Watering the Sexual Drought
Good friends of ours were visiting recently. As is par for the course, our sex lives came up. “I just feel super stuck,” said one friend. “Yeah,” said the other, “I love him and we are best friends, but it feels like we are roommates.” We nodded in agreement. When you’ve been together a long time, monogamy can feel like sexual monotony.
Once couples have been together awhile, they can no longer depend on the adrenaline and endorphins that fuel passionate sex in a new relationship. “Awhile”, by the way, is anywhere after the 6-24 month mark. This time frame can feel accelerated when you are captive as we have been during Covid.
Ester Perel wrote a whole monumental book on this topic, Mating in Captivity. Basically, we trade in excitement and adventure for safety and depth of intimacy. When your partner is new and mysterious, and we are still evaluating if this is the person with whom we want to continue forward, the danger factor is higher — and thus the passion, too. Once there is no longer ambiguity, we feel the safety of long-term connection and commitment.
However, this is often also the end of the mystery, danger, and felt sense of eroticism. It is at this point that most of my clients reach out for therapeutic support, confused why the lover that once inspired such great sex now feels lackluster at best.
So let’s discuss seven ways to water your sexual drought.
1) Redefine Sex
Firstly, let’s re-define sex beyond the rote transaction we all typically learn it to be. Instead, “sex” is any activity that amps up our arousal. This can be oral, manual, vaginal, or anal stimulation. The umbrella becomes even broader when each of those categories has many methods of stimulation. When we are experiencing a sexual drought, abandoning the social-sexual script of how we “should” sex is very liberating. A pleasure-forward mentality takes the pressure and performance out of our typical understanding of sex.
2) Differentiate the Types of Sex
Now that we’ve defined sex, let’s differentiate between the three qualities of sex most couples have: sensual, intimate, and/or erotic.
- Sensual sex places a focus on the five senses, or highlights one or more of them. Here, sex is about the possible pleasure that can circulate through the body. This can be experienced in very vanilla sex up to very kinky sex. Partners can be long-term lovers or newbies.
- Intimate sex places a focus on the felt sense of connection. The activity matters less than the connection between the partners. This is typically reserved for longer-term lovers where the intimacy has had time to grow and bloom. But sometimes new lovers or those who practice tantra relish this type of sex.
- Erotic sex places a focus on the element of danger to enhance excitement and passion. “Danger” is defined differently by each person, but it’s basically any type of sex that creates some level of anxiety such that the excitement gets elevated, but not too much anxiety where it cripples the whole experience. A few examples include, taboo sex—like picking the bad boy or bad girl for a new lover. Or having sex in a public place. For some people, using a sex toy can even feel taboo. Other examples include power play where there is a felt sense of risk as you embody a submissive or dominant role or position. Kinky sex or multiple partner sex is certainly an edge for many people, and one that can create risk and excitement. Don’t forget, too much risk will create too much fear, and then we cripple the whole experience.
Erotic sex is about finding the right ratio of risk to safety so we elevate excitement without getting washed out with anxiety.
Enhancing all three types of sex gives our intimate lives the diversity it craves.
When we are in a sexless rut, flirting fills in the blanks. There is an art to flirting that we may need to learn. Flirting is not an invitation to sex. Flirting is not about trying to act or be inauthentic. Flirting is finding your unique way to say, “I like you” to your lover — to help them feel desirable.
We flirt. Then we leave. Yes, leave. You can’t linger around after flirting. You can leave for another room. Or go to work. Just don’t linger. For flirting to work, you swoop in, offer your quick contact that says, “I like you” then leave to elevate the mystery. Some flirts can include a quick kiss on the neck, the back, or the hand. Some flirts can include a compliment about your partner’s hair, eyes, lips, butt, or outfit. Some flirts can be via text. “Thinking of you… naked.”
Flirting fills in the blanks when sex has become elusive and prey to drought.
4) Create Micro-Moments of Connection
It is so easy to fall prey to Productivity. So many of my couples are high-powered productive-nauts. Meaning, they are super good at getting sh*t done, but at the end of the day have no energy for each other. If this is you, take advantage of the micro-moments of connection. These are moments (literally a second to a few seconds) that mark your lover on your radar. A text to say hello. A hug. A rub of the leg. These can piggy-back your flirting, or they can stand alone.
Micro-moments of connection remind us we are not strangers to one another.
5) Be Intentional about Ambiance
Sometimes, we can get stuck in routines with our sex lives — the same bed, the same time of night, the same day of the week. By mixing up elements of our sex lives, we can create an atmosphere of energy and enthusiasm. Perhaps try sex before going on a pre-planned date rather than afterwards, or make an effort to try sexting throughout the day before you see one another. Alternatively, you could try changing up your environment at home–setting up candles, different lighting, fragrances, or music. By having a relaxing and inviting atmosphere, you and your partner can create a comfortable place to explore each other’s bodies.
6) Clothes On/Clothes Off
Sometimes be naked. Sometimes, leave a little to the imagination. To ramp up the the intrigue, do something different. If you are always naked, leave a little something on to be removed later. If you are always clothed, get under those cozy covers naked to surprise your partner. Snuggling together naked enhances the oxytocin and sense of bonding. If you have been in a sexual drought, just doing this simple task can re-create the sparks of touch and sensuality.
Remember, you don’t have to be turned on to be naked with one another. Just climbing into bed and prioritizing time with one another with skin to skin contact, without other distractions, can often lead to arousal. Just keep things pressure-free and pleasure-focused and you never know where your naked cuddle time could take you!
7) Create Costumes and/or Characters
We typically describe this as role play. For those who already engage in role play, they don’t need an invitation to do so from a newsletter or blog post. For those who don’t role play, let’s re-define this so it’s not intimidating or inauthentic.
Role-play is about “play”. Adults typically have lost the art of playing as we enter adulthood and the workforce. However, role-play is something that can help couples escape from their day-to-day lives by acting out a fun scene or fantasy. This is an excellent type of foreplay. You can also stay in character for your whole sexual experience if you wish. Whatever type of sex you’re having, acting out a scene (with or without costume), or throwing yourselves back to when you first met, can accelerate arousal and even that adrenaline rush.
Role play can be as involved or as simple as you’d like it to be. If you’ve never done it before, no better time than the permission of Halloween to help water that sexual drought.
Finally, consider purchasing something like our Couple’s Roadmap to Intimacy E-Course. This is a flexible course that you can use at your own leisure that will guide you and your partner through becoming more intimate in 4 key areas of your life: emotional, physical, sensual, and sexual intimacy.