Sex & Sociability

Question and commentary on connections, both sexual and social

The Advantages of an Insecure Relationship

Relationship security may not be all that desireable.

That was the facetious title of a discussion on my Sexuality Forum this week prompted by an article reposted there from BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4790313.stm). The article cited research indicating that a woman’s sex drive decreases once she is in a secure relationship. “Researchers from Germany found that four years into a relationship, less than half of 30-year-old women wanted regular sex. Conversely, the team found a man's libido remained the same regardless of how long he had been in a relationship.”

A psychologist is quoted as theorizing: “The rational for why a woman's sex drive declines may be down to supply and demand. If something is in infinite supply, the perceived value would drop." An interesting theory, indeed!

One of my Forum members asked me my thoughts on why this might be so. Why would a woman be less interested in sex within a secure relationship? I cited several major reasons from my previously written essay here on loss of libido (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-sociability/201403/loss-l...): hormones, personal stressors, and relationship issues. I still stand by these but I have given additional thoughts as to why this might be true of younger women, if it is, and why especially within a secure relationship.

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I likened this loss of desire to the dilemma single women face who state their desire for “a nice guy” but are attracted to “bad boys”, a common phenomenon. This exemplifies a lifelong push/pull in all of us, some more than others, between the desire for security and the desire for excitement and risk. Once security is attained what risk is there in regular domestic sex? Familiarity breeds boredom and loss of interest.

Any excitement and newness that exists in regular monogamous sex has to be manufactured since it usually doesn’t come naturally. A couple has to work at making sex exciting – changing the how of it, the when, the where. Alas, four years into a secure relationship many men forget to woo their women partners, to make sex satisfying for her as well as for himself.

Why then doesn’t this decline in sexual interest occur in men too? Because desire is often hormone driven and men, usually more uncomplicated in their sexual desires, will find regular sex satisfying enough. Don’t men long for variety too? Of course they do. But in men such longings usually will lead to fantasies, increased masturbation or to cheating but not to a loss of interest in sex itself.

Since many women say what they want in a relationship is a man on whom they can depend, and rightfully so, then what about this “insecure relationship” thing in the title? What I would like it to mean is a relationship wherein not everything or each other is taken for granted, where there are always some surprises. Not only women but their male partners need to know that they are loved and appreciated (and that can’t be said often enough!). But to keep things interesting women also need to know that their guy can surprise and delight them…and that he does as often as possible.

Isadora AlmanM.F.T., is a Board-certified sex, marriage, and family therapist, lecturer, author, and syndicated advice columnist of "Ask Isadora."

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