Ever felt heart palpitations, belly butterflies, brain buzzing, and toe tingles alongside the start of a new romantic fling? That, friends, is new relationship energy (NRE), and it’s a joy to feel. “New relationship energy is the phase when feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin flood your brain and body,” says sex educator Marla Renee Stewart, co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay and sexologist with sex-product store Lovers. Basically, it’s the “honeymoon phase.”
Exactly how long into the relationship this feeling lasts can vary, depending on a number of factors—like how often you see each other, how often you text between IRL visits, the type of relationship, and the lovers involved themselves. But as a generalization, Stewart says it tends to burn off by the six-month mark. That said, longtime daters—need not fear. There are ways to prolong that brand-new feeling or even bring it back (even if it’s been years). Get the expert tips below.
Read on for 6 expert tips to bring sexy new relationship energy into your long-term relationship.
1. Spend time apart
“Part of what activates those NRE chemicals at the beginning of a relationship are the differences between you and the person(s) you’re dating,” says Rachel Wright, LMFT, a psychotherapist and sex educator who specializes in non-traditional relationship structures. Later on in relationships—and especially after moving in together—you and your partner(s) can begin to lose your individuality, she adds. “And when you each lose your individuality within the relationship, you’re actually repressing those NRE chemicals.”
That’s exactly why Wright recommends taking time apart as a strategy for protecting or even resurrecting the magic of the early stages. And even if you’re sharing all of your time and space these days in quarantine, you can still set boundaries to help protect a sense of alone time.
2. Incorporate a new pleasure product
“Sex toys are an excellent way to add to the novelty aspect of a relationship, because it’s almost like solving a fun puzzle,” says Tatyannah King, a sex educator and sex coach with Blex Technologies. First you get to decide which toy to buy (vibrators, non-vibrators, options specifically geared toward couples, whatever you want!). Then, you have to figure out how to use it. Finally, it’s time to actually use the toy together. “This process forces you all to find the language to communicate your needs and wants, so using a new sex toy involves not only pleasure, but communication and learning,” King says.
3. Have a threesome
Having a threesome can absolutely reignite the sexual spark in your relationship, so long as both parties are interested in exploring the dynamic, says King. That’s because a threesome allows you both to indulge in a shared fantasy and also provides access to potentially pleasurable scenarios that can draw out new relationship energy. For example, “seeing your partner being desired can remind you what it is you saw in them originally,” Wright says.
But, before making any plans—and definitely before taking any actions—make sure to communicate and then communicate some more about ground rules, expectations, and emotions surrounding the act. “Consider who you want the third person to be, who is going to be the center of attention during the threesome, what barrier methods you’re going to use [for protection], and how you’re going to take care of each other’s needs after play,” says King.
If you’re into the idea of group sex but nervous about translating it into action, consider hiring a professional sex worker. “When the third or fourth is a professional, it eliminates some of the potential complications,” says King. For two examples, consider someone catching feelings or the additional party not knowing their own boundaries.
4. …Or a virtual threesome
When engaging with group sex in a video-only way, conversations and concerns about STI transmission, COVID exposure, and who can touch whom where all become moot. A digital threesome with you and your partner in one place and a third in another location allows you to experience some of the voyeuristic and exhibitionist pleasures of group play, without as many of the risks, says King. (Just be sure to pick your virtual platform wisely: Many platforms, including Zoom, Skype, and Instagram—have explicit rules against X-rated exchanges.)
5. Re-commit to your solo sex life
While it might sound counterintuitive, practicing self-pleasure more frequently can actually bring back some of the feel-good sensations of new relationship energy, says Stewart. Plus, as Emily Morse, PhD, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, previously told Well+Good, “the more you reinforce the benefits of masturbation as a couple and as an [individual], while continuing to communicate about your sex life, the better sex you’ll have.”
Better sex? Sound emblematic of new relationship energy to me.
6. Exchange nudes…regularly
You need to be granted consent before sending any NSFW texts or photos, but King says asking permission can actually build anticipation and heighten intimacy levels, especially if seeing one another naked has become stale or routine. You can send a leading text like, “Can I show you what I’m wearing under my dress today?” Or, you can ask for blanket-permission to send nudes wherever, whenever. For example: “The idea of turning you on at inopportune times really turns me on. Do I have your permission to surprise you with some sultry photos throughout the week.”
And then, once you’re granted that consent, the rest of the exercise speaks for itself. Consider your new relationship energy restored.
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