Experts Reveal The 13 Simplest Ways To Revive Intimacy In A Long-Term Relationship

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couple getting intimate on counter

As time progresses, long-term relationships can become distant. Instead of being closely connected and knowing one another on a deeper level, couples can drift apart, passing like two ships in the night.

As people grow and change, their needs, wants, and desires transform, and it takes an intent to continue learning them from their partner to keep the intimacy going.

Past hurts build resentment, physical contact becomes few and far between, work and children take priority over the bond between mates, and setting the intention to dedicate time to one another gets much more difficult.

But all hope is not lost. There are actions that each partner can take to reconnect and resuscitate the intimacy in the relationship.

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Here are 13 ways to revive intimacy in a long-term relationship, according to three YourTango experts:

“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. Here are my 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 re-establish a 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. Increase touch

Once a pattern of increased connection is established, then increased touch can start. This includes hand, foot, and neck rubs and more. This can progress to massage, which is a wonderful way to get the body ready for sex (massage decreases the stress hormones and increases the bonding hormones).

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. Try something new, like taking it out of the bedroom

Remember a particularly hot night you might have spent together or a particularly exciting location you were in.

6. Share your fantasies

Start letting your partner know what you like by saying, "I've always wanted to try [fill in the blank] … want to try it with me?". Treat it as an experiment. Invite your partner to share their fantasies. Be willing to share yours.

7. Use technology to build anticipation

Saucy texts can be wonderful. For example, "Guess what I want to do tonight."

-Teresa Atkin, Master Certified Life Coach

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8. “Get rid of some chores and get back in the mood

We often get caught up in the day-to-day chores and responsibilities of life, especially if children are involved. In order to reconnect with yourself and your partner, free yourself of some of those responsibilities. Hire a cleaning service. Find a babysitter. Instead of feeling weighed down by life, you'll feel lighter and freer to experience intimate moments.

9. 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 couple’s massage class. Arrange for a private yoga lesson. Explore something new so that you can get back to exploring each other.

10. Bring sexy back

Forget about the few extra pounds you've gained or the new dimples in your thighs. Bring back your sexy self. 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 manicure and pedicure. Wear your partner’s favorite perfume or cologne. A little effort goes a long way in rekindling the flame.”

-Rebecca Marquis, Author & Dating Coach

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11. Remember what first attracted you to each other

When couples come to me for coaching, I often ask them to tell me the story of how they 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.

12. Clear the air, so you're really present.

When couples have been together for a while, 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.

13. 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 like 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.”

-Susan Campbell, MA, PhD

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The YourTango Experts team includes licensed therapists, dating and life coaches, matchmakers, and more professionals committed to offering you the tools and guidance for a happier and more rewarding life.