Being a sex therapist, clients usually contact me on the basis of sexual concerns – usually related to their desire, arousal or orgasm. Often, while a sexual worry is the motivation for seeking help, it is obvious that the sexual issue has occurred as a result of relationship challenges or changes. For some people, sexual desire will wane if the relationship loses some of its initial intimacy, closeness and connection. So how can this be avoided? And how can the bliss present during the limerence phase be prolonged?
Limerence is usually an integral part of human bonding and is designed to create connection between people in order to secure attachment and eventually a pair bond. Limerence is such a powerful phenomenon that there are even physiological side effects like a racing heartbeat and loss of appetite. Real changes occur in brain chemistry, such as increases in norepinephrine, dopamine and testosterone – leaving us feeling typically “love struck”. Research has indicated that if unreciprocated, limerence can continue well past the predictable two month to two-year phase. Certain events can revive limerence, such as a fight or conflict – although at times people become addicted to this cycle and make conflict integral to maintaining feelings of love for their partner.
A more constructive way of prolonging or regenerating limerence within a relationship is to introduce adventure and new experiences. For example, perhaps one partner has been interested in learning how to speak another language. Attending a class together to learn something new may enhance your attachment to one another, and increase feelings of commonality and connection. Another way to increase curiosity and limerence could be to arrange a role-play date. Maybe a chance meeting in a hotel bar, followed by a hot, romantic interlude with a “stranger” or even a spontaneous outing on what is usually a quiet evening in could serve to elevate desire and increase excitement within a relationship.
Embracing and appreciating the differences between each person within the relationship could enhance feelings of love and respect for one another. Look at them with a new lens – not the one which indicates how they are doing something incorrectly, but rather the one which seeks novelty in new ideas and different ways of being. Allow yourself to keep an open mind and perceive the differences as new, enlightening information about your beloved. And finally, remember that aspects of others that might be annoying now usually have a flip side. Taking a closer look at those characteristics could illuminate exactly those traits which sparked limerence in the first place.