How to Rekindle Desire In Long-Term Relationships, According to Science

Lack of sex in a relationship is familiar to many long-term couples. Passion can fade over time for all kinds of reasons - the novelty is gone, sexual tension is lacking, sex feels formulaic and you’re spending too much time together, but it doesn’t have to.

Close up intimate couple embracing arms and faces in bed

Sexual desire and long-term satisfaction

Lack of sex in a relationship doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. However, sexual desire is associated with overall relationship happiness.

It turns out that romantic feeling isn’t the only ingredient needed for a hot sex life. So, what else is required? How do some couples keep sparks flying as the years go by? How to rekindle a relationship?

Scientists think they’ve found a new hack to solve the lack of sex in a relationship. And it’s not just about more than buying new lingerie. Though this is never a bad idea…

Closeness, otherness, self-expansion, and sexual desire

A recent paper in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships published a study undertaken by scientists in Toronto, Canada. In it, they investigated the concepts of otherness, closeness, and self-expansion in relation to sexual desire.

Sensual couple touching in lingerie black background

What do these terms mean? Closeness refers to the shared emotional intimacy between partners, a connection that causes you to take on aspects of your partner. Otherness refers to feeling like you’re learning things you didn’t previously know about your romantic partner.

Self-expansion refers to having new and shared experiences with your partner that expand your sense of self and your worldview.

What is self-expansion theory?

Self-expansion theory is the idea that humans have an innate need to feel themselves growing and developing, and this sense of self-growth is key to happiness. Self-expansion theory suggests that romantic relationships are one way in which we expand our sense of self.

Closeness and otherness together foster desire between partners

Closeness and otherness aren’t catalysts for sexual desire when apart. Couples who feel intimate and emotionally close can still experience low desire and lack of sex in a relationship, and a romantic relationship can’t exist without emotional closeness.

Loving couple laughing and hugging in bed in pyjamas

How to rekindle a relationship? When closeness (emotional intimacy) and otherness (learning new things about your partner) coexist, however, partners experience self-expansion. This heightens sexual and romantic desire between lovers.

How is self-expansion connected to sexual desire?

Self-expansion, having experiences that develop your sense of self, is associated with desire because it enables partners to newly appreciate the ways they both contribute to the relationship, to feel good about their self-growth within a relationship, and to discover new and attractive sides to their partner they may not have seen before.

In other words, it enables partners to experience newness as well as closeness as individuals and as a couple.

Woman surprises girlfriend on sofa in morning holding mug

How can you experience self-expansion and increased desire in your relationship?

How to rekindle a relationship? Otherness is all about engaging in shared opportunities that are new, challenging, and exciting.

This can mean going to new places and taking trips, trying new hobbies and activities, going on cultural excursions, learning new things, and having new types of discussions. Do things that will challenge you both in new ways.

Fixing a lack of sex in a relationship can also mean trying things that take you outside your comfort zone in the bedroom - like role-playing or having sex in a new environment. But the main takeaway from the study is the importance of activities that enable you both to learn new things about each other.

Couple cycling in the park in the sun

Are you ready to impress your lover all over again? Take that trip you’ve been talking about all year. Your sex life will thank you!