So, you’ve been in a relationship longer than a year or two or 10. Good for you! Besides the benefits that come with a committed partner (like support and companionship, yada, yada, yada), you also might’ve noticed that sex just doesn’t have the same excitement as it once did.
This is completely normal. As humans, we’re creatures of habit and tend to stick to the same routines (and positions), which can make it challenging when you’re in a sexual rut. Worst case, you can continue to use your relationship privilege to harass single friends for funny (read: traumatic) dating stories and/or beg to scroll for them on the apps because “I never got a chance to do that!” The world is your oyster.
But if you want to improve the sex in your longterm relationship, keep reading. I spoke with sex therapist Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, about why it’s so hard to maintain the honeymoon phase, how to bring back intimacy, and ways to makes sex new and exciting again.
Why is it so hard to maintain the “honeymoon” phase in longterm relationships?
First off, let’s break down some definitions. When referring to the honeymoon phase, I’m simply describing that lovey-dovey sweet spot in the early relationship that typically lasts anywhere from four months to a year. And no, it’s not a made-up thing! There is real psychology behind it.
“During the honeymoon phase, our brains are flooded with chemicals — dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline increase — creating the feeling of lust or attraction toward someone,” Wright explains. “The combination of these can be intoxicating, making us blind to certain things.” Aka it’s not supposed to last forever in relationships. “If we have the expectation that it will change — not get better or worse, but change — we can meet that change with excitement and a curious mindset.” That certainly sounds better than spiraling into a mad woman on your second anniversary.
How does a couple “keep the spark alive” when they’ve been together for so many years?
It’s actually a relatively simple answer: Stay connected. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but prioritizing intimacy can help unlock desires that might’ve come more naturally earlier on in the relationship. Wright breaks it down into phases. “During the back-to-reality phase (years one through two), you can continue to create opportunities for the fun chemicals while really getting vulnerable, being honest, and deciding what you want for yourself and this partnership,” she explains.
She also noted that the “back-to-reality phase”is typically when folks break up, especially if one person decides they don’t want something longterm. “If you continue to move into the longer-term territory, sometimes feelings of disconnection can happen,” she says. “Now, are you disconnected? Maybe. And maybe you’re simply feeling a lack of the flooding of chemicals from the beginning.”
The key to feeling connected? Make time for mental/emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. Wright suggests trying something that brings out your inner child together (like an old favorite board game), or try something new together (like cooking a new cuisine at home). And don’t put the pressure on just one person — each take a turn planning a fun date with the same budget. (If my S.O. is reading this, I wouldn’t say no to a spa day!!!)
What are some sex positions that can change things up without requiring gymnastic-level abilities?
Missionary Sex Position
Okay, hear me out. I know that missionary is considered the most basic sex position, but sometimes it’s good to bring it back to the basics. It’s a hella intimate position that calls for eye contact and/or heavy make-out sesh. Change it up by switching who is usually on top.
Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)
Less of a position and more of a technique (hence the name), the CAT is also a way to change up the typical missionary position. It relies on the penetrative partner moving higher up in an effort to grind against the clit. Once in position, think back to your dry humping days and move in a rocking motion. Think grinding over the ol’ in-and-out thrust.
Lotus Sex Position
The lotus sex position is intimate af. One partner sits upright and cross-legged while the other straddles them. In this position, the two of you are face-to-face with your bodies pressed tightly together. Also, it’s a bonus for those with a clit because whoever is on top will certainly get a lot of attention when your bodies start to rub together. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the variations like grinding versus bouncing (just be careful with the ladder).
I don’t care who is the big spoon and who is the little spoon, all I care about is that both of you are lying down. This is the perfect lazy Sunday morning sex position. (It’s also ideal if neither of you have brushed your teeth yet.)
Butterfly Sex Position
While this position seems a little fancier, I swear it doesn’t require gymnastic experience to achieve. One person lies down near the end of a bed or table, while the penetrating partner stands and enters them. (Just make sure to pick the right height to better align with each other’s pelvis.) Then the person on the bed just rests their feet on their partner’s shoulders. Incredibly low effort, I swear.
Tried everything else? Sometimes there’s nothing hotter than watching each other touch themselves. Whether that’s introducing porn or simply making hot eye contact.