While there is nothing more magical than being in a great relationship, making love to the same person for the rest of your life isn’t easy.
Long-term sex has its challenges – and most couples battle the same problems.
Here’s my solution to the ten most common sex challenges people in relationships face.
Tracey Cox answers 10 most common sex questions in long-term relationships, including whether you have to give oral sex and whether it’s wrong to fantasise about someone else while having sex with your partner (stock image)
Why does my partner still masturbate when they’re having regular sex with me?
Assuming masturbation isn’t replacing ‘real life’ sex, this is a plus not a problem!
It doesn’t mean they’re not getting enough sex or that it’s unsatisfactory. It simply means you can still feel like a bit when your partner’s either not there or not interested.
Solo sex is selfish, usually based on a filthy fantasy you don’t particularly want to share and the mission is accomplished in under five minutes.
It’s a side dish to the main course sex you have with your partner but also has spin-off benefits for them. Studies repeatedly show people who masturbate regularly have higher libidos.
What came first, the chicken or the egg (does putting our hands down our pants causes us to want more sex or do we want more sex generally and that’s why we have our hands down our pants) isn’t clear.
Doesn’t really matter though: the point is clear. Masturbating is good for you and good for your relationship.
Do you have to give oral sex if you don’t like doing it?
It should go without saying that being pressured by your partner into doing something you don’t want to do, absolutely isn’t on.
But if you feel safe and respected by your partner, think before you refuse to give oral sex because you are taking away a hugely satisfying part of sex for your partner. For a lot of women, it can remove the only way we orgasm with a partner.
British sex expert Tracey Cox (pictured) says a lot of reasons for refusing to give oral sex have solutions, including worries about taste and smell and about not knowing what to do
Assuming you or your partner haven’t had some kind of sexual trauma in your past, all the reasons given for refusing oral sex have a solution. (And if you did experience trauma, a good sex therapist can help you overcome that as well.)
Worries over smell and taste are easily fixed by having a shower first, washing properly and getting treatment for any infections. Worries over not really knowing what to do are solved by an instructional sex session, giving clear and specific direction and feedback.
Worries over her ‘taking too long’ are solved by understanding it can take a while for women to orgasm (and using a vibrator to finish, if you can’t keep up the pace). Worries over ‘choking’ are sorted by him not pushing the back of your head, using your hands and choosing a position to control how deep he goes.
Worries about swallowing are fixed by stopping before he does and finishing him off with a hand. Worrying that it’s ‘bad’, ‘dirty’, ‘wrong’ are solved by challenging the messages you got about sex from your childhood and/or seeing a sex therapist.
I think that covers the main complaints.
Listen, if your partner’s not that fussed about it and you don’t particularly enjoy it, by all means give oral sex a swerve and do something else you both enjoy.
But if you’re so-so about it, why not turn doing it into a gift. Be generous. (And make sure you’re good at it: it’s one act where technique, experience and skill count for a lot.)
Would we be better off having no sex at all for a while if we’re both bored silly?
Yes – but only if it’s done in a positive way.
Simply looking at each other, giving a shrug and saying ‘Right, that’s it for sex then!’ will see you in the divorce courts (or popping up in someone else’s bedroom) within a year.
Do it deliberately and with purpose and it could be the best idea you’ve ever had: sometimes it’s good to take a pause and ‘reset’ when you’re in a sex rut.
Start by banning any form of sex for two or three weeks to give yourselves a complete break. Then enforce a ‘no intercourse’ ban for the month following. If you’re forced to focus purely on foreplay – using just your tongue, hands, fingers, mouths – you’re likely to be a damn sight more inventive than your usual rushed, obligatory fondle-and-feel on your way to the ‘main event’.
Banning anything makes it more appealing so by the time the month is over, you should both be gagging for penetrative sex. Indulge, then move straight into a ‘no oral sex’ ban for the next month. After that, ‘no hands, just tongues’ and so on.
This keeps things interesting by introducing the ‘unavailable’ element that makes sure-thing long-term sex so boring. It also forces you to find new ways to orgasm so you’re not just relying on one. The more different ways you can orgasm, the more you’ll generally have.
Tracey said fantasising about sleeping with someone new in your head while in bed is a sensible way to indulge adulterous leanings, but if it’s every time it isn’t a great sign and if it’s the same person it could feed the desire rather than calm it (stock image)
I never get the chance to initiate sex because my partner always gets in first
If you’re constantly being hassled for sex, you don’t get the chance to miss it.
It’s called ‘the seesaw phenomenon’: the more one person does, the less the other does. The more often they initiate sex, the less often you will.
What if we both like doing different things in bed?
If you know this, it also means you’ve been honest with each other about what you want. It’s more of a problem if you both have very different ideas of a great sex session but haven’t told each other.
There are lots of ways to get around this including ‘take-turn’ sex where you each get a turn to have sex the way you want.
Another good compromise is to divide up the session to cater for both your needs. If he wants fast, hard sex based around intercourse and you want lots of oral, followed by slow intercourse with you on top, one compromise might be this: the session starts with ‘her sex’, resulting in an orgasm for her through oral, then continues to ‘his’ style of intercourse for him to orgasm.
Never getting the chance to be the one to say ‘How about it?’ is both tedious and demeaning – if your libido’s lower than theirs, you already feel you’re letting the side down. The good news, it’s relatively easy to fix this problem.
Start by telling your partner you miss not being the one to initiate sex. This alone – and I guarantee it – will have an extraordinary reaction. ‘I’m always the one who has to initiate sex’ is one of the biggest sex complaints.
Most think if their partner doesn’t initiate sex, it must mean they secretly don’t enjoy doing it with them. Simply saying you’d like to be given the chance to, will score enormous points.
As much as you’re sick of being asked, they’re sick of asking. Make a pact that they stop making any sexual overtures for two weeks to give you the chance to approach them. Wait for a bit, then – around day nine or 10 – pounce!
Even if your first approach is a bit forced – you’re not exactly frothing in the mouth but it might be OK – pretend. Many a study has shown ‘pretending’ passion creates it. Power is a massive turn-on and if you’re the one who’s suddenly up for it and making all the moves, you’ll be surprised how turned on you’ll feel.
Is it wrong to fantasise about someone else during sex with my partner?
Again, pretty much all of us are guilty of this one (research puts it at around 80 per cent).
However desperately you love your partner, it won’t stop you being attracted to other people. There’s a basic human longing for novelty and sleeping with someone new in your head while in bed is actually a very sensible way to indulge adulterous leanings. Far preferable, I think you’ll agree, to doing it in reality.
I do need to add a few get-out clauses here though: fantasising about other people every time you have sex with your partner isn’t a great sign, and there’s evidence that fantasizing about the same person – particularly someone who’s available in real life – could feed the desire to act on it, rather than calm it. Otherwise, it’s one of the best ways to keep sex hot long term.
What if we do the same thing every time we have sex?
Humans are creatures of habit and like doing the same things in order. Watching a loved movie a second or even third time can be just as enjoyable as the first. But if I made you sit down and watch it 100 times a year – a rough average of how often you have sex – I doubt you’d be quite so enthusiastic.
Yet this exactly what we do in bed: deal up the same old stuff, every single time.
Should you have sex if you’re angry?
Enthusiasts of ‘make-up’ sex will be jumping up and down saying ‘Hell yes!’ and even if you’re not a fan, you maybe should be because sex when you’re angry can be quite a good idea.
Giving in to having sex, if one of you tries it on as a ‘make-up’ gesture, can soften you towards each other and make you connect enough to talk calmly afterward and fix whatever the problem is.
It certainly can act as an aphrodisiac: angry sex is also often passionate sex. It’s an unpleasant emotion but a flash of it can turn a flickering flame of desire into fireworks.
Course, if you’re really upset, this is a bit like suggesting you invite the girl who slept with your husband at the office party to dinner. But if you’re simply annoyed, ‘parking’ the anger for a bit isn’t going to do either of you any harm.
Try it and see where it takes you.
Some angry couples who fight lots (and actually enjoy a good row) rely on clashes between them to add drama to their sex lives.
Knowing what’s coming next with sex works for some people but for the majority it doesn’t. It’s bad enough only being allowed to make love to the same person, but to do the same thing over and over is sexual suicide.
Why do we do it? Well, because it worked in the beginning. They liked it, you liked it. Then there’s the fear attached to trying new things. What if we try it and they don’t like it? What will we look like in that new position? Will we look silly/fat/desperate?
Get past this by making a pact to both come up with something new to try once a week for a month. Try doing the opposite to what you always do. If you normally have romantic sex, try ‘nasty sex’.
Move sex out of the bedroom. Leave some sexy underwear on or your high heels rather than strip naked. Rent a hotel room and pretend you’re having an affair. Try out some sex toys. Try some porn or a tie-up game. (These are the obvious places to start!)
Also look at the proportion of time you spend on what in your sex sessions and mix that up as well. There is such a thing as too much foreplay. We all love a good massage but if the masseur focuses on the same spot for too long, it quickly changes from heaven to annoying.
We enjoy sex but it isn’t terribly passionate or intense. Is this something to worry about?
Sex offers us many things, not just erotic release. It’s also about love, fun and – crucially – connection to your partner. Very (very) few couples consistently have bed-shaking, knee-trembling sex sessions long-term: intense, lusty sex is not the norm long-term but the exception.
Other times sex will be a bit of fun, an expression of love, a simple release for a physical need. It’s OK for it not to fit the standard model of sex we see on telly where it’s all urgent and sweaty.
Am I justified in getting sex elsewhere if my partner isn’t putting out?
The obvious question to ask here is why isn’t your partner having sex with you? If you’ve got three kids under three running around, sex may necessarily be parked for a while. Even if there isn’t a good reason, ‘justified’ is pushing it. But it is understandable that you would consider the idea.
This is called the ‘unmet needs affair’. When we pledge to be monogamous, there is an unspoken commitment that you will both satisfy each other’s sexual needs because you are both ‘forsaking all others’. When this doesn’t happen, you have some serious choices to make.
The first option is always to have an honest chat with your partner about why they don’t want sex anymore. Are there compromises? (If your partner can’t have intercourse for some reason, what about mutual oral sex?) If they aren’t open to any sex at all, you could satisfy yourself solo, masturbating to porn or fantasies. Or your partner might agree to you having sex with other people, so long as you set some ground rules.
Getting sex on the side without discussing it is risky because it means you might lose the relationship altogether if you’re caught. You might think not getting sex at home justifies you having it with someone else but your partner may not agree!
A final option is to leave the relationship and find someone who does enjoy sex (remembering they might be lacking in other areas your existing partner isn’t). Only you know which of these is right for you.
Visit traceycox.com for Tracey’s weekly blog about sex. You’ll also find her supersex and Edge product ranges and books.