Intimacy And Desire Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Intimacy And Desire uses case studies of couples in therapy to show how partners can turn their normal sexual struggles and issues with sexual desire into a journey of personal, spiritual, and psychological growth that leads to a stronger bond and deeper, healthier desires for each other.

Read in: 4 minutes

Favorite quote from the author:

Intimacy And Desire Summary

Are you feeling bored because you always have sex with your partner in the same ways? Do you feel like the passionate sparks in your relationship are starting to fizzle out? If so, you aren’t alone. 

It’s completely normal for committed long-term couples to struggle with keeping things passionate. It is entirely possible to love someone with all of your heart and still end up needing couples counseling for sex problems. After all, it can be hard to keep things exciting in the bedroom when you’re with the same person year after year. 

In Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship, clinical psychologist Dr. David Schnarch shares his secrets on keeping the passion alive even when you’re in a long-term relationship. Using case studies from real couples in sex therapy, he explains how couples can change their perspective to reawaken their sexual passion again.

Let’s see how much we can discover in just 3 lessons:

  1. Every relationship has a low desire partner and a high desire partner. 
  2. We tend to experiment less and less the longer we are in a relationship. 
  3. The best way to make sure you keep the passion alive is by creating a collaborative partnership when it comes to sex. 

Here we go!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Download PDF

Lesson 1: In each relationship, there will be a person who is a low desire partner and a person who is a high desire partner.

It’s common for people to believe that a good relationship won’t have any sexual desire problems. The author says that every committed relationship has these types of problems. This is because, in every relationship, there is both a high desire partner (HDP) and a low desire partner (LDP). 

Basically, this means one partner is going to want more sex than the other. Which person is which is relative to the other person. If you want it once a week and your partner wants it every day, you’re the LDP. But if you want it every week and your partner wants it every other week, you’re the HDP. But it’s important to note that these positions can change over time. 

This dynamic means that the LDP always has the power because they decide whether the sex the HDP wants happens or not. But contrary to what the HDP might think, they typically don’t enjoy this power. It usually comes with a burden because of the pressure they feel to perform. 

The author says that simply understanding that there is always both an LDP and HDP will help every relationship dealing with desire struggles. Understanding this helps stop both partners from worrying that there is something wrong with them. 

It’s common for couples in therapy to accuse each other of wanting too much sex or not enough, which puts those ideas to rest. So relax, because problems with desire happen in every relationship, no matter how good it is otherwise.

Lesson 2: As we get used to a relationship, sexual experimentation tends to slow down.

You lay in bed, and your partner starts rubbing your shoulders. Right away, you know that they want sex because this has been their cue since the beginning of your relationship. So you get geared up to go through the motions. 

The problem is that this starts to get routine and boring. Does this mean it’s time to spice things up in the bedroom? The author would say yes. But most people tend to be reluctant to change their sexual routine. 

Why? Because it keeps anxiety down. Trying out unfamiliar sexual acts usually makes people nervous. We’re not always comfortable with experimenting in this way, and we don’t know if it will work out. This is particularly true for people who have been together for a long time. It makes sense since they’ve kept things the same for the longest. 

Long-term partners inhabit what the author calls the comfort/safety cycle. They channel emotions into sexual behavior, and then it becomes routine. Sticking to it helps people feel secure. 

There isn’t anything wrong with familiar sex. But the problem is that when you only stay in your comfort zone, even little changes can be anxiety-inducing. Sometimes changes are necessary to improve a relationship. It will take time and effort at first, but stepping out of your comfort zone can keep the excitement alive.

Lesson 3: Make an effort to create a stronger collaborative alliance with your partner when it comes to sex.

The secret to reawakening intimacy with your partner lies in creating a strong collaborative alliance. This is an agreement that you will work together on your relationship. 

We know relationships change over time. When this happens, people sometimes drop their alliances. Maybe they are having issues with self-image, or they feel uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, people often stop working together and grow apart when they’ve been together for a long time. 

To build a physical alliance, you can create and repeat interactions that represent the partnership. One of the ways the author suggests doing this is by using a mindfulness technique known as “hugging until relaxed.” 

To do this, stand up, slow your breathing, and focus on your bodily sensations as you embrace your partner for ten minutes. This serves as a tangible way to represent the balance in your relationship. This time can help give you a chance to let go of any tension in your relationship while physically relaxing together. 

The author used this tactic for a couple who hadn’t had passionate sex for 19 years. The wife was nervous at any talk of sex. But after hugging daily like this five times a week, she gradually changed from tense to feeling good. Finally, she relaxed enough to make passionate love with her partner again. 

Building alliances can be hard at the beginning. But it’s all about working together, even when it’s hard at first. It’s crucial to find ways that you both can contribute to rekindling intimacy in your own way. Also, it’s always good to stay kind and patient.

Intimacy And Desire Review

I feel like a lot of what I learned from Intimacy And Desire should have been obvious to me way earlier in life. But it was nice to get that sort of “a-ha” moment to realize the truth to these ideas. And it was even better that this is all backed up by real-world experiences!

Who would I recommend the Intimacy And Desire summary to?

The newly-wed couple who is feeling kind of lost when it comes to sex, the husband and wife in their 40s that wonder why their sex life has stagnated, and anyone who wants to get smarter about intimacy.

Last Updated on June 10, 2023

Rate this book!
This book has an average rating of 4.7 based on 7 votes.

Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.