How do we put the spark back in our relationship?

Dear Lisa,

I’ve been living with my girlfriend for a couple of years and over that time it feels like the spark has started to go out. I still love her, in fact I’d say that since we’ve moved in together she’s become my best friend… but we aren’t tearing each other’s clothes off anymore.

My gut feeling is that we’ve kind of lost who we are, not that I can really explain it, but I know for myself, my life hasn’t been the same since we met. I mean, we’re good for each other, I know that. But I don’t know who I am anymore. I feel restless, like I need some time to do my own thing, but then I feel bored when I try and do it. The time we spend together isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be… everything is just sort of fucked. Do you know what I mean?

Just to be clear, I’m not looking for breakup advice – I want to be with her, and I want to stay as close as we are, but I want the spark back. Is that possible?

–Got a light? ( Nanaimo, BC)


Dear Got a light?,

Awesome question. Here’s my take. First, intimate partners should not be best friends. In my experience, sex – the chemistry, attraction and sexual tension – should be top priority in a romantic relationship. Of course you need connection and your own life to complete the love equation, but it’s the sex that differentiates what you’ve got with your lady from how you feel about your buddies. Sexual polarity is the term I use to describe this enigma, and as you’ve found, it will wane over time without some attention. Keeping things hot years into a committed relationship depends on knowing when and how to turn up the sexual polarity.

Let me clarify: when you and your woman first met you were very different from each other. You had slightly different ways of doing everything – from making a sandwich to making a large purchase decision. You were like two poles of a magnet, opposing forces that are undeniably attracted to one another.

Over time though, you’ve probably become more like those really weak magnets that slide down the fridge after a while. One of the reasons magnets stop sticking is because they become depolarized, in other words the stronger field effects the weaker field, effectively neutralizing the magnetism. In terms of sexual polarity, you have effected each other to the point where you’re so similar, you’re more like friends than lovers; you enjoy being together but the impulse to get it on is getting less.

The good news is, you can absolutely stop that from happening. The key to avoiding depolarization is to maintain the difference between you and your lady. On a primal level, it’s pretty simple: you have man parts and a man brain, she has lady parts and a lady brain. I know you’ve probably been told that we’re all one and equal… but it’s not true. Because of the hormones that course through your body as a man you are more focused, linear, driven and logical, whereas she is more chaotic, accommodating, sensorial and emotional. However, we both have tendencies to compromise our differences in the interest of connection, which is great sometimes, but bad for sexy times.

This dance between connecting with your lady, and staying different from each other is a huge topic, but what’s important here is that you learn to recognize when the polarity is diminishing, and how you can crank it back up.

Let’s look at some signs that you’re getting similar. My guess is, this is what you mean by losing yourself… From a man’s point of view, there are three signs that you and your woman are spending a little too much time connecting, and not enough time doing your own thing.

  1. You feel like you should be doing something else. I’m not talking about the check your six feeling that comes with defending your dissertation, or a deadline at work, but the flicker of fear you get when she suggests you spend the day together tomorrow. A definite sign that you’ve been neglecting your purpose to fill in for her bff.
  2. Your buddies don’t call you anymore. Right. Because you wouldn’t go out anyway. Who has time for beers after work when there’s dinner to be made, kids to cuddle, sleep to be had. Oh, and when was the last time you had sex?
  3. She’s too tired. Your woman is your barometer. If she’s too tired to have sex, she’s thinking too much, in other words, she’s overworking her man side. And she’s doing it because she’s worried that you aren’t.

As soon as you recognize any of the above signs (or all three, let’s face it) it is time to crank up the polarity. It might feel a little counter intuitive, because she’s probably telling you that you don’t spend enough time together, or that she doesn’t feel close to you… but what she needs is you to pull back and focus:

  1. Take some physical space. Tomorrow morning, get your ass out of bed before her, get your breakfast, kiss her and get out of the house. When you get home, kiss her, look in her eyes and ask her for a date on Saturday and then head for the shower. Do the dinner thing, and then go work toward whatever direction your life needs to go (this might mean you organize the shop, reconfigure your office, work on your application to music school – whatever it is you feel you are here to do)
  2. Take some you time. The next day, do the same thing, except rather than work on your purpose for the whole evening, take some time and do nothing. Play video games, work on your car, play your guitar. The point is to relax your mind into nothingness.
  3. Connect with your buddies. Once you’ve got some direction, and you’ve taken a break from the chaos, schedule some time to hang out and be social. This might take some planning, depending on your situation.

Now, I realize that I sound a little bit like Mr. Miyagi. But I’m not done. Obviously, part of the reason for all of this is so that you crave time with your lady (and that she craves you). More importantly though, is that you are doing enough with your life that you can truly relax and focus on her when the time comes. With women, time together is all about quality over quantity. If you can spend an hour or two with her where your attention is completely focused on her, that will satisfy her need for connection for DAYS, where watching tv together every night will just barely wet her whistle. Notice how much more calm your mind is when you’ve put your priorities in this order, and how your woman reacts.

The bottom line? Over the long term, your frame of mind is what creates waves or calms her waters. It’s like dominoes – taking care of your shit allows you to be completely present with your woman, which allows her to relax and surrender into your arms. Once she’s surrendered, it’s time to put sex back where it belongs.

I know it’s a lot, but it’s taken you time to get here. Let me know how things are going with a few weeks of practice.


– Lisa



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