One of the greatest challenges in nurturing long-term relationships is how to keep the passion alive – Marianna Kocsany (Bonding Therapy) shares some ideas for how you and your partner can reconnect sexually and rekindle the romance.
1. Let’s talk about sex!Even though a sexual revolution is unfolding in our culture, for many couples talking about sex is quite uncomfortable. There is no way we can improve something unless we talk about what works and what doesn’t. If it’s not your habit yet, create a new ritual with your partner that includes having a conversation about intimacy.
It is recommended to create a cosy set-up (not in the bedroom) and establish safety while sharing desires, needs or discomfort about sex. If you and your partner find it difficult to talk about sex, it might be fun to break the ice with the card game that is made exactly for this: “Pillow Talk” by the School of Life.
2. Letting go of shameFor many, talking about sex and admitting desires is rather unfamiliar. This not only makes conversations difficult, but also stands in the way of feeling comfortable with dirty talk. It can be helpful to work through our shame / guilt around sex, either with our partner or with a therapist.
Many women have shame about not enjoying sex enough. For them, it can be comforting to talk about sexuality with close friends or a professional, and realise they are not alone with this problem.
When it comes to letting go of shame together with your partner, it is a nice start to read an erotic book out loud to each other. This can also be very helpful when it comes to dirty talk.
Another great technique is to masturbate in front of each other, since the feeling of shame is often connected to pleasuring ourselves and being “caught.” If the idea of doing this creates great resistance in you, it is a sign that you should do it.
3. Creating distance, creating desireAlthough it is great to be the best friend of your partner and spend lots of time together, too much safety and closeness can diminish sexual tension. Desire naturally occurs when we are missing each other, as well as in situations when our partner’s behaviour is less predictable. The coronavirus lockdowns resulted in couples having to spend 24 / 7 together.
Consciously re-introducing space and unpredictability into our relationship can be done by spending more time apart or having periods when no sex is allowed (but teasing is). In addition, it is nice to share how much you’ve missed each other’s touch / kiss / body (parts), by writing each other dirty messages or using other forms of dirty talk.
It is also important to mention that desire is a very personal thing: some people get turned on by seeing their partner flirting with someone, while others find that a huge turn-off. When it comes to re-introducing the unpredictability factor in your relationship, it is important to share your preferences with one another.
4. Mixing the perfect “love hormone” cocktailResearch shows that the feeling of “love” is mainly based on three hormones: testosterone (sex drive), dopamine (triggers infatuation), and oxytocin (feeling of attachment). It is advisable to consciously induce these hormones by taking on new habits and activities.
TestosteroneTestosterone can be raised by exercise, competitiveness, and having a healthy work-life balance, whereas high stress levels can lead to a drop in testosterone and libido.
DopamineDopamine can be raised by cultivating novelty, romance, and / or adventure in your relationship. Travelling or stepping outside of our comfort zone increases dopamine levels, which helps us to feel more attracted to our partners. Introducing more unpredictability and longing has the same effect.
OxytocinOxytocin can be cultivated by physical closeness, cuddles and touch. It is important to mention that too much of this can create attachment but lack of desire too! The key is to always find the right balance between all of these “love hormones”!
5. Playing with polarity and rolesOne of the greatest challenges when it comes to sexuality in long-term relationships is to be stuck in a certain sexual dynamic. That it’s always the same person who initiates and the other surrenders. We both show only a part of ourselves, which often means the “caring and loving partner.”
For exhilarating sex, we need to be able to see our partner in a different light, and put on roles that might be unfamiliar or even uncomfortable at times. This journey can become a psychological “game” in the bedroom: we show and integrate forgotten, repressed parts of ourselves, in the arms of our beloved.
So, if it’s always your partner who is in charge in bed, initiates, and decides which position is next, switch up the roles and see what happens! You might be surprised how pleasurable it is for both of you when the roles are reversed.
Come up with fun role-play that might bring up those old times when you were just dating! Act like you are just two strangers, or each other’s neighbours, hooking up for a one-night stand. Put on a costume and a wig and act like you are another person.
For more adventurous people: play with different sexual archetypes, and power dynamics such as maid / houseowner, prostitute / client, teacher / student, boss / secretary, nurse / patient, or masseur / client. You can take these to another level by exploring kinks and even BDSM.
For more information on how to spice up your sex life and couples’ counselling go to Bonding Therapy.