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Getting More Sex in a Long-Term Relationship

Oct. 28, 2010
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How do I initiate more "knocking the boots" in an eight-year relationship?

Sex in a long-term relationship typically has a different pace and feel from sex in a new relationship. During those heady early days with a new partner, levels of sexual desire are high, and everything else in our lives takes a back seat to spending time with this person. Novelty and excitement about exploring sexual possibilities can add up to lots of boot-knocking. As we move out of the new-relationship phase and into something deeper, our sense of intimacy, trust and love grows, but we often lose that raw sexual passion. Our partner begins to occupy a central place in our lives, but sex begins to take a back seat to other priorities.

To increase the amount of lovin’ you have in a long-term relationship, it's essential for both people to consciously re-prioritize sex. We often unrealistically expect sex to be spontaneous and to just "happen" without any kind of planning or communication. If it doesn't happen this way, we think something is wrong with us or with the relationship. Couples also frequently have differing levels of desire for sex, with one person wanting more and the other less.

I suggest talking frankly to your partner about wanting more sex in your relationship, not in a demanding way, but in a way that lets him or her know that you miss the intimacy that you used to have and want to get back to that place. Ask how your partner feels about the amount of sex you're currently having. Talk about what might be getting in the way of sex—not enough time? Too tired? Too many family or work responsibilities? Underlying relationship issues that have caused some kind of rift? Big life changes, such as getting or losing a job, having children and moving, among other things, can also hugely impact a person's self-image and desire for sex. Mental and physical health can also play a role. If you can identify some things that are getting in the way of sex, you can also work on a solution to these issues.

Have a conversation with your partner about how often each of you would ideally like to have sex. Every day? A few times a week? Once a week? A few times a month? If there's a large discrepancy between your two ideals, can you reach a compromise that will make both of you happy? This compromise can involve the number of times that you have sex, and also the way you have it—perhaps the person who would be happier with less sex would be willing to hold or talk dirty to his or her partner while that person masturbated.

Once you've talked about what's getting in the way of sex and how often you'd ideally like to have it, set aside time in your schedule to get down to business. Plan a date and time for sex and whatever activities help get you in the mood. Invest in some new props—lingerie, couples' games, sex-position books or slings, restraints or other toys that you haven't tried before. If you're not feeling it when the appointed time rolls around, start slow and warm up to it. Don't blow off your date—you owe it to your relationship to invest energy in making it work. Even if you feel more like a massage than any kind of penetrative sex when the moment comes, take time to be sensual with one another.

Since it is so common for sex to become less frequent in long-term relationships, there are lots of books out there about how to deal with this issue. Two I recommend are Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel and Sex Recharge: A Rejuvenation Plan for Singles and Couples by Ian Kerner.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to
laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the
Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side.


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