Long-term relationships all have one thing in common: they are long. And sometimes, sexual pleasure can suffer when people end up in a routine that’s fast but effective. But a long-term relationship—even one that’s monogamous—doesn’t have to equate with boredom.
Good sex, even great sex, with someone you care about deeply, can get boring. There are upsides to having a routine: you both know what works, you can finish quickly, and you don’t have to put a ton of effort into being creative or seducing your partner. For busy people, the upsides to having a routine can easily outweigh the downsides—at least or a while. But since you and your partner are both dynamic, evolving, nuanced beings, it makes sense that a sex life can’t thrive unless it is changing and growing with you.
Think, for a moment, about when you met your partner. How long ago was it? If you’re in a long-term relationship, many things have likely changed since you met. Possibly your car, your address, your hobbies, perhaps even your friends! If the way you have sex hasn’t changed, your sex life is probably suffering. You’re both different people now, and your sex life can and should age with you.
The Safety Dance
The safety you feel with your partner can deeply enhance your sex life, but it’s vital to push yourself, just a little. So that the security, care, and intimacy you feel when you’re with your long-term partner don’t turn into tedium, you must continue to explore, try new activities, and go outside your comfort zone. The adrenaline you have when you’re with a new partner comes from the unknown, so find the places that are still unknown in your sexual universe with your current partner.
The Space Between
When you and your partner have gotten into a routine or, worse, are going through a sexless phase, sometimes affairs happen. If the couple can heal from the betrayal, though painful, this cataclysmic event can generate a conversation that needed to happen a long time ago. How do you want to stay sexually connected in the future?
The distance that was forced between you when the affair came to light can in fact create the space for partners to realize that there is still some unknown in their relationship. This distance—especially in combination with intimacy—is a good thing for your sex life because the distance means you still have more to discover. And when you spend time with your partner in bed re-discovering them, the sex almost automatically becomes more erotic.
Make Space for Change
Change happens in good relationships. And, if we are expected to be the same person, day after day, year after year, we all feel stuck. So often, affairs are a product less of wanting to find a new person than wanting to change your own identity. Monogamy is certainly not the best path for every couple. But, a great way to help circumvent unnecessary affairs is to give your partner the space to grow, change, and develop as a person. And you need to nurture your sex lives, similarly.
So, be brave and be curious about your partner’s ever-evolving sexuality and identity. And if you need some help, seek out a therapist that specializes in sexual pleasure to use professional guidance to heal and grow your relationship.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform.
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