And for this demise of desire, there are many explanations; the casual hook-up culture of today, Tinder and other dating apps, the sheer exhaustion of both parties going to work.
There’s a kind of hush… in bedrooms all across the world. Long-term couples would rather curl up and sleep than set the sheets on fire, if latest stats are to be believed. Heavy breathing occurring only when there’s a respiratory issue. The word on the street is that Mr Majnu and Ms Laila are too busy with their respective mobile phones for eye contact.
And for this demise of desire, there are many explanations; the casual hook-up culture of today, Tinder and other dating apps, the sheer exhaustion of both parties going to work. Getting down and dirty goes further and further down the to-do list.
It would seem lesser and lesser people are lovers and this is starting earlier and earlier in the relationship. There’s the weekend that passion fails to be red-hot and one thinks it a one-off. Then, before they know it, the dry spell is here to stay.
In a recent survey, teenagers are said to be having only half the sex their parents had. According to the Australia Talks survey, youngsters are replacing face to face communication with online contact. They are more comfortable interacting without having to see each other.
Porn, obviously, is a big culprit. Bringing in unrealistic expectations as well as anxieties about the ability to perform as acrobatically. Also, the synthetic proportions of the main protagonists in such films raise body image issues.
In India, the practice of letting the child – often, an only child – sleep between the parents is another common passion killer. In-laws bustling in and out of the bedroom surely cannot set the mood either. Sex loses its edge. From a secret delicious forbidden taboo activity in the pre-marital era, it becomes all too mundane when wholly sanctioned by society.
Boredom is the first to set into the drudgery of domestic bliss. As couples, this is something you are expected to do night after night, if not day after day. Any self-respecting spouse will bypass the randy for some shut-eye. Plus, it is just too convenient to bring all sulks and rows to bed; a good fight is just as invigorating as a nookie.
For some the disinterest starts with the arrival of offspring, for others, it is the year they got the promotion or the year they retired or any other career milestone, for some, it is just some summer long ago when they weren’t paying attention.
Eyeing other potential partners is another minefield. Madhavi Menon writes in A History of Desire in India: 'We will continue to lust after Shah Rukh Khan or Sophia Loren even as we might stay happily married. This is the way desire operates – through fantasy rather than fact.' And no one can deny that holy matrimony, with all its sinister mutterings of eternity, is as factual as facts get.
The modern bedroom song goes, 'A little less action, a little more conversations, please,' to misquote Elvis. So this is what men and women are whispering to each other breathlessly once the lights are off – ‘goodnight’ – and they mean it!
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
Read Shinie Antony's columns here.