This article originally appeared on VICE Québec.
A growing body of research suggests that keeping sex exciting is an issue for women, especially in a years-long relationship. Contrary to what the distracted boyfriend meme might have you believe, women grow disinterested in sex with a long-term sexual partner faster than men and report lower sexual satisfaction.
Wednesday Martin argued this in a piece she researched and wrote for The Atlantic called "The Bored Sex." The article mentions an English study from 2017 which shows that women have less interest in sex when they have been together for more than a year, and women who live with their partner tend to feel less sexual desire than women who don't. Another study published in 2012 tells us that the longer a relationship lasts, the more women's sexual desire decreases, which is not the case for men. And finally, the results of a 2006 German study show that while 60 percent of women want to have "frequent" sex at the beginning of a relationship, in the four years that follow this figure drops to less than 50 percent, and after 20 years of relationship, it falls to about 20 percent. The libido of men, on the other hand, generally remains stable throughout the duration of a relationship.
"It confirms what I've seen in my patients for years," François Renaud, a sexologist and psychotherapist specializing in questions of desire, told VICE Québec when asked about the phenomenon.
"Women have a tendency to get bored faster than men in a monogamous relationship," Renaud said. "They want a form of sexual variety, while men are often content with very little. It is often women who will lose their desire first, and sometimes even quickly enough."
Among couples who come to see him, the sexologist says that women often think that their spouse would have trouble accepting that they are "more sexual" than their partners. "To protect a little bit of the male ego and the role of the man who teaches sexuality to women, women curl up a little in a modest and conservative position," said Renaud. The couple's sex life then continues as usual, growing comfortable, redundant, and predictable.
Renaud sees this as a product of how society views and understands female sexuality. "For a long time, they have been categorized as the kind that wants less sex, but, in truth, women's sexuality is repressed and women are taught to quash their sexuality, slut shaming is a good example."
The sexologist noted that one mistake couples make is to think that frequent sexuality is proof of satisfaction, as if just doing the activity was a guarantee of success in itself, and as if bad sex in heterosexual monogamous couple doesn't exist. There is also the question of the pressure that the partners feel. The idea that it's better to turn away from a partner rather than face rejection: "The first time you have sex with your partner, there is always anxiety and a fear of rejection. At some point, we become comfortable in the relationship and we do not want to live this insecurity anymore. The sex therapist works with couples to try to maintain that stability and security while creating a sense of exploration with their partner."
"Often, when couples tell me about their sexuality, I tell them, 'I feel like you are masturbating in each other,' and often women will answer me: 'Absolutely.' That's what we do. We used to have an orgasm, but there is no sexual relationship."
A better idea, according to the Renaud, is to bring as much variety as possible into a relationship so that the sexual activity remains interesting. To make his point, he compares a couple's sex life to a water park: "If you always do the same slides, you end up bored."
So, happy sliding to all, and don't forget to change it up a bit.
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Marie Boule is on Twitter.