How to Fuel Sexual Passion as You Deepen Intimacy in a Long-term Relationship
Can sex actually grow, expand and get better over time
in a long-term relationship?
Hi! I am Irene Fehr, sex coach for committed couples, and I am going to tell you about the repeating patterns that I see couples make that either lead them to losing sexual connection in a long-term relationship — or creating a sustainable long-term sexual relationship that is ever-evolving, exciting, passionate and intimate.
Watch the video training above or read below to learn about the 3 types of sex — then let’s create a breakthrough in your relationship.
In summary …
Driven by our hormones, physical needs and desire for sexual gratification
Can be passionate, fun and pleasurable, especially with a new partner
Over time, couples will start to experience what I call “diminishing returns”
It will feel repetitive and therefore boring
It’ll feel like it’s more and more work to get the same level of pleasure and excitement
Couples might conclude that they’re no longer sexually attracted to each other or the spark is gone
The truth is this kind of sex has a short shelf-life in a long-term relationship. When focusing merely on sexual attraction and physical pleasure (without being able to connect more deeply on an emotional level), sex naturally fizzles out as both the newness and the chemicals of the initial sexual attraction wane.
Validation sex is typical in the beginnings of a romantic relationship, where the desire to express love, affection and validation fuels our sexual desire.
In the beginning, sex often feels warm and loving, and partners feel wanted and desired. However, as the bond grows, so does the natural fear of losing each other. We begin to demand validation from our partners, not merely want it.
Here, partners will often use sex to fulfill their demands for validation — hence the name.
When the answer to a request for sex is positive, it feels amazing. Inevitably, there will be times when your partner rejects your sexual advances — or you have to reject theirs — and these rejections are taken personally.
Sex becomes a battleground for attachment struggles and begins to look like a demand and a chore.
In the process of keeping the love going, partners stop taking risks with each other — whether it’s expressing their true desires or speaking up — reducing the very thing that sparks passion in a relationship.
Here, couples will either
Fight it out for validation
Choose cuddling over sex, because sex brings up too much anxiety for both
Resort to Friction Sex to “get the deed done” to keep their partners happy
Couples might try date nights “to rekindle the romance,” but they will find themselves unable to shift the needle because the fundamental fears and patterns that create this cycle go unaddressed.
Want a breakthrough from your patterns?
If you’re a couple in relationship and find yourselves stuck in one of the patterns, let’s jump on a 40-minute free “breakthrough” coaching call and tackle them. We may not get to the core of the problem in this short call, but I can certainly tell you something that works, no strings attached. This call is confidential, whether or not you decide to work with me.
Full transcript of video …
To understand the three types, I like to think along the lines of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — the needs that we all have as human beings. At the bottom are our most fundamental needs: our physiological needs. At the top are the most evolved: our need for realization of our full potential as human beings.
Sex that is driven by our basic need for procreation and management of sexual urges, I call Friction Sex.
This kind of sex is driven by our physical needs and desire for sexual gratification. Here, pleasure, orgasm and release are ends in themselves; there is a focus on sensation and performance, the presence of which determine the success of the sexual encounter.
Friction Sex can be incredibly passionate, fun and pleasurable, especially with a new partner. It is ruled by our sexual attraction to a person.
In this type of sex, you might experience a connection with your partner; but that’s often secondary to the pleasure and the fun — i.e., you might care about person and their pleasure, but you don’t care for them (there are no deeper feelings). In a long-term relationship, it might look like being walled off from your partner and not wanting to share yourself emotionally.
In this sense, Friction Sex is one-dimensional, where bonding, connection, and emotional expression are secondary. I call this “eyes shut” kind of sex where it does not matter who’s opposite of you; it’s irrelevant and might even “kill the mood” if you start feeling feelings towards them and sex starts to feel more serious.
Friction Sex is often transactional and has the quality of “I rub your back, you rub mine” or “I give you an orgasm, you give me mine.” The most common scenario of Friction Sex is a one-night stand or a bootie call.
As I mentioned, Friction Sex be exciting and pleasurable but it has limits. Couples start experiencing what I call “diminishing returns”:
Friction Sex is usually repetitive: because its purpose is to get to the goal (penetration, orgasm and release) as quickly and efficiently as possible, couples will do the same thing over and over.
Women will see diminishing returns usually after third sexual encounter, where she will begin to get bored with the single-dimensionality and the goal-orientation of the sex and her body starts to respond less and less. She might have reduced lubrication; she might feel less aroused and tighter and might eventually feel pain during penetration — all of which basically indicate that “this type of sex does not work for her.”
Men are more tolerant of this kind of sex, but they’ll also see diminishing returns. Because this Friction Sex is one-dimensional, there is a lack of nourishment and energy build-up in each encounter, and they’ll need more and more of it. It will look like their libido is enormous and they want sex all the time, but it’s really an attempt to get more of what they want and need because there’s less and less nourishment available in each interaction.
Couples will feel like it’s more and more work to get the same level of pleasure and excitement from this kind of sex.
Couples who get caught in this downward spiral will spend thousands of dollars for toys, vibrators, and new ways to twist their body into pretzel thinking they can infuse more excitement with these external elements, only to see diminishing returns.
These couples often conclude that:
They are not sexually compatible
They’ve lost the spark
They’ve lost attraction to each other
The truth is that this Friction Sex is one-dimensional, and there is simple nowhere to go but to seek external stimulation — and more of it. There is no growth beyond the physical without the emotional aspect.
We’re wired for connection and emotional intimacy, and it provides depth and richness to our relating, sex included. It also provides nourishment and satisfaction, a feeling of fullness from a gourmet meal, rather than a sugar rush.
By its design, Friction Sex has a shelf-life in a long-term relationship. It is this is “good-weather sex.” There is no space or capacity here for emotionality, for voicing your true feelings or disappointments, or for sex that is anything but passionate and fun.
For women, there is also no safety here to open up, so a lot of women will keep it all “clean, unemotional and zipped up,” often leading to a conclusion that they’re “frigid.”
Couples might be able to maintain this kind of sex in a long-term relationship with the help of drugs and alcohol, but will find their ability to enjoy themselves limited without them.
I mentioned there is another time when couples end up having friction sex, and I’ll come back to that shortly.
The second type of sex is what we experience in a romantic relationships. This is driven by our human need for love, connection, acceptance, and validation.
Here, sex and sexual desire comes from wanting to be with your partner, to love them, to desire them, to merge with them, to please them, to show them how important they are to you — and want the same from them.
This can be incredibly connecting and loving sex that feels like a warm blanket.. You feel your partner’s love, affection and the desire — and express the same.
With a stronger bond, you also begin to develop a deeper desire to keep your partner and with that comes a fear of losing them — and we begin to demand validation from our partners, not merely want it.
This is why I call this second type of sex Validation Sex.
Through every action, with every word, desire or request, we seek the answers to: “Do you love me? Do you care for me? Am I important to you?”
When the answer is positive, it feels amazing.
Inevitably, there will be times when your partner rejects your sexual advances because they’re tired, or cranky, or are upset with you — or you have to reject theirs — and these rejections are taken personally. It starts to feel like your warm blanket is about to be taken away. There is no true “no” in Validation Sex, because it’s taken as a “no” to you — a personal rejection.
Here, sex becomes a battleground for attachment struggles. The more avoidant partner might pull away from connection and sex; the more ambivalent or anxious partner might want more. Sex starts to look like a demand and a chore.
Underneath this struggle is a lack of security — both inner and outer security — without which partners cannot take true risks to make this kind of sex anything but a game of validation.
When couples get caught in this cycle, they will experience a downward spiral of questioning their partners’ love and desire — and their own desirability. It starts to feel like your warm blanket has been taken away or there is risk of it being taken away.
In the process, partners stop taking risks with each other — the very thing that sparks passion in the relationship.
In Validation Sex, it becomes too risky to do anything that might upset this delicate balance:
For women, it feel too risky to ask for what they really want physically for their bodies to get aroused and enjoy sex in fear that it displease or scare off their partner or take up too much time. They might also hold back from telling their partners that something is not working (which is often the cause of much of pain that women experience during penetration). As a consequence, women won’t get the pleasure they need for sex to be worth wanting again.
Men often hold back in different ways. It becomes too risky to really show their aggressive sex drive (their testosterone) for fear of scaring women away with the magnitude of their real sexual desire. In this scenario, men become less forthcoming, less pro-active and thus less able to take charge and create an exciting and passionate environment for the woman and himself.
The fear on both sides ends up killing the passion in the sexual relationship.
Validation Sex quickly becomes “sex with your eyes closed intentionally” because it’s too scary to really allow yourself to be seen and let your partner see your fears or withholds and it’s too scary to look at your partner for fear of seeing evidence that they don’t desire you.
Here, one of these things might happen:
A perpetual vicious cycle takes place of one person pursuing the other for sex and the other retreating, building up walls of hurts and resentments on both sides.
Sex becomes so fraught with emotional anxiety that come couples will just avoid it altogether, choosing cuddling over sex. They become best friends and roommates, and the sexual and erotic connection dies, leading to a totally sexless marriage.
Or, one person become someone else to please their partner, giving up what they need and desire to not rock the boat, and sex becomes automatic. They will offer sex to preserve the relationship by “going through the motions” but not really being there. Sex here might have the feel of “it’s not passionate connected sex, but why not get the orgasm in anyway.”
Remember I mentioned that there is another case scenario for Friction Sex?
It is at this point of the downward spiral from Validation Sex that couples resort to Friction Sex, because it’s easier than dealing with the sticky situation where they have to look at their own fears and feelings. Here couples will collude by keeping silent about what’s going on for them because it’s easier than to face it all.
Even though this sex may have started with the desire for closeness, closeness and sex themselves become demands for validation, abetted by fear and anxiety.
As such, there is no safety here to be who you are or experience what you truly experience because everything is weighed against the risk of losing your partner. There is little eroticism or openness too and no room to express anything but “feel good” emotions or desires that will please your partner, limiting sex and its passion.
Couples here might also conclude here that they’ve lost their spark or they just don’t have the sexual attraction any more, falling into a sexless marriage. They might try date nights “to rekindle the romance,” but they find themselves unable to shift the needle.
Because along this journey, they will have developed hurt feelings and resentment, most of which has not been expressed — or healed. This creates a lack of safety in the relationship, which further drives them apart. Without restoring safety — and the ability to express yourself and ask for what you want — in the relationship where each partner can be honest about what they need, want and feel, sex will not change.
You’ve now learned about these two types of sex … maybe you see yourselves in these patterns and cycles.
There is a third type of sex … that is different from the others. It is deliberately created. It is intentional.
It is based on our highest needs to realize our deepest human potential in connection with a partner AND a full surrender to something greater, beyond oneself — the sexual connection that gets created together.
It is sex that emerges out of the connection between partners, that follows what is truly wanting to emerge — what arousal is telling you, what your partner is telling you, what you’re wanting
The key to this kind of sex is connection.
Which is why I call this type of sex CONNECTION SEX …
It is in connection that eroticism can arise.
That love can be expressed and reciprocated.
Where you can be yourself, with the full range of expression.
And be with your partner, authentically.
Where you can see them, and they can see you.
Where physical pleasure can arise as a journey.
It is in connection that possibilities happen.
Whereas Validation Sex limits you to romantic, “warm and fuzzy” sex that validates or else …
Friction Sex limits you to “eyes closed sex” without emotions
Connection Sex is characterized by these four cornerstones:
Safety: inner and outer safety to be truly risky with each other — to be an individual with our own desires in a relationship and feel safe to ask for what you want, to express yourself and to surrender to your partner
Vulnerability to express your true self; your desires, your feelings, your inner world — which brings risk that fuels passion in a long-term relationship
Moment-by-moment attunement to yourself and your partner through presence and being in your body (out of your head)
Desire — the driver of eroticism, the question “What do you want?”
It is in this container that anything can arise to create an exciting sex life.
From “warm and fuzzy” romantic sex
To hot passionate pleasure
To kinky exploration and play
To a spiritual merging
You can’t just default into this kind of sex. You have to create it — intentionally and consciously with tools of intimacy, connection as well as anatomy and understanding of self.
It requires an erotic discovery journey of yourself, your partner and these cornerstones of connection.
I feel fully alive, vital and sexy. My relationship with my husband is hotter … sexier … exciting.
Suzan Acker, Relationship Coach
We are falling in love with each other more and more each day, and sex has been the most spiritual we’ve ever had, and getting better and better.
John and Elaine, Married Couple