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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Column: The comfort zone

In a budding relationship, there are three important firsts: The first time you have sex, the first time you have good sex and the first time your good sex life dwindles into a lull.

The beginning is easy. Your partner consumes your thoughts, the kisses are electric and his or her touch has the power to shatter worlds.

Then maybe after a few days or so, you both decide sex is the obvious next step. So you ignore all the cautionary tales your parents have hammered into you about pregnancy, babies, STIs, marriage and burning in hell and you just go for it.

You’ll come to find you’re either a natural at the horizontal tango or that it’s off to a rocky start. But whether confident or shaky about sex, the phrase “practice makes perfect” does bode well, and you will experience better and better sex.

Hold on, though. Good moments like that don’t last forever. I hate to break it to you, but as the relationship grows, dramas will unfold, personalities will unveil and fights will happen.

With every strain in your once happy-go-lucky relationship, the sexcapades will soon begin to fade and – eventually – end altogether.

This is an unfortunate sexual recess – an awkward period of time when lust and desire have been replaced with things like trust and faithfulness as the foundations to your relationship.

I like to call this “the comfort zone.”

The comfort zone is that weird limbo in your relationship where you and your partner simply get used to having each other around. Sex isn’t a luxury anymore. Seeing your partner’s naked body no longer transforms you into the sexual beast you once were. That initial spark is no longer sparkling, the lust is no longer lusting and the sex is no longer existent.

Take my roommate Belle, for example. She and her boyfriend have been dating for like 100 years.

At first, she tells me, it was all sex all the time.

“We couldn’t get enough of each other,” she says, remembering the good ol’ lays.

Then something happened.

“I don’t really know,” she says. “Sex just wasn’t as passionate. We weren’t into each other as much, you know?”

Having fallen victim to the zone before, I knew what Belle was talking about. So I got to thinking. What is it exactly that kills the spark? What goes wrong? When it comes to relationships, how do we avoid the comfort zone?

Don’t get me wrong. The zone isn’t all bad. Come to think of it, a lot of value can come from it: deep, meaningful conversation, emotional attachment, discovery of similar interests, you name it. But what won’t come is … well, you.

If you think your relationship might be headed for the comfort zone or if you think you might already be in it, here’s some advice that may help you avoid or escape it:

For starters, don’t over-“do it.” (Awful pun, I know.) What went awry with a couple of my past romances (if they can even be called that) was a sudden dive into sex. After a while, I had to get to know the person I was in bed with.

To avoid that, don’t have too much sex so often – save it for later! A dry spell later in your relationship could result from simply too much sex in the beginning. Think of sex as a credit card: Don’t max it out too soon.

Another factor that led to my own comfort zone experience was a very regular schedule-like type of relationship.

Don’t let that happen to you. Get out of that routine you’re stuck in. Go on an impromptu formal date, grab a blanket and head to the park for a picnic – do anything unexpected. Spontaneity will keep you from falling into a boring day-to-day regimen and will ensure some room in the relationship for sexy time.

Lastly, remember why you started dating your partner in the first place. Once upon a time, before you and your partner took to your Facebook profiles and changed your relationship statuses from “single” to “in a relationship,” you had a little crush. He or she was sexy, right? You were intoxicated by his or her beauty, right?

Don’t forget about that. Remember how sexy your partner is and just fool around from time to time.

The comfort zone is best when avoided. Just because you’re getting to know your partner and you begin to create a meaningful and deep relationship doesn’t mean your sex life has to suffer. You deserve to fall in love and have great sex while you’re at it!

MARIO LUGO just might end the recession this weekend. Black Friday, here I come! E-mail him at mlugo@ucdavis.edu if you need a shopping buddy.

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