If you’re coupled and stuck in a sexual rut, you’re not alone. While dry spells are a normal part of any relationship, it’s still no consolation for couples experiencing one. “Familiarity is the death of the sex drive,” Allison Moon author of “Girl Sex 101” told Healthline. “The more we get used to someone, the less exciting sex becomes.”
Here are some quick tips — some of which I’ve tried — to help reignite passion if your sex life is lacking.
“Go dancing or try yoga,” says Moon. “Once you affirm your connection with your own body, you can affirm your connection with your partner’s body.” One survey found that coupled but sexually inactive people were prone to feelings of sadness and felt unattractive. Reclaim your sexual power by finding new ways to move and get comfortable in your body.
“Doing something new creates a sense of bonding and intimacy. Think outside of the box and do an activity that might scare you or excite you, like an amusement park ride or an escape room,” advises Sunny Megatron, sex educator and co-host of the American Sex Podcast. “You will create dopamine and duplicate the same feelings you had in the honeymoon phase of your relationship.”
Experts say dopamine and other chemicals in the brain are directly linked to physical attraction and romantic passion, which is why bonding over a new activity together could help spark arousal.
“Take one night to have a raw discussion about what you do and don’t like sexually, explore new sex moves, and talk about your hidden fantasies,” Megatron told Healthline. “Don’t pressure yourself to be sexy, just experiment to see what you like and say what you normally avoid saying out of fear of embarrassing yourself or sounding insensitive.”
A 2016 online research survey on 1,200 men and women ages 18-25 showed that men and women have wildly different sexual expectations. These expectations are unlikely to change overnight, so couples must communicate their likes and dislikes in bed in order to have a mutually pleasurable experience.
“Taking a couples’ sex class can open up a whole new avenue of sex play,” says Megatron. Finding a one-night sex class is as easy as hopping on Eventbrite or Facebook. Couples can learn about new sex positions, techniques, and toys and props for sex play, in a learning environment that is fun — not intimidating.
When I took a bondage class with my partner, the sex educator was welcoming and made us feel comfortable. I recommend it to any couple that wants to have fun while learning new tricks.
“Go away to experiment with [a] little role-play. Make up backstories for your characters ahead of time, dress up, and have fun with it,” says Megatron. The U.S. Travel Association even reports that couples that travel together have better sex lives.
But, some couples working their way back to intimacy may find a sexy rendezvous challenging. “Going on a romantic getaway can create too much pressure to perform,” says Moon. “You will benefit even if you spend time together in ways that are nonsexual. Go hiking together or visit a new local spot.”
“Get to know each other’s experience of titillation,” says Moon. “There is porn that is couple-friendly.” For porn sites that offer female-friendly, queer-friendly, and couple-friendly alternatives, Moon suggests Sssh, Crashpadseries, and FrolicMe.
For couples that want to take a walk on the wild side, Megatron suggests attending a weekend sex convention. “There are sex conventions year-round in almost every city. They offer sex classes and you can observe sex play without participating. Reserve those ideas for when you get home later.” Sex conventions are listed on social sites including FetLife and Kasidie.
“Masturbating allows your partner to see you enjoy pleasure, which can build intimacy,” says Moon. Allowing your partner to witness how and where you like to be touched is practicing a level of vulnerability that encourages closeness. Masturbation also has numerous health benefits, including improving your mood and relieving pent-up stress, which is a great primer for more sex.
For adventurous couples, Megatron has a more daring suggestion. “Wear a remote-control sex toy on your date and let your partner hold the remote control. Use it as a form of extended foreplay to put your libidos in overdrive before you reach home.”
Lack of communication is often what leads to sex droughts in a relationship. According to the Guardian, a recent survey found that couples who argued frequently were 10 times happier than those that avoided conflict. “Practice having hard conversations,” says Moon. “Fostering intimacy can often be as simple as having a conversation you have been avoiding.”
Don’t get discouraged by what your partner says. Just remember that discovering what’s wrong in your relationship is part of making an effort to improve it. “There are solutions if you are willing to compromise,” says Megatron. “Even if you are sexually mismatched, you can get creative and fix those inequities.”
Stress and the busyness of life are other factors that affect sexual intimacy, but there are fruitful ways to overcome setbacks. “Sometimes you just need to tap into something simple to get back on track, but many people let fear or embarrassment stop them from trying,” says Megatron.
Shanon Lee is a Survivor Activist & Storyteller with features on HuffPost Live, The Wall Street Journal, TV One, and the REELZ Channel’s “Scandal Made Me Famous.” Her work appears in The Washington Post, The Lily, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Good Housekeeping, ELLE, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day, and Redbook. Shanon is a Women’s Media Center SheSource expert and an official member of the Speakers Bureau for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). She’s the writer, producer, and director of “Marital Rape Is Real.” Learn more about her work at Mylove4Writing.com.