Putting the zing back into an established relationship

Is a sizzling sex life still possible when you’ve been together for years? Oui oui oui! Try these 6 tips from sexologists to reinject passion into your relationship.

By Sabrina Rogers-Anderson 

Remember the early days of your relationship when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and you only emerged from the bedroom to fetch snacks and water? 

After many years (or even decades) together, that insatiable lust is likely to have faded. But that doesn’t mean sex should be boring or nonexistent!

Despite ageist stereotypes that suggest sexual expression vanishes in a puff of smoke sometime during midlife, a La Trobe University study of more than 2,000 Australians aged 60 and over found that 72% had engaged in a variety of sexual practices in the previous year.

These included vaginal or anal intercourse (91%), giving (66%) and/or receiving (63%) oral sex and mutual masturbation (50%).

More than half the survey’s sexually active participants had had sex 1 to 5 times in the previous 4 weeks, and an overwhelming majority of men and women wanted to have sex in the future! 

But what can you do if tumbleweed has started rolling through your bedroom?

“Maybe we can’t keep our longtime relationship ablaze with lust the way it was when we first discovered each other, but we can keep it spicy and satisfying,” says Joan Price, author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50: How to Maintain - or Regain - a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life.

“It’s up to us to nurture our partner’s pleasure and our own. Sex can deepen, get more intimate and still stay at the top of things we love to do together, despite the decades together – or maybe because of them!”

There are also plenty of tricks to keep our sex lives sizzling over time. Here are 6 ways to boost your intimacy and turn up the heat in the bedroom.

Intimacy boost #1:  Embrace GGG - good, giving and game

Coined by sex columnist and author Dan Savage, GGG stands for “good, giving and game” - or good in bed, giving pleasure without expectation of immediate reciprocation and game for anything within reason. 

“GGG is a useful concept for our age group,” says Joan. “The more generous we are in bed, the more sexual generosity we can expect. But in order to be ‘good, giving and game’ and break out of the rut of predictable and unsatisfying sex, you have to identify what needs are not being met.”

The more you give, the better it gets.

Intimacy boost #2:  Keep the lines of communication open

Our needs and desires change over time, so what lit your fire a few years ago may now leave you feeling uninspired or dissatisfied.

You may want sex more often or to try new things, but fear hurting your partner’s feelings if you bring it up.

Joan suggests the following exercise to express your needs in a fun and non-threatening way:

  • Sit down with a pen and paper and finish this sentence: “Three things I’d really like to explore with you are… ”. Ask your partner to do the same.
  • Read your first item aloud to your partner, starting with, “One thing I’d really like to explore with you is… ” 
  • Ask your partner to read their first item the same way.
  • Take turns reading your other items.
  • Discuss what turns you on about each other’s requests and what you’d like to try together. 
  • Decide how and when you’ll put your chosen requests into action

Intimacy boost #3: Show affection

Ever notice how some couples act like randy teenagers even though they’ve been together for ages?

It can be tricky to become a touchy-feely couple if that’s never been your vibe, but it could do wonders for your sex life.

Public displays of affection are a great way to stay connected (and make the private affection even better).

“Make a point of showing affection habitually, and not just when you’re hoping to get sexual,” advises Joan. 

“Make that part of the way you relate in public and private. I’m not suggesting that you need to drape over each other or exchange sloppy kisses in public, but touching hands or exchanging pecks on the cheek can help you feel connected.”

Intimacy boost #4: Something old, something new

Dinner, TV, bed, repeat. Sound familiar? 

While your evening routine may be predictable and comfortable, it’s probably not doing your sex life any favours. 

As the great sexologist Esther Perel wrote, “Eroticism is numbed by repetition.”

Injecting some fun and excitement back into your relationship can bring you closer and enhance your intimacy.

 “When you were newly in love, what – besides sex – did you have fun doing together?” asks Joan. “Did you dance or cycle together? Walk in the moonlight? See a foreign film and discuss it endlessly? Energise your relationship by bringing a favourite activity back into your life.”

Giving a new experience a go can be equally invigorating. 

“After 34 years together, Gary and I were in a huge rut,” says Tracey, 62. “Every day was the same and there was no excitement - and hardly any sex. We’d been talking about joining our local walking club for ages and we finally did it. We’ve reconnected, made new friends, lost weight and our sex drives have gotten a boost! It was the best thing we could have done.”

Weight loss has been known to help with libido …

Intimacy boost #5: Spice it up

Are you ready to shake things up in the boudoir? Joan has a few ideas for you:

  • Dress for disrobing: “Invest in some silky, sexy lingerie. No, we’re not too old. With a well-chosen garment that accentuates our best features, we look alluring. And we feel amazing – both emotionally and physically. This isn’t for women only – silk bikini briefs or satin boxers for men are enticing too!”
  • Try a new toy or prop: “Using a new vibrator or other sex toy together can be very hot. So can introducing a blindfold, light bondage or the light touch of a feather duster. Experiment! If you don’t like something that you thought would turn you on, you can laugh about it. And if you do like it, it’s a new part of your repertoire.”
  • Read erotica or watch porn together: “Stroke each other as you read or watch, and imagine yourself part of the scene. Feel free to start getting frisky before you’ve finished the story or video.”
  • Pleasure each other in a new way: “This can be as simple as changing who goes first - or, more accurately, who comes first - or making love in a different position or room. It can also be more involved: try a new technique, go to a hotel overnight, or act out a scene from the erotica you read or the porn you watched.”

Intimacy boost #6:  Seek help

If there are any medical or psychological issues that are getting in the way of having a fulfilling relationship and sex life, it’s never too late to seek help from a doctor or therapist.

“Sex became really painful when I hit perimenopause in my mid 40s, so my husband and I avoided intercourse for a while and focused on kissing, touching and oral,” says Clara, 57. “I started menopausal hormone therapy and that really helped my symptoms, so we were able to slowly get back at it. He was so supportive and did everything he could to make it enjoyable for me again.”

Talk to your GP if you have any questions or concerns about your sexual health. With the right support and a few spicy tweaks, you could have the fulfilling sex life you deserve.

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