It happens to the best of couples. In the beginning, the two of you can’t keep your hands off each other. But over time, especially when life gets tough, that sexy spark can fizzle.
The signs that a couple is in a sexual rut can vary, according to Amy Levine, a New York City-based sex coach and the founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, but some common ones include:
- Sex is happening infrequently — or not at all.
- Sex has become routine.
- Only one partner seems to be initiating sex — and that partner is often rejected.
Sometimes partners get to the point where they just don't see each other sexually, said Dr. Rachel Needle, a licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist, and founder of Florida’s Whole Health Psychological Center. She hears from couples who aren't touching intimately anymore —not holding hands or kissing for longer than just a peck.
Another sign ? When partners no longer pay attention to their physical appearances.
Typically, desire and passion are at their highest at the beginning of a relationship.
"When people get comfortable in their relationships and all of life’s other factors come into play, desire sometimes fizzles off if not worked at,” Needle says.
Both experts say there are ways to get the spark back, but first we need to “ditch the myth” that sex should always be spontaneous and easy, said Needle. Like any other aspect of a healthy relationship, good sex takes time and energy. You have to make an effort.
Start by focusing on your connection with one another, both experts say. Being able to communicate is essential both in and outside of the bedroom. Ask your partner the same kinds of questions you’d feel safe asking a good friend. Be open about your feelings, whether you're talking about your day at the office or your intimate desires.
Once the communication is back on track, try these seven tips to reignite the spark:
1. Boost your dopamine —together.
One thing that caused butterflies when you first met was the chemical cocktail in your bodies, says Levine. "Recreate this by doing something novel. Check out a new restaurant, take a cooking class together — do something fun that you’re both excited to try,” she said.
2. Kiss more often.
At the beginning of a relationship, couples often enjoy deep kissing, but over time they tend to stop. “Continuing to hug, kiss, cuddle is an important component of a healthy relationship,” she said.
3. Remember what it was like when you first met.
Turn off the TV and reminisce about the fun times you had — even sexually, if that’s the case — when you first met, said Levine.
4. Make a list of sexual possibilities.
Look through a sex book together and be inspired by its suggestions. “Make a list of at least ten possibilities,” said Levine. “Don’t think about whether you want to try them or not. Just list them.” Next, rate each topic on a scale of 1-5 for how willing you are to try it. Share your answers with one another. See if you can come up with something new to try together.
5. Keep the mystery alive.
No matter how long you’ve been together, make an effort to be seductive and keep your erotic connection fresh. “Put some surprise into the relationship. Break the predictable pattern every so often,” said Needle. “This can help keep desire alive.”
6. Get in touch with your own sexuality.
Read an erotic novel or watch a sexy movie to get yoursef in the mood. Think about times you were most sexually excited. “You may even want to write out a script of fantasy to share with your partner,” said Needle.
7. Seek out a sex coach.
Though many people know intellectually they need to make changes with their partner, they often need to talk with an expert to figure out how to do it, said Levine. “Having a coach is a great way to not only get expert guidance and support, but to have someone hold you accountable for the transformation to take place,” she said. Keep in mind, says Levine, professional sex coaches like herself are merely there to talk, like any therapist.
It’s important to remember that desire ebbs and flows, both experts say. The good news is you can change the sexual script in your relationship. But like any other aspect of your life together, you and your partner will have to work at it.