If you are hungry you’re probably going to find something to eat. Similarly if you are thirsty, you may look for a drink and if you’re feeling sad and lonely, you may seek out company. If you feel bored you will probably find something of interest to engage in and if you are tired, you may rest or sleep. These are ways in which you attend to some of your human needs as they arise during the course of your life – a need arises and you feel a sense of “desire” for something that will satisfy your need.

Most of the needs I’ve raised above are quite straightforward to attend to, certainly hunger and thirst where your body helps raise your awareness so you can then take action. It’s a little more difficult with emotional needs because getting the right emotional support depends on how well you connect with other people in your life and how well you can identify what you need in the first place. And when it comes to addressing your needs for physical intimacy and sex, it may be even more difficult.

At the beginning of a relationship, it’s generally effortless because you experience a strong sense of arousal for your partner and brain chemicals flood your system as you wallow in the state of being “in-love.” But inevitably this will fade and a few years later you may realise that your “sexual” desire for your partner has waned and that you feel more inclined to cuddle up on the sofa with a nice meal and a movie. At this stage it may seem as if “sexual desire” has gone underground although it may be important to remain open to ways in which the sexual dimension is changing rather than disappearing. Couples who don’t attend to the erotic nature of their relationship are potentially at risk of being “sexually aroused” outside of their relationship and so drawn into an illicit affair.

Perhaps sex can create problems within relationships because unlike the human needs I alluded to above, partners are generally not attending to sexual arousal as if it were a need like hunger, thirst, comfort or entertainment, etc… These drives are much easier to talk about because they don’t involve intimate parts of the body and mind about which an individual may feel more suppressed.

Undoubtedly, sex is an intrinsic part of romantic relationships although its expression between partners longer-term may be less well understood. Whilst sex at the beginning of a relationship is often a natural outcome of initial attraction, what role does sex play as the relationship matures and have you ever considered this within your own relationship?

If you are interested in understanding more about the changing nature of sex within romantic relationships, then couples therapy may support you in exploring and understanding how sexual desire influences physical and emotional connection between partners. Contact The Hove Counselling Practice to arrange a couples counselling assessment.