Rewind to the beginning of your relationship. Sex probably felt steamy, exciting, and spontaneous, right? In every long-term relationship I’ve been in, sex is thrilling at the beginning. Almost effortless. A simple kiss is intoxicating. I get turned on easily, and I am wrapped up in the excitement of sex.
This, however, has never lasted in my relationships. Usually, about a year in, sex changes. It takes much more effort and doesn’t feel as exciting. For many couples, sex can even become tedious or dull. In fact, it’s actually quite common to get bored of sex with your partner. Is this sex rut inevitable though? Does every long-term couple end up having boring sex? And is it possible to get out of this funk? Rest assured, we have answers. This article will explain why you might be having boring sex and exactly what to do about it.
Why sex gets boring
Sex can get boring when it lacks novelty
“When our brain gets used to the same visuals, scents, and activities, it becomes monotonous. It’s like eating pizza every day. You get bored of it after a while even though you love pizza,” Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, professor of sexuality at California State University Fullerton, explains.
While some people might thrive on predictability and consistency, other people need a high level of novelty to be sexually fulfilled, and many people fall somewhere in the middle. “If your sex life has been the exact same routine for a while and it lacks variety, it can be very boring,” says Dr. Tara. If you’re having sex in the same spot on your bed, initiated the same way, and in the same positions, this could be the culprit.
Long-term partners may not try as hard
“When you’re in a new relationship, [oftentimes] you put more effort into your sexual encounters,” Dr. Tara explains, “Sex is more focused, intentional, and passionate.” After you’ve been together for a long time, however, it’s easy to assume that you know everything about your partner and that there’s nothing new to discover about them. This can make sex feel very boring and even cause you to become complacent and put less effort into sex.”
Stress and life changes
“External factors such as stress, fatigue, and life changes can also contribute to sexual boredom,” therapist and adjunct professor with Columbia University School of Social Work, Amira R Martin, told me. For many people, work-related stress, financial issues, having a child, the loss of a family member, moving, or just a long to-do list can decrease your libido and interest in sex and can strain your relationship with your partner. All of this can lead to boring sex.
Lack of emotional connection
Your mental state is one of the most important elements of having good sex. If you and your partner are fighting, if you feel unseen or unappreciated, if there’s resentment in your relationship, or if you just feel distant, these emotional challenges can cause you to feel disconnected and make sex boring, monotonous, or flat-out unenjoyable.
What to do if sex with your partner is getting boring
If you feel like sex is getting boring, there is absolutely no need to panic. “I often hear clients express frustration with the lack of excitement and passion in their sexual relationships,” Martin explains, “While sexual boredom can be a common experience for many couples, it’s important to recognize that it’s a solvable problem.” Here are six ways to break out of boring sex.
Have a (very) vulnerable conversation
I know, I know, it would be much easier to just get a new sex toy (and this might help!), but having an honest conversation about how you feel is crucial to breaking out of bedroom boredom, especially if you and your partner feel emotionally disconnected.
To do this, “find a ‘neutral’ time and space to initiate this conversation,” Neha Prabhu, M.S., LMFT, explains. Like when you’re cooking dinner, on a walk, or hanging out one afternoon. Do not—I repeat, do not—have this conversation right before or after sex. This can make the conversation feel like criticism. Start by saying what you do like about sex and what your partner does well. Then, using “I” statements, tell them how you feel and what you want to be different about sex.
Prioritize novelty *outside* the bedroom
When we believe we know everything about our partner—both in the bedroom and outside of the bedroom—not only does sex feel boring, but the rest of the relationship can feel boring, too. Seek out novelty in sex and also in other parts of your relationship. “As Esther Perel says, ‘The most overlooked erotic organ is our mind’, so seek moments with your partner that cultivates pleasure, closeness, and vibrancy physically and emotionally,” Prabhu says. Consider an activity you’ve never tried, like cooking a new recipe, going to see a comedy show, or taking a class.
Try sensation play
When sex is boring, it’s often because you’re accustomed to the stimuli. Sensation play can be a great way to tune into new, and perhaps more intense, sensations. There are lots of ways to try sensation play, so if you choose this route, be sure to research it. Simple places to start are experimenting with temperature, like putting ice in your mouth or sipping hot tea and then kissing or going down on each other. You can use a blindfold to heighten your other senses, experiment with light (or hard) spanking, or perhaps have your partner run warm massage oil down your back.
Turn up the heat by taking sex off the table
“Sensate focus” is an exercise designed to build emotional and sexual intimacy. For 10 minutes, one partner is the giver and the other is the receiver (you’ll take turns). While practicing consent, the giver touches the receiver with only the intention of noticing how it feels to touch your partner or be touched by your partner. “The aim of the exercise is to free yourself from distractions that are created when a mission is set [like sex], and instead focus on enjoying the physical contact with your partner that is interesting and enjoyable for you.” While it may sound contradicting, taking sex off the table can actually heighten arousal.
Fill out a yes/no/maybe list
A yes/no/maybe list is a list of sexual behaviors that you and your partner mark with a yes, no, or maybe to indicate your level of interest in trying it. For many, this is one of the best ways to get out of a sex rut because it gives you ideas you may have never even considered, helps you learn things you didn’t know about your partner and can be a much easier way to start a conversation about sex or bring up “taboo” activities.
Prioritize your emotional connection
Having underlying resentment, frustration, or disconnect in your relationship can be one of the biggest factors contributing to boring sex. If you’re in this situation, prioritize your emotional connection by spending quality time together, expressing how you feel, seeing a couple’s therapist, and working through conflict. Having a breakthrough in your emotional intimacy can be a game changer in your sex life.
If sex has gotten boring, there’s no need to worry and there are solutions. Boring sex doesn’t mean your relationship is failing. Take inventory of which reasons on this list you think could be causing boring sex and experiment with different strategies.