Anyone who's been in a long-term relationship has probably experienced the disappointment of realizing you're just not as hot for each other as you were when you met. (If you haven't, please teach me your ways). If you don't know how to keep the passion alive, your relationship risks fizzling as time goes on. But fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to maintain the spark your relationship started off with.
A decline in sex drive can stem from a number of issues, like stress, exhaustion, medications, emotional disconnect, and lifestyle changes (like, for example, a new baby). If you're feeling disinterested in sex and the usual tricks in the book don't work, if may be worth it to talk to a professional.
"A turning point can be when you no longer want your partner to touch you in a sexual way, if you recoil at the thought of having sex, if this is not something that is situational (like becoming new parents), or if you still have fantasies and masturbate but find yourself not interested in being sexually close to your partner," couples therapist Marissa Nelson, LMFT tells Bustle.
But feeling a bit of a dip in excitement after a few weeks, months, or years is totally normal — and also preventable. Here are some tips to get back to the honeymoon phase.
1Share Your Fantasies
Telling your partner what you want to do to them before you enter the bedroom will help you get nice and randy once you're there. "Sex starts with the brain and being sufficiently seduced with the mind," says Nelson. "From text messages saying what you plan on doing to each other to talking about what turns you on — and what is in that freaky little mind of yours — this is a convo that will leave you hot and ready to pounce on each other."
2Draw Out the Foreplay
Building up the anticipation will help you get excited for whatever activity your session ends in. For this reason, Nelson suggests at least 15-20 minutes of foreplay. "Many couples skip over this for the 'main event,' but foreplay can be one of the most sensual and pleasurable experiences you can have," she says. "It allows the body to get turned on a revved up and is likely to make the sex even hotter."
3Plan An "Erotic Date Night"
Just as date nights help couples stay emotionally connected, scheduled sex can help them connect physically. Nelson suggests planning an "erotic date" where you aim to try at least two new things. "From candle wax, new complicated positions, or role playing, it will give you both something to look forward to and keep your sex life exciting," she says.
4Have Solo Sex... Together
If you're pressed for new ideas, one activity to try is mutual masturbation. "There is nothing more erotic and a turn on than watching your partner pleasure themselves," says Nelson.
5Switch Up Your Location
Another way to shake up your routine is to have sex in different places. Renting a hotel room can make it feel like a special occasion, but you don't have to spend a dime to get the effects of sex in a new place. Nelson suggests making a game of finding new places to places to get it on. "Every time you have sex, it has to be somewhere different," she says. "Try closets, bathrooms, guest rooms — get creative. The change of environment creates excitement and heightens arousal."
Losing passion over the course of a relationship is common, but it's not inevitable. With constant awareness and effort, the can't-keep-your-hands-off-each-other stage can last for years.