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It’s completely normal for intimacy to ebb and flow in long-term relationships. The initial honeymoon phase, filled with passion and excitement, naturally transitions into a comfortable, secure relationship - but sometimes, we miss the spark that was there in the beginning.
Over time, this can lead to complacency and monotony in the bedroom. However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to rekindle the spark and bring back the excitement in your sex life.
Learn more about the importance of intimacy in relationships with our comprehensive guide on understanding intimacy.
Here are 8 tips on how to rekindle your intimate life:
1. Talk about sex
One of the most straightforward yet effective ways to rekindle your intimate life is by having open conversations about sex with your partner. Many couples shy away from this topic, but open communication is crucial for a fulfilling sexual relationship.
Several studies highlighted the benefits of talking about sex openly. According to one study from 2009, partners who were more open about discussing their sexual likes and dislikes reported experiencing greater sexual satisfaction. 1
Furthermore, a meta-analysis supports the idea that improved sexual communication positively impacts overall sexual function, including aspects like desire, arousal, and orgasm. Communication about sex seems to have a particularly strong influence on enhancing women’s sexual desire. 2
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to talk about what you want in the bedroom. Having honest conversations with your partner is key to a fulfilling, intimate life.
Discover how communication can save your sex life!
2. Share your sexual fantasies
Another impactful way to enhance your intimate life is to share your sexual fantasies with your partner. While some might find this intimidating, taking the plunge to discuss your secret desires can lead to a more exciting and fulfilling sexual experience.
Studies have shown that when people fantasize about their own partner, it significantly increases their desire to engage in sexual activities with them. 3
Takeaway: Sharing sexual fantasies with your partner can lead to a more exciting and fulfilling sexual experience.
Check out these tips for how to share your sexual fantasies with your partner.
3. Show physical affection on a regular basis
While grand gestures and exciting adventures can be exhilarating, sometimes it’s the small, consistent acts of physical affection that keep the fire burning in a relationship. Small touches, hugs, or a backrub can go a long way in maintaining a healthy intimate life.
Research supports the power of physical affection in enhancing intimacy. One study found a direct correlation between physical affection and increased momentary intimacy in daily life. 4
Touch is a crucial element in establishing and reinforcing emotional bonds between couples. The hormone oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” is released during moments of physical affection. 5
While sexual contact tends to trigger the most significant release of oxytocin, other forms of non-sexual tactile stimulation—like hugs or back rubs—also stimulate oxytocin release. This chemical response helps to strengthen the relationship bond. 5
Takeaway: Consistent physical affection—whether sexual or not—promotes emotional closeness and can be a simple yet effective way to revitalize your intimate life.
4. Post-sex affection
The magic doesn’t end after the climax. The moments right after sex can be just as important as the sex itself. Spending time cuddling together, talking, or engaging in other forms of after-sex affection can help solidify your bond and deepen your intimacy.
A study examined what happens when couples linger in the afterglow, engaging in what’s known as post-sex affection. Results have shown that the longer couples engage in post-sex affection, such as cuddling, kissing, and caressing, the higher the levels of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction. 6
Takeaway: After the main event, don’t rush off or switch into ’task mode.’ Those extra minutes of cuddles or pillow talk can make all the difference in keeping the spark alive in your relationship.
5. Try something new in the bedroom
In long-standing relationships, it’s easy to fall into a routine, especially when it comes to your intimate life. While stability has its merits, bringing new experiences into your sexual encounters can ignite a long-lost spark.
An insightful online survey of 1,559 adults assessed how the pandemic impacted intimate relationships. While a significant portion noted a downturn in their sexual activity, about 20% took the initiative to diversify their sexual practices. 7
Activities such as sexting, experimenting with new sexual positions, and sharing sexual fantasies were commonly added to the repertoire. Notably, these individuals were three times more likely to observe improvements in their sex life. 7
Takeaway: Expanding your range of sexual activities can spice up your intimate life and increase sexual satisfaction.
6. Practice Sensate Focus - The magic of touch
Intimacy extends beyond sexual intercourse. Simple, purposeful touching can deepen your connection with your partner and revive your intimate life. One technique that has received scientific backing is Sensate Focus, which was developed in the 1960s by William Masters and Virginia Johnson. 3
The approach encourages couples to engage in structured touching exercises that prioritize the sensations of touch over sexual pleasure or arousal. The main goal is to become fully aware of how it feels to touch and be touched rather than focusing on reaching sexual climax. 3
Numerous studies affirm the efficacy of Sensate Focus in addressing various forms of sexual distress. Its guiding principle is the mindful experience of touch, allowing couples to rediscover each other’s bodies in a new and meaningful way. 3
Takeaway: Mindful touching can be a powerful way to rekindle your intimate life. Give Sensate Focus a try and explore the depths of pleasure that come from simply being present with your partner’s body.
7. Schedule intimate time
With the passing of time, it’s natural for the frequency of sex to decrease. For some couples, this also leads to a decline in sexual satisfaction. 8
A study from 2014 investigated how the frequency of sex impacts relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction in early marriage. In other words, they looked at how often couples had sex and how that affected how satisfied they were with their marriage and their sex life. 9
First, they noticed that having more frequent sex seemed to counteract the natural decrease in sexual satisfaction that typically happens over time in a relationship. So, if a couple had sex more often, they were generally happier with their sex life. 9
But here’s the twist: this correlation was not one-way. It worked in both directions. This means that not only did having more sex make people happier with their sex life, but also being happier with their sex life led to having more sex. So, it’s a bit like a positive feedback loop - more sex leads to more satisfaction, and more satisfaction leads to more sex. 9
With this knowledge in mind, it may be helpful to schedule regular sex dates with your partner. However, this doesn’t mean that you should force yourself to have sex. You can also be intimate with your partner without it necessarily leading to intercourse.
Takeaway: Research shows that the frequency of sex affects sexual satisfaction- and vice versa. By scheduling regular intimate time with your partner, you can use this positive feedback loop to your advantage.
8. See a sex therapist
When you’ve tried various strategies and still find that you’re struggling with sexual or relationship issues, consulting a certified sex therapist can be a game-changing step. A sex therapist provides professional insights and tailored solutions that can address the unique challenges you and your partner may be facing.
Sex therapy isn’t just about the physical aspects of intimacy; it’s a comprehensive approach that also covers emotional and psychological factors that might be affecting your sexual satisfaction.
Takeaway: If you find that you’ve hit a wall in enhancing your sexual relationship, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a sex therapist. It’s a structured way to work through issues and could be the key to unlocking a more satisfying intimate life for you and your partner.
Enhancing your intimate life is an ongoing process that involves both partners actively participating and communicating. For more insights on improving the quality of your relationship through effective communication, check out our couples’ guide on communication in a relationship.
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Birnbaum, G. E., Kanat-Maymon, Y., Mizrahi, M., Recanati, M., & Orr, R. (2018). What fantasies can do to your relationship: The effects of sexual fantasies on couple interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(3), 461–476. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎
Durbin, K. B., Debrot, A., Karremans, J. C., & Van Der Wal, R. (2020). Can we use smart-phones to increase physical affection, intimacy and security in couples? Preliminary support from an attachment perspective. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(3), 1035–1045. doi.org ↩︎
Lehmiller, J. J., Garcia, Gesselman, A. N., & Mark, K. P. (2020). Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity: Changes in Sexual Behavior during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Leisure Sciences, 43(1–2), 295–304. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎
McNulty, J. K., Wenner, C. A., & Fisher, T. D. (2014). Longitudinal associations among relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and frequency of sex in early marriage. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(1), 85–97. doi.org ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎