Human brains are wonderfully complex, and don't always work in our best interests. For example, did you know that our perception of pleasure changes as we become used to something? Research shows that we get a healthy shot of dopamine (the feel-good hormone) when we are seeking reward, and when there is something new to experience. Also, excitement is transferable, so the heightened arousal that follows say, a roller coaster ride, can be used to rev up your sex life. With that said, here are some tips for reviving intimacy in a long-term relationship:
1. Resolve to deal with, or put aside resentments, and seek help to do that. Anger and unresolved issues often play out in the bedroom.
2. Reconnect! To reestablish connection, start to look into each other's eyes whenever you are talking to each other. If you can eye-gaze fully clothed, oxytocin (the bonding hormone) increases, and the desire to get close, and naked increases. The good news here is that if one person starts to initiate eye-gazing, the other will often follow.
3. Gaze, touch, speak softly. Many of us did not bond very well with our parents or early caregivers—so we tend to become defensive or walk around with our guard up. But did you know that as adults, you can help one another heal insecure attachment and develop that secure "I am loved" feeling that's usually associated with healthy early bonding? Research in adult attachment has shown that the things that help babies feel safe and secure—soft, loving gazes, nurturing touch, and soothing voice tones—are the same things that help partners become "securely attached." So, whenever you sense that your partner is stressed or upset, offer reassuring touch, words of support in a soothing tone of voice, or gaze at your partner with love in your eyes.
4. Allow tension to build. Our brains experience so much more pleasure when the anticipation of a reward is allowed for some time before we get the reward. So take your time.
5. Get closer by sharing a new experience together. Sharing a new experience gives us the opportunity to express our feelings about something novel together. That openness can then carry over into conversations about sex and intimacy. Take a cooking class or a couples massage class. Arrange for a private yoga lesson. Explore something new so that you can get back to exploring each other.
6. Bring sexy back! Forget about the few extra pounds you've gained or the new dimples in your thighs—bring back your sexy self! Ladies, take the time to find the right clothing or lingerie to highlight your body's best features. Spend a little time on your hair, and get a mani/pedi. Guys, wear her favorite cologne and get a fresh haircut. A little effort goes a long way in rekindling the flame!
7. Remember what first attracted you to each other. Remember the story of how you met. Have a conversation where you share what drew you to each other in the beginning. Each person should take a turn reminiscing about how things felt when they were first discovering one another and falling in love.
8. Clearing the air, so you're really present. When couples have been together for awhile, little conflicts tend to get swept under the proverbial carpet—where they can't be seen. The only trouble is, these unseen, un-aired issues can linger in your mind and make it hard for you to be present. Invite your partner to do a clearing session where both of you get uninterrupted time to speak about anything you have been reluctant to bring up or have put off bringing up because you were waiting for the right time.