Dear Dr Ren,
My girlfriend and I have just celebrated our second anniversary and have been living together for almost a year now. We both feel this is a keeper relationship, but know that so often lesbians are doomed to bed death regardless of their best intentions. We’re past the honeymoon stage and are happily still having great, frequent sex. We want to be together — happily — for a long time.
How do we keep love and sex alive and well in our relationship?
Determined to Succeed
Dear Determined to Succeed,
How do we make love stay? I don’t know.
Love won’t follow rules, or be contained. The best we can do is appreciate it while it is around and treat it with the respect it is due.
We know some of the places love likes to hang around. Love is social, so remembering that your partner is on your side, on your team, provides an environment attractive to love.
This is easy in the early days, but gets more difficult when you are having your first — or subsequent — fight. Besides the disappointment that this perfect person you have been trusting is arguing such a stupid position (read: disagreeing with you), you are faced with accepting that your relationship has moved to a more realistic level. Minimizing your ego and maximizing your teammate philosophy now is key to enticing love to stick around.
Love doesn’t mind disagreement, provided it is respectful, because a good healthy blowout lets each of you express safely what is really going on and gives you each an opportunity to ask for the changes you need. It is important to remember to listen well, just as it is to express yourself appropriately. When you see that you have resolved a thorny issue with kindness and fortitude, you can reward yourselves with fireworks make-up sex! Go Team!
While love will wait out healthy arguments, it curls up and purrs when couples spend time talking about truly authentic feelings — the kind we shared in the early days when we hung on every word and memorized each story.
If you want love to stay, set aside time every week or two to share with your mate some of your internal, meaningful conversations, the vulnerable emotions you keep protected, and listen with an open heart to hers. Create an environment in which intimacy can grow. Love will find its way there.
As you mention in your letter, you are well aware that sometimes the love stays but sex goes. Lesbian bed death is as ubiquitous as the preliminary coffee date. Are we doomed to both?
Sex is more predictable than love. It thrives on attention and, when ignored, will find someone to amuse it or, if held captive, will shrivel and lose its strength.
Unlike love, sex can be contained, and some people exchange it for a sense of security: I’ll give you my sex if you give me your love.
It’s a bad bargain, for love cannot be bartered or promised, but it doesn’t stop most of us from believing that sexual exclusivity makes us safe from the threat of someone else taking their love away.
If we want to keep having hot, frequent sex, we need to state that as a goal early and often in our relationships. We need to discuss the value of sex to us as individuals and as a couple. If you can’t talk about how sex will work for you, that’s a problem in itself.
Once the can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other phase has dissipated, we need to negotiate what frequency suits us as a couple. If we agree on twice a week and find that our busy lifestyles prevent our getting together except on Sunday mornings, we need to adjust our lifestyles!
Keeping sex hot requires making time for it. Spend more time with your partner than with your TV, your Blackberry, or your computer. Book time together to fit your expectations of a good sex life, and don’t allow the outside world to intrude. If you let everyone know that Wednesday is date night, they will soon learn you are not available then.
Great sex takes time, intention, technique and practice. It takes feeling — and welcoming — desire, and then acting on it. When we take good physical and emotional care of ourselves we are more prone to act on that desire than when we are bored in a merged dyad with few independent outlets.
Good sex also requires ongoing sensual touch. We need not replace erotic contact with friendly cuddling. Keep some form of passion a part of everyday interaction, even if it is only an extended kiss and some meaningful eye gazing. Keep sex current!
Lust thrives on variety, newness and experimentation. Being open to change, flexible and adventuresome, willing to push one’s boundaries — all lead to hot sex.
Are any of these suggestions guarantees that love — or sex — will stay? Sadly, no. Change is inevitable. However, understanding and accepting change strengthens your coping mechanisms as you build your relationship.
Remember touch, talk, humour, kindness and desire and you’ll have the components to build a relationship that can stand the test of time.
Got a question for Dr Ren?