Esther Perel, psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of “Mating in Captivity,” has a lot to say on the topic of desire — and how to keep it going in long-term relationships. Her TED Talk on the subject has generated a cool 14 million views to date, and counting.
In Perel’s words, we have a “strong need, men and women, for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown, for the unexpected surprise.”
A thriving sex life can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, but like many things, it requires thought and work to keep it going strong. If you’re ready to try incorporating some of the adventure, novelty, and mystery that Perel speaks of, these ideas may help.
1. Dive into some distance
If eroticism is based on the unknown, then maintain some unknown in your relationship. You don’t have to create a secret life, but perhaps keep the more mundane aspects of your life secret. Many of us engage in constant, all-day communication with our romantic partners about traffic, errands, work stress, and what we had for lunch. Just try to get turned on thinking about a turkey on rye!
Instead of sharing those bland details, when you’re feeling the desire to connect with your partner, reach out instead with a flirty text like, “Thinking about our last kiss and can’t wait until the next one… 🔥😘💃🏼.” Yes, lighten things up with some emojis. As silly and cartoony as they are, the visual element increases our ability to fantasize and therefore raises the heat.
2. Balance vulnerability and therapy
“Be vulnerable” is a message that we’re hearing more and more from personal development gurus, relationship experts, and therapists. In the spirit of keeping the bedroom hot, it’s important to understand the difference between showing vulnerability (sharing what’s going on with you internally) versus emotionally dumping on your partner.
Sharing with your partner is exactly what it sounds like. You’re telling them what and how you feel. “Hey, I’m really feeling worried about the layoffs at work. Can you lay on the couch with me and snuggle? It would make me feel really secure tonight.”
Dumping involves sharing too much, too soon, and expecting your partner to solve the problem or heal you. “You know, I have abandonment issues from my dad, and I’m really having a hard time with your guys’ trip and you leaving me for a week.” Eroticism can often plummet for a couple when one of the partners feels too emotionally responsible for the other. Best practice: Outsource your heavier stuff to a therapist.
3. Be engaged and excited about life
We’re often attracted to people who are up to something cool — who are engaged in interesting things that light them up. Passion for life makes a person HOT. Check in with yourself to see if you’re excited about what you did yesterday, are doing today, and are going to be doing tomorrow. If you answered “not really” more than once, you may need to add some serious interest to your weekly routine to increase your vibe — and your libido.
Volunteer, take a class, find a new hobby or exercise class — try flamenco dancing or rock climbing! — to fire yourself up and then bring that fire to the bedroom.
Spicing up your relationship can be as simple as that. No special talents or toys required! Try one (or all) of the above and create something new, fresh, and a little mysterious in your sex life.
Andi Forness is a professional dating coach who helps single, high-achieving women use online dating as a personal development program to not only find a partner but also feel fulfilled in all areas of their life. Grab her free guide, Dating Profiles That Attract Your Ideal Dates: 5 Must Haves.