Get ready to ramp up the ignition on your sex life.
Ever wondered what happens after the happily-ever-after? You know, after you’ve finally converted your dating game into a long-term relationship and danced off into the sunset à la Shrek and Fiona? Okay fine… Billie and Brad in Netflix’s new series Sex/Life?
While Sex/Life, which follows a stay-at-home mum who reminisces about previous sexual adventures in her journal to escape the humdrum of her suburban, sexless marriage, is entertaining, it’s not an instruction manual. Ditto with other romcoms, no matter how tempting (we’re looking at you, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days).
Seriously though, losing sexual desire in a long-term relationship is a very real phenomenon, which can have a devastating impact on everything from our self esteem to our emotional connection with our partner.
In fact, a study of 35,000 British people published in 2019 found that roughly half of people in serious relationships have sex less than once a week.
GLAMOUR spoke to Dr. Pepper Schwartz, an expert in sexuality and sex at the Paired couples app, to find out what causes sex droughts in long-term relationships and, more importantly, how to get out of them.
According to Dr. Schwartz, most couples have “straightforward” sex lives:
“People kiss, stroke, have intercourse, cuddle afterwards as if the script was in our DNA.
People expect to usually settle into a routine that works for them, which is good, but over time it can – let’s be honest here – get a little boring.”
Here are Dr. Schwartz’s top three tips for reigniting your sexual creativity and imagination:
1. Play with locations
There is no doubt that “setting a stage” can cause both romantic and passionate feelings.
Remember how you would set the stage when you were just trying to get someone to fall in love, or at least lust, with you.
Rooms were cleaned up, there were flowers, air fresheners, clean sheets, fireplaces lit, or candles all around.
A great wine might be on the table, and the dinner was set to amaze or at least not to embarrass.
2. Playing with objects
Vibrators are pretty common these days, but maybe not as common as they should be.
In our Normal Bar study, we found that approximately half of all women use vibrators.
People of all ages have learned that these toys help women, and some men, have stronger, quicker orgasms and that playing with them can add excitement.
One intimate thing to do would be going online or visiting a store that has a lot of these toys to choose from.
Do you feel close enough to your partner to go on such a shopping trip? It’s a test of how comfortable you are researching your own pleasure.
If you don’t want to know about it, think about why these kinds of toys are any different than enhancing your face, or taking supplements for health, or looking at new fashion choices.
3. Open up about fantasies … and perhaps act some out
Almost everyone has hidden sexual fantasies. Some have evolved during early masturbation; some are simply imagining sex with movie stars.
Assuming that we are not dealing with fantasies that are dangerous to others, it is an act of trust to let someone you love to peer into your subterranean psyche.
Sometimes the fantasy could be actionable – and it would have to be clear if it was something you wanted to try out – or not.
For example, if your fantasy is about having sex with Attila the Hun, it might not be easy for your partner to pull that off.
But a creative suggestion might be to act one night as if he were a dominant, ruthless leader of armies, but be entranced by you – perhaps a Game of Thrones role where your partner is Khal Drogo and you, his Khaleesi! Role-playing is not an easy thing to pull off, but it’s not impossible either.
And it could make you feel like more of a couple than ever because you have to trust each other not to make either of you feel ridiculous.
Dr. Schwartz also highlights a study from 2016 about keeping the passion alive in relationships, which found that nearly two-thirds of sexually satisfied older adults felt that their sex lives were as passionate now as they were in their early days together with their partner.
The study found that the following factors contribute to the longevity of passion and sexual satisfaction:
• Having good sexual communication, talking about what they liked and didn’t like.
• Trying to set a mood for sex and waiting until both partners felt the mood was right.
• They were more likely to do more of everything: different positions, oral sex, talk about and enact their fantasies, wear sexy lingerie, or use a sex toy.
• Saying “I love you” during sex.