There is a very stubborn misconception that exists around sex in long term relationships.
That good sex will “just happen”.
And that if you need to work at it, your relationship or you have somehow failed.
However, if you’re finding yourself feeling like the sex has got a little “meh”, or your attraction to your partner has waned, know that this is normal.
And it might be down to what’s known as The Coolidge Effect.
“The Coolidge Effect”- where your sexual arousal lessens over time to the same sexual stimulus.
Named after an ex-US President, the Coolidge Effect means that over time (especially after two years, which experts say is the average amount of time it takes for the relationship honeymoon period to end) we feel boredom with our partners, the positions we take or the seduction routine.
The Coolidge Effect is so called because of a comment made by President Calvin Coolidge to his wife whilst at a chicken farm:
“Mrs. Coolidge, observing the vigor with which one particularly prominent rooster covered hen after hen, asked the guide to make certain that the President took note of the rooster’s behavior. When President Coolidge got to the hen yard, the rooster was pointed out and his exploits recounted by the guide, who added that Mrs. Coolidge had requested that the President be made aware of the rooster’s prowess. The president reflected for a moment and replied, ‘Tell Mrs. Coolidge that there is more than one hen.’”  Justin Lehmiller.com
So the Coolidge Effect means we build up a certain tolerance to our lovers advances and the effect of them simply becomes less exciting.
Part of the reason that we’re bored of being exposed to the same stimulus (e.g. your partner and the way you have sex) is down to over familiarisation and how we become desexualised to each other. Anyone who knows how difficult it can be to try and keep boundaries around not seeing one another pooing can totally relate!
Because as Esther Perel says, how erotic and exciting can the familiar be?
But another reason our desire wanes is because sex is less likely to capture our attention in the same way that it did previously. And a lack of attention can lead our minds to drift off during sex as we’re not being kept on our toes and not staying in the moment.
The Coolidge Effect is said to be caused by an innate instinct that encourages us to “mate with as many others as possible” to secure the best chance of reproduction.
This idea of virility and “spreading the seed” is most often associate with men, but recent research has suggested that in fact it is female desire that is killed more quickly by relationships and monogamy. The studies detailed that “far from women in long-term, committed heterosexual partnerships “going off” sex—…. it’s more that they’ve gone off the same sex with the same person over and over”.
In this fab article by Wednesday Martin, she describes studies that go against the traditional idea that women prefer cuddles and emotional attachment to get turned on, and that although many women start the relationship with high levels of desire, in fact female passion is more likely to fade quicker than men’s due to overfamiliarity and the idea of having sex with the same person over and over.
So, if you’re wanting to keep things fresh and exciting in the bedroom we need to continually fight this Coolidge Effect.
And the best way to do this?
Introduce novelty, excitement and variety into your sex life.
And this doesn’t just mean chains and whips and excitement, baby. There’s plenty of ways to keep things novel that don’t involve investing in a sex dungeon or take up swinging. Check out this post for ideas on how you can keep your attention on sex and find unconventional ways to mix things up.
P.S. Have you experienced the Coolidge Effect? What do you do to keep things interesting?