The Importance of Being Sexy in a Long-Term Relationship


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?



Sex Headaches


By Aleksandra Trkulja with Tanya Koens


A sexual headache is not a figurative concept; it is literally a headache that develops during sex. They are triggered not only during intercourse but oral sex and masturbation too.

Sex headaches are more common for men than women, and research indicates that some medications high in estrogen, such as those used for erectile dysfunction, or birth control, can influence the pain. Some people will experience headaches regularly, while others will experience headaches only a few times.

Pre-orgasmic headaches have a slow onset, and create a dull ache in the neck and head. The cause of this type of headache is associated with clenching in the jaw and neck during sex.  The closer one gets towards climaxing, the more the physical tension and pain builds.

Post-coital headaches are different; they have an abrupt onset that begins during orgasm. This can be quite a shock to those that experience them. It is estimated that 78% of sex headaches are post-coital, and are commonly linked to migraines. According to Migraine Survival this is because migraines and post-coital headaches are considered to include episodic pain, which occurs 75% of the time; and chronic pain, which occurs 25% of the time.

So what is actually happening inside your head during these slow or fast onset headaches? Essentially the pain is caused by fluctuating blood pressure, or blood vessel diameter being inconsistent with the amount of blood passing through.

Usually people resort to medication in an attempt to ease this pain, but as mentioned earlier, some medication can contribute to the pain.  Alternatively, most people experiencing sex headaches will know the only way to help ease the pain is to resist from climaxing.  This certainly is not optimal! 

We propose trying the following strategies:

Don’t be Goal Orientated

Don’t make orgasm the be all and end all of your sexual experience. The pressure will only increase tension. Enjoy the subtle feelings as you feel you body become aroused and respond to different forms of stimulation. Try to remain relaxed and enjoy the different sensations in your body.

A shift in attention can be all it takes to miss an orgasm and can result with you feeling like you have a football between your legs! A missed orgasm can be like a missed sneeze! Being left frustrated can leave the body in a state of tension.  Acknowledge your frustration … lie still, use a cool flannel to calm your genitals and help disperse the blood from the area.  Allow the body to settle if an orgasm is missed.


When pain starts it’s a sign of tension in the body. Slow it down, go back to kissing, stroking, licking, rubbing instead. This might help relieve the tension build up.  Slow the pace, lower the expectations and give yourself permission to have a good time without necessarily climaxing.


Avoiding the Naked Awkward Moment

I am sad to realise that most of us find it very difficult to communicate our sexual desires and wishes to our partner.  There is so much fear of stigmatisation and sexual shame.  People often come to see me and start off being very reluctant to talk about sexual problems such as desire discrepancy, loss of libido, performance anxiety and anorgasmia.  It may be a little awkward when we first start talking about presenting issues but as we progress it becomes easier and safer to communicate and much useful information is revealed.

Sexual problems affect both people in the relationship, not just the person who may be experiencing difficulties.  If a couple are unable to discuss problems in the bedroom, its unlikely they will be able to solve them.  This can lead to what I call the Naked Awkward Moment.  The moment when things don’t go to plan, everyone is naked and doesn’t know what to say or what to do.  *Tumbleweeds*  Lets face it, none of us enjoy a moment like that and it can lead to avoidance of sex and subsequently intimacy as people struggle to steer clear of finding themselves in a situation like that again.

Anxiety is the cause of many sexual issues and anxiety fears seem to be rooted in the “What if ….” question(s).  When I am working with clients to address sexual anxieties and problems I often get them to work together and develop a Fall Back Plan … a plan or a number of different endings to the story in case things go wrong.  For example:  What if I lose my erection?  Well we can:

  • shake hands and say “see you here again tomorrow”
  • take a shower together
  • I could do something to make my partner's eyes roll back in their head
  • we could lie and cuddle and see what happens
  • we could stroke each other or use other methods to reach orgasm (or not)

Its up to the couple to devise the many different endings to the story.  Once they have done this they can feel confident that if they get into bed and any anxious thinking arises, they will know the answer to the dreaded “What if” question.  This not only helps them feel more confident but it also allows them to be more present in their interactions, rather than off in the future in a potential catastrophe.

People often put off talking about sexual issues with their partner for fear of upsetting them or making them feel awkward.  Its important to remember that feeling awkward may only last for a minute or two and then a fruitful conversation can be had.  Better to feel awkward momentarily than to avoid intimacy altogether?