Why Couples End Up Having Boring Sex — and How to Break Out of It
Boring Sex Is Common in Long-Term Relationships. Here’s How to Fix It
Try anything for the first time and it’ll likely feel more noteworthy, exciting and fun than doing the same thing for the hundredth or thousandth time. That’s not complicated — it’s just part of being a person. As we learn more about things, they lose their novelty and become familiar.
And while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and while increased familiarity, trust and intimacy with a partner can lead to more exciting and passionate sex, when it comes to sex in long-term relationships, falling into a rut can be a serious issue.
The truth is, especially if you’re monogamous like most couples are, after a few years, boring sex can start to be a problem. Feeling uninspired in the bedroom can lead to mutual unhappiness, to situations where one partner isn’t feeling it but the other is, or to fights, cheating, and/or even breakups.
RELATED: The Benefits of Being in a Serious Relationship
The good news is, if this is happening to you, you’re far from alone. But is boring sex a natural consequence of sleeping with the same person over and over? Or are there ways to break out of the pattern?
In order to figure it out, and help outline options for couples who find themselves just going through the motions in bed, AskMen spoke to a handful of sex experts. Here’s what they had to say:
Why Do Long-Term Couples Start to Have Boring Sex?
“When we have the same kind of sex over and over again, for years and years, we get bored,” says Gigi Engle, certified sex educator and lead intimacy expert at 3Fun. “It's kind of like if you went to your favorite restaurant every single night and ordered the exact same thing. It's your favorite meal, but you'd still get bored.”
“Humans crave novelty,” Engle adds. “We want to feel surprised and excited. We want things to be fun and new. This is how we keep the spark alive in sex — to foster that need for novelty, not squelch it out. So, if a couple is doing the exact same sex routine, in the same ways, never changing it up or getting curious, their sex will probably become quite boring.”
RELATED: 7 Spicy Things It’s Time to Try in Bed — If You’re Brave Enough
Of course, having sex with the same person over and over will have its benefits. It’ll allow you both a space to learn and explore without, perhaps, feeling as much pressure to perform as you might with a brand-new partner. But that relative stability can be its own problem.
“Good sex requires a balance of two factors — a feeling of safety and feeling of novel excitement,” says Indigo Stray Conger, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist with Mile High Psychotherapy and ThatSexQuiz.com.
“After being in a monogamous relationship for a while, the fact that your partner feels like your best friend can actually be a drawback for the excitement factor,” says Stray Conger. “Limerence, or ‘new relationship energy’ (NRE), only lasts 18 to 24 months for most partners.”
“This is the period of time when the hormones of attraction flood your bodies and fuel frequent sex for most couples,” she adds. “You're trying out new ideas and new positions, every experience feels novel and your bodies can barely keep up with your libidos.”
However, “over time, as we learn our partner’s preferences and how to get them off, it’s common to keep repeating what we know works (or, what once worked, but has now become so routine that it loses its excitement and passion),” says sex, love, and erotic empowerment coach Lorrae Bradbury. “Add in busy lives and responsibilities, and a couple might find that sexual growth and evolution might hit the back burner, and need some more conscious and active communication and exploration to get the fire burning again.”
“After the honeymoon phase, hormones are no longer creating spontaneous arousal on such a frequent basis,” Stray Conger agrees.
This process is “often misinterpreted as just ‘not being that into each other anymore,’” according to Engle.
“I also think people assume this is ‘normal’ or they ‘accept’ that sex won't be good anymore. They basically just give up,” she says. “This is really sad because you absolutely do not have to resign yourself to having a boring sex life. We need better education around sex in long-term relationships so couples can know what is actually possible for them. These tropes about 'boring married sex' are entirely unhelpful.”
So if you find yourself mired in an underwhelming sex life and refuse to “give up,” what do you do?
Saying Goodbye to a Boring Sex Life
Because the natural process of familiarization with a lover is hardly unique or new, there’s lots of advice out there (and on this website) about how to spice things up in bed. Let’s boil that down to five basic tips:
1. Try New Things
If things are so boring that you feel like you’re at your wits’ end, it’s time to add some novelty to the mix.
“Introduce your ideas, and then keep the element of surprise and novelty alive and experiment with something new,” says Bradbury.
All three experts AskMen spoke to for this piece noted the idea of exploring kinks together, and Stray Conger and Bradbury both mentioned introducing sex toys.
Besides that, Bradbury advocates for:
Engle, meanwhile, suggests:
- introducing erotic material
- watching porn together
- trying a threesome
- trying some other form of non-monogamy
Stray Conger, for her part, notes that “changing the context of sex” can go a long way towards “infusing your erotic script with fresh energy,” suggesting location changes like:
- having sex in a hotel room
- having sex outdoors
Regardless, even if you don’t try any new sex things, trying new things generally can help reinfuse your relationship with some passion, Bradbury says: “Beyond the bedroom, new experiences that help you to break away from routines, such as a weekend getaway or an adventurous new shared hobby, can help to see your partner through new eyes and embrace adventure that can in turn revitalize your sex life.”
2. Make a Yes/No/Maybe List
While all those new ideas can feel overwhelming if you’re looking for a solution to your bedroom woes, it’s also useful, because it means you genuinely can pick and choose what makes most sense for you and your partner. That’s the concept behind a Yes/No/Maybe list.
RELATED: How a Yes/No/Maybe List Can Turn Your Sex Life Around
The idea of the list — and the conversations it can generate — is finding potentially as-yet-undiscussed areas of sex that you’re both interested in. The trick is being open and honest with each other about your needs, wants and boundaries, and then finding ideas that line up with those for both of you.
For instance, if the idea of having whipped-cream-covered kitchen sex feels a little too silly for you, maybe role-playing with dirty talk and a blindfold won’t.
If inviting a third person into bed with you feels too daunting, maybe having a quickie in your parked car in a secluded area will be just the right amount of thrilling.
“It’s natural for our desires to shift over time, and being open and honest with your partner about how your desires have evolved will help to introduce new elements to your sex life and reignite your passion,” says Bradbury.
3. Make Sex a Priority Again
Another point, says Engle, is making sex a priority again. In the early days, it may be the main thing driving your connection, but several years later, it could be very low-priority as things like money worries, kids, and assorted responsibilities take precedence.
To combat that, Engle says, it might be time to do something a little un-sexy: scheduling sex.
RELATED: What Is Maintenance Sex? Experts Say It Could Save Your Relationship
“Get it on the calendar,” she says. “Think of it as something exciting to look forward to — something that is about connecting intimately, not just having a 2-minute hump.”
But whether you’re literally putting it on the calendar or not, being honest with each other about its importance for your happiness — and then making it a focus in the relationship — can be a significant step forward for your sex life together.
4. De-Center Penetration
It could also be a question of exploring novel approaches to pleasure. Lots of hetero couples prioritize penis-in-vagina sex because it’s the primary aspect of sex in our cultural scripts, when there’s actually a lot of pleasure to be found in other acts.
RELATED: Why Every Guy Should Master Non-Penetrative Sex
“When both people are having sex that gives them orgasms, they crave it more,” says Engle. “So, first address the kinds of sex you're having. Is it just PIV heterosexual sex? Because this is not how most people with clitorises have orgasms. First explore what brings both people pleasure, then get creative.”
This can also be a bonus if you’re experiencing difficulties with PIV like premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus or performance anxiety. Boiling sex down to the basics — exploring each other’s bodies for pleasure, without expectations, can completely reboot your sexual connection.
5. Talk to a Professional
However, if these strategies aren’t enough on their own, that’s not the end of the world — and it doesn’t necessarily mean your sex life, or your relationship, is doomed either.
“If your sex life has been neglected long enough that it's just not happening, you may need a little more help,” says Stray Conger. “An AASECT-certified sex therapist is a skilled clinician trained to help you and your partner(s) get back the mojo you've lost.”
As individual therapy has become more and more normalized in recent decades, couples and sex therapy has, too, and talking to someone about what you’re going through no longer has the stigma of failure.
Rather, being proactive on this front is something to be proud of — it’s a sign that you care about each other and the relationship you’ve built together, and that you’re not afraid of putting in the work to make it the best one it can be.
You Might Also Dig: