Can Long-Term Relationships Ever Feel “New” Again?

Although this email came to from a woman who is in a relationship with another woman, this is no different in heterosexual relationships either. Read her email below.

My wife confided in me last night that she had sex with a man during the one time she and I broke up (about 2 years into our relationship; broken up for 3 weeks mostly as a result of some messed up things her family felt towards her relationship with another woman). I wasn’t mad. Not in the slightest. I was: Impressed? Proud? TURNED ON? So many things. I had/have this primal desire to reclaim her as *mine* (uh, we’ve now been together 11 years, married, kids, etc. She’s mine, ha!).

I don’t know what my question is. I enjoy this feeling. I feel like I’m seeing my wife differently – in a good way. We made out (just that) for the first time in YEARS (without leading to sex) and it was like we were 20 again.

And, another part of me is sad. She said “That’s it. I don’t have a single secret left.” And it dawned on me – those early butterfly stages are gone. This little blip (bomb as I called it) was the last little “BANG” she gave me. Of course there are other things in life (kids, etc.) that make me fall for this person over and over. But for a split second (that I’m still riding) I saw my wife as I saw her all those years ago – as an independent sexual person who I want to get in bed with SO badly!

(Lesbian, Female)

Well, first and foremost – BRAVO for being open with each other, receptive, and non-judgmental. Extra bonus that it benefited your current sexual relationship!

Let’s start by defining the word, DESIRE.

“…a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.”

So, by definition, desire creeps in when we want something we don’t have. In this example, you may “have” her now, but when you found out that she slept with another person (especially a man, in this scenario), a few things may have happened…

1. In the absence of comfort and complacency, we often enter competitive mode!
Your comfort and complacency were threatened (not necessarily in a “bad” way). Often, in long term relationships, we get comfortable and complacent. We forget the fact that, in reality, we can never truly guarantee that our partners will always stay with us. However, we do tend to fall back on that assumption after a while – especially in trusting and communicative relationships. The moment we are faced with the fact that our partner desires other people, it threatens that level of safety and comfort. Although we may assume that our partner obviously finds other people attractive, we may not talk about it often, and (in monogamous relationships) we certainly don’t expect to have discussions about who we’ve slept with outside the marriage.

That feeling of wanting to “reclaim” her, is a human response. I go over this in my blog on Hot Wives/Wife sharing as well. Think about when you were a kid and some jerky classmate stole a ball that you were playing with on the playground. What happened? Aside from probably crying, you may have found yourself angry, and even plotting ways to steal it back – am I right? The jerky kid threatened your level of comfort in knowing that the ball was in your possession. Once you got the ball back, how incredible did that feel? You probably appreciated it more, and may have even become more protective of it! See where I’m going with this? Sound familiar?

2. The Madonna/Whore Complex is a thing. No, I am not calling anyone a whore here (although I challenge you to ask yourself why that would be seen as an insult if I did – but that’s for another blog.). It’s an actual concept that has been studied many times. Psychoanalytic (Freud) thinking was that men could not sexually desire a woman they loved (Madonna), and could not love a woman they desired (whore). Essentially, it’s the idea that women are seen as either “good” – pure, innocent, amenable Madonnnas, or “bad” – sexual, promiscuous, seductive, whores. I won’t get into the patriarchal BS of the concept now, but it does explain a lot of struggles people have in long-term relationships, sexually speaking. This happens with people who have children as well. When someone becomes a mother, sometimes their partner(s) have a hard time seeing them as sexual. Society has deemed motherhood and sexuality to be mutually exclusive (cannot go together).

In this specific example, the writer said in her own words, “But for a split second (that I’m still riding) I saw my wife as I saw her all those years ago – as an independent sexual person who I want to get in bed with SO badly!

This is precisely what I’m referring to! We often “forget” how sexual our partner was in their life before us. We are so intertwined, and up each other’s butts (not in a good way), that it’s hard to remember how we saw them years ago.

But, guess what? I have REALLY amazing news!

You can create/recreate those feelings! Yes, even in a long-term relationship. It takes creativity, openness, and honest communication. It’s a dance between wanting to stay with what’s comfortable, and being willing to push the envelope a bit. From choosing activities that neither of you have done before, to bringing some fantasies close enough to reality to illicit that dopamine rush – it’s all possible!

I work with couples on this exact process, and each couple is so unique (which is what makes it so damn fun!).

Cheers!


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