Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s new column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles workplace infidelity, talking dirty and elusive orgasms.
SHOULD I CHEAT WITH MY SEXY NEW WORK FRIEND?
QUESTION: I’ve been married for 10 years and have two children with my husband but I’ve felt no sexual attraction towards him for the last few years. Recently I’ve struck up a friendship with someone at work and I find myself incredible attracted to him. I can tell it’s mutual. It’s the kind of chemistry I’d forgotten. I feel alive again and can’t stop thinking about him.
ANSWER: Firstly, well done for acknowledging this. Attraction or fantasies about someone else isn’t uncommon in long-term relationships. It’s what you do with those feelings that’s important.
At the start of any new relationship, we experience ‘the honeymoon period’ during which a cocktail of endorphins make us feel ‘in love’ with someone and increase our sexual desire. These feelings fade at around 18-36 months, settling into a different kind of love. I don’t need to tell you, the ‘chemistry’ you feel in this new relationship is unlikely to last.
Sexual attraction for someone can come and go. Ever noticed how someone becomes more attractive because of our feelings for them or that we lose our attraction when we experience tension?
Attraction itself isn’t a reliable measure of the love, connection or possible longevity of your relationship.
Sexual attraction and desire need to be cultivated in long term relationships. But it won’t happen on its own — it’s something you’ll need to put energy into. You cultivate attraction by looking at yourself, your relationship and your life. It is possible for you to feel attracted to your husband again. I know because I’ve seen women do it.
People contemplating affairs usually do so for two reasons: They’re missing something in the relationship or they’re missing something in themselves.
Infidelity gives us feelings of being wanted, desired and attended to. These are things that get lost in a long-term relationship, as we become preoccupied with responsibilities, resentments build up and we stop making an effort with our partner.
Are you feeling disconnected from your husband? Make an effort to reconnect. Turn your attention to the positives of your relationship. What do you appreciate about your husband and your relationship?
Work through any resentments you’re feeling — speaking to your partner and reach out for professional support around it. Often partners don’t realise how bad it is.
Stop being just co-parents and housemates — become lovers again too. What can you do to bring the spark and fun back? What can you do to make him feel desired, wanted and loved?
Infidelity doesn’t only occur in unhappy relationships, however. It’s often about us trying to reclaim lost parts of ourselves.
As you mention, this new potential relationship is giving you a feeling of life and probably confidence. What can you do to bring your own spark back? Do you need more fun and spontaneity in your life?
Changing how you feel within yourself and about your relationship can help you cultivate sexual desire for your husband. While I can’t guarantee what will happen to your marriage, I do know you’ll likely regret making a decision without putting energy into yourself and your current relationship first.
HOW DO I TALK DIRTY WITHOUT WANTING TO DIE?
QUESTION: My partner wants me to tell him what I want in bed. But I don’t know how to do it without hurting his feelings. I’m also not sure if I know what I really like.
ANSWER: Worrying they’ll hurt their partner’s feelings is a common concern for women. Their partners however, usually say they want more direction, not less!
Your partner wants you to enjoy yourself — he’s just not sure what to do.
Men often wish there was a ‘formula’ for pleasing their partner, unfortunately there isn’t. What we want sexually changes day to day (or moment to moment). The only way they can get it right is if we give feedback.
Start by giving your partner positive feedback on the things you do like. Offer encouragement or tell him things you’ve enjoyed in the past.
Discovering what you like during masturbation can help you give feedback to a partner on what feels best for you. Reading erotica can also provide ‘research’ for language that feels good of you and give you ideas of things you might try.
I CAN’T BE BOTHERED WITH ORGASMS
QUESTION: I’ve been with my partner for three years. I don’t dislike sex, but I don’t always reach orgasm. If I do it seems to take me a really long time and I can’t always be bothered.
ANSWER: Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Around 30 per cent of women struggle to orgasm on a regular basis (10 per cent of us have never had an orgasm at all).
It takes both men and women longer to reach orgasm when they’re with a partner, but in general, women take longer than men.
Women’s bodies go through complex changes when they become aroused. We actually need around 20 minutes of foreplay for our body to fully prepare for sex.
Twenty minutes of foreplay will dramatically increases your likelihood of climax. Including passionate kissing, oral sex and genital-hand touch, will increase this further. It might seem like a long time, but it will increase enjoyment for both of you.
The more you focus on ‘trying’, the less likely orgasm is to happen. Focus on pleasure, intimacy and relaxing instead.
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist and sexologist. If you’ve got a question you need answered, email email@example.com