The Problem of Sex in Long Term Relationships

Sex is supposed to be wonderful, right?

The answer is yes…..but….

Most couples have conflict about sex. This conflict can be explosive name-calling fights, or it can just be people living in quiet desperation – feeling powerless and depressed.

In every long-term relationship there is a high desire partner and a low desire partner.  As the term suggests, high desire partners want more frequent sex or more passionate sex. They usually feel their relationship is good if this is going on. Low desire partners usually value things other than sex to tell if their relationship is satisfactory – like warmth, affection and connection. Many couples manage to weave a path back and forth between these positions and stay reasonably caring and loving toward each other.

Sometimes, one person has to give into the other’s desire level more and, if this is tolerable, then the couple exists reasonably comfortably with each other. But often, these desire states can become polarised and lead to trouble.

If it helps to reassure you, this pattern is so common it is considered to be normal. Continue reading “The Problem of Sex in Long Term Relationships”

The Intimacy Tug-Of-War

How couples can resolve their struggle to get close.

What is the Intimacy Tug-Of-War?

After a time most relationships settle into the following pattern: – one partner seeking more closeness and the other partner seeking more distance. This is often called the pursuer-distancer pattern; sometimes it is called the “blamer-withdrawer dance”.

You won’t see these patterns early in a relationship, during the honeymoon stage. In this phase people are too focussed on how wonderful and ideal their partner is, and are themselves working hard at being the ideal partner for the other. But pretty soon, probably even from the beginning, couples start to shape each other into these roles, leading to a perennial tug-of-war over intimacy. Continue reading “The Intimacy Tug-Of-War”

Can Relationships Last In The 21st Century?

Because I am a relationship counsellor, I see plenty of couples who are in crisis. Some couples come to me in the midst of breaking up. But I also see plenty of couples who survive the crisis and thrive as a couple.

Twenty years as a counsellor has taught me that long-term relationships need three ingredients to be working well and in unison. I will name them and then I will explain them. They are:-

  1. Attachment needs
  2. Partnership
  3. Eroticism


For a relationship to be still growing after many years, these three ingredients need to be functioning reasonably well. They don’t have to be brilliant. We can throw away our over-inflated, pop-culture inspired expectations of perfection. But they do have to be in working order. Continue reading “Can Relationships Last In The 21st Century?”

Attachment Theory and the Secret of Success

Attachment theory and research shows that having secure and rich personal relationships goes hand in hand with having fulfilling and rich work lives. Being Successful in Life and in Relationships are Interrelated.

No Man is an Island

Most societies for most of human history have accepted that people are not separate individuals – that our experience of the world is interconnected with that of others. In the west we have pushed the idea that we are individuals that stand and fall on our own two feet further than any other society. We have a tendency to believe that being effective and successful is something we strive for on our own. Loved ones and colleagues may be in the background supporting and helping, but that is where we see them – in the background. Continue reading “Attachment Theory and the Secret of Success”

Secure Base and the Safe Haven

Over the last thirty years Attachment Theory has slowly but surely come to dominate how we understand an individual’s relationship to others and to the world at large. It also helps us describe the internal mental world of the individual. Attachment ideas have transformed models of therapy and the way clinicians view mental health issues.

In a Nutshell

child_crawlAttachment theory and research tells us that a human being’s primary drive is to regulate one’s proximity to an attachment figure. Attachment figures provide two vital functions for human beings:

  1. they provide a safe haven during periods of upset and distress, where we can turn to for solace, protection and reassurance and
  2. they act as a secure base from which we can explore and perform with confidence and competence, as a building block for acting effectively in the world.

Continue reading “Secure Base and the Safe Haven”