sex after marriage

Swoon Podcast: I Want You to Want Me: Higher Desire Partners in Relationships

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.

This week:

I WANT YOU TO WANT ME: Higher Desire Partners in Relationships

Being the high desire partner can seem like a simple problem form the outside, but people living this experience will tell you it's not that easy. You want to connect, share passion, and get your needs met, but you need to be careful to do it in ways that don't add pressure to what can often be a tense situation.

Let Gina and Julie help you understand how to handle high desire in mismatched desire relationships, in loving consensual ways.

This episode covers:

  • They ways “higher desire” can affect an individual and a relationship

  • Many of the factors that can influence how much desire someone experiences

  • The difference between spontaneous desire and responsive desire 

  • Practical tools you can use in your relationship or with yourself to explore willingness, pleasure and desire

Memorable Quotes in This Episode

On the inner experience of the high desire partner -

“High desire partners often experience an intense inner struggle, where on one hand they know they are entitled to have desire, and they know there's nothing wrong with asking for what I want, but at the same time I'm tired of always being the one to gets things started... so I either feel like I am pressuring someone all the time, or I take it personally.”

On our culture and sex -

“Sometimes we have a tendency to talk about sex like it's not important or it's base. We tell people to focus on love more. There's something wrong with you if you have a lot of desire. You're not enlightened if you have a lot of desire. So there can be shame around this.”

On knowing when high desire is a problem -

“There are a small number people on one extreme end of the spectrum where their desire, boundaries about sex or impulse control about sex are interruptive in their life, they can't make it work, they betray relationships, they don't respect the boundaries of others because they can't manage their sexual impulsivity BUT that is one small end of the spectrum.”

"Is it causing you emotional strife or relationship problems?"

"Is it negatively impacting your life?"

On sex and love -

“For some people, sex and love go together and that's really important. But for some people, it doesn't and that's okay. ”

On exploring desire -

"If I believe the only way for me to get my sexual needs met is to have sex with a partner that can put a lot of pressure on a relationship... When we focus in on only one pathway to pleasure and stop playing around."

"It's okay to like other stuff."

"One of the most important ingredients for a great sex life is curiosity and a willingness to explore."

Resources Shared in This Episode

Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel

Mating in Captivity TED Talk, Esther Perel

Action Steps from the Podcast

Explore different ways of being in your body and connecting sexually with yourself and/or with your partner.

Esther Perel Reflection Activity

Take a piece of paper (or use your computer) and draw a line down the middle (creating two columns).

Write "Love" at the top of the left column and write down your first responses to the following questions.

"Love is..."

"When I think of love, I think of..."

"When I love, I feel..."

"When I am loved I feel..."

"In love, I look for..."

"I wish I experienced love as..."

On the top of the right column write "Sex" and write your immediate associations to the following prompts.

"Sex is..."

"When I think of sex, I think of..."

"When I desire, I feel..."

"When I am desired I feel..."

"In sex, I look for..."

"I wish I experienced sex as..."

Now take a few minutes to look at your responses. Notice any similarities? Notice any differences? How do you feel after looking at your lists? Do you wish you had different responses?

Your Swoon hosts

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sexuality counselor and communication consultant specializing in healthy boundaries, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity. She supports non-traditional couples all over the world as a retreat leader and certified relationship coach.
Connect with Gina

Julie Jeske, LPC is a sex and relationship counselor. She has a private practice where she helps clients increase intimacy, ignite passion and deepen their connection to themselves and others. Julie especially loves to help women discover who they are sexually. Through counseling, online classes, or in-person retreats; her clients learn how to talk about their sexual and relationship desires, and explore ways to make them a reality.
Connect with Julie

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

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What Couples Who Still Have Great Sex Do Differently

sex after marriage | passion long-term relationships | desire fatigue

Yes, it's totally common to have desire fatigue set in when you've been together a long time. The more comfortable you get (which is a good thing) the more energy you need to put into keeping the passion alive.  

But where do you direct that energy? How do you actually shift things back in the direction of desire?

Couples who keep things sex long-term have a few key things to teach us. Overall there are five ways they focus energy in their sex lives that keeps the momentum flowing.  


Couples who report long-term sexual satisfaction do one thing a lot of others miss. They share fond memories of previous sexual encounters with each other. That might sound like any of these:

  • "The way you kissed me last night was really hot."
  • "Remember the time we did it on the beach at your parent's condo? I'd love to re-live something sneaky like that again."
  • "I was just thinking about the first time you spanked me and it made me smile."

Reminiscing isn't the same as giving feedback or making requests. It's simply sharing fond memories of things that worked well for you.  It's food for thought.

    Highlights Reel

    Couples who still love making love often have a solid practice of sharing what I call a highlights reel after sexual contact. Shortly after they finish they share a few specific highlights that worked well for them.  

    These might include:

    • "Oh my god it was so hot when you pulled my hair."
    • "I couldn't tell what you were doing with your fingers this time... but something about the beat and the circles you were using really worked for me."
    • "I loved watching your face when you climaxed tonight. It's such an incredible turn on to know you're so comfortable with me."

    In addition to giving positive feedback to your partner, this helps them more confidently build a repertoire of acts to draw from in the future. If you clearly let them know a few favorites you there's less to be confused about.

    Play by Play

    Relationships with long-lasting passion talk more during sex than others. Period.

    Let go of the fantasy your partner can/should/will read your mind and intuit your desires. That just will not last the test of time as your bodies and desires grow and change. 

    This doesn't necessarily mean dirty talk or roleplay (though you can incorporate those) but it does mean positive feedback and positive re-directs in the heat of the moment. Even if you can only manage a few words, try talking during the act. Here are a couple phrases to try:

    • "Yes!  Keep going."
    • "Don't stop what you're doing with your mouth!"
    • "More pressure. Just like that!!"

    Not only are you giving feedback but this is a way of building your consent practices to make sure you're on the same page about what you're doing and what you want to do. The converse of this is to ask more often during sex:

    • "How is this position for you?"
    • "Do you want more of my hand inside you?"
    • "Can I go faster?"

    Getting clear on what's working and what you both want helps you stay on the same page.

    Shared Fantasy

    Finally, couples who report a satisfying long-term sexual connection share fantasies openly. This means they're both brave enough to be vulnerable and share their desires, AND their partner is compassionate and empathetic when hearing them. 

    Again, these are not requests, but ideas.  They might sound like this:

    • "I've always had this idea that dressing up in matching tuxedos and going commando would be really hot."
    • "Sometimes I daydream about eating chocolate off your body."
    • "I think you'd look hot tied to the bed."
    • "I don't know if I ever want to try this, but I have secretly loved gay porn so long, I sometimes imagine you with other men."

    These are not requests. Only statements about what is and might be hot. It's really important for the receiving partner not to fee pressure in the moment to figure out how to (or if) they could fulfill these desires. Only to honor them in the moment.  

    It's also really important these desires are received without judgment or laughter.  There's nothing wrong with having fantasies (in fact, they're very healthy).  Being able to share them openly with a partner increases trust and often desire between you.  Here are some options for responses:

    • "Wow.  I can tell you're super into that."
    • "I'm so glad you told me. Let's talk more about it after I have time to do a little research."
    • "Ooooh.  Let me think about how I could make something like that work for us."

    Maybe there's some part of these fantasies you'd be into.  SIt with them, honor them and be careful not to yuck your partner's yums.  Sharing openly is far more important than ever acting on all of the fantasies you hold.

    How to make these first four tips work for you:

    • keep it specific - "that time in Chicago was nice" gives a lot less information than "The time in Chicago was so hot because you came first."

    • keep it positive - focus on any little thing you liked or found hot

    Why they work so well:

    • you're practicing getting vulnerable with each other by sharing these intimate details

    • you're giving feedback about what works so you can possibly replicate at another time

    • you're fueling sexual chemistry by focusing on what works for you

    • you're improving both your sexual confidence by identifying strengths

    Finally: Investing in Personal Passion 

    Most long-term couples desire wanes because they stop investing in their personal passions, friendships, creative pursuits, and desires. Over time these fall away as we focus on building our shared life, home, and family with someone. 

    But when these are out of balance it is really difficult to feel sexy.  Think about when and where you feel confident and/or sexy.  Make a list of the factors that contribute to those sexy times.  Then commit with your partner to investing in those confdent and sexy individual pursuits. 

    Here's an example from one of my clients (offered with permission):

    Her: "I feel most confident when I'm on the dance floor with my girlfriends.  I like getting dressed up, having a fancy cocktail and getting swung around to salsa music. I love the confidence of proud lead dancers, the feeling of the beat, and the change of pace when I put that kind of energy into looking good.  I usually wear my good underwear, a cute dress, I do my hair... I don't do any of those things on a regular basis!"

    Him: "I feel most confident when I've been running regularly.  Like I feel better at work, at home- everywhere if I've gotten a few miles in each day.  I notice my head is held higher and I'm in a better mood. I'm not sure it's 'sexy' but I feel like I get more done and feel better so getting laid is a higher priority when I work out. I also feel really confident at work.  I like being in charge and feel great because I'm usually the only one in the room who knows my specialty.  I am kind of an expert on [this thing] and people come to me for advice."

    Think about the situations and factors that fuel your more passionate self and find a way to build those situations into your life on a more regular basis.  

    passion after marriage | sex coach portland relationship coach

    Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

    • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
    • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
    • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
    • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
    • change communication & codependent patterns
    • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

    I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

    Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    Why You're Not Having Sex: Desire Maintenance

    sex therapist portland sex counselor desire and passion in relationship

    Desire fatigue (diminishing passion over time) is SUPER common in long-term relationships, but it doesn't have to be.  

    I'm using this series to outline the simplest ways to overcome the most common reasons couples stop having sex. CLICK HERE to read the full series.

    In this video we'll talk about desire maintenance- how to fuel the desire within you so you can keep it happening between you.  Watch here:

    Enter your information below to get access to my full toolkit for Sexual Desire in Relationships.

    Name *

    If you want to talk more about keeping desire alive in your relationship schedule a free call with me.  I'd love to hear from you.


    2. Biology

    3. Time Scarcity

    4. Lack of Self-Care

    5. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

    6. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

    7. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

    8. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

    9. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

    10. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

    11. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

    12. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

    13. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

    14. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

    15. Alone Time


    Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

    • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • break unhealthy communication patterns 
    • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

    Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.


    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    Why You're Not Having Sex: Biology

    poly therapist portland sex therapist | couples counseling for sexuality

    This is part of a series of posts about sex and desire in long-term relationships.  CLICK HERE to read the full series.

    Today I want to point out the first thing I talk with couples about when they bring up desire fatigue as a concern: biology.  

    There are so many easy-to-resolve ways biology can be a part of the desire fatigue it's difficult to list them all, but here are a few examples:

    • Depression medications imbalance can lead to lower libido and emotional numbness- resulting in lower desire.
    • Heart problems can make the cardio workout of sexual activity and the blood flow required for arousal and erection a challenge and sometimes even an impossibility. 
    • Digestive issues can make people feel less sexually-inclined and can negatively impact mental health thus lowering libido.  
    • Pelvic pain is FAR more common than anyone seems to realize, and this kind of pain isn't often the kind folks seek out in pain play- it usually is a desire crusher.
    • Chronic pain can be a barrier to comfort and body-mind connection, and as a result can make the body-mind connection necessary to have sex a real challenge.
    • Fatigue and stress are far too often underestimated in our culture (they impact more of us than we realize) and can make it very difficult to have satisfying sexual connection with ourselves or others.

    This is just a tiny snapshot of ways physical health impacts sexual health.  Before you start thinking "there's just something wrong with me" check with your naturopath, doctor, and acupuncturist.  

    I know most people rarely talk about this aspect of their health when they see a provider- but it is a critical part of your well-being, and they often have possible solutions for you.  

    If you haven't already, check with your medical provider to see if there's not some assistance they can give you to improve sexual function.

    If you're not willing to talk to a medical provider ask yourself why not.  If you aren't sure how they will react you might want to seek out a different provider.  

    If you feel nervous and want to talk through how to have talk with them, check out this tool I created to help guide you through your conversation.  

    Or give me a call, I'm happy to talk you through any challenge.

    As I said, this is just one of many possible shifts you could try to make sustainable change in your sex life.  Read on in the series for more:


    1. Biology

    2. Time Scarcity

    3. Lack of Self-Care

    4. Maintenance Sex - Break Free of Obligation

    5. Lack of Inspiration - Invest in Creativity, Wonder and Awe

    6. Assumption-Making - Get Curious and Explore

    7. Initiation Hesitation - Live Courageously and Circle Back

    8. Lacking Feedback - Highlights Reel

    9. Poor Consent Practices - Talk During

    10. Sex Negativity - Don't Yuck Their Yum

    11. Routine Boredom - Fantasy Sharing, Find Inspiration

    12. Necessary Repairs - Move Past Resentment with Apology and Personal Responsibility

    13. Desire Maintenance - Invest in Your Sexiness

    14. Alone Time

    portland sex therapy, sex therapist portland oregon couples counseling polyamory

    Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

    • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
    • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
    • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
    • break unhealthy communication patterns 
    • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

    Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.


    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    Sexual Desire Mismatch in Relationships

    sexual desire in relationships | desire mismatch

    Mismatched desire might be the most common issue I see in my couples work.   Estimates show nearly a third of all couples have issues with sex drives that are out of sync.  So many couples I see have been working through sex drive mismatch for years.

    While this is extremely common most of us worry this means something more is wrong with our relationship.  Often desire mismatch creates a rift in relationships due to the resulting emotions we experience. 

    Typically a higher desire partner feels rejected and experiences guilt, shame, resentment, bitterness, and anger.  They might feel inadequate and insecure and these feelings can spill over into many other areas of the relationship- creating distance and conflict.

    Frequently the lower desire partner feels extreme pressure (even if not intended by their partner) to increase their desire.  They feel similar emotions (shame, guilt, anxiety, resentment, or bitterness) and often express these by distancing from (their partner and/or sex)- only reinforcing the initial sexual disconnect.

    These feelings are enhanced by our media culture’s (often completely misguided) advice columns on how to please your spouse.  Often this advice feels inauthentic and is completely unsustainable.  When couples get stuck trying this ill-informed advice it can lead them to feel even more hopeless and stuck.

    When I work with couples with significant disconnect the solution starts from a pretty non-sexual place.  We really need to focus on understanding, acceptance, and connection without focusing completely on sex. 

    This is also where my holistic training is especially helpful.  Sexuality is a fluid and changing part of ourselves.  Our sex drive is no different.  It waxes and wanes through our life and throughout the day depending on our stress, physical health, addiction, connection, confidence, self-connection, trust, and conflict (among other factors). 

    When we look at these sort of environmental factors impacting our sex lives, often there are structural changes we can make to create a more supportive environment for sexual connection, affection, and sex. 

    Once we have a baseline of mutual understanding, acceptance, and connection and an environment that supports healthy sexuality most of the couples I work with start to see shifts in sexual connection between them without a lot of work or effort. 

    Even if the frequency of sex doesn’t change my couples describe greater satisfaction with their connection and less pressure, stress, and conflict around sex (and life in general).

    If you’d like to get together to talk about sexual desire mismatch in your relationship I’m happy to support you.  Give me a call for a free consultation.  Let’s talk. 


    Gina Senarighi | Polyamory Counseling | Desire Mismatch

    Gina Senarighi offers non-judgmental sex-positive, gender-affirming, LGBTQ relationship support online and in the Pacific Northwest. 

    She often says, “I love love, in all its forms!”

    She’s helped thousands of couples deepen their sexual connection, repair trust, and build sustainable lasting partnerships.

    She uses her multi-disciplinary professional training to teach communication skills and help her clients handle conflict with compassion.

    Gina has supported many couples experimenting with open relationships based in trust and integrity. If you’re considering polyamory you should check out her online resources here.

    Although most of her couples are experimenting with less traditional relationship structures, even her more mainstream clients appreciate her open-minded non-judgmental approach and diverse expertise.

    If you’re interested in taking this work further contact her for a free consultation.