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John asks: My girlfriend and I have recently moved in together after being involved for about two years, and ever since our sex life has taken a nosedive. What was several times a week has turned into once a week if that. Is it common for the over-familiarity to kill the spark somewhat? What can I do to get it back?
’Mr Sex’ says: Hm. Pardon me for being a bit harsh, but sexpert-and-older-person-wise, this question is right up there with ‘Will the sun come up tomorrow?’ and ‘Why is all this brown stuff falling out my arse?’
Sam’s gonna hit you with the science in a bit, but I’m going to lay out the actual-factual. When you start going out with someone for the first time, you can’t believe your luck. You’re sitting there, next to them, and you think to yourself; Fucking hell. That person I’ve had my eye on for ages is going out with me. I can do anything I like with ‘em. I could lean over and snog them right now, and they’d let me. Actually, sod that – I could just cop a handful. And I will. Fwoarrrr!
And then you get thrown off the bus. But it doesn’t matter! Because it’s ace, being with someone in the first flushes of love, particularly when you live apart – because nothing gets a person more worked up than the anticipation of it all. Put it another way; the sex is on tap, but the pipe needs fixing, and you’re having to wait for the plumber to come round before you can spill things and gush, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
When you move in together, however, the entire dynamic changes. The upside is that you see far more of each other than you did before. The downside, on the other hand, is that you see far more of each other than you did before. Instead of detailed conversations about what you’re going to do to each other when you get each other alone, you finally are together alone – and discovering that you’re talking about whose turn it was to get the bog roll in and what DVD you’re going to rent from the off licence. And knickers on the floor suddenly lose their erotic allure when they’ve been there three days running.
I’m not saying that living together is a one-way ticket to Terry and June-Land, where sex happens only on birthdays and rainy bank holidays; you just have to work at it like a bastard from here on in. First off, don’t panic; you’re not going off each other. You’ve merely entered a new and scary phase of the relationship, that involves bills, shopping lists, and all that other domesticated wank. Secondly, start thinking about spending time away from each other again (i.e., START SEEING YOUR MATES AND NOT BEING A TWO-HEADED RELATIONSHIP-MONSTER). Thirdly…well, I’ll leave that up to Mr Van Rood…
Sam says: What you are experiencing happens to pretty much every single couple in the world. After you first get together the spark goes, you start nesting and things slow down.
The key thing to realise is that this is a natural process. When you first meet someone and fall in love your body releases PEA – the love drug. It's the thing that makes your tummy flip, your palms sweat and you want to shag your partner silly at every possible chance.
After about 12-18 months, the PEA stops being produced and the fireworks fade. At this point you body starts producing oxytocin – the snuggle drug. It makes you want to nest, snuggle up on the couch and cuddle, and unfortunately sex tends to drop considerably at this point too. It promotes long term bonding but misses the fireworks of when you first got together. So basically, it's not so much over-familiarity that kills the spark, it's just natural changes that pretty much happen to every one.
So what can you do? Essentially getting some excitement back once you've been together requires work, rather than just happening naturally as it did right at the start of your relationship. You need to schedule in time and make the effort for a) sex b) excitement. First big thing to try is Siestas. Talk to your girlfriend and block out 3-6pm of every Saturday and Sunday for the next two months. This is time for you to get into bed, have a snooze, maybe read a book and hopefully actually have some sex. It's perfect because you've got time to do something in the morning, and it will leave you refreshed for getting out in the evening too – meaning you can have your cake and eat it too.
Second thing is do some exciting stuff together – I'm talking stuff that gets your adrenalin going. Maybe do an indoor rock climbing course together, go to Alton Towers and ride the roller coasters, or work out other ways you get a buzz like going out clubbing. You need to regularly schedule in some excitement together – which will then also wash over into your sex life.
Basically, you've discovered the hard truth that to keep a relationship alive and interesting it takes a bit of scheduling, planning and a bit of work. But once you've worked this as a habit into your relationship routine, you've got a regular flow of extra sex and excitement on tap, which is well worth the effort.
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