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  • Keeping the love alive

    Keeping the love alive…                                                        October 19, 2021

    Have you ever wanted more sexual intimacy than your partner? Have you felt pressured for more sexual intimacy than you wanted? If so, you might have mismatched sexual desire but it doesn’t have to be this way forever. Whether you’re in a same sex or mixed sex relationship or dating, here’s a few tips that will help you become more intimately matched.

    There’s usually a HDP (higher desire partner) for sexual intimacy and a LDP (lower desire partner) for sexual intimacy according to David Schnarch (Intimacy and Desire) There can also be mismatched desire for who wants what for dinner; steak or tofu? Or what to do for the weekend, chores? Or a car trip? Sexual intimacy is just one other area where you and your partner are different and that’s ok. With a little understanding and negotiation, things can feel better for both of you. Here’s how…

    Let’s check in on a few things first: how’s your relationship outside the “bedroom”? John Gottman refers to the Four Horsemen which can erode any relationship. Is there contempt, stonewalling, defensiveness, or criticism in your relationship? If so, this will create a lack of warmth and openness therefore creating a barrier to emotional and sexual intimacy. Create a TEAM approach in order to cultivate friendliness and warm heartedness in your relationship. Think of your relationship like a garden. These four horsemen are weeds that grow and choke out any possibility of having a beautiful flower garden (ie. sexual intimacy). Stop the “weeds” from taking over your relationship garden, water it with attention, appreciation and positivity, then your relationship garden has a better chance of blooming emotionally and sexually.

    Take time for your relationship. So many people make time to workout, help kids with homework, clean the garage, go to work, see friends and family (all of which is important) but where do you as a couple come into the picture? Last? For many couples their relationship is last on their “to do” list and they’re exhausted by the time they go to bed each night. What you make a priority in your life will thrive and grow stronger, your relationship is no different. How do you show your partner that they are the most important thing in your world? For ideas, look no further than the Five Love Languages quiz by Gary Chapman.

    The five ways you like to be shown love according to Gary are: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time or gifts. Share with your partner how you feel most loved and find out which of these are most important for your partner, then give them to each other. For example, if you had a birthday coming up and I asked you what kind of birthday cake you would like and you said “chocolate cake with chocolate frosting” and I brought you strawberry cheesecake (my favorite) would you be thrilled? Happy? Or disappointed? You’d probably feel like I didn’t hear you or care about what you desired. Therefore, give your partner what they want regarding their Love Language. You’ll hit the mark and make them happy. Then you’ll both win.

    Start one step at a time toward creating intimacy. Your love life didn’t disappear over night and it won’t (probably) come back over night. Consistency is key in proving to each other that you’re in this together.

    Another helpful tip is to think about your relationship like a 3 layer cake with a table as the foundation. (Created by my colleagues Lisa Thomas at and Neil Cannon at What kinds of things do you need for a strong relationship foundation? Trust? Honesty? Love? Respect? Create your own list. Then the first layer of the cake would be “hugs and kisses” activities…what else would you add to this list of needs? Perhaps holding hands or putting an arm around each other would feel lovely. The second layer of the cake are “making out behaviors”…what other fun things would you add to this list? Maybe some naked cuddling or deep kisses. Write down more of your ideas. The third layer of your relationship cake are “sexual intimacy” items…what do you like to do intimately with each other? What would you like to add? Be creative. Start at the bottom of the relationship cake, don’t forget the foundation, and work on the area that seems to need the most attention. Yes, it may feel awkward, just like anything you haven’t done for awhile (the gym?) but have fun with it and be playful. Remember, you’re on the same TEAM, work together.

    Try these 3 tips to create more connection and watch your emotional and physical intimacy grow, flourish and feel more satisfying for both of you. Remember this is adult play; flirt, woo, have fun, nurture each other and watch your garden come alive and bloom.

    Janelle Washburne, LCSW, LMFT, CST