In every relationship, sex has its ups and downs. Some months (or maybe even years) you’ll be going insane almost daily, while others you’ll falter. Many factors, including illness, distance, and child care needs, can cause these ruts. But occasionally a sextrot turns into a sex dryness— and you find that you and your partner haven’t been intimate in a worrying amount of time. Fortunately, it is possible to break the cycle. Ahead, therapists tell us the top ways to end a sexual drought. Note: You may need to break out your calendar app.
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Assess the cause of your sexual drought.
Sexual drought can occur for a variety of reasons, and many of them are completely harmless. So when should you be concerned?
“It’s important to assess your needs and see how much sex you want and what you’re willing to accept,” she says David Tzall, PsyD, a licensed psychologist based in Brooklyn, New York. “Not feeling close or [being] Being separated from your partner may indicate that the lack of sex is affecting your relationship.”
If that happens, you should find the root of the problem. “It’s likely that the couple isn’t having sex because of more fundamental issues in the relationship,” Tzall explains. “If one or both partners aren’t emotionally vulnerable or attuned, the sex may flag.”
To get on the same page, you need to have an honest discussion. Let your partner know how you feel about your sex life and that the lack of sex is worrying you. Then listen to your partner’s point of view. Once you understand each other, you can better tackle the problem. Get help from a couples therapist if needed.
After you’ve decided that you want to end your sex drought as a couple, take a conscious approach to romance.
“Before you engage in sexual activity, try rekindling the flame by planning a romantic date night, showering together, or scheduling a couples massage,” she says Sarita Ford, LCSW-C, a licensed clinical social worker. “Couples can also increase intimacy by understanding and acting within their spouse’s love language.”
Plan a date or pre-date activity that tends towards this love language. By caring for each other on an emotional and romantic level, you set the stage for more intimacy.
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Address the “child problem.”
One of the most common reasons couples find themselves in a sexual drought is parental commitments.
“After kids, sex tends to be less frequent,” she says Jess O’Reilly, PhD, resident sex expert at Astroglide. “There are exceptions, but it’s common for couples to invest more in their roles as parents than in their roles as partners after the birth of a child and while raising children.” Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of connection, attraction, and sexual tension , notes O’Reilly.
Coming back from this kind of sex drought requires a conscious shift. “Stop calling each other mom or dad; stop putting your children before your relationship; stop making excuses and thinking that when the kids move out, your relationship will still be intact,” says O’Reilly. “You have to invest in a relationship to make sure it’s happy and fulfilling.”
Integrate intimacy into your everyday life.
Sex isn’t the only way to get more intimate; The way you show your affection in everyday life also plays a role. “There are other forms of physical connection that are just as necessary, like cuddling, spooning, massaging, hugging, and holding hands,” says Tzall. “The desire for sex originates far beyond the bedroom.”
Something as simple as a sensual glance or a brief PDA moment can set the ball rolling.
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Make time for intimacy.
Another way to be more conscious about your sex life is to plan it thoroughly. “Rather than leaving it up in the air, you may need to plan when you’re going on dates or having intimate time,” says Tzall. “Without that kind of planning, it can fall by the wayside. It’s easy to get lazy in a relationship and postpone activities or rely on the other person to plan and do it.”
By taking the initiative, you ensure that you make time for your relationship and show your partner how much you care.
Another activity to put on your calendar is a six-month check-in, O’Reilly suggests. “Write down on a piece of paper how often you want to have sex. Below your number, write down how often you think your partner would like to have sex,” says O’Reilly. Have your partner do the same, and then compare your answers. “Laugh, discuss, and then address strategies to meet somewhere in the middle.”
During your check-in, O’Reilly suggests chatting about other sex-related topics as well. For example, you can plan what you both will do when one person is in the mood and the other isn’t, how to support each other’s interest in sex, and how to stay connected when sex is off the table.
By having these conversations, you pave the way for deeper emotional intimacy and clearer communication, making sexual dry spells less frequent.