This week on the podcast we did a quick follow-up to last time’s conversation about physical and mental health by addressing how to get back into sex after a gap. Specifically we were trying to answer this question from a listener…
Question: Do you have any advice on getting back into sex with your long term partner? My partner was injured and was unable to have sex until they had healed. They’re ready now but the pair of us seem to have fallen out of the habit of having sex. We talk about sex and consent openly and frequently: we would both like to be intimate but we still haven’t managed to kick start it again. I would just like your professional advice on anything I/we could be doing to help us ease back into the habit. Thank you!
The advice we gave in the podcast was:
Allow the feelings that come up about having fallen out of your previous habit. For example there might be some loss, resentment, frustration, or other feelings.
Consider the cultural messages that might make this harder on you. For example, the common idea that relationships must be sexual, that sex should be of a certain kind, or happen at a certain frequency. None of these messages are helpful, and while we can never escape them entirely, we can be critical of them and notice their impact on us.
Think about whether trying to get back into a habit might be a kind of goal. In general, goal-focused sex doesn’t go as well as present-focused sex (where we’re trying to just be with each other in the moment, doing what feels most pleasurable or fun). It’s tough but it’s probably valuable to try to let go of the goal of trying to retain the previous kind of sex you were having, and just see what unfolds. Focus on the journey not the destination.
You say you talk about sex. What about seeing that as a kind of sex in itself? That way you’re already doing it! There are ways to gently shift talking about sex into a more erotic conversation, such as sharing what horny thoughts in person or via messages, or taking some time to share some sex media together (written erotica, ethical porn, sexy films, etc.)
Find ways to get your emotional and physical intimacy needs met which aren’t sex. That’ll take the pressure off sex in a helpful way.
Open up conversations about all the different things that sex can be to expand the range of things you could do and open up your erotic imaginations.
We hope you find the conversation helpful.
© Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock, 2017