The Library

Keeping The Fire: Sexual Desire

4 Min Read
Keeping The Fire: Sexual Desire

I’m sure you’ve heard the idea that marriage can be synonymous with “the end of sex” — or even that you’ll have less and less sex as you get older, no matter your marital status. Today, we are here to bust that myth.

The Reality

It is true that as people get older, they tend to accept a decrease in sexual excitement as both expected and unavoidable (especially for women). This isn’t helped by the fact that there are fewer and fewer representations of people having sex as they age. 

It can feel both frustrating and confusing if you feel your sexual desire waning. Sex is a very psychological experience, and one bad experience can get you into your own head and down a spiraling road. But most problems come with solutions, and there are ways to adjust the long-term lags, or even short-term spouts of disinterest. 

In the book “Slow Sex,” Diana Richardson focuses on creating more sexual presence, and offers techniques to experience sex “on an inner cellular level.” In other words: Ditch the goal-oriented mentality towards an orgasm as a be-all, end-all. 

Richardson’s techniques are generally targeted for long-term partners, as the main goals are to create sustainability and help develop a new sexual language. Among other tips, she focuses on relaxation, awareness, pleasure, and rhythm — all of which stood out to me as key insights. But people of all ages can work to understand what causes sexual lags, so they can combat them with tools and strategies rather than shame or isolation.

In the end, there is no one thing that results in a diminished sex drive, but it’s always a good practice to take a step back and try to spot areas that could use improvement. Understanding these four different possible problem areas is a great way to start:

1) Relaxation

According to Richardson,  it's important to understand that relaxing is not about being passive, but rather about establish a more serene state of mind. This can take the pressure off of orgasm-centric sex, because when people fill sex with expectations and goals “we get ahead of the body, pushing it [and] forcing it to obey and follow the mind's instructions,” Richardson notes. This ultimately makes people less sensitive. Furthermore, goal-oriented sex takes people out of the present moment — they could be thinking about everything from the next time they have sex, to their taxes or dishes. This is because people tend to see “the next one” as the one that will lead them to the end goal. 

Instead, she recommends you try to slow things down and center yourself within your body. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on presence, or tuning into your awareness of the current moment.

2) Awareness

I know what you’re thinking — why wouldn’t you be aware of what’s going on during sex? But taking the time to tap into what’s going on, and focusing on your awareness can serve as a natural aphrodisiac, and maybe even heighten your desires. 

By focusing your consciousness within yourself, rather than being preoccupied with the mechanical movements of your body, you can recenter yourself and what you need. This may appear selfish or disconnected, but Richardson explains that rerouting attention to your body will “light the energy within you as your partner does the same within themselves [and] bring these together instead of relying on the other person to do that for you.” 

Furthermore, research has shown that where we put focus on the body, there will be an increase in blood flow and therefore an increase in arousal. 

During sex, you can try to tighten and then release parts of your body — such as your chest or toes — for a few seconds, and then let go. This practice is a quick way to bring yourself back to your body. 

3) Pleasure 

Richardson also makes an important clarification between sensation and sensitivity. The former is created through external tension and stimulation, while sensitivity is an internal feeling. 

“Instead of habitually seeking more and more sensation, you can begin working on your actual senses so that you become more capable of feeling,” she explains. 

For example, when people experience plateaus in sexual excitement, they often try to add more external experiences into the mix, such as toys, costumes, and more to heighten sensations or arousal. While these additives can help, they won’t necessarily solve the underlying problem. 

Instead, doing internal work, such as increasing your relaxation and awareness, can help you tap into your sensitivity. It’s important to note that sometimes the pleasure you find might be different than what you were previously used to. Instead of quick, spiking orgasms, you might feel sustained feelings of nourishment or fulfillment from tapping into your pleasure again. 

4) Rhythm 

It’s also worth remembering that your partner might not be as equally turned on — or turned off — as you are. This goes for people of all gender identities, but may be especially worth remembering for partners of opposite sexes. Each gender warms up at varying speeds, and women typically need more time to “get there” than men do — even though the traditional idea of sex often jumps quickly into vaginal penetration. 

This rhythm issue can be a root cause of waning interest, as the people involved are operating at disconnected speeds and there can often be a lack of authentic satisfaction. However, when you meet your partner in the middle, you stand a chance of creating an equal amount of pleasure for yourselves and each other. As a result, sex may be more desirable for everyone involved.



1. Richardson, Diana. Slow Sex: the Path to Fulfilling and Sustainable Sexuality. Destiny Books, 2011.

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