Erotic Entropy: Why sex is 'endangered' in long-term relationships

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my mom and my son and I tagged along on a business trip my dad was taking in Mexico.  One day, a turtle conservation crew came out with several hundred baby sea turtles whose eggs they’d protected since the mother had laid them and - in a turtle’s natural way - left them.  My three year old son delighted in holding a tiny turtle in his carefully washed hands, then helping it get onto the sand and watching over it until it reached the water and disappeared into the waves.  

Sea birds would have grabbed dozens of those babies as snacks before they made it to the sea.  Animals might’ve eaten eggs, had they been left on the beach to hatch.  And, though I didn’t tell my little guy this at the time, the natural and human-posed threats to those tiny turtles are so numerous IN the water that of the hundreds who swam away that day, fewer than a dozen are likely alive today.  

Sea turtle survival rates are grim.  Sadly, with their bountiful predators and meager defenses, baby sea turtles are a handy metaphor for a vibrant sexual connection in a long-term couple.  There are countless enemies pecking at our libidos.  Numerous predators eating up our time (did I just refer to my own children as time-sucking predators?   I might’ve.).  And toxins build up, through the years, any time we live with another person, unless we’re painstakingly clearing up those little hurts and resentments.

No matter how hot two people were for each other in the beginning, years together and life transitions can leave them wondering “where did that spark go?  Why don’t we have sex as much anymore?”  I call the process - the one that turns down the heat and makes us wonder if we’ll ever be able to revive it - erotic entropy.

Erotic entropy is perfectly normal.  

There are dozens of reasons you don’t have - and perhaps don’t even WANT - as much sex as you used to.  And there are good reasons your desire levels may differ from your partner’s.  You might have children.  Big jobs.  Commitments to extended family.  Friends you relish seeing, when you can.  And - though I used to hate to admit it, myself - finite energy.

Still, you yearn to feel that sizzling aliveness that only comes from a profound erotic connection.  That bone-deep satisfaction that comes from mutual pleasure and closeness.  That sense that, even if there’s not a ton of time for it, you’ve still got “it” as a couple.  And the energy and inspiration that fuel everything else in your life when your sex life is humming.  

That’s perfectly normal, too.

In our culture, though sex is used to sell just about everything, we’re not often encouraged to put sex on our list of goals.  Friends who’re posting on facebook about how they’re going to eat differently or exercise more or make more of a difference for others this year… They’re not, too often, talking about how much more sex they’re going to have and the skills they’re going to grow to make that sex deeply satisfying.  So there isn’t nearly as much reinforcement for pursuing goals that relate to fighting erotic entropy and expanding our sexual skill set.  That’s why I am a voice standing up for those desires, those goals, and those skills.  Sex matters for long-term couples who value it.  It’s a good thing.  And you can push back on entropy.

In my Getting to Sex course, I invite participants to explore the “predators” their libido, time, and connection are up against.  We look very specifically at what happens instead of sex, and where we can find more “yeses” together, at the same time, with the limited time and energy we have.  Short of the course, though, I invite you to try on these ideas:  

  • If you want more or better sex with your partner, that’s a good thing, and a perfectly wonderful thing to set a goal around.  
  • To have more and/or better sex, there are mindset shifts, skills, and habits that will help.
  • If you’ve already tried to make your erotic connection better, and it’s not worked as well as you wanted (or even backfired!) there are good reasons that happened, too.  
  • If erotic entropy or differences in desire levels have reduced your sex life to “endangered” levels, but you still yearn to revive it, we can build that desire-in-the-abstract into desire-in-the-moment-that-turns-into-having-sex.  

This is the year.  Sexy goals are wholesome goals.  We can do this.

Love love,

Michele