The Sex Nutrition Pyramid

Question:

Tracy: I love Taylor. We’re the best of friends and in many ways, are closer than we ever were before. This makes it all the more perplexing that sex has become flat. It’s loving, but it’s routine, and less appealing all the time. I don’t know how to bring this up without hurt feelings, but our relationship is lacking in nourishment.

Taylor: I love Tracy. We’re the best of friends and in many ways we’re closer than ever before. And so it’s all the more painful when I hear that our sex life is dissatisfying. I am able to accept that we can’t possibly maintain the fervor and sense of novelty we used to have. And I don’t want the same frequency either, much less the pizazz. Hearing it should be different more makes me want it less. You could say that we have occasional good protein and I’ve grown beyond the taste for spice and desert.

(Names made gender-neutral for the sake of broader applicability.)

Answer:

Sex is like food in quite a few ways. Leaving aside many of the other similarities, it’s nice to have familiarity leavened with some variety to remain appealing. I don’t mean variety in partners. It’s within the container of a committed, trusting relationship that we can really range out. It’s like…you can stay in Seattle and explore to any restaurant you want.

In this ranging there are a couple of branches, in my way of thinking. One is the romantic. This is like comfort food. Good, wholesome, sustaining regular meals. Sex is tender, loving, mutual, familiar and nice, and you can find new dimensions the older you get.

The other branch is adventure. Exotic food. By adventurous sex, I don’t mean weird, or always novel and inventive. The pressure to maintain this over the years would not be sexy. I mean the spirit of adventure, where you dare to test the bounds of conventionality a bit, where comfort is high but excitement is higher. Where the atmosphere has some electricity and stimulation becomes thrill. Simply put, it’s hot.

An ironic quality to sex with this edge is that both people can be selfish. You assert exactly what you want. Be bold about it. And of course your partner must do the same. It may be that you are more or less “doing” the other at any one time, with all the attention on maximizing pleasure for the other – while he or she can indulge purely in his or own pleasure, thanks to your full devoted focus. “Tonight I’ll cook, you eat.”

Hot sex is not for all phases of a relationship. When when stress is high, parenting is hectic or insecurities and resentments are up and communication is crimped – then you probably need just the nourishment of comfort food. And even that may be in small portions.

Tracy-types take note: Rest, trust and affirming communication first. Then, adventure sex maybe. If your quest becomes a battle, you’re getting further from what you want.

Taylor-types take note: Loving, stable, trusting couples can get embedded in the comfort zone. Once a groove, now a rut. Both of you may feel secure with it, but also under-appreciated. And your mate’s klutziness in talking about this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about.

A therapist or marriage counselor can help with restocking the kitchen.

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Tom Linde M.S.W.
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