Lasting Lust

Published September 2, 2010 in Miami Sun Post

How do you keep passion alive?

Think about the last time you fell in love. You remember those special moments when you were intoxicated by the laugh, smile, and smell of your object of affection. You lusted for their touch and got excited by the tingling sensation you felt whenever they were near.

Before we go any further, please acknowledge my disclaimer: I am writing this from the white sands of Jamaica, indulging in all that Jamaicans do. As they say, when in Rome… Sun, rum, and all the Rasta that reggae inspires are running through my system. It is amazing if my sentences are coherent. Please forgive if they are not. It’s already 4:20 in the afternoon and the Jamaican juices have got me distracted. So before I forget what I was going to say, let’s get back to the questions at hand.

What ever happened to that passionate love? If you stayed together, do you still feel that same magic? If you broke up, do you ever wonder what went sour? Why do relationships change and what can be done to make passionate love last?

Some argue that monogamy is against human nature and it’s not normal to stay with one person forever. Others say couples don’t fight hard enough to save their relationships during difficult times.

Many will tell you that people just change and grow apart. This is true in most cases. Change is inevitable and every day we adapt to new experiences which impact the way we view the world, ourselves, and those around us. Today, I’m adapting to reggae music, barefoot dancing, and changing into a much more rastafied version of myself. To keep the magic alive, love must also adapt to accommodate such changes. Lasting lovers are flexible, willing to accept growth and appreciate change. Lazy lovers break up, accusing their partner of changing too much or not changing enough.

In most cases of failed romance, love doesn’t change but the people involved do. How can love stay the same when partners in a relationship are no longer the same as when they fell in love?

Instead of blaming your partner for evolving or staying stagnant, invest a little effort in making the love last. A first step towards this involves accepting and expecting your partner to change and grow. Check in with one another every few weeks to discuss life and how each of you has changed.

I realize this sounds incredibly simple but most couples haven’t communicated like this in a long time. Life is busy and couples who’ve been together for awhile tend to focus their conversations on the daily details that make life tick. What time are we meeting; where are we going; who’s picking up the kids, etc.. Instead of talking only when necessary, set aside time to hang out and catch up with your partner like you did when you were first dating. This is one of the most important, yet least publicized aspects of long-lasting fulfilling relationships. Those who are happy staying together change just like everyone else, but they’re best friends with their mate so it’s naturally easy to keep up with their partner’s growth. And as long-lasting friends tend to do, they develop in mutually beneficial directions.

Enough about communication strategies that make lustful love last. There’s also plenty to be said for shutting up and using your mouth for things much more sensual than sentences.

In addition to talking, sexually satisfied couples spend time touching each other. A gentle tap on the shoulder, a warm press on the back, a firm grip on the thigh, the joining of hands ever so casually.

Light touching in public as well as more intimate touching, including hugging, cuddling, and love making release the hormone Oxytocin. This hormone, also called the bonding agent, is credited with establishing emotional connections, inspiring insatiable lust, and motivating sensual trust between people. The hormone is so powerful, some scientists claim its presence is the most potent influence in determining whether or not two humans will get it on.

According to a study published in Psychiatry by the University of California in San Francisco, oxytocin may provide the first biological basis for strong human attachments and is associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. Since oxytocin is released during affectionate contact between people, logic suggests that relationships without intimate action won’t produce enough oxytocin to sustain the spark of passion. Too little touching may also cause reduced emotional connectedness and trust. In other words, big problems for a relationship.

Think about it – when you touch someone you love, you feel more connected to them. When your partner stops touching you, you wonder what’s wrong.

Both men and women release oxytocin during the arousal, excitement, and orgasmic phases of sex. So even if you don’t have time to complete the deed, tease your partner a little by touching them in a special place with a sly smile on your face. Oxytocin will be released and an intimate connection will be restored.

Let’s face it, this all sounds good when you’re yearning to touch your partner and are still attracted to them. But what about couples who can’t fathom the idea of physical intimacy with their current mate? In this case, sensate focus exercises offer an all-natural alternative to increase oxytocin levels. Yes, there is a series of exercises that are proven to enhance feelings of sexual desire and motivate connectedness between couples, even if they don’t like each other very much. Once a couple completes the four stages of sensate focus exercises, increased oxytocin levels renew desire, arousal, attachment, and sexual health. When practiced correctly, sensate exercises helps you want to make love to your mate again!

In the simplest form, sensate exercises involve four progressive phases of increased sensual awareness and attention to traditionally non-sexual parts of the body. During the first phase, partners take turns touching each other’s body everywhere except the genetilia and breasts. The goal of the initial phase is for each person to learn (or re-learn) their partner’s body beyond obvious erogenous zones and discover new places on their mate’s physique that produce sensual responsiveness. The ‘toucher’ should experiment with different levels of pressure and rates of movement, ranging from feather-soft to controlled and intense. The most important step to remember in the first phase is NOT to include sexual genitalia in the process and NOT proceed to intercourse regardless of how stimulated you may become. During this phase, as well as the second stage of sensate therapy, it is also essential for partners to take turns touching each other and forego the desire to participate in any mutual touching.

The next phase of sensate exercises expands to include the genitalia and breasts while touching each other, but couples must still take turns during the process and NOT proceed to intercourse, regardless of how aroused one or both may become.

The touching feels different in the second phase because partners are able to use what they learned during the first phase, as well as experiment with new ways to stimulate traditional erogenous zones.

Completing the first phase has already increased the level of connectedness between partners and the simple act of committing to sensate therapy as a couple reveals a strong commitment to relationship success.

These factors combined with the process of partners taking turns touching each other while restraining from intercourse will awaken unbelievable feelings of anticipation and sexual desire.

When couples progress to the third stage of sensate therapy, mutual touching begins which is more similar to the way most people make love. Although intercourse is still prohibited during the third phase, couples apply what they discovered about their partner during the first two phases, which often results in sensual rewards that exceed prior expectations of sex.

Since this is the first time partners touch each other simultaneously, arousal heightens and couples may accidentally proceed to intercourse without completing the recommended cycle of sensate exercises. For best results, use will power to resist intercourse until you succeed through the fourth stage of sensate therapy. This last stage of exercises includes everything from the three prior phases, but expands to involve mutual touching of genitalia without having intercourse.

For example, a female is advised to lay or sit on top of her partner with mutual genitalia contact and simultaneous touching but NO intercourse. After a few well-orchestrated sessions during the fourth phase of these exercises, couples can normally proceed to intercourse without deficits in arousal, desire, or satisfaction.

Each phase of sensate exercises should last about a week. This means a couple is quite busy getting to know each other for at least a month before proceeding to sex. By this time, they’ve practiced and paused, touched and tingled, aroused and avoided, and are eager and anxious to have intercourse with each other.

Of course, this is a very general overview of an all-natural enhancement therapy, not a replacement for medical advice. Low levels of arousal and desire occur for many reasons which may require medical intervention. However for most, the only clinical diagnosis is absence of effort. And many, including one of my close medical colleagues, thinks sensate focus therapy is overrated.

When couples have intimacy issues, he recommends his personal formula for long-term marriage success, “My wife and I hug for a minimum of five minutes per day. Usually, it ends up lasting longer and builds into something else. Sometimes we’re rushed so it doesn’t last for a whole five minutes. But the experience of reconnecting intimately on a daily basis does wonders to sustain healthy oxytocin levels.”

Lying with your lover in Jamaica also explodes oxytocin. Since that’s precisely what I’m doing, I’m quite motivated to wrap up this article.

Here goes: To keep the action exciting, communicate with your partner even when you don’t have to. They are changing everyday and so are you! To keep the lust alive, touch your mate in public and especially in private. Tease and tantalize, excite and explore, and eventually set aside some time to do the damn thing! And if you don’t want to get busy with your partner, spend a month practicing sensate focus exercises before you give up. Chances are, you’ll reignite the fire that got the whole relationship started in the first place.

If all else fails, book a trip to Jamaica. Relax on a deserted beach where lust lingers and liberate your passion. Pretend like you just met and get to know this new person your old partner has become. Allow yourself to fall in love with a new, revised version of your old lover. Because no matter how much each of us changes, nothing excites our senses or ignites lust more than falling in love. And doing that is much easier in Jamaica, where everything is irie, especially love.