One of the most common difficulties that bring couples into my practice is the extinguishment or disappearance of passion, lust, desire, or yes, even love itself. Often these couples have gone years (yes years) sinking ever further into a deeper rut of feeling like they are living with a platonic friend or roommate, but not a lover. They may have gone months or years without having sex. Indeed, research shows that about 1 in 7, or about 15% of long-term couples are sexless (meaning no sex in the last six months). When I ask these couples to describe their daily habits, they often describe lots of intimate behaviors such as holding hands, kissing, engaging in various activities together, and even sleeping together in the nude. But no sex. They describe loving each other, but not “being in love,” meaning no longer experiencing that lustful attraction that comes with passionate love.
In my experience, the success of turning things around and rekindling desire depends on a number of factors. First, how long has this relationship been passionless? The longer the couple has been alienated, the harder the task becomes. In addition, there are a number of contextual factors to consider. For example, how much resentment has piled up? Resentment, as I’ve written about before, is one of the most toxic and corrosive emotions within a relationship. It’s a combination of anger and entitlement, which leads to contempt. Indeed, contempt, along with criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling, is one of the four key factors that research has identified as predictive of negative outcomes in relationships. As a result, resentment […]