Though we still have a long way to go, modern society has evolved to be more sex-positive than ever. Not only are people more aware of the nuances of gender, but also of the fact that our sexual proclivities can be wonderfully wild.
But in an article on Quartz, philosopher Jeanne Proust argues that the sexual freedom we’ve come to enjoy might actually be killing our desire. Why? Because she believes that taboos are essential to building desire—in other words, the more we can’t have something, the more we want it. “When you feel sexual attraction, there’s something close to transgression,” she says. “When you observe how we get stimulated sexually and what makes sexual attraction very strong, the moral taboo plays a role.”
Since sexual attraction can sometimes feel illicit, it heightens the desire we feel. But if we take away that anticipation and longing, the whole thrill of sex can dissipate. Basically, Proust says, if we are so open in our conversations about sex that it becomes as mundane as talking about a pair of socks, we'll be killing the two essential ingredients: secrecy and intimacy. So how do you make sure that you keep up your desire (while also satisfying your sexual urges)? These methods might help.
Savor the slow burn
If you’re in a long-term relationship, your routines may start to feel a bit too...routine-like. What started off intense and exciting becomes comfortable and casual after a while; that may not be a bad thing, but you probably want a little more fire every now and then. You can keep desire in a long-term relationship by giving each other room to miss one another. (It’s true: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.) Even if you’ve lived together for years, find at least some moment each day when you spend time apart.
And when you do take things to the bedroom, don’t underestimate the impact of foreplay. If you’ve gotten into a habit of having quickies, consider slowing down a bit and maybe even trying something new. Orgasm doesn’t even have to be your end goal.
Get off the apps
According to Proust, dating apps have not been good for desire. Sure, if you’re dating, they may give you a wide range of singles to pine over, but in a way, they make dating a little too easy (well, in a certain way). Proust’s qualm with the apps is that they make hookups easier to secure—which can eventually make sex feel more expected and mundane. Of course, this may vary according to how you’re using dating apps, but still: When was the last time you went out to try to meet an attractive stranger?
You might not be willing to get off the apps for good, but consider widening your pool and trying to find someone the old fashioned way: Go out to a cool bar or restaurant either alone or with a friend who’s just as up for the challenge, make lots of eye contact, and strike up some conversations with strangers. Much more exciting than spending a night swiping.
Explore the taboo
Sex may not feel as taboo as it once was, but certain elements of intimacy retain some more mystery and excitement. If your sex life has been feeling stale, you might be interested in trying something new, like exploring different kinks with your partner, learning more about BDSM, or even roleplaying. These changes of pace can add something different to your sex life, but keep in mind that communication is crucial; introduce things gradually and make sure you set boundaries with your partner and check in with one another to make sure that you’re both into it.