One study found that on average 60% of folks say they crave sleep more than sex. Burn out should not be normalised, but it's a reality of where we're at. When we're burnt out, pleasure and partnered intimacy is often one of the first things that slip. So often we miss out on opportunities for connection because we’re exhausted, because we had to work, because the world can be a tiring place to live in.
Often our minds create these stories that if we can't sign up for the full course meal of sex, don't even bother with the entree or a snack. So instead we opt for passive self care like mindlessly scrolling or watching tv. It creates and enforces this routine of disconnection to ourselves, our bodies and each other. We forget that there is so much more that exists between the stages of kissing and initiation to full blown (often penetrative) sex. We get lazy with our negotiation and communication skills because we forget how fun it can be to just make out for 10 mins. We forget how sensual it can be to just gaze into each other’s eyes for a few minutes. We forget how creative or connecting it can be to just have a good check-in about sex and plan for your next session - that in itself is a valuable form of intimacy. This is your reminder that you're allowed to have that snack.
With this of course, should be more conversations about emotional and physical capacity as well as boundaries and expectations. As relationships get longer, there is a learned expectation that sex should always be on the table and it should always be the end result, and that’s just boring. It leaves us feeling like we can’t just ask for a make-out session, that we can’t just connect for the purpose of connecting but that it has to achieve some larger milestone. It doesn’t meet us where we’re currently at which for many of us, it’s burnt out and disconnected.
Pleasure is generative. It’s co-regulating, it's fueling and it’s contagious. It gives us energy and joy, and when we connect with others in ways that leave us feeling seen and fulfilled, it’s soothing and enriching. While we're all taking steps to manage our work-life boundaries and self-care, we still need to showing up for our relationships.
These are my go-to suggestions for low energy intimacy, or even if you're just wanting to mix it up every now and then. Exploring other forms of physical intimacy de-centres penetrative sex, and it invites much needed creativity and novelty. Give it a go.
Eye-gazing or heart-holding
Plan your next play session
Lazy positions and go slow!
Set a time limit or rule to focus on specific body parts
Take a sex-related class together, like massage, tantra or kink
Talk about fantasies
Give the lower-energy partner permission to just receive for the night and be selfish
Sensual dance together
Do a naughty photo or video shoot
Take a mindful shower together
Explore new categories of porn
Bring back making out
Read erotic stories to each other