By Tanya Koens
Can you remember the time when you first met your partner? How cute you thought they were? How interesting? Sexy? Desirable? Hot? Amazing? Funny? Creative? How fabulous you thought they were? It’s a crazy heady thing, that first part of a relationship.
There is actually a word for it – Limerence. It is the science term for honeymoon period or the involuntary state of mind and being, which results from a romantic attraction to another. It’s the thing that happens when you first come into contact with a new lover. You skin hits their skin and BOOM … the receptors go off! “Oooooh somebody new!” … Which results in a flush of chemicals coursing through your body - Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin and DHEA. The reason for this is that we are hard-wired to find a mate.
Now these chemicals are rather cool! They immediately put up blinkers so that you don’t see that your partner burps and farts and scratches their bum, just like everybody else. They are interesting and you are interested. You can’t wait to see them, feel them, taste them, hear them, experience them and get into their pants! And, of course, there is a lot of spontaneous sex. This is what happens when the pleasure centre of the brain is given control and starts to run the show. Its quite delicious, that whole falling in love thing … you know? It’s the “You hang up…” … “No YOU hang up…” kind of thing where everything is just wonderful.
Now the trick with Limerence is that in most couples it usually lasts between 6-24 months and then BANG! No more chemicals, they just leave. And the scary thing about this is that you won’t feel the same with such ease again unless you meet someone else! So it’s up to you to invest in your relationship. That means putting effort into spending time together, what you do in that time and how you communicate with each other. It also includes intimate life. It really isn’t difficult but it does require a little bit of effort.
People say to me all the time … “But I just want to have spontaneous sex!” or “Shouldn’t sex just be spontaneous?”. Sure you can have spontaneous sex in a long-term relationship, but it seems to be the exception rather than the norm. In fact, I would be so bold as to claim that there is no such thing as spontaneous sex in most long-term relationships. Why is this?
Well, it’s normal for desire to slowly and steadily decline in a long-term relationship. The tricky part about this is that it can decline at different rates for different people, which means your partner may decline at a different rate to yourself. The people that I see conducting successful intimate relationships are those that talk about the level of intimacy that they would like to have in their relationship and then work at achieving that. They don’t just wait to feel horny; they set about creating opportunities to feel sexy, be connected and to do sexy things.
I liken it to your relationship being a beautiful garden that you can stroll in and enjoy. You love your garden and it gives you much pleasure. However, there are things that need to be done to keep up your garden. Some days you may need to do a little bit of weeding, other days you may need water your garden or fertilize it and sometimes you need to do a bit of pruning to keep things in order. If you don’t do these things, your garden will return back to the earth. Your relationship is pretty much the same. Make it a priority and make it worth putting a little effort into it each day.
So how do you do that? Make time to talk to each other like lovers each day. Not the domestic partners and/or parents you may have become. Make time to connect with each other and share your worlds.
Create opportunities to connect physically. I recommend a strategy that I call “Planning to be Spontaneous”. This is not writing in our diaries that on Wednesday at 5.30pm we will have sex … that may work for some people but it wont work for many! Instead, how about creating opportunities in your week/month/year to be intimate? What is intimate I hear you say? Well its things like deciding to have a massage night once a week … one week you massage your partner and the next week they massage you (makes things less of a chore and keeps time manageable) … or you could have Naked TV Night or Underwear Night … or watch TV with your hands down each other’s pants, or better still a technology free evening – no computers, laptops, iPads, smart phones or TV.
There are many ways you can weave connection into your relationship with very small effort required.
What can you do to foster connection and intimacy with your partner?