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Never to Late to Rekindle Passion

Never too Late to Rekindle Passion

It is not uncommon for couples to experience a decline in sexual desire over time. New research suggest, however, that there are ways to restore responsiveness and enhance intimacy.

“Our research shows that partners who are responsive to each other outside the bedroom are able to maintain their sexual desire,” says Gurit Birnbaum, psychology professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.

Birnbaum and her coauthors also found that women’s desire is more strongly affected by their partner’s responsiveness than men’s desire — although men report a boost, as well.

The concept of responsiveness — which is a type of intimacy — is important as it signals that one is really concerned with the welfare of the other, but in a way that is truly open and informed about what the other cares about and wants, says Birnbaum.

Responsive partners are willing to invest resources in the relationship, and show understanding at a deep level. They make the relationship feel special — that their relationship is unique — which is, at least in Western societies, what people seek from their romantic relationships.

The new study was prompted, in part by a concept psychologists know as the “intimacy-desire paradox.”

The core of the paradox lies in the contradiction between intimate and familiar relationships that many people strive for, and the limitations of such bonds for facilitating desire.

Some scholars have argued that long-term intimacy may actually inhibit rather than increase sexual desire. For example, the need for security may clash with the sense of novelty and uncertainty that can often fuel desire.

But previous research has not provided conclusive evidence for whether increased sense of intimacy actually promotes or undermines sexual desire.

The study, by Birnbaum and coauthor Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, appears in theĀ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

They believe their findings suggests that, under certain circumstances, there may not be a paradox.

That is, what determines whether intimacy prompts or inhibits desire is not its mere existence, but its meaning in the larger context of a relationship. The authors believe responsiveness is most likely to encourage desire. That’s because it conveys the impression that the partner is worth pursuing and thus engaging in sex with such a desirable partner is likely to promote an already valuable relationship.

As part of the study, the researchers conducted three experiments, one of which consisted of 100 couples who kept a diary for six weeks. Both partners reported on their own level of sexual desire each day as well as their perceptions of their partner’s responsiveness. They also reported their own levels of feeling special and perceptions of their partner’s mate value.

The results indicated that when men and women perceive their partners as responsive, they feel special and think of their partner as a valuable mate, which boosted sexual desirability.

Birnbaum notes that partner responsiveness had a significantly stronger effect on women’s perceptions of themselves and others. This suggests that women experienced higher levels of desire for their responsive partner because they were more likely than men to feel special and value their partner as a result of the partner’s responsiveness.

“‘Being nice’ and things like that are not necessarily based on who the partner is and what the partner really wants,” Birnbaum says. “When a mate is truly responsive, the relationship feels special and unique and he or she is perceived as valued and desirable.

“Sexual desire thrives on increasing intimacy and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time; better than any pyrotechnic sex,” Birnbaum says.

Source: University of Rochester

Never too Late to Rekindle Passion

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Never too Late to Rekindle Passion. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/07/22/never-to-late-to-rekindle-passion/107519.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.