Resident sexpert Courtney Boyer answers the latest anonymous question from a reader:
“My fiancé and I have had a great relationship for 5 years. But our sex life has just not been there any more. We have intercourse about once a month. Is this normal? We both tell each other we’d like to have sex several times a week but it feels like neither of us make an effort any more, the spark isn’t there. Any quick recommendations on how to fix this? Will take any advice even if it’s just a little bit.”
What you’re experiencing is totally normal. I’m kind of chuckling as I write that, because I get asked that question — “is it normal?” — all the time.
It sounds like at the beginning of your relationship, there was much more spark, probably more sex, and just more overall excitement. You could talk for hours, do other things for hours, and there was energy left over for more.
But there comes a point where our brains, and our bodies, just can’t sustain that kind of intensity. When you’re attracted to someone and beginning a relationship with them, your brain functions like it’s on crack. The same pleasure receptors that light up when someone does drugs are the same ones that light up when we are in those early stages of a relationship.
That’s why trying to reason with someone who’s just “so in love” is pointless: Their brain isn’t acting rationally. Eventually, we have to transition to a more sustained love for a long-term game. Couples that can’t survive that transition typically break up. Those who can successfully move into this phase of sustained love start to lead more predictable, stable and somewhat monotonous lives. Our brains actually do a little cheer at this point, even though our libido cries a little.
So, welcome to the sustained love phase! It’s not all bad, I promise. It’s great actually. But navigating sexual needs in this phase requires way more effort than before. You have to be intentional. My “quick fix” recommendation is to schedule sex, or dates that promote intimacy. Do things together that increase endorphins and adrenaline — like hiking, extreme sports, or Thanksgiving at your future in-laws.
The amount of sex you have isn’t as important if both of your needs are being met. I’ve worked with couples that got it on every damn day and others who felt like once a month was just fine. Discuss frequency expectation, roadblocks to intimacy, and things you miss about your early days together. That spark is still there. You just gotta fan the flame, girl.
Courtney Boyer is a sex educator and consultant in the Sandhills. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or ask her an anonymous question here.