Jump ship? Fan the flames? Re-invest? Redefine? The answer to this question depends on two things:
- what you did when desire was strong, in addition to playing with that desire
- what the individual parties want going forward
It’s fine if you spent all of your time and focus during the hottest-n-heaviest part of the relationship on expressing your desire. Just know that when the boner-jumping feels less urgent, you’re going to be left without solid ground to build on.
If you're in a relationship involving sex and you feel that you’re probably going to want to keep it going for as long as possible, the best thing you can do is to dedicate some time, even in the middle of all the humpery, to Not-Sex.
Explore all the ways that you connect and play, whether that’s in the kitchen or out in the wilderness or supporting each other with your separate ambitions. This is called being multi-faceted individuals in a multi-faceted relationship; it is being something more than two fuck muppets in a never-ending orgy.
Fuck-muppeting sounds fun—well, I think it does, but I just made up that phrase, so what do I know?—but eventually the orgy does end, and if you haven’t spent any time playing around with other bits like your mind, then when the sun rises metaphorically on the detritus and soaked sheets and you’re like, um, what do we do now, you will have some ideas ready to go beyond a brunch full of awkward silences.
Okay. Now say you’ve arrived at that point, where you’ve woken up after a year or ten and you don’t feel that desire for each other anymore. You’re having a good time learning Vietnamese cooking or deconstructing Star Trek together or exploring the Appalachian trail, but when you put down that tent for the night, you do not bother unzipping the sleeping bags, if you know what I mean. What now?
First of all, fading desire doesn’t mean dead. You may be able to get it back, with couples therapy or individual therapy or sex therapy or workshops or self-help books or specially designed playtime or trips to the regional kink convention. Probably try some combination.
(Pro tip: Don’t think about opening your relationship as a way of spicing things up.)
If you decide that’s an important part of your relationship that you don’t want to see go away, then it’s time to do what you probably didn’t spend enough time on before now. Get serious with the desire; examine it. Find other sources for it in each other. Hopefully you have already been talking with each other. Well, keep doing it, now more than ever.
If you decide that desire is an important part of romantic relationships but don’t want to try to bring it back to this one? That’s a valid decision, too. Maybe you feel like your relationship is fine in a more platonic way. But be honest about what’s happening. I have heard people say, “oh, the fire went out,” but they don’t acknowledge that they were part of letting that happen.
Fire doesn’t keep going on its own. It needs fuel of some sort, and air to breathe, and room to move. I hope the desire metaphor is obvious here.
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