A previous version of this article sharing 8 tips from sexperts to keep the romance alive in a longterm relationship appeared in Blood + Milk.
Maintaining a deep connection and keeping a strong spark alive in your long term relationship is no easy feat. Too often, intimacy gets traded for desire and while that’s not inherently bad, we know that you want both!
August is Romance Awareness Month so we chatted with sexperts to find out how they keep finding their happily ever after—no matter how long they’ve been together or what life has thrown their way. We guarantee you’ll find wisdom in here to help you find freedom in pleasure too!
Talk about sex outside the bedroom
Go on dates or plan times where you talk about your sex life outside of the moment. Bring up past sexual experiences you had with each other that were particularly “hot” or pleasurable for you. Talk about what made it that way, check-in about current fantasies, google yes no maybe lists and go through them together. Doing this outside of the moment can sometimes get the body and mind anticipating the next time and anticipation can often enhance pleasure. – Lindsey Devin, LMFT
Keep dating each other
One of the biggest mistakes long term couples make is that they stop planning dates with each other. It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine with a partner and make less of an effort because there is a mindset that courting only happens in the early stages of a relationship. Well, screw that! Keep things fresh by taking each other on dates! You could schedule a swanky date at a fancy restaurant that only takes reservations, dress up (because why not). You could also surprise your partner with a spontaneous day trip or overnight staycation in your town (if they like surprises). Make it special. Don’t save those dates for special occasions…break the unspoken rules to keep things fresh! – Erin Tillman, Dating Empowerment Coach
Take time to reflect and appreciate what you have in your person
I think about all the little things they do and take note of their love language and just make time for either thinking of them or physically being with them. Like, lying down and looking into each other’s eyes and talking about some funny memory or the day. – Amber Mallery, sex educator
Spend some time apart
Research shows that there may be some truth to the phrase “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” According to a 2013 study published in The Journal of Communication, physical distance in romantic couples can actually bring them emotionally closer. Whether people decide to go away for the weekend with their friends or visit their family members alone, not being with their partner gives them a chance to genuinely miss them and long for their presence. Spending time apart makes for fresh stories to tell your partner when you meet up again so that your conversations are more meaningful as opposed to talking about the usual plans, routines, kids, etc. Also, spending time apart can provide couples with a sense of internal reassurance that their relationship hasn’t hit a rut. If you can be surrounded by other people, surroundings, and activities without your long-term partner yet still think about them often, wishing that they were there with you to share the same experiences, then that’s a great sign that the spark is still alive. – Tatyannah King, sex educator
Circle back to your partner and own up to the ways you may not be holding up your part of the partnership and apologize
I’m not perfect and my own bad habits can pop up from time to time. Earlier this week I did this: I crouched down in front of my partner as he sat in his office chair and gave a detailed and heartfelt apology for the ways I haven’t been the best partner recently and for my part in recent communication failures. I noticed how this sincere apology deeply affected my partner. That act combined with his softness in accepting my apology really helped me and my partner reconnect. – Lanae St.John, DHS, CSC, ACS, sexologist
I love to suggest this to long term couples in order to keep the spark alive in their relationship. Everyone gasps at first and thinks it’s a little on the corny side, BUT it works. We schedule everything else today, why not sex? Scheduling sex makes sure that you’re putting intimacy as a priority, can help with desire by way of anticipation, and also lends itself to opening couples up to explore different types of sex. – Shani Hart, certified sex coach
Don’t be afraid to experiment
After almost 18 years of marriage, my husband and I have tried many things to keep the spark alive. Don’t be afraid to experiment because we change and grow and the same thing that worked a few years ago may not today. My husband and I have our own mini-romance book club. We listen to audiobooks on our own and check in each day to talk about the characters, their relationships, and how they’re going to find their happy ending. It doesn’t hurt that steamy scenes provide us with inspiration in the bedroom. –Thien-Kim Lam, Founder of Bawdy Bookworms
Forget the rest of the world exists for 3-4 hours one day a week
We have been together 24/7 since March and we still make sure we have date night. We have a night devoted to each other not talking about work, family, politics or COVID. Do activities to reconnect with each other such as love mapping, watching movies or binge watching shows together. With Covid we have been limited to what we can do outside but a picnic in park or drive in movies are options. It is that time and dedication to each other. – Angelique Luna, a sex podcaster and coach
What are you best tips for keeping the spark alive? Tell us below.