As the years go by over the course of a relationship, sex almost inevitable becomes routine.
“Boring sex unfolds naturally in long-term relationships, because we all do what works,” says Dr Marianne Brandon, author of Monogamy: The Untold Story. “Then we just keep repeating what works until it becomes a rut.”
Although you can’t rewind the clock – or magically transform your partner into someone new – you can reclaim the sexual energy you once shared. Here’s how.
The problem: You only have sex in missionary position.
There’s no denying it: missionary position is easy, which may explain why it becomes a go-to position as the sexual fire starts fading.
“People become more efficient in their sexual activity,” says Dr Sabitha Pillai-Friedman, an assistant professor in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University. “They engage in basic missionary sex, they’re done in a few minutes, and they can go on to do their laundry.”
But it signals that sex has become solely about getting off – not connecting with each other, says DeAnna Lorraine, a dating and relationship coach.
The solution: You don’t have to go from zero to acrobatics. Instead, take missionary to new places: a tabletop or the kitchen counter, for example, suggests Lorraine.
Or tweak the position and have her throw one leg over your shoulder, wrap her legs around your back, or, if you’re really adventurous, tie her wrists to the bedpost while you do your thing.
“Anything different from the norm creates extra stimulation in the brain,” Lorraine says. “And that elevates the excitement of sex.”
The problem: Oral sex is totally off the menu.
Laziness is probably part of the problem. But the absence of oral sex can reflect another common problem: “Couples just want to go straight to the end result: orgasm,” says Lorraine.
Or as Pillai-Friedman puts it, “When we have a goal, we want to get to the goal as fast as possible.”
The solution: One or two nights a month, take intercourse off the table.
“Have designated nights where you focus on pleasing each other without sex,” Lorraine suggests.
That way, there’s no pressure to move on to the main event – you both can relax and enjoy receiving.
The problem: You have sex with the lights off – every single time.
No one likes to hook up under the glare of fluorescent lights – but in total darkness? For many, flipping the switch may be a way to avoid feeling self-conscious about their bodies. But that effectively kills your chance to lock eyes and connect.
The solution: keep the overhead lights off, and break out the matches. The glow of candles will let you see each other without making anyone feel totally exposed.
Other options: Install a dimmer switch on your ceiling light, so you can ease into lights-on sex. Or switch on the light in an adjacent bathroom or hallway, suggests Lorraine.
The problem: You go to bed at different times.
Chances are, when you first got married you and your partner crawled between the sheets at the same time every night – often with the intent of hooking up.
“After that honeymoon phase wears off, you go back to doing your own thing,” says Lorraine. “It starts becoming a habit to go to bed at different times.”
Suddenly, catching up on your Netflix queue can become a higher priority than snuggling.
The solution: You could, of course, just adjust your bedtime to match hers. But there’s a more fun way to sync your schedules: Share your Google calendars with each other and look for time during the week when you can sneak in a daytime quickie, suggests Lorraine.
If the idea of showing up at her office for a surprise romp is not realistic, send her a meeting request – seriously. Then pick a hook-up spot where you can rendezvous over your lunch hour.
Another option: surprise her in the shower before work, so you knock out sex in the A.M. before you’re both too tired later on.
The problem: You never talk about sex.
You’ve been having sex for years – but when was the last time you actually talked about it?
“We are not taught to discuss sex,” says Pillai-Friedman.
Plus, you may just feel awkward bringing up your likes and dislikes.
“People don’t want to offend their partner. How can they say, ‘I don’t like that’ when their partner has been doing it for years?” Brandon says.
The solution: Turn sex talk into a game by listing sexy activities that excite you, and have your partner do the same on her own wheel.
“Sometimes people write ‘receiving sexy texts’ or ‘showering together,’” says Pillai-Friedman. “It’s not just plain sex. It’s also romance and seduction.”
Share your lists with each other, pick an activity to try, and then afterward consider giving each other light-hearted performance reviews.
“Ask, ‘What worked for you? What didn’t? What is one thing you really liked that I did this time?’” says Lorraine. “You can make it fun and playful.”
The problem: You’ve stopped kissing each other.
Making out may seem like it’s for high-school kids, but the truth is, kissing is one the most effective ways to foster closeness.
“For some people, kissing feels more intimate than actual intercourse,” says Brandon.
But in the race to seal the deal, it’s easy to forget the power of a good make-out session.
“We forget that that connection is so important,” Lorraine says. “We don’t just need to get off – we need that soulful, intimate connection.”
The solution: Make it a habit to give her a kiss every time you say goodbye. And when you go in for a peck, occasionally surprise her with an especially intense kiss.
If you incorporate kissing into your daily interactions, it’ll come more naturally in the bedroom.
The problem: Sex always happens in the bed.
Remember when you had sex in the kitchen? The car? Pretty much anywhere two people could feasibly do it?
Chances are, if you’ve been committed for a while, those days are behind you, and sex only happens in the bedroom (and always in the bed itself).
“Often because of children, couples feel like they can’t have sex in other places,” says Lorraine.
A lack of planning is also to blame: you may only remember to do the deed when you crawl into bed at night.
“Couples aren’t necessarily making enough time and really anticipating the sexual experience,” says Pillai-Friedman.
The solution: Set aside one night a week for a sex date, and take turns coming up with creative places.
“It could be the car, or it could just be another room in the house,” says Lorraine. “If the kids are home, it could be somewhere like the backyard if you’re really, really quiet about it.”
Or just try initiating the action somewhere besides your bedroom – for example, greet her at the front door after work and make your move, or cozy up to her in the bathroom as you brush your teeth together before bed, says Brandon.
Even if you ultimately end up between the sheets, engaging in foreplay elsewhere makes your romp suddenly seem a lot more exciting.