Here’s how to keep the passion alive for the both of you

Nothing can compare with the heart-racing highs of early-relationship sex, right?

But as time goes by, the passionate, must-have-you-nows often become fewer and farther between—and before you know it, you’re in a sex rut, looking back to those early days with envy.

We’re not going to sugar-coat it: Sex does change as you progress through a long-term relationship.

When you first become a twosome, everything feels new, and you put a whole lot of effort into connecting with your partner, explains sex researcher and relationship therapist Sarah Hunter Murray, Ph.D. But that level of energy isn’ t sustainable: Eventually, you have to refocus your attention to other parts of your life, and with that, your sex life starts to change.

As a result, sex often becomes less frequent, exciting, and passionate.

But just because your relationship doesn’t feel as high as it was in those first few months, doesn’t mean you’re never going to get those moments of spark back, says Murray.

In fact, she and her team were determined to get to the bottom of what makes guys tick when they’re in a long-term relationship. After conducting in-depth interviews with 30 middle-age men who had been with their partner for at least two and a half years, they discovered a few common threads that were key to sparking their desire.

Here are the top factors that may influence your sex life as your relationship progresses—and what you can do to keep the passion alive for the both of you.

 

HAVE HOTTER SEX: YOU SHOULD FEEL LIKE SHE WANTS YOU
Why it matters: More than 70 percent of men said feeling wanted by their partner had the largest impact on their sexual desire.

When you first start dating someone, it’s usually pretty obvious that she’s into you. But over time, that I-need-you-now feeling tends to fizzle out, which can lead to the same day-to-day routine in and outside of the bedroom, says Murray.

Bottom line is, it’s just nice to be reassured that you still get her going, explains Murray.

“There has to be a need to be wanted to the point where you feel as though they need you as much as you need them,” one man explained in his interview.

How to make it happen: If you want to be subtle, just positively reinforce moments when she makes you feel attractive, suggests Murray. If she tells you that you look sexy in your new suit, let her know how much it means to hear that from her.

Men in the study said the most significant evidence of their partner’s desire was when she initiated sex—so if there’s ever a moment that she comes onto you first, don’t hesitate to tell her how hot it was, Murray says. Hearing that you liked it might reassure her to try it again.

If you still feel like you’re not getting anywhere after making your feelings known, just trying being direct: Tell her how much it matters to you—there’s a big chance she doesn’t realise how important feeling wanted is to you, says Murray.

Pay it forward: Feeling desired is just as important for her as it is for you, says Murray. Even small compliments can go a long way: Tell her how cute her butt looks in those new jeans—little moments like this can help keep that spark lit.

 

HAVE HOTTER SEX: YOU SHOULD TRY SOMETHING NEW IN BED
Why it matters: Spontaneity is key: 66 percent of men in the study described enjoying sex that was relatively unplanned or unexpected.

“Some things that we know about men and sex are true,” says Murray. “These were men in long term relationships, so naturally there was going to be some routine and monotony that fell into their sex life.”

While having sex at the same time every single day is perfectly okay, it just feels good—physically and mentally—to spice it up every now and then, says Murray. Remember that fiery sex you had when you first started dating? One of the best ways to recreate that feeling is by experimenting in bed.

The element of surprise turned most guys on. “It almost feels more exciting, more stimulating… it just feels better,” one man explained.

How to make it happen: You don’t need to go full-blown out of either yours or her comfort zone to heat things up. If you have sex every Saturday morning at the exact same time, try initiating a quickie after work on a Wednesday or before dinner on a Friday night, suggests Murray.

You can also try a new place, she says. Get frisky in a hotel room or even in your living room, instead of your bedroom.

Pay it forward: There are countless ways you can make sex exciting for her again, says Murray. If you want to get adventurous, ask her she wants to incorporate a sex toy in bed.
If you’re not ready for toys just yet, ask her if there’s a new position she’d like to experiment with or a fantasy she’d like to act out—her answer might just be the excitement you’re looking for, too.

 

HAVE HOTTER SEX: YOU SHOULD DATE HER AGAIN
Why it matters: Just over 50 percent of guys reported that intimate communication was necessary to feel sexual desire.

Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds: Intimate communication simply means having a conversation you haven’t had in a while, explains Murray.

“When we go on dates in the beginning of a relationship, we give our partner our full attention,” she says. “We talk, we get to know them, we get to know their inner world. Over time, we assume that we know everything about our partner and we don’t necessarily engage in conversation with that same level of curiosity.”

But those conversations shouldn’t stop just because you’ve been together forever. You naturally feel connection through conversation and eventually, you’ll want to express that connection physically, says Murray.

How to make it happen:
Women typically feel like initiating conversation is on their shoulders, says Murray, so it’s up to you to make an effort if you feel like you’re not talking as much as you used to.

Find a time every day to catch up, she suggests. Avoid talking about what’s for dinner, and really ask her questions about her day, what her friends are up to, or anything exciting she’s recently experienced. It’s as simple as sitting down for a beer and a chat after you both get home from work.

Pay it forward: Carve out 20 minutes of pillow talk before you got to sleep, suggests Murray. Unplug and give her your full attention—that conversation may just turn into something more.

Article originally published on menshealth.com