Seduction is the key to keeping long-lasting relationships fresh, he adds.
Neeta and her boyfriend Paresh, both in their mid-twenties, are professionals in Mumbai. They began dating at university and have stayed together since.
“I remember the whole ‘falling in love’ phase. It was amazing. We were getting to know each other and becoming intimate. We were so attracted to each other, it was magnetic and the sex was magical,” says Neeta.
Boring and mundane
Six years down the line, Neeta and Paresh are today in what you’d call a steady relationship. “We’ve grown together and it has been wonderful. We love each other a lot and our relationship has transformed.
It’s mature now,” she says, quickly adding, “Things in bed have also changed. Sex has slowed down. It’s not crazy and electrifying any more, sometimes it’s even boring and mundane!”
Perhaps many long-term couples share Neeta and Paresh’s experience – a rather boring bedroom life. Belgian couple therapist Alfons Vansteenwegen says that’s not abnormal.
“In a long-standing marriage, or relationship, every partner becomes sexually unattractive to the other. That's just reality.”
But that doesn’t spell doom. Couple therapist Alfons Vansteenwegen has studied people in long-term relationships and their sex lives. He says couples do find new ways to rekindle their relationship.
“If in a relationship, both people continue to exchange opinions and feelings, and talk seriously about differences with each other,” he says. “Then from time to time, new moments of attraction appear.”
That means if you engage with your partner in a deeper dialogue beyond sex, it would show good results in your bedroom too.
Neeta agrees – in fact, she remembers a few occasions, when long-drawn arguments have ended in great sex.
“I don’t know what it is, but when tempers flare and when you’re trying hard to resolve a dispute, you see a side of the person that you don’t often come across. In Paresh, I still manage to see a flicker of compassion,” she says.
“And before you know, we are in bed having wild sex, because that’s the best way to reconcile – the best way to release all tension, the best way to let go,” Neeta adds.
Though she doesn’t pick fights to look for good sex, Neeta says that’s a perfect reward for having gone through a tough disagreement.
Seduction is key
Vansteenwegen says that couples like Neeta and Paresh must learn the art of seduction.
“Seduction in a positive sense is something that is very weak, very kind. It’s not imposing or demanding. It’s not using power at all. In a certain sense, one tries to develop in the other, a kind of desire,” he says.
Good seducers accept 'no'
Developing desire in the other without using power involves tact. Imagine this – you’re trying to seduce your partner while he or she is doing the dishes. You sense that your partner is not in the mood but still agrees to go to bed just to please you. Does that mean you’ve won the seduction game?
Vansteenwegen has bad news for you. “If the answer is ‘no’ a good seducer would accept it. A good seducer makes it possible to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Saying ‘no’ is for that moment. It doesn’t mean that one will never be interested in having sex with the other,” he says.
But the most important lesson to learn is to not get discouraged by the prospect of long-term relationships, Vansteenwegen says. “Sex is important in life. On the other hand, a living, confronting, differentiated relationship is very interesting and makes people very happy to live in.”
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