Sex advice with Suzi Godson: Can sexual chemistry develop over time?

Good relationships need to provide a mix of emotional, sexual and intellectual stimulation, says Suzi Godson.

Q. I’ve got a boyfriend now after a long period on my own. We’re highly compatible, have the same sense of humour. I just wish I fancied him more. 

Sex is a real effort and I am already finding excuses to avoid it. Can sexual chemistry develop over time or am I in the wrong relationship?

A. Chemistry can certainly develop over time. We know that because arranged marriages depend on it. However, men and women who go into arranged marriages are generally prepared to wait for those feelings to reveal themselves. 

Many of us dismiss the idea of such marriages because we prefer the idea of control over our romantic destiny, yet we actually leave the entire thing to chance, or fate.

The terminology often used for romantic love feels quite outdated to me — we are “swept off our feet” or we “fall head over heels”. 

Falling in love is not a fantasy. Sexual chemistry really is an intangible force. 

It defies definition, yet when we encounter it, it is unmistakable. 

It certainly feels chemical; like a rush of an intoxicating drug. It can be utterly overwhelming, but it can also be unreliable. 

I can’t count the number of times I have felt very attracted to someone I don’t know very well, yet I can count the number of times I have been properly in love on about three fingers.

The fact that it is possible to have chemistry with people who are completely wrong for you makes it a much more inconsistent measure of relationship potential than, for example, how well you get on with someone. Yet compatibility without passion is problematic. 

The American psychologist Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, the three core elements for “consummate” or complete love are, intimacy, passion and commitment. 

While it is perfectly feasible to have a happy, equal relationship based on intimacy and commitment, a relationship without sexual chemistry is likely to lack the passion to sustain your interest. 

On the other hand, a relationship that contains lots of sexual chemistry and emotional intimacy might be terribly romantic and exciting, but without commitment it will not last.

If you like him as a person, but you really don’t fancy him, why aren’t you just friends? 

You should take the time to sit down and really think about why you want to be with this man.

Ultimately, good relationships need to provide a mix of emotional, sexual and intellectual stimulation, and if you are incompatible in even one of those areas, the relationship will struggle. 

At such an early stage in a new relationship you should be deeply attracted to each other, not finding excuses to avoid sex.

You use the word “effort”. Is your boyfriend simply inexperienced? If so, guidance might be all it takes. 

If the effort relates to sexual difficulties such as delayed ejaculation, confronting the problem and asking him to see a sex therapist would help. 

However, if the thought of having to educate or support your boyfriend to overcome these issues isn’t something that you feel willing to do, you have your answer.

Sexual chemistry adds a sprinkle of fairy dust, but the ultimate test of any relationship is how much you actually care. 

If you don’t, you should get out now, for his sake and yours.

* Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com 


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