Are the days of meeting each other for a super-hot date and feeling the urge to rip each other’s clothes off numbered, or can you do something to bring the sense of excitement and intrigue back into your intimate life?
Security vs. Sex Appeal
Because, here’s the thing about long-term relationships: they’re trying to reconcile two (seemingly) opposite human impulses. According to psychotherapist Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. “On the one hand, [humans have a] need for security, predictability, for safety, dependability, for reliability, for permanence, all these grounding experiences of our life that we call home,” she explains in her Ted Talk, The Secret To Desire In a Long-Term Relationship. “But we also have an equally strong need for adventure, for mystery, for risk…”
So how do we align predictability and security with a smoking hot sex life? Take a deep dive into this guide to getting the spice back into your sex life for a few places to start! All the pointers might not be for you, but pick, choose and personalise as you and your partner/s see fit.
How To Spice Up Your Sex Life
Start The Conversation
Firstly – and most importantly – talk to your partner. Don’t bring up your sex life when you’re already having an argument, and try to avoid making accusations. Broach the subject when you’re both relaxed – for example when you’re lying in bed together, going for a long Sunday walk or sitting down to eat dinner. Difficult conversations can lead to new beginnings and sexual reawakenings. You won’t know what’s possible until you bring it up.
Another vital point, before you embark on ‘Mission Spice Up Your Marriage’, is to throw any unrealistic expectations and comparisons to other people out of the window. If you’re questioning your sex life because you had a chat with your mates and they’re having more sex than you, then stop that right now. What matters is how you and your partner feel about the sex you’re having. You also need to remember that what people say they’re doing, what they’re actually doing and how they feel about what they’re doing are three totally different things…
Put some sexy dates in your diary
Don’t wait for sex to magically and spontaneously happen. Diarise it in the way you used to line up hot dates when you didn’t live together – you know, those lingering drinks filled with sexual tension, flirty eye contact and footsie under the table. When you co-habit, you see each other. all. the. time. So you need to actually carve out time and space to make – or allow – the sex to happen.
Explore turning sex into a ritual, creating a sensory environment of soft lights, arousing scents and music. You could change up locations by booking a hotel room or AirBnb for a night or two. Experiment with role play and personas. None of these things usually happen spur of the moment, so lock in a date and get planning! Try not to see diarising as unromantic or unsexy. You’re giving yourselves something to look forward to, and anticipation can be a huge part of creating and maintaining desire.
Distance makes the desire stronger
Perel uses the comparison of fire needing air, whereas desire, she says, needs space. Distance can be defined however you think works for you and your partner. Spend a weekend apart. Go out for the day without your significant other. If you’re both working from home and tend to hang out together, sit in separate rooms.
You could even take some inspiration from Kim Kardashian and try a sex fast (aka intentionally abstaining from sex for a set period of time). “Oh my God, it was crazy,” Kim K revealed in an interview with Bustle on what it was like briefly giving up orgasms. “But it actually made everything better. Like, if you can’t have caffeine, when you have your first matcha, it’s so good.”
See if your partner is up for embarking on a sex cleanse together. This might help rebuild some desire into your relationship if you’re in a rut, as well as having the benefit of deliberately taking sex off the table for a while, if it’s a particular point of tension between you.
Go to a sex party or fetish night
If you and your partner have never been to a sex party before, perhaps you imagine somewhere that’s mysterious and elite where you’ll feel out of place. Or a sex party conjures images of wild orgies with naked people having sex in every corner.
Well, those places exist, if that’s what you’re looking for, but there’s also more intimate and casual places to explore new sexual realms with your partner. Plus, the pandemic moved sex parties online, and those sorts of events still exist and might work as a taster before you try an IRL party. Killing Kittens online-only ‘Your House’ party is the ideal place to begin your foray into the world of sex parties. Set the scene in a corner of your home (if you have kids, make sure they are tucked up in bed), light some candles, get dressed up in something sexy and crank open your laptop.
If you want to meet some kinky people in person and chat about your desires, try a social – lots of sex party organisers also have more casual meets for people new to the scene. If you’re then ready to try out a real life party, the world truly is your oyster. At the more extravagant end of the scale, there’s are the iconic Killing Kittens parties, where everyone arrives in masks. If you want to explore kinkier scenes or fetish nights, you can check out Torture Garden and Klub Verboten.
Because here’s the thing: there are endless ways to approach sex parties. Go with your partner, with your mates, on your own, with someone you meet on a dating app… If you go without your significant other, then perhaps they’ll enjoy the stories you bring home. Tell them about your experience in vivid detail and it might just drive them wild. Just make sure to agree on boundaries and parameters beforehand.
Open Up Your Marriage
A YouGov poll revealed that 1 in 5 people in the UK have had an affair, and between 18 and 25% of Tinder users are in a committed relationship. A survey by dating app KinkD found that 63% of BDSM enthusiasts have cheated in a committed relationship because their partner isn’t into their kinks. Maybe it’s something you’ve pondered when your eyes meet a passing sexy stranger? Perhaps you’ve wondered, what if?
Opening up your marriage can be done in myriad ways – it could be a one-time fantasy thing at a party, or it could become a new way of life. Consensual non-monogamy (CNM) or ethical non-monogamy (ENM) and Polyamory are basically umbrella terms that encapsulate a range of approaches to non-monogamous relationships. And no, it isn’t the same thing as cheating because everyone is aware and consents to what’s going on.
Sometimes a partner can’t fulfil all of your sexual desires. Perhaps they don’t want to do some of the things you’d like to try, or it may be that they’re willing to learn but are unversed at something that requires knowledge and skill, such as intricate rope bondage. You can experience those things with other people for one night only, in your imagination or at a fetish night. Maybe your partner can watch while you do things with someone else, either to learn how to do it too or to be a part of the experience for you. See what feels like the right fit for you both.
Power play and BDSM
Kink can add a new element to your sexual dynamic, and maybe both you and your partner want to try BDSM play. BDSM refers to a spectrum of sexual preferences across bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism (S&M). You can be into one, all or just a select few of these disciplines.
Light BDSM activities could include spanking using hands, hair gripping or tying each other up with scarfs. There’s no need to go all out with dog collars and head-to-toe latex right away. You can build up to that if you get into it, and certainly if you’re going to start playing with “heavier” BDSM activities – such as using whips or paddles, gags, or specially designed restraints – you may want to check out some workshops or speak to a kink educator first.
You could even start with the way you talk to each other, adding in some new language while you’re having sex. Always talk about what you’re both happy with beforehand. Words like “slut”, “whore”, “daddy”, even calling your partner (or your partner calling you) “sir” or “madam” or similar honorifics can be a way to set up a Dom/sub dynamic. You could even turn items you already have around the house into toys – that wooden spoon you use to stir your soup might stir up something else when it’s used to gently spank your ass…
Arrange A Threesome
In the online dating world, if you are a couple and you want to find that elusive third person to add to a sexual experience, what you’re looking for is a unicorn.
Even talking about having a threesome with your partner may be enough to ramp up some sexual energy. Get specific with one another. What kind of person are you both looking for? Do you want someone wildly different to both of you? Do you want someone dominant or submissive to add a different dynamic?
Join the Killing Kittens dating site to meet like-minded folks who might want to engage in a threesome with you and your partner. You could also look into booking an experience with a sex worker, which might be a particularly good idea if you want to explore something in the realms of a BDSM experience in your threesome.
Book A Hotel Room
Picture the scene. You’re alone in a lavish hotel suite, sipping champagne as you apply the finishing touches to your outfit. Your body is clad in sensual materials – lingerie, a crisp white shirt, cologne – anything outside of your ordinary that makes you feel desirable.
There’s a knock on your door. It’s your partner, looking irresistible in an outfit they’ve chosen – or even one you’ve picked out together beforehand. Invite them in. Perhaps, pretend it’s the first time you’ve met or act out some other scenario that turns you on. Or just be the two of you, together in a place that isn’t your home.
The novelty of the scenario and the space can work wonders to create a sexy atmosphere, as not only does this have the potential to be an indulgent, sensual space or a blank canvas for roleplay, the physical distance from your everyday life may help to put some psychological distance in place, too. You’re less likely to be distracted by thinking about that bathroom refurb you’ve been meaning to do if you’re not having sex in the same building as your bathroom.
Send Some Saucy Sexts
This can be incorporated into the build-up to any of the above activities. Perhaps you’re having a try-on session of an outfit you might wear for a sex party while your partner is out – take some pics and send them. Maybe you’re at work and can’t stop thinking about getting home to give your partner a sensual massage – tell them that in vivid detail. Just make sure to check in first! Nothing kills the mood more than a naughty text flashing up during a tricky presentation…
Read this article for more top tips on how to get sexting.
Play Dress Up
Spend a day shopping together. Go into that sex shop or lingerie boutique that you’ve been eyeing up. Pick items out for each other, dress each other up and select some fun sex toys that you want to use on each other. Then take it all home and have some fun!
Or, if you dare, have sex in public while you’re out if the shopping experience is really turning you on. Sneak into a bush in a park or a toilet cubicle (PSA: just make sure no one sees you as that’s what makes it illegal). Or to be safe, maybe just have a really good kiss in an alleyway and do it up against the wall in your garden or on your balcony or, you know, in your car when you get home. The possibilities are endless!
Slow It Down
Yep the exact opposite of a passionate outdoor (or indoor) quickie. Slowing sex down is about being completely present while you’re having sex. Fully living in each moment as you and your partner touch each other. Instead of rushing to orgasm, slow sex means enjoying every single sensation. If you and your partner find that your sex life is on autopilot, slow sex may be just the thing you need to recentre yourselves and become more present with your pleasure.
Hot And Cold
Playing with temperature can be super fun and extremely sensual. It could be as simple as getting your partner to rub ice cubes over your nipples, or spreading ice cream all over your partner’s body and licking it off. You can also heat things up by trying some wax play. Don’t use your Ikea tea lights though – you need to use body safe candle wax. The Oskia and Temperley Love candle smells divine and melts into a warm massage oil, perfect for an indulgent partnered session and also great for solo sex…
The key learning here is to do what is right for you. A change can be as simple as trying a new sex position, mutual masturbation, or watching porn together. Figure out what it is that is missing from your sex life – is it excitement, novelty, connection, other people – and work from there to explore a solution. It might take time, and there may be some hiccups along the way, but your journey to better sex starts right here.
Alice (she/her) is a freelance writer and editor. She adores writing in long-form, and covers everything from sex, drugs and tattoos to books, art and culture. Her work has been published in Cosmopolitan, Red, Grazia, Vice, Guardian, and more. When she’s not writing from bed with her dog and a hot water bottle, she’s probs watching reality TV, planning outfits for fetish nights (hello, new custom latex leggings) or reading a novel from her neverending TBR pile. Check out Alice’s Instagram and Website for more.