‘I’m a Sex Therapist, and Here’s Why You Should Make Out With Your S.O. Every Night Before Bed’

Photo: Getty Images/ JLco - Julia Amaral
The early stages of a relationship are often teeming with sexual chemistry—the kind that makes your cheeks flush and sets loose the metaphorical sparks. As the honeymoon phase unfolds, new partners typically engage in a lot of sexual contact as a result. But over time, that initial fire often dims from a hot blaze to a simmer, as the relationship deepens and the people in it become more familiar with each other. That's not necessarily a bad thing; after all, there's far more to an intimate relationship than sex. But if the physical fire in your relationship gets extinguished entirely, or it's just not roaring like you wish it would, you might be looking for ways to reignite it, or perhaps get back to that excitement you felt during the kiss on your first date. One tactic that could help, according to sex therapist Vanessa Marin, LMFT? Making out with your partner every night.

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The idea first came to Marin, author of Sex Talks, when she confronted a dip in physical intimacy in her own relationship. In the first few months of the pandemic, when stay-at-home orders were in place, Marin realized that she and her husband of 15 years weren’t kissing each other hardly at all—which was unusual for them. “The night my husband and I met, we spent six hours making out, but then we got a couple years into our relationship, and I couldn’t tell you the last time we made out for more than a minute if it wasn’t around sex,” she says. When the pandemic hit, their kissing dry spell became a full-on drought.

"It has created this special connection and really brought the sense of intimacy and excitement back into our relationship."—Vanessa Marin, LMFT, sex therapist

To regain some of that early physical excitement, Marin and her husband decided to try making out with each other every night, incorporating just a 30-second or minute-long make-out session as part of their nighttime routine before bed. And they enjoyed this quarantine ritual so much, they're still going with the nightly make-outs three years later.

“The point was just to have a couple quick moments where we were fully present with each other and to try to channel some of that teenager energy,” says Marin, describing the unique hotness of a make-out session at an age when sex might not have been on the table. To similar effect, making out every night has become a way for Marin and her husband to engage in physical intimacy without necessarily tying it to the additional time and energetic burden of having sex. “It has created this special connection and really brought the sense of intimacy and excitement back into our relationship,” she says.

Below, Marin shares how and why making out with your partner every night before bed can help reignite the passion—and keep it burning—in a long-term relationship.

Why making out with your partner every night can boost your relationship

Many of the couples that Marin sees in her practice express to her that they miss the early stages of their relationship—when it was riddled with less shared responsibilities and more shared passion, and when the opportunity for kissing and sex wasn't always a given. As life happens and connections deepen, raw physical passion can take a backseat.

And that's where making out with your partner every night can come into play. These make-out sessions provide a dedicated opportunity for physical connection that might otherwise fall the wayside in long-term relationships, especially when the day-to-day tasks of work, cohabitation, and/or coparenting become all-consuming. "By the time you get into bed at night...the idea of having sex feels like this huge burden because you're so disconnected from each other," says Marin. "Making out is a way of keeping some of that sexual tension and excitement alive [without the added pressure of sex]."

Indeed, many long-term couples who've long graduated from the honeymoon phase only engage in passionate kissing or making out as a means to initiate sex, says Marin, which can create a strong link between any kind of physical contact and sex. Unfortunately, that tends to lead to less intimacy overall: If every passionate touch is linked with sex, you're probably not going to kiss your partner unless you're fully ready to get it on. And assuming that any physical contact from a partner implies a bid for sex could lead you to bristle or cringe upon being touched when you're not in the mood for sex.

Adding more kissing into your partnership just for kissing's sake can help detach physical intimacy from full-on sex, thereby lowering the barrier for participation. That is, it might just feel easier to kiss a partner more frequently if there's no subtext of sex. And kissing more often can only do positive things for your mutual feelings of intimacy and connection.

That's why Marin especially recommends the practice of making out with your partner every night to long-term couples who are feeling disconnected—but she also contends that any couple can benefit from it.

To get started, try it out for a month, and see where it leads without putting any pressure on yourselves. Just like anything you commit to doing every day, the result won't always be the same. As for Marin and her husband's experience? "Some nights, [the kissing] does lead to more," she says. "But some nights, we're exhausted, and we're just like, 'Great, that was 10 seconds of fun contact.'" On other nights, they might forgo the kissing altogether (for instance, if they're having a fight or one of them is sick). But in general, they try to kiss for at least a few seconds each night with no expectations of it leading to anything else.

You can also adjust the practice to make it yours, adds Marin. For example, if you don’t like kissing with tongue, don’t, and if you’d rather make out in the morning instead of at night, go for that instead. And if kissing really isn’t pleasurable to you at all, she suggests trying some other form of daily physical contact, whether that's cuddling, hugging, or holding hands on the couch. “The idea is to choose something that feels very practicable and doable, no matter how tired you might be,” she says.

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