Building Bridges

Issue # 12 of 43 

David LeClaire
By: David LeClaire

Familiarity and Fantasies

Even partners who communicate and resolve problems effectively may find their passion and interest level diminish over the years. Of all the reasons that couples lose much of their interest and appetite for sex with each other, none is more common, understandable, and impossible to avoid as familiarity.

As a couple becomes more and more comfortable with each other, chances improve that their feelings of desire will diminish. This is even more of a possibility if a couple's sex life becomes predictable and routine.

Even a rich, gooey brownie, which is typically savored and consumed with passion, if eaten every day, may eventually lose much of its appeal and intensity. The brownie does not change, but our appreciation for it can.

A couple's sex life is going to change over a long period of time. Many people eventuallly wonder, "is it just my relationship that's losing its spark, or is it inevitable?" It is a very rare couple that manages to maintain that edge and intensity over a lifetime. The intensity may last longer in some relationships than in others. Yet the kind of desire that was present at the very beginning will change and take other forms.

I'm not saying passion will die and there's nothing you can do about it. On the contrary the desire will simply change from when you first met. Love-making can continue to be enjoyable and satisfying, but the feeling of being desired that most people fantasize about typically changes over time. Your passion can evolve into affection and a deeper level of love and connection. A couple may still find sex to be a powerful expression of love and an intense physical and emotional experience. It's the desire that is normally associated with new relationships that changes with familiarity.

When two people become so comfortable with each other that their sex lives become relatively predictable, that initial desire can begin to diminish. At this stage, one or both partners may start to worry about their relationship. Most, after a period of time, come to accept this reduced drive and passion and settle for maintenance sex. It is possible to keep an intensity and passion alive in your relationship by staying in love. Yet the lust and desire that occurs in a new relationship will change over time.

Because many people miss that rush and excitement that can occur between new couples in love, some begin having fantasies of desire that may include their partner, or even a friend, an acquaintance, or maybe even a complete stranger. Having sexual fantasies does not mean that you don't love your partner. Instead it simply means that you are feeling the need to be desired.

To understand and interpret fantasies, you only need to look for the underlying content of what happens. It's not very important where the story takes place, what you're wearing, or what season it is. By looking past the "storyline" and into the basic meaning of most fantasies, you will usually see a common theme; one person is intensely desired by another.

Since truly committed couples in long-term, monogamous relationships don't act on fantasies that involve anyone other than their partner, there is a good possibility these fantasies may persist for a great part of their lives. Those who have pursued their fantasies usually say that their extra-marital trysts were not as great as they imagined them to be, and the feeling of being desired only lasted for a few moments. Many have told me they found the experience to be hollow and lacking of any depth of feeling compared to being with their partner who they knew well and genuinely loved.

Longing to be desired by others may occasionally diminish one's interest in their sex life with their partner. If this sounds like you, it is important that you get back to focusing on why you love your partner and how much you appreciate having him/her in your life.

Familiarity cannot be reversed, yet it is possible to reframe what it means and instead embrace the fact that you have a wonderful partner whom you know, love, and are comfortable with.

The appreciation and affection you feel for your partner is based upon all of the love you have shared for years together. It is much deeper and more meaningful than the surface attraction between two people who barely know each other. Remember when the two of you first met. Think back to all of the adventures, experiences, and memories that you have shared over the years. Look for the attributes of your partner that you've come to admire and respect. Notice the peace and comfort you feel when lying in each other's arms. Express this affection in your words, touch, and presence when you are together intimately.

By embracing familiarity and continually feeling the appreciation you have for your partner you create the basis for long-term passion in your relationship.

David LeClaire has spent much of his time teaching at community college and private school, and lead communications training for Fortune 500 companies. Now a popular and active Seattle area sommelier, this graduate of Central Michigan University led seminars for a wide variety of organizations. LeClaire is the author of "Bridges To A Passionate Partnership." He can be reached at

Building Bridges Table of Contents

Text © 1998, David LeClaire. Part of the original Sideroad.
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