Sex Stages Every Couple Goes Through
The Relate Guide to Sex and Intimacy
SEX STAGES. THE HONEYMOON PERIOD
Nostalgia for the honeymoon period of their relationship is what often brings couples to therapy. They come with the aim of recapturing the feelings and sexual behaviour they once enjoyed. However, quite a bit will have changed. At the beginning, when you don’t know one another anything like so well, you are on the alert for signs that your partner is the ideal person, the one you have always been looking for. It is easy to find such signs when you only see someone in short bursts and you are probably both on your best behaviour anyway. On dates you are both totally focused on one another, with few distractions. Once you move in together, and even more so when you start a family, there are any number of other demands upon your time and energy. When you were dating, there may have been an expectation that cuddles and/or sex would be part of every meeting. You probably made a point of making time for this. When you are living together, you can make love (sex stages) whenever you want to – so the same pressure isn’t there to do it. Consequently, nurturing the relationship and finding time for lovemaking may slip way down the list of your priorities.
SEX STAGES. THE “CUDDLE HORMONE”
Sex Stages. Early-days’ sex is part of the bonding process, when nature is doing its best to make you pair up. Added to this is the influence of the hormone oxytocin, which is present in the body in high levels during the early part of relationships. It has been called the ‘cuddle hormone’ because it promotes trust, closeness and bonding. It is thought to occur at such high levels when relationships are new to encourage pairing and mating. It is also thought to reduce fear and anxiety, so it may lessen any doubts you have about the relationship. In association with the hormone vasopressin, oxytocin is additionally thought to make you pay more attention to the aspects of your partner that you are attracted to and not to notice problems. It increases your self-confidence – one of the reasons we feel so good about ourselves when relationships are new. Serotonin is another chemical which is found in the body in high levels during the early part of relationships and is responsible for making you feel more socially confident, more relaxed but also more obsessed with your new partner. Pheromones are chemicals released by the body which make you more attractive; these are also high in the early sex stages of relationships and when you are sexually active.
WHEN EARLY EUPHORIA WEARS OFF
Sex Stages. You can’t maintain these hormones and feelings for all that long. For most people, the early euphoria has worn off within a year or two at most. So, though you can’t get the early-days’ hormones back in the same way later in the relationship, a network of chemicals continues to work to keep you together as a couple. Indeed, you can encourage the release of oxytocin into the body by allowing yourself to feel aroused and anticipating sex (sex stages). Arousal releases oxytocin, which, in association with the hormone vasopressin, promotes feelings of calm and satisfaction by reducing levels of cortisol, which is associated with stress. This means that the more you allow yourself to feel aroused, and to remember and look forward to lovemaking, the more oxytocin you will release. So partners who look for frequent sex have a point. The longer you go without making love, the less likely it is that you will want to. Having said that, periods of separation and abstinence increase desire if you keep thinking positively about your partner, anticipate lovemaking and allow yourself to feel aroused.
Sex Stages. To make up for the lower levels of oxytocin as your relationship progresses, the hormone vasopressin, which is released alongside oxytocin, is thought to help increase bonding. It appears that the more it is released when couples are together, the more they like each other. Significantly, it may be released during any joint activity with your partner. As we have seen, this definitely includes sex, but could also involve everyday activities such as childcare and housework! The pleasure hormone dopamine continues to be released when you have sex (sex stages), laugh or do anything which you enjoy. It also ‘remembers’ the activity, encouraging you to do it more – another reason for keeping your sex life active. If early sex was for bonding, there are inevitably other reasons why we continue to feel desire as relationships progress. There are numerous reasons for wanting sex and only some of them are concerned with sexual pleasure, romance, love or reproduction. The list below states reasons for having sex. Consider which of them apply to you. We don’t tend to talk openly about the assortment of incentives for sex – but there are probably as many motives as there are people. It can be surprising to realise that there is such a range of reasons for engaging in sex (sex stages), usually with more than one providing motivation. For instance, you may mistrust what you think your partner’s reasons are but you’ll probably be surprised to discover that your own reasons are quite wide-ranging and, sometimes, unromantic. See how many more you can add to the list.
- To deepen the relationship
- To express love
- To have fun
- To please your partner
- To please yourself
- To shut your partner up
- To stop your partner having sex with someone else
- To feel close
- To feel loved
- To feel attractive
- To feel wanted
- To feel more masculine/feminine
- To feel in control
- Because it is a duty
- Because you feel entitled to
- To increase your bargaining power
- To increase your power
- To say sorry
- To make a baby
- To manage stress
- To have an orgasm
Sex Stages. At the beginning of your relationship, you probably made love because you wanted to feel close and bonded and because you were attracted to your partner. Some of the other reasons may have existed too – such as feeling wanted or attractive – but the list grows as the relationship continues. This may come as a surprise if you thought that love and baby-making were the main or only reasons for wanting to make love (sex stages). Some people do worry that they want to make love for the wrong reasons and are fearful about what this could mean for their relationship. Some individuals and couples with perfectly happy, well-functioning relationships come to counselling just because they are questioning their motivation and worrying that their thinking has some negative significance. Similarly, making love less than you feel you ought to may make you feel there is something wrong with you, your partner or the relationship. If you are on the lookout for problems, it is very easy to misread your partner’s behaviour or meaning and feel rejected. For instance, when your partner says they are too tired for sex, they probably really do mean just that.