Sex in Long Term Relationships
Written by Alice Child, Somatic Sexologist
Sydney-based Somatic Sexologist and Sex & Intimacy Counsellor Alice Child gives some of her top tips for how couples keep passion alive in long term relationships.
This guide contains general advice only. If you need more tailored advice, please book in a session.
We need some form of tension, novelty or newness to make sex hot. How can you deliberately add more of this into your relationship everyday?
Long term relationships and marriages take commitment, compromise, open-mindedness and ongoing communication.
No couple stays in the honeymoon stage forever - it's a phase that is often not based in reality! But that doesn't mean you can't work out new ways of being blissfully happy together and have hot sex and intimacy that lasts a lifetime.
Having both love AND lust (aka keeping 'the spark' alive!) is possible - but it often takes work. For example, you will need to learn what you like, understand your pleasure anatomy, talk about sex openly, understand your own unique recipe for arousal, and how to explore new things.
Here are some top tips for maintaining great sex and intimacy in long term relationships.
How to have great sex in long term relationships?
Tip 1: Talk about sex... all the time
Couples that talk about sex more are more likely to keep the passion alive in a long term relationship.
If you feel awkward talking about sex, push through the discomfort because great sex needs great conversation.
After sex, get in the habit of chatting about what it was like. What was hot for you, what are you curious to try next and is there anything that would have made it even better?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free PDF on sexual communication.
Tip 2: Expect differences and changes
It’s inevitable that at some point in life you will have different desires for sex or different sex drives.
This is very normal but very tricky for many couples to navigate.
Bodies change all the time. One or both people may notice changes in things like their erections/ erectile difficulty, sex drive/ low libido, how wet they get, painful sex, how long desire takes to build or their physical attraction to each other.
Don’t panic. Come and chat to me if you need some ideas for how to navigate these changes and get back to connection and intimacy instead of pressure or awkwardness.
Tip 3: Masturbate - alone & together!
Self pleasure does not replace sex, and sex does not replace masturbation. They are BOTH important - even in a relationship where you're having great sex!
Be curious about each others self pleasure habits, because differences in how we masturbate often contribute to different needs during sex.
If he mastrubates with a firm, fast grip in the shower = he probably enjoys hard, fast, deep penetration when standing (eg doggy)
If she grinds her clitoris slowly against a pillow on her belly = she probably enjoys being on her front with circular grinding motions and minimal/no thrusting at all
Tip 4: Foreplay is the whole relationship
Don’t just wait until you’re having or just about to have sex to connect erotically. Because then you will never want to. Desire and arousal takes the right headspace and context to build.
Show each other you desire each other every day - that is when erotic energy builds. Learn each others love languages and make them feel wanted daily.
Texting, sexting, sending nudes, buying little gifts, zero pressure massages, surprising them, not wearing knickers to date night, making their fave meal, love notes on the fridge... get creative!
Tip 5: Schedule Sex & build anticipation
Great sex doesn‘t have to be spontaneous. If we don‘t schedule pleasure, it often doesn‘t happen. Especially when life gets so busy (kids, work, health etc.)
Schedule it at a time where you will both be more relaxed. Plus scheduling sex doesn’t need to take out the excitement. Think about how you can build anticipation on the run up to date night.
Sending texts, nudes, talking about it, planning what you’re going to do to each other, creating surprises....
Tip 6: Initiate sex - and respond -with love
Ensure initiating sex never leads to disconnection and guilt (even when the answer is ‘no’).
If you initiate:
Think about what turns THEM on (not you!)
Ask them what they might need to feel in the mood
Take a ‘no’ gracefully - don’t add guilt/pressure
Choose your moment or schedule it in advance
Avoid times of stress / tiredness
Get your needs met in different ways (eg massage, sharing a bath, self pleasure, reading erotica)
If you‘re responding there are a couple of options!
1. Keen = “Yes Let‘s do it!!”
2. Not in the mood but want to be = Communicate your needs. What might help get you there?
3. Not in the mood but happy for you to be! = Tell them what could be fun instead - eg they masturbate in front of you/erotic massage
4. Not in the mood -Say no with love. Promise to initiate some form of intimacy in the next [insert time].
Tip 7: Embrace their otherness (and prioritise yours)
We are all different, and difference is so important for eroticism. Great sex is NOT when ‘’two become one’’ - it’s when two different people connect.
You don‘t own or possess your partner. And they don‘t own you.
This means not forgetting what makes you YOU - prioritising your individual friendships, hobbies, adventures and life outside of your partner. You will have more to talk about and never forget why you fell for each other in the first place.
See them as the real, flawed human that they are. Perfection is a myth - relationships are built on compromise.
Tip 8: Add tension, novelty, newness
There is a formula for human arousal. It's "Arousal = Attraction + Obstacles." This means we need some form of tension, novelty, anticipation, or newness to charge our eroticism and make sex hot.
How can you deliberately add this into your sex life?
Buy a new toy / outfit / role play
Watch porn / read erotic novels together
Tell your partner about something taboo/naughty you’re into
Build anticipation / plan a weekend away
Try some kink in the bedroom - eg blindfolds
Try new dirty talk
Text them a fantasy
Tip 8: Let go of fear of outside attraction
For couples who are monogamous (ie they have agreed not to sleep with other people) the idea of their partner finding somebody else attractive is often terrifying, and triggers a lot of insecurity or jealousy. “What is they leave me?!”
The reality is attraction is a normal part of life. Denying that it happens is an illusion and might lead to secrecy, resentment, mistrust, jealousy or cheating.
Don't take your partner for granted. Replace fear with communication, trust, and commitment.
Imagine a relationship without that fear - where it’s even exciting (not scary!) to say “look at that hottie over there!”, or “Guess what?! A man flirted with me today!”.
Alice Child - Somatic Sexologist, Sex Therapy & Sex Counsellor - helps people achieve happier and healthier sex lives through 1:1 sex coaching, couples sex counselling, hens parties, and workshops. Book a session here.