In long-term partnered relationships, sex can get routine over time. And when sex is routine, it inherently gets less exciting, perhaps even stale. This might make it less frequent, less enjoyable, and even like a straight-up chore. If this sounds familiar, and you’re relying on the same, tired sex positions and techniques despite them having lost their intrigue long ago, you may need to learn how to get out of a sex rut—because, friend, you’re likely in a deep one, and you don’t want to stay there forever.
Common signs of a sex rut include feeling disconnected from your partner sexually and emotionally, a drop in libido and sexual frequency, and a reliance on routine, says Jennifer Litner, certified sex therapist. But the good news is that you don’t have to stay there forever—and you certainly wouldn’t want to for the sake of your own mental health and intimate bond with your partner.
See, by prioritizing your sexual relationship, you may be able to boost a sense of intimacy within the scope of your partnership and even reduce your own stress. So if you’re stuck, it’s time to learn how to get out of a sex rut. Below, learn common reasons you might’ve gotten in the rut to start, and actionable tips for how to get out.
Common causes of getting stuck in a sex rut
Getting stuck in a sex rut can happen for a number of reasons, and a big one is stress. It should go without staying that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many are finding themselves navigating more and new forms of stress right now—like say, going to the grocery store. As a result, sex may not seem like a top priority or even very much fun right now, and that makes sense.
“A lot of people are experiencing lower libido right now due to stressors, fatigue, illness, and mental-health struggles related to quarantine,” says Jennifer Litner, certified sex therapist. “When people are outside of their typical schedule and routine—spending more time with the people they live with, feeling disconnected from a partner who they don’t live with, changes with childcare and parenting responsibilities, and beyond—it can have an inhibitory effect on libido.”
“When people are outside of their typical schedule and routine, it can have an inhibitory effect on libido.” —Jennifer Litner, certified sex therapist
Stress aside, couples in long-term relationships may find themselves in a sex rut, as after the neurochemicals dopamine and norepinephrine start to dwindle, so too can that feeling of butterflies, says certified sexologist Jordin Wiggins, ND. Dr. Wiggings adds that prioritizing communication, pleasure, and stress-reduction are key for avoiding sex ruts.
But if you’re currently in a sex rut, what can you do? Below, experts offer actionable tips to help you and your partner get out of a sex rut and find new levels of exciting pleasure.
5 tips for how to get out of a sex rut
1. Do something new
“Try incorporating novelty to boost excitement,” says Litner. This can be role-playing, having sex in different places beyond the bed, and watching erotica.
“Incorporate fantasy into sex—thinking about being somewhere or someone other than you are can heighten arousal,” says Litner. You can also try to simulate the novelty of vacation sex by pretending you’re somewhere else entirely.
2. Schedule more intimate date nights
To address an issue of sex frequency, try scheduling sex as you would an appointment. “Scheduling time to connect intimately—solo, or with a partner—can be helpful,” says Litner. It’ll help you get back into the act of sex and pleasure, and you’ll remember how great it can be, once again.
“This doesn’t necessarily have to be sex—just something that feels good. It takes the pressure off sex, but allows for connection and intimacy,” she adds. This might mean having more romantic dinners, or lighting candles and taking a bath together, or watching movies while cuddling under blankets. Bringing back non-sexual intimacy can help you re-connect and perhaps even want to engage in sex more often, minus any pressure to do so.
3. Think of the past
If the spark has dimmed, you might be able to re-light it by remembering the old days when you first met. “Reminiscing pleasurable moments you’ve had in the past can help for partners who have been together for a while,” says Litner.
This might mean re-creating your first date or revisiting other activities you used to enjoy.
Being intimate with yourself first can be the best way to re-ignite your desire. “Self-pleasure [can improve] communication and intimacy in relationships and improves relaxation, sleep, dopamine production, and mood,” says Dr. Wiggins. Masturbating can also help you learn what you might like to experience more of in bed, which you can then articulate to your partner.
5. Try mutual masturbation
Try it with your partner, so you can show one another what you like. Consider the act a lesson and demonstration all in one that will increase pleasure all around. “Practicing this intimate activity can be great to do together because it is erotic and strengthens intimacy,” says Dr. Wiggins.
With mutual masturbation, you can literally show your partner how you liked to be touched. And, hey, consider bringing a toy into the mix if you haven’t before as a spicy strategy to help you out of your sex rut.
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