During my years in the sex industry as a male escort, I frequently found myself in situations where clients had recently gone through separations or were contemplating it. In most cases, the process was gradual and driven by various factors, but differing sexual needs was often one of the most significant.
Reflecting on the breakdown of my marriage, my academic background in behavioural science, and my more recent experiences as a sex worker, I now believe I can offer a distinctive perspective on how to bridge what can easily become an irreparable divide.
Meaningful adult relationships thrive on a dynamic exchange of emotions, and genuine friendships often become romantic.
But even though we acquire the skills to peacefully resolve everyday conflicts in childhood, the dynamics change as we mature and committed, monogamous relationships introduce a whole new set of challenges.
We all desire enduring and loving partnerships, but as life progresses and we navigate its myriad of challenges, far more intricate emotions emerge that are difficult to discuss and one of the hardest to broach is our sexual needs.
Watch: Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle Otten shares sex tips for couples. Post continues after video.
It's an undeniable fact that life can gradually become routine and mundane over time. That exhilarating new job you once had may transform into a monotonous grind, children consume most of your free time, and life can lose its spark.
It's no surprise then that when we finally have a moment to ourselves, we gravitate toward our own simple pleasures to cope. Almost unconsciously, we reach for our phones, turn on the TV, and mindlessly click and scroll away our free time in silence, with our partner probably doing the same. As these routines persist, that special person in your life can start to feel more like a housemate as communication dwindles and that vibrant mental connection you once shared can quickly erode into sporadic small talk and uneventful early nights.
That's ok though. It’s entirely normal and, as I mentioned above - very common. I vividly recall falling into this routine when I was a stay-at-home dad, yearning for attention. I'd watch the clock, longing for my wife to return home to acknowledge my efforts. The sacrifices I made often felt unreciprocated, and the only validation I craved - that of sexual intimacy - quickly became a huge issue as my partner would return, similarly exhausted and overworked, and sex became almost non-existent.
So, how do we address this issue? Firstly, I think it's important to acknowledge that a person's sex drive is a facet of their personality. Some of us love it while others rarely even consider it. Therefore, if possible, try not to take rejections too personally, and try not to feel guilty for not always being 'up for it'. Also, be conscious of the fact that libidos plummet under stress and soar during success, so when you feel ready to discuss any problems you're having with your partner, ensure that both of you are calm, receptive, and free from distractions.
Effective communication is the key but choose the right moment to discuss your feelings. I used to broach the topic with my wife in the morning, gently inquiring if there might be an opportunity for some fun that night. I felt that this approach allowed me to express my desire early while also giving her the freedom to decide without any pressure. Over time though, we realised that her huge work load was the root cause of our intimacy struggles and this; I have since learned, is also very common. I adapted by readjusting my expectations and did what I could to give her the mental space she needed. I made efforts to alleviate her mental load, and eventually we found more time for each other and it was a huge step forward. If this resonates with you and you find yourself feeling unappreciated, overworked or pressured to show affection when you don't feel like it, speak up and tell your partner what might help you otherwise nothing will change. In fact, it will probably get worse.
Bring your sexy back.
How do you feel about yourself? Many of my clients described feeling 'invisible' - reduced to being a chauffeur, chef, and story book reader. As an escort, I experienced anxiety many times if I felt unattractive or depressed, but I knew I couldn't afford to fail. Eventually, I learnt that taking the time to pamper and appreciate myself had a profound impact on my confidence. If it feels right, maybe consider involving your partner too. Ask them if they have any preferences regarding your grooming and even suggest they have a bit of a trim as well if that's something you'd appreciate. Small gestures on their part may be all it takes to reignite your interest, and if they're anything like me, they'll do whatever it takes to be with you.
Listen to Sealed Section where Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle gives some great advice about dating and having sex in your 40s and beyond, like how to combat nerves and dryness. Post continues after audio.
Take small, simple steps.
Finally, don't let another night of tension pass without addressing it. It's not easy, but if you crave appreciation, be explicit and specific. Start by focusing on the little things though - maybe just a cuddle in front of the TV, or even just a heartfelt hug and kiss to start the day. Many men don't understand how important simple displays of affection are, so make it as straightforward as possible and communicate your needs clearly. Take control and let your partner assist you in rekindling that loving relationship and I'm sure that slowly, and given a bit of patience, you'll achieve a balance that satisfies both of you.
Feature Image: Supplied.
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