Sustaining Desire

I want to be your fantasy; Maybe you could be mine” Prince, Kiss 1986
Sustaining desire is easier said than done. The sense of mystery and excitement that we felt at the beginning of our relationship can be hard to hold on to. Often, what we want is what we feel like we used to have with our partner, but somehow lost along the way. Sex, or lack thereof, can become a central issue in even the most loving and secure relationships.
Between the monotony and stresses of day-to-day life, raising children and/or focusing on a career, passion in a relationship can easily get pushed aside, or forgotten. Over time, neglect leads to a stagnant sex life that becomes repetitive and unsatisfying. Couple this with the complete familiarity inherent in a long-term relationship, it’s no wonder couples find it hard to sustain a sense of sexual longing and enthusiasm over the long-term.
According to relationship therapist and author Esther Perel, a sense of mystery and yearning (for something you can’t always have) are essential ingredients to sexual desire.
However, fear not, your relationship can return to that dynamic and passionate place it used to be, but you both need to work on it.
In her recent TED talk, Ms. Perel reveals what she sees as the secret to maintaining sexual desire in long term relationships. In particular, she emphasises the importance of including sex in the distribution of resources such as time and energy, because sex is an essential component of any healthy relationship.
Start by breaking your usual routine and schedule alone time together. Communicate about your needs, your wants and your desires. Try new ways of making love, and don’t succumb to excuses of tiredness.
Most of all, acknowledge that sex is important and make a commitment, together, to work on improving the sexual intimacy in your relationship.


  1. Bradbury, T.N., Fincham, F.D., & Beach, S.R.H. (2000). Research on the nature and determinants of marital satisfaction: A decade in review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62
    (4), 964–980. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00964.x.
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