All relationships have challenging times, and if you’re in a romantic relationship for long enough, you may be challenged by a decrease in sexual intimacy. After a while, sex can become routine, and if it's happening at all, it can feel like you’re both just trying to get to the finish line, so you can move on to the next thing.
This is not uncommon, and it doesn't mean your relationship is over. It has happened in my relationships, and I want to share a few of the techniques that have helped me rekindle the fire when it seems to be dwindling. If there was plenty of fire at the beginning, it is likely that it can be rekindled by one of the below strategies, especially if both partners are committed to making a change.
Here are 3 things you can do to get the energy flowing again.
1. Quit masturbating
Masturbating can become an entrenched self-soothing habit, where you take care of your own needs without reaching out to your partner. Sometimes that can be useful in a relationship, especially if one libido is much more active than the other. But if sexual energy has dropped off, and one or both of you are masturbating, the problem could get worse because masturbation reinforces a habit of isolating ones' self for pleasure, rather than moving towards another person. Quitting masturbation for 30 days or longer can break this habit, and do wonders for your energy levels.
I’ve done multiple 30 day no-masturbation challenges, when single and when in a relationship. It served me well in both cases. When I was single, I found that refraining filled me with personal power. I felt more alive, more effective in the world, and I got way more done each day. This was partially because I had more time to spend on other things, but also because I was saving my energy and using it more effectively elsewhere. I felt a definite build-up of testosterone, which gave me greater social confidence, made me a better leader, and more effective at work.
In relationship, I’ve been caught in the trap of being “self-sufficient”, and not turning to my partner for my sexual needs and desires. This happened most notably when we were fighting regularly. The decision to pull away sexually only divided us more, and it made our problems worse. Less intimacy = less connection. Instead, turning only to my partner when I am feeling the need has been a fantastic way to maintain polarity and energy between us.
If you want to take on a no-masturbation challenge, follow these simple guidelines:
1. No masturbation for 30 days.
2. If you engage in sexual activity, it must be with another person.
3. If you’re in a relationship, it is best (but not essential) if both partners participate in this challenge.
Find an accountability partner to keep you engaged, and observe your energy levels. You'll probably notice an energy surge eventually, and you can choose where to direct that excess energy.
2. Quit watching porn
Porn is a quick and easy way to satisfy a need, but unfortunately it tends to interfere with the sexual flow of a relationship. For men, it can be an effective tool to relieve a need that seems to control their minds on a daily basis, but porn can take on a life of its own in a man’s life. Because its quick, easily accessible, and requires no arousal time, porn can adopt a gravity of its own that draws a man in, rather than going towards a real woman. This can be problematic when looking for a partner, and even more problematic when already in a partnership.
Porn is toxic for most men for 2 reasons. It is addictive (like a drug) and it contributes to impotence.
Porn is designed to affect the pleasure centers in your brain, in a similar way that movies or video games or fast food does. These industries have decades of experience behind them, and internet porn has been formulated to keep you hooked.
Porn gives strong visual stimuli – something men are already have an aptitude for – along with easy and cheap access, which makes porn more convenient than going through the motions to set up sex with a real person. It's virtual sex: Convenient, easy, quick, cheap, and efficient. Add that to the fact that porn is often viewed alone, with no time limit, and you’ve got a recipe for addiction, which always pushes the user out of the social circle, out of relationships, and more in to isolation with the drug or process. Once addicted, its hard for men to change their pattern back towards seeking connection with real people instead of an easy fix. Porn ends up asserting its own will in a man’s life.
Many men spend hours each day looking at porn, and I personally know plenty of men who at one point or another, could not sleep without spending at least half an hour watching porn and masturbating. At the very least, this is a deeply entrenched habit that needs attention to be revealed and changed.
The reward centers in your brain connect to the manner in which they are stimulated. Those connections grow over time, while others can shrink. This is how you get good at certain things, and fall out of practice with others.
Porn trains your brain to be sexually stimulated in a visual way, while your connection to your body falls out of practice. The result is a well-practiced porn habit, but an inability to stay connected to your own body and breath, while touching another person. I believe this is the main reason so many men in their 20’s and 30’s have used Viagra. We aren't able to get in to our bodies during sex.
Quitting porn can help re-train the brain to operate on a more natural level, seeking real touch and real presence rather than visual representations. For men who are single it helps keep them out of isolation, and moving towards a real relationship.
For relationships, porn can be destructive by interfering with the sexual flow between partners. If you’re in a relationship, the sexual chemistry between both of you is conditional on how much energy you direct at each other. Think of it as two trees leaning towards each other from opposing sides. They need to both be putting weight in to the interaction for a balance to occur. Otherwise one is just pushing the other over. Sex between couples happens when there is an equal opposing force directed between them. Porn (especially in isolation) creates an outlet for one or both partners to lean elsewhere, and the energy system collapses.
If you’re curious how deep this habit goes for yourself, try quitting for 30 days. Use a support group, or an accountability buddy to check in on your progress. I have a group of men in my life who are testing this for themselves, and its not easy. But the results are clear, guys feel more powerful and in control once they’ve quit.
3. Actively engage your partner in creating space and polarity in your relationship
A loss of chemistry often happens slowly, without much notice and intention, until you find yourselves wondering what happened. Bringing some spice back to the relationship is going to be a pursuit you'll need to engage together. You'll need to talk about this, and agree to make certain changes to your lifestyle, in order to bring back the sexual attraction that was once there.
Some couples find that they can spend every living moment together, and still have great sexual chemistry, but the truth is those are more rare than you think. Part of the reason sexual chemistry exists is by virtue of being separate. At a base level, sexual attraction is where two separate people - or more ;-) - want to merge in to one intertwining ball of bliss. Coming together, and moving away is how we keep the energy flowing. Some people do this unconsciously through constantly fighting/breaking up and then getting back together, but you can create space intentionally.
Just as we couldn't eat all day, we can't have sex all day and still enjoy it. Its the space between that gives it the magnetic force it has over us. This is true often for relationships as well. I recently went on a 3 month trip to Asia with my partner, and we spent every moment together, except a few hours. By the end of the trip, we were both feeling fairly fed-up with being with the other, not because we were falling out of love, but because we were losing that sense of separateness. Spending a few weekdays apart, and reintegrating in to our community upon our return home was enough to bring back some equilibrium. In other cases, the solution will need to be more intentional.
If you feel that you're spending so much time with your partner that its causing a loss of energy between you, schedule some time apart regularly. If you're both working from home, consider a different arrangement. The way in which you spend time away will also determine the effectiveness of the separation. You'll want to both engage in activities that actively cultivate polar energy in your relationship.
Polarity in relationships is largely a mystery to some people. Why do we like what we like? One way of explaining the origin of sexual attraction is through the principle of opposites coming together, as stated above. Think Yin and Yang, or Shakti and Shiva. This is the principle that within the human sexual being there are two equal and opposing forces that attract each other. We'll call this feminine and masculine energy. These energies are different in each person - not all women have a mostly-feminine energy, and not all men have a mostly-masculine nature. The truth is, it doesn't matter who has what, but in every relationship, there will be often one chaser and one prey, one who takes the lead and one who loves to surrender. Most relationships will have one more-feminine individual, and one more-masculine individual. Find out what your dispositions are, and cultivate that energy apart from each other. When you come back together, the difference will be felt.
For men, spending time with other men, while participating in challenging activities for the mind and body often works well. Direct competition, challenge, and even creation between men cultivates a masculine core, and so does sitting intentionally together to reflect and improve upon living by a set of principles. Jordan Gray wrote a fantastic article on Cultivating Your Masculine Edge.
For women, spending time with other women can connect them to their feminine sexual essence. They can step back in to the energy of surrender and expression, to find that fire. Lana Kravtsova has some great thoughts on cultivating this energy.
To create polarity, dive in to the study of these energies and work to amplify them in your relationship. If you put in a solid effort, you will see results.
These are 3 simple ways that you can rekindle sexual fire in your relationship and in your own energy system. Consciously managing your sexual energy can fill you with a personal power that seemed to be lost.
May you be healthy, happy, and sexually fulfilled.