6 Ways to Bring that Sexy Sizzle Back into Your Long-Term Relationship

People talk about the seven-year itch, but the flame often begins to sputter and die much faster than that. Some 70 percent of straight unmarried couples break up within the first year, according to a longitudinal study led by Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld.

“We know a lot more about the relationships that worked out than the ones that didn’t,” Rosenfeld says. “People don’t recall failed relationships too well.”

To learn more, Rosenfeld and his team have been tracking more than 3,000 people since 2009 to find out what happens to relationships over time.

The early stages are always a challenge, it seems. Sixty percent of the unmarried couples who’d been together for less than 2 months during the first phase of Rosenfeld’s study were no longer together the following year.

Recent research shows that the early stages of a relationship are always a challenge.
Recent research shows that the early stages of a relationship are always a challenge.

How to Reignite Sexual Desire in a Long-Term Relationship

Why do people break up? The sad truth is that it’s easier to fall in love than to stay in love. You may have had steamy, sweaty, great sex at the start of your relationship, but keeping that flame alive requires some effort.

Other research reveals relationships are souring earlier than they used to because modern couples are more likely to take each other for granted sooner than they once did.

Fortunately, there are many ways to reignite a relationship that’s lost its sexy sizzle. Below are six tips from the experts on how to rekindle sexual chemistry in a sputtering relationship.

1. Encourage more emotional intimacy.

Psychological researcher John Gottman, who has done extensive research on marital stability, says it’s important to understand that a good sexual relationship is built on emotional intimacy.

In his book, The Science of Trust, Dr. Gottman explains that couples who want to rekindle their passion and love need to turn towards each other.

This means communicating with each other by showing empathy, instead of being defensive. Both partners need to talk about their feelings in terms of positive needs, instead of what they do not need.

“This requires a mental transformation from what is wrong with one’s partner to what one’s partner can do that would work,” says Dr. Gottman. “The speaker is really saying, ‘Here’s what I feel, and what I need from you.’”

A good sexual relationship is built on emotional intimacy.
A good sexual relationship is built on emotional intimacy.

2. Hold hands and kiss a little more.

Holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin, which the brain also secretes during orgasm. This hormone increases feelings of affection, attraction, and trust even as it reduces daily levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

That’s why sex therapist and educator Dr. Michael Sytsma, suggests that couples double the length of time they kiss, hug, and use sensual touch as a key to improving their relationships. This kind of physical affection encourages sex that’s focused on pleasure, he says.

“Spouses who make a concerted effort to focus on having sex for the sake of the relationship actually end up with higher desire and higher satisfaction,” says Sytsma.

Holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin, which the brain also secretes during orgasm.
Holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin, which the brain also secretes during orgasm.

3. Talk about sex in a positive way.

Sytsma also insists that talking about sex is necessary. “Limiting your communication is a sure way to undermine a flourishing and fulfilling sex life,” he says.

The Georgia-based sex therapist says he’s met countless times with couples who admit they’ve never once talked to each other about sex. Most of these couples tolerate what doesn’t work, Sytsma says, for fear of hurting the other person’s feelings, or even out of shyness

“Everything works better when couples just talk,” Sytsma says. “Communication is the most important key to improving your sex life.”

Experts say couples should learn to talk openly about sex.
Experts say couples should learn to talk openly about sex.

4. Go back to where it started.

The early stages of a relationship are marked by powerful feelings of infatuation, desire, and sexual fantasies. While you can’t expect that sparkly, fluttering sensation to last forever, you can revisit the places where the butterflies started.

That’s according to Amiira Ruotola, who – along with her husband Greg Behrendt – has written several books on sex and relationships.

“Going somewhere you have great memories of together can remind you that you’re still interesting people who like each other,” says Ruotola. “Sometimes we need a sensory kick in the butt to reignite a dormant spark.”

Going somewhere you have great memories together can remind you that you’re still interesting people who like each other.
Going somewhere you have great memories together can remind you that you’re still interesting people who like each other.

5. Experiment with new ways to pleasure each other.

No matter how long you and your partner have been together, make an effort to keep your erotic connection fresh and exciting. Experiment with new ways to bring pleasure to each other and look at sex as an opportunity to get to know your partner better over time.

New York City-based sex coach Amy Levine says couples can trying browsing through a sex book together for inspiration.

“Make a list of at least ten possibilities,” Levine says. “Don’t think about whether you want to try them or not. Just list them.”

Next, rate each topic on a scale of 1 to 5 for how willing you are to try each item on the list. Share your answers and see if you can agree on something new to try together.

Couples can trying browsing through a sex book together for inspiration.
Couples can trying browsing through a sex book together for inspiration.

6. Buy some sexy lingerie.

Hot lingerie can revive a woman’s sex appeal, making her feel more beautiful and desirable. Sexy apparel like corsets and garter belts can thus infuse your sex life with things that have likely been absent for a long time – excitement, adventure, and new sensations.

Research commissioned by the British match company, Bryant and May, shows that one in 10 adults has bought sexy lingerie to spice things up in the bedroom. Sandi Kaufman, a sex therapist in New York City, understands why.

Kaufman describes erotic lingerie as “foreplay without the words,” and says a woman wearing a sexy corset or teddy encourages intimacy by implying trust and vulnerabity. “Lingerie can be flattering and a turn-on,” she says. “Men are visual and lingerie just spices things up.

Hot lingerie can revive a woman’s sex appeal, making her feel more beautiful and desirable.
Hot lingerie can revive a woman’s sex appeal, making her feel more beautiful and desirable.

Even the closest, most loving relationships will sometimes run into a rut. In the beginning, you two could hardly keep your hands off each other, and sex was easy and always sensational. But over time, that sexy spark tends to fizzle, especially when life gets tough.

Like any other aspect of a healthy relationship, good sex takes time and energy. Based on data gathered from his research, Rosenfeld says that after five years there is only a 20 percent chance that a couple will break up. That figure dwindles even further if a couple stays together for ten years.

Reigniting a waning sexual relationship isn’t always easy. But often enough, with a little patience and some smart persistence, the results will make all the effort worthwhile.  


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