♥Bonding behaviors => decreased libido?

Submitted by qwertie on
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My partner and I started with various bonding behaviors several months ago. We made an attempt at the Exchanges, although we quit at Exchange 14 or so, for various reasons. But we kept doing different bonding stuff more or less daily.

When we first started with the bonding behaviors, I got aroused - even from just lying down and holding hands. It was the kind of pink-fluffy-falling-in-love feeling. Didn't take it further, I just relaxed and enjoyed the moment. But I did look forward to the intercourse exchange.

However, nowadays my lust is completely gone. I still love stroking or massaging my partner on his back / head / chest / feet / wherever, and I love it when he touches me. It's just that that's enough and I have no desire to be sexually connected with him. I haven't been aroused for a few months and now that we have taken up the Exchanges again I dread the intercourse exchange...

Is this normal? What can I do to increase my lust?


First, I would say that anything you dread is not going to have a great outcome, especially something like sex which is all about enjoyment and pleasure.

I do have some additional thoughts to share but there are a few gaps in your description of your experience and it would helpful to have some more info before say more. You said you quit the exchanges for various reasons, what were they? Also, you were looking forward to intercourse and then your sexual desire disappeared. What happened? How did you get from one place to pretty much the opposite position. Is this something new or has it been a longer standing pattern between you and your partner? Its unusual for sexual desire to up and evaporate unless something else underlying is going on, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental. Something inside yourself or something between the both of you. Please share more.

Thanks for your replies

I tried to make a long story short but I guess it became too short.

The main reason why we quit the exchanges was frustration. Partly, I suppose, because my partner missed masturbation. Also, we both read the Exchanges in Marnia's book, and he didn't like the way it was written (Marnia's assuming that everyone would be all over each other, reaching into each other's under wear etc, plus what he called mumbo jumbo about electromagnetic fields and energy and all that). His frustration was obvious and made me frustrated and irritable. So we decided to stop.

After some time, we agreed that most of the exchanges were quite pleasant and if I 'translated' or censored some of the stuff he wanted us to try it again.

My partner respects me and we both agree on staying away from conventional sex, at least for a while (I do want him to have an orgasm again after we have done all the exchanges. Then we’ll see how we continue). There is no heating each other up or any such activities, only calm and relaxed, comforting touch. And I don't think it has to do with menopause - I'm 30.

I don't really know what happened, why my sexual desire is gone. In my previous relationships my lust disappeared and I got bored after having sex a couple times, but that's explainable. Now, I don't know. I'm just really happy with what we have. It's nice and cosy and his comforting touch makes me feel safe. I love that. I enjoy every moment of it. And I kind of don't need nor want more.

Mumbo Jumbo

I had the same reaction to the Exchanges and I posted about them here: http://www.reuniting.info/node/4347 . And we didn't do them. But that thread was a really good one in terms of useful information for me - and I hope others. We continued to do what worked for us, and it's still working for us, but we are still learning and experimenting and trying new things.

Part of all of this seems to be an ongoing exercise in being open to new (neural?) pathways to giving and receiving love - along with feelings that I/we don't have words to describe in our regular technical language. I couldn't do the exchanges as-is because I couldn't be sincere in going along with the mumbo jumbo. But what I could do is let my inner conversation go quiet, and if only for a few minutes at a time, relax just a little more with each breath and just stay present and open with the loving feelings I have for my partner. A kind of meditation without the "om". And it was then that I experienced things that I do not have clear, specific words for - a sense of there being an actual connection that flows "energy" (bio-electricity?) between us that we can't easily access without moist genital connection. When I asked my partner to try the no-moving, no erection, no arousal Karezza ( as in Exchange 15), I fully expected to feel nothing more than holding hands would give us - and was astounded when the feelings that I had were deep and peaceful and in my minds eye - glowed with love and connection with my partner.


"I am learning to trust my instincts, rather than struggle too hard with reason ... because reason can get buried in misinformation, or too much information; and it can lack the miracle of love.” Jan Denise

my feeling exactly

Quiz, you have expressed so well what I have struggled to put into words. Jesse

... what I could do is let my inner conversation go quiet, and if only for a few minutes at a time, relax just a little more with each breath and just stay present and open with the loving feelings I have for my partner. A kind of meditation without the "om". And it was then that I experienced things that I do not have clear, specific words for - a sense of there being an actual connection that flows "energy" (bio-electricity?) between us ... and was astounded when the feelings that I had were deep and peaceful and in my minds eye - glowed with love and connection with my partner.


Sounds like you're content.

Is your partner unhappy?

I guess my understanding of the principle behind karezza is that it increases feelings of wholeness. That is, it helps promote a feeling that nothing is...missing, and yet with a desire to share the good feelings with another, or even to nurture him/her with loving receptiveness/energy.

In contrast, lust, if you think about it, it a sense of lack. You want to get something, usually pretty intensely. Wink

So if you've arrived at a comfortable nurturing place and both of you feel okay with it, then enjoy it. You can also experiment with just lying naked in scissors position with genitals touching. Even if you don't feel it's necessary, it may help him feel the connection more profoundly.

Sorry about the mumbo-jumbo. No book can be all things to all people, and yet I think the potential for this sustainable, harmonious connection lies in all of us, so I tried to explain the concept in a lot of different terminology throughout the book. Unfortunately, scientists haven't yet learned how to measure what's going on at a subtle energy level, but I didn't want to foreclose the possibility that people would feel those subtler flows even though we don't have scientific language for them yet. So the only option was mumbo-jumbo. Smile

Yes, I am content...

But is he? I don't think so. I think that he lacks something. After all, this stuff about non orgasmic sex is new to him and he doesn't really like the idea, although he wants to give it an honest try. Yet I don't think that he can let go of his old patterns that "the purpose of sex is ejaculation and ejaculation is good".

Quiz - that's exactly how I try to do myself and try to explain it to my partner. He doesn't have to pretend to see any electromagnetic fields: it's enough to just focus completely on what's going on. That's it. It may, or may not, be easier to focus if you imagine that you send love (or loving energy) to your partner with every breath, or try to feel the love they are sending.

Marnia - Yes, lust could be defined as desire for something you don't have. As for myself, at this point, I don't have the desire to be sexually connected with my partner. However, when we first started with bonding behaviors, I looked forward to the intercourse exchanges. I liked the thought of getting there, slowly, taking one step at the time. Now... If I imagine us lying naked in the scissors position... I have no desire whatsoever to go there. Actually, I'd rather not. And it bothers me that I feel this way.

Oh well, I suppose I should just go on with the Exchanges. And who knows, if I expect to feel nothing more than holding hands would give me, I may be surprised. Or I will just feel as I do when we hold hands, which is pretty amazing too. Thank you, Quiz!


Unless a solution is working for him too, it's not really a solution. My one constructive(?) thought is that you somehow got ahead of yourselves, perhaps with orgasmic sex or something else that rippled someone's neurochemistry...creating that "attraction-repulsion" cycle.

If you back way up to the level of intimacy that feels good to you, but make sure it is shared, and then create a program like the Exchanges (that puts off intercourse for a couple of weeks) in order to tiptoe forward together, you may feel more receptive by the time you get to intercourse.

We actually went through the Exchanges a couple of times due to libidos going out of sync after things overheated. This is recounted in our book, too, by the way. After a time, we found that even backing up for a few days of concerted, selfless affection (with no "goal") was enough to put us back into "satisfaction mode."

thanks for sharing so much

thanks for sharing so much of your personal experience. It gives me a better idea of where you and your partner are coming from. I sigh a bit to hear about the different places you and your man are in. This can be really hard sometimes. I hear that you feel content but my experience is that one is never really content knowing the other is not. Of course the question is, how can you bridge the gap between where you both are individually and come together on the same page. Sometimes we need to have space but sometimes the space just creates distance. How can you honor yourself while finding a place to meet your partner? Tough questions.

You say one thing that strikes me, and that is, that it bothers you that you have no interest in being sexual with your partner. I'm going to read between the lines here and say that it sounds like it bothers you and you'd like to get past it somehow or at least let it lie. In serving the growth of your relationship I suggest you don't let it lie, dig down and find out what's going on. It sounds to me like something needs to heal in you to reach a place where you can be receptive and open sexually again. Whether is something your man has done or continues to do, or something from your deeper past, explore it the best you can, bring it out in the open and see if you can work through it with your partner. Being sexually open with ones partner is a natural and nurturing place. When this breaks down there is a reason for it. Find that reason, know it and acknowledge it and I believe the beginnings of true healing can take place. The exchanges, or whatever version of them you come up with are great healing and nurturing tools but what you trying to heal needs to be known, especially if the cause is still ongoing.

Hope this helps. Its tough to understand the essence of what a couple is struggling with through an on line chat group. I follow my intuition from what you say and hope some of what I say strikes a cord.


Marnia - Thanks for your suggestions. It probably is a good idea to back up a bit, repeat some exchanges and invent a couple of our own.
I know I haven't engaged in orgasmic sex, since I haven't had any interest in sex for some time... And my partner... I don't think so. We have both agreed on staying away from it and we have agreed to be honest about our mistakes, rather than pretending they didn't happen. And there has been far less tension between us since we made this decision and started this journey (not that we ever argued much, but there is a difference). But what do I know? I could be wrong of course.

Darryl - Wow! You're a mind reader, aren't you? You are so right about... well, everything.
I do want to get over my lack of interest. Thinking about it rationally, I want our relationship to be complete, including sharing this deeply intimate experience. But wanting to feel something only makes it more difficult to really feel it.
I realize now that you're right about there being something that needs to heal. Which is also the very reason why I found this site and bought Marnia's book in the first place. It has helped me to accept that certain things have happened and nothing can change that, and I understand somehow why they did happen. But I suppose that a part of me still is hurt and I doubt this wound will ever heal completely.
I had hoped that the exchanges would make it better, which they did in the beginning, but after a while I became sort of too comfortable. I'm happy with what I have, but a part of me is not happy with being happy for that.

Thank you all for your replies. You have given me a lot to think about.

Good luck

and let us know how you're doing from time to time. I'm sure you're not alone in your situation. Any insights you gain are likely to help others here, too.

Maybe if you don't try to

Maybe if you don't try to force it, it will come back. In my experience it is rather common for female libido to significantly fluctuate over time - even from considerable levels to virtually zero, and vice versa.