Couples often put their sex life on a back burner for years, only to question why their spouse feels more like a roommate later. Below I share five practical intimacy tips that will help you stay excited about your partner long-term.

1. Be ok with both your or your partner’s libido fluctuating over time.

Carol and Sam are in their late 20s. They have been together for five years. Sam is frustrated with Carol barely wanting to have sex. He blames it on her low sex drive. They also casually mention that in the last 3 months Carol had to deal with taking care of a sick family member, packing for a cross-country move, and starting a new job… 

Our desire to have sex varies throughout our lifetimes, depending on a multitude of factors.

Here are some things that can easily diminish your sex drive:

  • Being tired or stressed
  • Taking antidepressants and other types of medication that impact your sexual response
  • Feeling distracted, not being able to relax and be fully present; being worried about kids hearing or walking in on you, pregnancy or STIs concerns, any physical discomfort (for instance, being too cold or hot), performance anxiety, struggling with body image, not feeling safe with your partner, etc.
  • Women’s desire often shifts depending on where they are in their cycle, as well as whether they are peri- or post-menopausal. Men’s testosterone levels will also impact their drive.

2. Schedule sex dates

Dave and Kim’s relationship started with a hot passionate sex seven times a week. Kim was up for anything: from 69 to dirty-talk to sex in public; she was open-minded and adventurous. Dave was so thrilled that he finally met someone who had a similar sex drive. After the first six months, though, things drastically changed. Kim often would find an excuse not to have sex, one day, “she is too tired after work,” another “too full after dinner…” She explains it with “Dave not being as crazy about her as when they first started dating.” Dave feels the same. They love each other but are perplexed about why sex became non-existent.

There is so much resistance to scheduling sex in our culture. Because “isn’t it supposed to happen on its own? The way it was when we first started dating. “

The short answer is: it’s a fairy tale that Hollywood movies and romantic novels fed us from an early age. So, it’s hard not to subscribe to it.

The long answer is that during your “honeymoon phase,” your brain was flooded with powerful chemicals. They are responsible for helping you feel euphoria and sexual excitement without you needing to do much for it. It is nature’s way to ensure we will procreate. 6-12 months later, your brain returns to normal, and it’s about time you start wondering why sex doesn’t happen spontaneously anymore.

That said, you need to remember that at the beginning you also put way more effort and energy into helping your partner feel special: maybe you dressed up, maybe planned a fun adventure, stayed up late or called in sick to work just to spend a few extra hours in bed.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things and reinvent yourself

After the first three years together, Jim noticed that Lucy would never initiate sex. When confronted about it, she shared that all other partners she had loved to tie her up, dirty-talk, spank, and she wished Jim was kinkier. Jim feels that after three years of being together, it would feel “gimmicky” to try any of these activities. He also doesn’t want to be “competing” with Lucy’s exes.

Sometimes people assume that if they have been having sex with their partner in a particular way for years, it would feel “gimmicky” to try something different. And yes, doing something for the first time can be awkward, but is it a good reason not to try it at all? 

Start small, try something new that is not too outside of your comfort zone, agree to play nice, and support each other through the experience. Later talk about what worked well and what could be improved. Remember, nobody starts off being an excellent chef, baseball player, or a lover.

4. Find time for solo-pleasure and self-exploration

“I’ve been with my husband for 35 years. I’ve always felt numb, and sex just never felt free or fun or amazing. I always assumed that I should feel pleasure from intercourse and thought I must have been broken inside for not feeling it. It’s not until last year when I found a sex coach; I started to realize how much I contributed to my lackluster sex life. Reconnecting with my body and having a consistent self-pleasure practice was life-changing! Being able to feel sexually alive and ecstatic on my own completely changed how I show up in the bedroom.” – Sara

If you don’t know what you like and how to make your body feel good, chances are it will be hard for your partner to figure it out. You’ll make your lover’s life so much easier if you can give them a tip or five on how to drive you wild.

Put time and energy into finding out what turns you on, what is pleasant, what type of touch you prefer. Which of the senses would you like to amplify: visual, touch, taste, smell? Do you want to hear them moan or whisper sweet nothings in your ear, get some spanking or spank them, would you like to use fantasy or smell their pheromones.

At the end of the day, if you want to have great sex, you’ll have to explore and own your needs and desires. Communicate it or show it to your partner. Don’t wait for them to read your mind.

5. Get comfortable talking about sex

“One of the reasons why I don’t get the kind of sex that I want is that I have a hard time asking for what I want. I rather avoid having sex with that person altogether than stepping up and asking for what I need.” – Milli

Many couples struggle in the sex department silently, hoping that issues would solve themselves on their own if only they wait long enough. Unfortunately, more often than not, it results in feeling more disconnected, resenting each other, and looking for sexual outlets elsewhere.

I don’t blame you for being resentful talking about sex. Many of us grew up in families where the topic was avoided at all costs.

How many role models did you have in how to talk openly about pleasure and sex? How many of us feel comfortable just receiving, as well as unapologetically asking for it? It feels indulgent, often resulting in us trying to take care of our partner, make sure they aren’t bored, etc.

The bottom line, talking about sex doesn’t come naturally to many. It is also one of the best ways to ensure you’ll be loved the way that works for you.