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'Does sex in every long-term monogamous relationship lack excitement? Or is it just mine?'


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Last month I did a sex and relationship Instagram Q&A. I noticed a common topic – “boredom” in long-term relationships. Although boredom can manifest in the relationship as a whole, for many it manifests sexually. One individual asked me: “Does sex in every long term monogamous relationship lack excitement? Or is it just mine?” 

The short answer is you’re not alone.  

The long answer is that for many couples it’s an ongoing challenge to keep their sex life exciting after a long period of being together (especially as obligations pile on). It’s normal. There are many reasons why sex starts to feel "boring." 

Sex and your partner become familiar

The most obvious reason for sexual “boredom” is that the mystery is no longer there. We now know what it feels like to be with this person, and familiarity also often comes with a routine – or a rut. At some point sex no longer holds an element of anticipation or surprise and makes it feel stale and predictable. Many people will complain “There is nothing new to explore or do.” But I don’t think that’s often actually true. 

In longer-term monogamous relationships individuals grow and change over time. Just like it’s important to keep being open and curious about who your partner is becoming, the same applies to their sexual needs and desires. Perhaps their preferences have changed or maybe they want to try something different. There are usually many things that couples have not tried or experienced together. It could help to discuss sexual fantasies or invest in a Kama Sutra and try out a new position every week or month. Whatever it is, it’s important to maintain the wonder of exploring one another as you age and transition in life.  

More: How to communicate your sexual desires to your partner – without feeling awkward

It’s not always about the sex

Sometimes the lack of excitement in one’s sex life is not necessarily a reflection of the sexual act itself, but a reflection of unresolved conflict, resentment, complacency, fear of rejection or lack of confidence.

For many couples, great sex is linked to their emotional connection. If you are feeling disconnected from your partner emotionally, you may start to feel disconnected from them sexually.

At the start, sex is exciting because it’s new. Yes, and it’s also exciting because at this time in any relationship people receive the most acknowledgment and appreciation. Sex is great at the start because that’s often also when we feel the most wanted, flattered, seen and desired. If the effort fades – the compliments stop, you no longer get flowers, they no longer dress up for you or pay attention to when you’re talking – your desire to put in the effort for sex may decline.

If you want your sex life to stay exciting, moments of excitement and intimacy outside the bedroom can be helpful.  

What is your mindset about sex?

Your mindset also has a big impact on your sex life. Do you think excitement should come naturally (with no effort)? Does sex feel like an obligation? Whatever your mindset is, it will be reflected in your sex life.

More: Help, I'm in a sexless marriage: 'I've thought about leaving a million times but I'm still here'

Ask yourself: Why am I still having sex? 

If the primary motivation is because you “should” or because that’s what couples do, it’s going to be difficult to translate that into sexual playfulness or fulfillment. 

Space is important for any relationship 

In order to feel desire, we need space. When couples are in a long-term monogamous relationship there is often a risk that they will start to have less and less space. Sometimes couples spend all their time together, they go to the bathroom while the other is in the shower, all their friends are mutual and after a while, they become saturated with one another.

For intimacy and excitement to persist we need to not only be intentional about being together but about what it means for us to be apart – as autonomous individuals. 

Remember, setting boundaries is key. Go out and have experiences and learn about things, and then share them with your partner. A little bit of space can make the whole relationship more exciting. 

More: 'I am not comfortable sexting,' 'One glass of wine is my limit.' How to set relationship boundaries.

Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at SKuburic@gannett.com.