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Let’s talk about that uncomfortable topic that everyone is afraid to bring up—the decline of sexual desire in a long-term relationship.
It’s not uncommon for relationships to go through seasons where the passion dwindles. Sometimes, it’s just life, stress, or outside factors that cause it to dissipate.
But what happens when the desire comes to a crashing halt because of a broken promise?
Promises broken are like a gap in an electrical circuit of connection. The flow is halted, and nothing gets turned on.
You may resonate with the scenario of your partner promising to do something and then they just don’t follow through. They may even appear to be helpful and say they will take some of your load and do tasks for you, then simply forget. Topped by annoyance when you mention it, despite you never being the one to ask for it in the first place.
The broken promises stack up, and before you know it, you’re left in a parenting role while the partner in your life is stuck in a child-like ego state with enough tumbling blocks of promises worthy of a toddler’s playtime.
This parent-child dynamic puts a strain on your relationship. It can leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated, and them feeling like they can never please you no matter what they do. Eventually, natural adult-to-adult sexual desire that used to exist slowly fizzles out, and you find yourself feeling more like a caretaker than a lover.
When someone breaks a promise, they lose accountability and integrity. And let’s face it, integrity is a quality that we crave in relationships as it is closely linked to trust, authenticity, open communication, dependability, reliability, mutual respect, and boundaries. When a person lacks integrity, it can be a real turn-off. It’s hard to maintain respect when the person you love can’t keep their word or follow through on commitments.
So, what can you do to reignite that passion if you are the one in the child ego state? Start by holding yourself accountable and making small promises that you know you can keep.
It’s important to stick to your word, no matter what. It’s all about building trust with your partner. Additionally, communication is key. If you’re feeling like you’re doing all the work in the relationship, speak up and let your partner know. Find ways to work together toward common goals and share responsibilities.
Finally, it’s important to remember that life is unpredictable. Sometimes even the best-laid plans fall apart. Be willing to forgive your partner when they slip up and recommit to building a solid foundation of trust and integrity in your relationship.
This way of being navigates away from the parent-child dynamic that occurs when one partner takes on a “parenting” role, reminding, scolding, and nagging the other partner who ends up feeling like a child in a self-reinforcing loop. It is evident that the partner who takes on the “parenting” role loses respect and attraction for their partner, while the partner who is being “parented” often feels emasculated and resentful.
The “parent” partner becomes more frustrated and resentful and their desire for their partner decreases, while the “child” partner becomes less confident and less likely to initiate sex.
So, what can you do to break this cycle if you are in the parent role?
The first step is to recognize if this dynamic is happening in your relationship. If your partner consistently fails to follow through on their promises, it’s definitely a possibility.
The next step is to communicate with your partner about the impact of their behavior on your relationship. Use “I” statements to describe how it makes you feel. For example, “When you don’t do what you say you will, it makes me feel like I can’t count on you, and it’s hard for me to feel attracted to you.”
From there, it’s important to work on rebuilding accountability and integrity in your relationship. This means setting clear expectations, being honest about what you can and can’t do, and following through on your promises. It means owning up to mistakes and apologizing when necessary. It may also mean seeking outside help, such as couples therapy, to work on communication and trust.
As you work on rebuilding trust and accountability, it’s important to also focus on rebuilding intimacy and desire. This might mean setting aside intentional time for each other, whether it’s a date night or a weekend away. It might mean trying new things in the bedroom and prioritizing physical touch and connection.
It takes effort and intentionality, but it’s absolutely possible to reignite the flames of desire in your relationship once you can maintain that adult-to-adult connection and rebuild your relationship circuitry.