How does sex change in relationships?


Sexual dynamics in relationships can change due to various factors such as stress, childbirth, and long-term bonding. Shane Parrish explores these themes in different episodes of "The Knowledge Project".

  1. Stress Impact: Emily Nagoski discusses how stress commonly affects sexual interest. The "dual control mechanism" in the brain, which balances sexual accelerators and brakes, can be significantly impacted by stress, usually reducing sexual interest. Relationships facing reduced sexual activity might consider this a sign to explore underlying stress factors or changes within the relationship itself, such as adjustments in work or personal life pressures 1.

  2. Parenthood Effects: The arrival of children can profoundly transform a couple's sexual relationship, usually leading to a decrease, primarily due to increased fatigue and responsibility. Sue Johnson explains how parents often struggle to balance the need for emotional connection with the demands of parenting. This shift can strain the relationship if not managed with mutual understanding and support 2.

These discussions indicate that changes in sexual dynamics are often symptoms of broader transformations within personal lives and relationships. Conversations and mutual support are key to managing these shifts.

Stress and Sex

Emily explains how stress can affect sexual interest and connection in a relationship, and offers tips on how to have a conversation with your partner about it. She introduces the concept of "sleepy hedgehogs" as a metaphor for the accumulated hurt feelings and misunderstandings that can stand between partners, and suggests ways to manage them with kindness and compassion.

The Knowledge Project

Emily Nagoski — The Knowledge Project #66