex.
MISMATCHED SEX DRIVES
This is a huge problem for lots of couples. Constantly feeling pressured – or rejected, depending on what side you’re on – nearly always results in a bed stalemate. Add lots of simmering resentment and the atmosphere becomes deeply unsexy.
NOT FEELING UNDERSTOOD AND NOT FEELING HEARD
Otherwise known as the ‘Why should I have sex with you? What have you done for me lately?’ feeling or ‘My wife doesn’t understand me’.
TOO MANY INHIBITIONS AND NEGATIVE ATTITUDES TO SEX
Sex is fun. Well it is for people who have a positive attitude to it. If you see it as ‘dirty’ or even scary, it’s not much fun at all. A terrifying estimate is that 90% of us have had negative sexual experiences. Not just serious ones – like abuse or rape – but being made to feel not good enough, rejected or made fun of.
AN UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE
A little bit of what you fancy may well release inhibitions and lead to a damn good rodgering. But excessive and prolonged use of alcohol and drugs depresses the central nervous system, numbing sensation and your sex drive. Cut back or get help if you can’t do it alone. Poor health generally is a libido dampener. Who the hell wants sex if they’re not feeling well? You know what to do: exercise, eat healthily, get enough sleep….