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6 Ways to Revive a Relationship Sexually

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Erica Garza

Published 06/03/2024

Remember when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other? Now, you’re lucky to remember the last time you had sex. Like many people in committed partnerships, you might be wondering how to revive a relationship sexually.

If you’re in a long-term relationship, there’s a good chance the fiery passion of those early days has cooled a bit. Work, bills, dishes, kids — the busyness of life can be unsexy. But that doesn’t mean life has to be sexless.

Though couples stop having sex for many reasons, it’s usually possible to turn things around. And in many cases, learning how to revive a relationship sexually begins with an emotional connection.

If you’re in a sexual rut, don’t panic. We’ll explain why sex declines in long-term relationships and offer six easy ways to reignite your sex life.

It’s normal for sexual intimacy to wane in long-term relationships. Research shows that the more time passes, the less people tend to have sex.

Later, we’ll discuss reasons like:

  • Lack of communication

  • Low confidence

  • Lack of time

  • Predictability

  • Sexual dysfunction

Keep in mind, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should be having sex. We all have different sexual needs.

But if you feel like your sexual relationship could use some work, it’s important to talk about it.

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Is it possible to get your sex life back on track? The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that improving your sexual connection doesn’t mean replicating early sexual experiences.

But that’s okay! After all, trying new things and doing the unexpected can help you get out of a rut faster than trying to recreate the past. And it starts with emotional intimacy.

To enhance physical intimacy, focus on building emotional connection.

Communication is key to emotional intimacy. But it’s often overlooked in long-term relationships.

Remember those long, meandering conversations you enjoyed so much at the beginning of your relationship? They probably helped boost your sexual intimacy by making you and your partner feel closer.

According to one 2012 study, emotional intimacy based on feelings, communication, and conflict resolution predicted sexual satisfaction in people with arousal issues.

Similarly, a 2015 study found that sexual desire and emotional intimacy were central to relationship quality. But there were gender-specific differences. Men felt they had better relationships and enjoyed physical intimacy more when they had higher sexual desire. And female partners felt better when they had higher emotional intimacy.

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If you want to learn how to rekindle sex in a relationship, try the following six strategies, starting with that crucial builder of emotional intimacy: communication.

1. Communicate Your Sexual Desires

Whether you’re not having as much sex as you’d like or you’re not satisfied by the sex you are having, you should talk about it.

Studies show that sexual communication is positively associated with all aspects of sexual function, including desire, arousal, erections, and orgasm.

Talking about sex also prevents a loss of desire in long-term relationships. Psychological treatments for low desire (like couples’ sex therapy) often involve open dialogue and communication between partners.

Sexual communication isn’t just about getting your physical needs met, either. It also fosters emotional connection, which increases sexual satisfaction.

2. Listen to Their Sexual Desires

Just as important as stating your sexual desires is spending time listening to your partner’s POV.

In a Finnish study from 2016, researchers expected women to orgasm more frequently if they had experimented with multiple partners, indicating more sexual experience. But this wasn’t the case. As it turned out, relationships that “felt good and worked well emotionally” led to more orgasms in women.

3. Improve Your Confidence to Improve Your Sex Life

Your mental health plays a big role in your sexual health. If you feel unable to talk about a lack of sex, or you’re too scared to initiate sex, talk to a therapist.

Some cases of sexual dysfunction, like erectile dysfunction (ED), arise from physical causes. These include things like neurological diseases, low testosterone, trauma, or substance abuse.

But in younger men, most cases of sexual dysfunction are related to mental health.

In a 2022 study on sexual dysfunction in men under 40, roughly 85 percent of cases stemmed from psychological factors. These included things like performance anxiety, depression, and relationship conflict.

In men over 40, only 41 percent had a psychological cause. Researchers also found that men with more sexual experience (often a result of being older) had ED less frequently, suggesting a positive influence of sexual experience on self-confidence.

4. Make Small Gestures

If you’re feeling confident enough to have healthy communication about sex, get things going by thinking of a few small gestures your partner would like.

Planning an elaborate date night could work, but you can also keep it simple.

Playing their favorite music, cooking their favorite meal, cuddling on the couch — these things may seem G-rated, but if you haven’t had sex in a while, a slow buildup could work in your favor.

5. Find Creative Ways to Increase Physical Touch

Besides having sex, there are plenty of other ways to be physically affectionate.

Cuddling, holding hands, and a quick peck before parting ways are fine — but can you do better?

Some ideas:

  • If they’re expecting a cuddle, offer a massage.

  • Take hand-holding to the next step by recreating that steamy pottery scene from Ghost.

  • If your partner expects a quick smooch before you both head off to work, bring them in for a passionate kiss.

These are all fantastic forms of foreplay that can happen outside the bedroom.

Inside the bedroom, mix things up with sex toys. Whether you use a vibrator or some handcuffs, trying something new can be exhilarating. If you’ve been working on having more open communication about your sexual desires, you may already have some ideas of what your partner wants to try (or seems open to trying).

Why is physical affection such a critical part of foreplay? Besides feeling good, research shows it lowers stress by increasing oxytocin (the bonding hormone).

6. Address Sexual Dysfunction Issues

We briefly mentioned the role mental health plays in sexual dysfunction, especially among young men. But there are many other causes of issues like ED, low libido (sex drive), and premature ejaculation (PE).

Regardless of the cause, sexual dysfunction affects more than just your sex life. Studies show it also decreases emotional bonding and overall quality of life.

If you’re dealing with a sexual dysfunction problem like ED, your first step may be talking to a urology specialist or sex therapist.

You can also try medication. PDE5 inhibitors can help you get and keep an erection by increasing blood flow to the penis. These include well-known drugs like sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®), and avanafil (Stendra®).

You may also want to get checked for health conditions that impact erectile function, such as low testosterone. Studies show that testosterone therapy improves erection quality and low libido in men who can’t use ED medication.

If you don’t have trouble getting an erection but finish too quickly, you might have premature ejaculation. Talking to a therapist can be useful, but medication is another option.

Healthcare providers sometimes prescribe SSRIs like sertraline (Zoloft®) to help guys last longer in bed. You could also try desensitizing sprays, wipes, or condoms.

Changing some of your lifestyle habits can also help. As this study shows, exercising regularly, eating healthily, and lowering stress can improve sexual health in both men and women.

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You may not be having the sex you had at the beginning of your relationship, but you should have a satisfying sexual relationship.

Here’s what to remember about how to revive a relationship sexually:

  • Sex wanes in long-term partnerships for many reasons. These include lack of communication, low confidence, predictability, sexual dysfunction issues, or just a busy lifestyle.

  • Emotional intimacy fosters physical intimacy. Want to have better sex? Work on your emotional connection. Studies show emotional intimacy is the single best predictor of sexual satisfaction in those dealing with sexual arousal issues.

  • You can rekindle passion in your love life by taking action. Communication, confidence, small gestures, physical touch, and getting help for sexual dysfunction issues can get your sex life back on track.

Want more tips on how to rekindle your sex life? Read our guide to learn how to have better sex, get pointers for how to please a woman, and check out these ways to spice up your sex life.

10 Sources

  1. Ciacco VA, et al. (2022). Psychological Factors Related to Impotence as a Sexual Dysfunction in Young Men: A Literature Scan for Noteworthy Research Frameworks.
  2. Holt LU, et al. (2008). Influence of a “Warm Touch” Support Enhancement Intervention Among Married Couples on Ambulatory Blood Pressure, Oxytocin, Alpha Amylase, and Cortisol.
  3. Kontula OS, et al. (2016). Determinants of female sexual orgasms.
  4. Mallory AL, et al. (2019). Couples’ sexual communication and dimensions of sexual function: A meta-analysis.
  5. Mollaioli DA, et al. (2020). Lifestyles and sexuality in men and women: the gender perspective in sexual medicine.
  6. Pascoal PA, et al (2012). Emotional intimacy is the best predictor of sexual satisfaction of men and women with sexual arousal problems.
  7. Rizk PA, et al. (2017). Testosterone Therapy Improves Erectile Function and Libido in Hypogonadal Men.
  8. Shrier LY, et al. (2015). Momentary Desire for Sexual Intercourse and Momentary Emotional Intimacy Associated With Perceived Relationship Quality and Physical Intimacy in Heterosexual Emerging Adult Couples.
  9. Vaishnav MR, et al. (2020). Principles of Marital Therapies and Behavior Therapy of Sexual Dysfunction.
  10. Velten JU, et al. (2017). Satisfaction guaranteed? How individual, partner, and relationship factors impact sexual satisfaction within partnerships.
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown, MD

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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