At the start of a relationship, the electricity between you and your new partner makes sex exciting and passionate. But when the honeymoon phase inevitably comes to an end — usually a few months to a few years — things tend to get chilly between the sheets. As the journalist Michael Castleman so aptly put it: “The fireworks go off. July 4 becomes Thanksgiving.
If your sex life has become a snooze, first know that it’s normal for sex to become stale in a long-term relationship. But it is possible to find this spark by adding an important ingredient: novelty.
“Good sex, even good sex, with someone you care about can get boring,” Los Angeles sex therapist Nazanin Moali, host of the “Sexology” podcast, told HuffPost. “While novelty isn’t the solution to all the sexual challenges people may encounter in their relationship, it is a key ingredient in rekindling the fire.”
Why we lose that sexy spark
One of the reasons for this chill, according to clinical sexologist and sex educator Lawrence Siegel: long-term relationships are becoming more about safety and security. And this often leads toperfectly comfortable and predictable sex,” he said.
He cited renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel’s book “Mating In Captivity,” in which she writes about how the comfort and familiarity of long-term relationships can extinguish the erotic spark.
“Eroticism needs a little side, an unknown; even some degree of risk,” Siegel said. “Risk can also come from simply trying something new and not knowing how it will turn out. Our brains are wired to respond more to novelty, especially when it comes to our reward system and experiences of pleasure — hence the “Coolidge effect”.
The Coolidge Effect is a biological phenomenon (named after an amusing but possibly apocryphal story involving President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace) in which animals, especially males, show a gradual decrease in sexual interest towards an old companion, while the introduction of a new partner renews his sexual desire.
“Research has shown that when a male rat is placed in a cage with multiple female rats in heat, he will mate with all of them until he appears exhausted,” wrote sex educator and researcher Justin Lehmiller. in a blog post on his website. . “However, if a new female is then introduced to the cage, the males often experience an immediate renewed interest in sex and begin to mate with her.” It has also been documented in humans.
“Good sex, even good sex, with someone you love deeply can get boring.”
– Nazanin Moali, sexologist
This has significant implications for our romantic relationships, Lehmiller said.
“In particular, it suggests that one should probably expect a decline in sexual interest in a long-term partner and being aroused by variety, rather than a sign that there is something wrong. wrong with you or your relationship.”
Does that mean the solution to stale sex is to introduce consensual non-monogamy — things like having a threesome, swinging, or opening up your relationship? These could certainly do the trick, but there are other options for those who don’t want to give up monogamy completely.
Changing things takes work, but not as much as you think
Sex therapist Emily Jamea, host of the ‘Love and Libido’ podcast, said she thinks couples overestimate what they need to do to keep things exciting between the sheets.
“You don’t have to go straight from vanilla sex to BDSM,” she said. “If what you are doing is too much beyond your skills, you will feel anxious, which interferes with sexual pleasure. Changing the order of what you do, time of day, or location can be enough to keep the excitement going.
Start by thinking back to what turned you on at the start of your relationship – what made sex so satisfying back then?
“Was there the excitement of almost getting caught or just kissing on the beach?” said Siegel. “Were you doing sexual things just because you wanted to show them that you were a good lover? Sometimes the new can just help us rediscover the pleasure of sex and the way we appreciate each other.
Even exploring new hobbies and activities outside of the bedroom can have a positive impact on what happens behind closed doors.
According to the self-expansion model in psychology (which posits that people are fundamentally motivated to expand their sense of self and to do so by forming close relationships with others), a couple’s love is strengthened by making all new and stimulating activities. A 2012 study of married people found that those who said they were still intensely in love were also the type to engage in romance activities shared as a couple.
That might mean taking a dance class together, joining a hiking group, having a quiz night at your local bar, or taking a road trip somewhere you’ve never been before.
How to spice things up in the bedroom
You can replicate that adrenaline rush you get when you’re with a new partner by “finding[ing] the still unknown places in your sexual universe with your current partner,” Moali said, and exploring both physiological and psychological novelty.
Physiological novelty involves engaging in an activity “to enhance a particular sensation or stimulate a new erogenous zone,” Moali noted.
She recommends nipple clamps if you or your partner enjoy nipple stimulation, hair pulling and, if done safely, choking or breathing.
“Talk about it in a non-sexual setting first, and maybe even practice which areas of the throat feel the best,” she said. “Less is always more, especially when experimenting for the first time, and make sure you have a non-verbal safe word in place beforehand.”
When it comes to psychological novelty, try tapping into your sexual fantasies together.
“There’s a lot of good fantasy material and a lot of ethical porn out there that can be explored online,” Siegel said, adding that he would recommend using a VPN to protect your privacy. “Just allow yourself to see what else could be in the vast and often wonderful world of sex.”
Then, share one of those excitements with your partner and have them watch you masturbate, Siegel suggested. “Even better, they masturbate with you,” he added.
Another way to explore psychological novelty? Roleplay.
“Playing a character is usually easier than being yourself, for many, so it can be a safe way to explore and try something new,” Siegel said. “Many people find that they can orgasm more easily when pretending to be someone else than when they are themselves.”
Moali also suggested creating a dating app profile together to “window shop” for other potential partners.
“Don’t contact anyone, just browse the options and talk about your fantasies for threesomes and more,” she said.
Another idea might be to experiment with orgasm control while having sex. Basically, one partner is responsible for “enabling” the other to have an orgasm.
“[You] choose the length of the game,” she said. “It will bring an element of teasing and temptation to the sex game.”
Whichever direction you and your partner choose to go, it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to something new, Jamea said. Your partner might suggest something that doesn’t seem appealing to you at first. When this happens, take a minute to consider the “why” behind your reaction.
“See if you’re willing to give it a try at least once or twice before you officially decide,” Jamea said. “You might be pleasantly surprised. You’re more likely to return to a restaurant if there’s a variety of things on the menu, and the same principle applies to sex.
Of course, if there’s something that’s strictly irrelevant to you—perhaps it’s conjuring up memories of a bad sexual encounter from your past—then it’s fine to ignore it.
“But, for the most part, the worst thing that would happen if someone tried something new would be that they didn’t like it and wouldn’t do it again,” Siegel said.
The Huffington Gt