As the years tick away in a relationship, sex can quickly lose its mojo.
Things happen that may impact desire: work schedules clash, libido-limiting health stuff shows up – or you might just have kids. For some couples, issues that arise in the relationship can fuel resentment, meaning sex is the last thing on their minds. For others, life simply gets in the way.
Sexual desire tends to be considered an important element of a positive romantic relationship, so researchers wanted to know how couples in long-term relationships can get that elusive spark back.
The key appears be in learning new experiences together that expand your worldview and sense of self – also known as self-expansion.
Across three studies – a 21-day daily experience study, a one-month weekly experience study, and an experimental study – researchers tested whether closeness (feeling close to a romantic partner) and otherness (seeing them in a new light by learning new things about them) helped boost desire.
They found self-expansion was associated with higher closeness and otherness, and, in turn, higher sexual desire. So it’s important to foster closeness and otherness in your relationship if you want to keep things spicy.
And no, simply feeling close to your partner isn’t enough to increase desire, the studies suggested. You need to gain that sense of otherness, too – and that involves learning new things about them.
It’s a very fine balance. As Psychology Today puts it: “Individuals in a romantic relationship often function best when they feel connected but distinct and have both a sense of belonging and autonomy.”
So how can you do that? Here are a few ideas to get you started: