5 Ways To Get That Sexual Chemistry Going Again In Your Long-Term Relationship

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Sexual chemistry begins to wane after the 18-month mark. Here's how to renew those sparks.

You thought it would never happen to you, but it did! 

You fell in love with the one person with whom you’ll forever share passion and magnetism. You’re looking forward to a lifetime of flirtation and assorted sexual frolics. What a relief that you’re on the same page about never allowing your sex life to become dull!

But alas! Shortly after marriage, your passion cools. You become a bit panicky, especially when the cooling lasts longer than what you can dismiss as a "stage".  

Were you wrong to think you had exceptional, undying chemistry? Are you disappointing your partner? What does this mean about the trajectory of your relationship and its sexual viability? Is your chemistry fizzle-bound?

Fortunately, many couples are able to maintain a lifetime of sparks, but expecting the chemical intensity and consistency that marked your relationship’s romantic stage is just plain not realistic. The explanation for this phenomenon is scientific, not personal. 

Falling in love activates the parts of the brain that are involved in addiction and cravings. No wonder that you used to think incessantly about your partner, long for them, and feel both comfort and excitement when reunited with them. 

Infatuation is so powerful it can be witnessed in brain scans and in hormonal and neurochemical changes in your blood.  Romantic love is very much a physiological state that gives way to physical, emotional and sexual urges.

However, a year or two into a partnership, brain activity and hormone levels return to their prior states and, correspondingly, infatuation dissipates and sexual drive dips. These changes most likely account for the decreased magnetism and frequency of sex you’re experiencing now. 

Maintaining a satisfying sex life will require a more conscious effort from this point forward. 

But don’t fret! There are many things you and your partner can do to generate and sustain much of the chemistry of your infatuation days. Even more encouraging, building a relationship foundation that’s ripe for sexual intimacy now will reap chemical and emotional rewards for years to come. 

So, what relationship components should you make sure to cultivate as you journey from romantic love to companionate love? Below are five essential ingredients for reviving sexual chemistry and building an ever evolving and continually gratifying partnership:

1. Trust and safety

Trusting and safe relationships are ones in which both partners can openly express needs, concerns, and disappointment without fear of abandonment or criticism. 

Secure partners are more likely to convey sexual needs and vulnerabilities and are more receptive to straightforward feedback from their significant others. The result is a safe atmosphere in which partners are willing to emotionally and sexually explore. 

Partners in trusting relationships are sexually and emotionally more attuned and attached.

2. Mutual respect

Respect is an important part of maintaining chemistry. Incompatible value systems make sustaining attraction difficult whereas compatible values facilitate bonding.  

With mutual respect, partners appreciate each other’s individual needs and preferences, even when they differ. Thus, partners feel free to behave autonomously and are better able to balance time spent together versus apart. Autonomy and intermittent separation intensify the chemistry of reuniting. 

3. Responsiveness

Responsiveness is the act of being emotionally present and engaged. Partners in responsive relationships reach out to one another when in distress whereas individuals in unresponsive relationships are more likely to withdraw or react with anger. 

Responsiveness is characterized by mutual focus and attunement. Individuals in responsive relationships are more likely to pursue sex as a means of expressing closeness.   

4. A focus on variety

Similar to the chemical effects of infatuation, having varied experiences stimulates the brain’s reward system and makes sexual expression more appealing

Obvious sources of variety include travel, new friendships, and cultural activities, but variety can also extend to new ways of looking at things. Sharing a laugh, for example, can provide a fresh spin to the mundane and reinforce the sense of togetherness.

5. Be realistic

Nothing puts the kibosh on relationship enthusiasm like the expectation that at least one of you will be hanging off the chandelier each night. Couples make the mistake of comparing their current levels of passion and excitement to those of their early days. 

Sulking about lost passion reduces relationship esteem and undermines sexual desire. Thus, couples must shift their perspective from what’s been lost to how their partnership is evolving. Those who successfully make this shift find that while the frequency of sex might have declined, sexual, and emotional intimacy continues to deepen.

Though the rumors about decreased frequency of sex over the course of a marriage are generally true, happy couples manage to keep things spicy. 

Investing in the livelihood of your chemistry now will lay the foundation for a lifetime of enhanced emotional and sexual intimacy and a continually flourishing partnership. So view your early days of infatuation with nostalgia rather than grief and don’t confuse companionate love with dullness.

It’s as fulfilling as you make it.

This article was originally published at Gay Wedding & Marriage Magazine. Reprinted with permission from the author.