#5: Not going for it, while fear leads the way.
People often say it’s easier to do the freaky deeky things they fantasize about with someone they barely know, rather than a long-term intimate partner.
It can feel more vulnerable to share the things that are out-of-the-box with someone who has known you for a time than it is with someone new who has no preconceived ideas of who you are as a sexual person. Many fears come up around fantasies for people in long-term relationships:
What will my partner think of me?
Would they stop loving me if they knew I think about these wild things?
Will my husband/wife/partner judge me? Will they think I’m gross?
What if my fantasies and turn-ons are disgusting to them? Then what?
Will my desires hurt them? Will they feel betrayed that I have wanted these things and they didn’t know? Or will they turn away from me because of what I desire?
These fears are enough to keep people quiet, even as they desperately desire to expand themselves sexually. To ask their partner for something they want that they don’t currently have, and not be met with some of the same enthusiasm for it becomes a threat to the relationship. That can be too much to bear.
Yet, they are already bearing the weight of not being honest, or the pressure to hide what they want or who they are sexually.
To not share the truth of what you desire with your lover means…
- You probably won’t get it–at least, not honestly,
- You are hiding in your own relationship, and
- Fear is leading the way, rather than desire and love.
Pretending to be something you are not so that it is palatable for your partner is painful and dishonest. To be led by your fear of what your partner will think or how they will react prevents you from being all of who you are, or experiencing new things.
It’s normal to desire new things, or to want to experiment sexually–especially when you have been with someone for a long time and sex may be feeling routine or rote. Humans are naturally drawn to variety–but many of our rules around sex tell us to limit what we want or that we can only want one thing or stay in one lane.
Yet if you are with someone long enough, you will want to try things you’ve never done, or explore territory that feels new to you. It’s part of how we grow.
When a couple gets into a rut with sex, it takes at least one person pushing the envelope and bringing some creativity to the table to turn it around. Someone has to just go for it, and decide that whatever risk lies within is worth it to feel alive and vital sexually.
Research studies in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships show that in relationship, self-expansion is associated with higher closeness and seeing one’s partner in a new light, referred to as “otherness.” Both of these lead to higher sexual desire. So expanding yourself and appreciating the growth of your partner–seeing them in new ways–is good for your sex life.
Sexuality is a dynamic, ever-evolving part of who we are. We do not arrive at some mature sexuality and dust off our hands and say, “well, this is it.” We change, we discover new parts of ourselves, our relationships with our bodies evolve, our experiences of pleasure and desire shift.
As we become more of who we are sexually (and otherwise), we want to be met there.
The Big Fear
Ultimately, the big fear is “What if we grow apart?”
It’s possible. Yet to continue forsaking your own sexuality and desire in order to be with this person tears you apart inside.
What if it actually brings you closer?
If both people really want to develop themselves and grow their intimate life, they can grow a lot of intimacy through a new phase of exploration and sexual expansion. It can be one of the best growth injections your love can receive.
That requires self-honesty and integrity within your relationship about where you are and what you want. That is not easy for most people because we have so few role models for how to talk about these aspects of ourselves and how to sort through our complex web of sexual likes, dislikes, curiosities, proclivities and attractions.
Since we don’t know how, we tend to let our fear of what might happen lead the way, and it stops us from going for what we really want. This leads to unfulfilled people in otherwise decent relationships. It leads to feeling trapped and like we need to sneak around to get our new needs met. And that inevitably creates hurt–so why not just be honest to begin with and work through it with your partner?
Sometimes they are feeling similarly and have also been afraid to speak up. They might even want some of the same things. But someone must have the courage to bring it forward.
Yes, it might shine a light on how much space is between you. It might also be the magnetic pull that brings you closer together than ever. You’ll never know if you let your fear of what might happen lead.
There is no right way to express one’s sexuality or to have a sexual relationship. We each get to find our way and processes that work for us. In this series, we talked about five key mistakes couples make with their sex lives:
- Putting your sex life on auto-pilot.
- Tolerating your sex life.
- Shame kills sex.
- Letting blame and guilt slay your sex life (not in a good way).
- Not going for it while fear leads the way.
If couples could address these five things–and avoid continuing to allow tolerations, shame, blame, guilt, a sexual life on auto-pilot and just not going for it to eclipse all the juicy goodness underneath, expansive sex lives could be the new normal.
Even if you just start by addressing one of these, it will start the shift, and can make a world of difference. Pick one you know is happening in your relationship and start there. Sex is a negotiation and a co-creation. Last I recall, it’s supposed to be fun. Go co-create some of that with your sweetie.
Want support in how to spice up your sexual life? Check out our Honey Hive full of courses that address the real adult birds and bees. There is something there for everyone.