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How to keep the passion alive

Has the desire vanished from your relationship? We ask the sexperts how to get it back...

Couple looking into each other's eyes (© Getty Images)

When you first got together with your partner, it probably felt like the magic would never fade. You’d remain as sickeningly in love forever and ever, while that lusty feeling that comes with discovering new flesh would also refuse to wear off.

And now… well, things are different. Inevitably they’ve calmed down a bit, the spark isn’t quite as bright as it used to be, and you’re not ripping each other’s clothes off as often as you used to.

However, you are still very much in love, and settling into a long-term relationship is about learning to adapt to this new situation. There is no reason why you can’t reinvigorate your love life and re-capture that passion from when you first met. In fact, it’ll be even better this time – now you know you can trust each other, and you’re best friends to boot.

Siski Green, author of How to Blow Her Mind in Bed (Piatkus), agrees that you just need to learn to deal with this lack of uniqueness, and use it to your advantage.

“Motivation is in part driven by our desire for novelty,” she says. “When you feel very familiar with your partner that novelty aspect is lost – and with it is some of your motivation.

“One important step to keeping passion alive is to change your mindset. Passionate sex needn’t always be of the rip-your-clothes-off variety. In fact, deeply emotional sex – something you can usually only achieve with someone you’re familiar and comfortable with – can be far more passionate in the sense that the sex is physical and psychologically fulfilling. But to achieve this kind of sex you need to really zone in on each other. Synchronised breathing is a great way to start, as is maintaining eye contact throughout sex.”

Why things change

The simple passing of time and ‘getting used to each other’ is not the only thing that can make a relationship turn stale. Psychologist Felix Economakis (treatmentsforthemind.co.uk) says stress is also a major factor. “Stress makes us tired, and fatigue is not conducive to love-making, which is then seen as yet another demand at the end of a long day,” he says. “So you put it off until finally you get used to doing it just once a month or every two months.

“Compare this with how you are on holiday, when sufficiently rested and free from stress – that is the truer state of affairs. Unfortunately, stress is a major interference.”

Plus, if you have children, you’ll have even less time on your hands. Dr Economakis says: “The demands of kids are very stressful and can cause sleep deprivation, which just adds fuel to the fire.

“Taken all together, we have a situation where habits set in. You are crazy busy at work, so you just want to ‘unwind’. After vegging in front of the TV for an hour or so, our exhausted couples are about ready for bed and love-making is not a priority – whereas basic survival needs are.”

Couple kissing on ski slope

Relationship expert Emma Ziff (emmaziff.com) says that, once the initial excitement of the early days of your partnership has died down and you begin to see each other in a different light, a very real feeling of resentment can set in. “Many couples complain about one another to friends,” she says, “especially when they are stuck in a rut – ‘he/she doesn’t understand me, he/she’s not meeting my needs.’

“The issues in your relationship are based on your values, now and how they can change through your life. What’s important to you now will be different in time, and yet your partner's values will change, and will not necessarily be the same as yours. All of these changes can dramatically affect how you feel sexually - physically and emotionally - towards one another.”

How to recapture the sparkle

Don’t just sit back and watch your relationship crumble – take practical steps to get things back on track. “To recreate a sense of novelty, try taking it in turns to get pleasure,” says Green. “Usually you’d make an effort to ensure both of you reach orgasm, but instead focus on your partner for one night, then the next time you have sex it’s your turn. The way you approach sex is likely to be very different when the focus is entirely on one of you and that will help create a sense of newness.”

The passion can be recaptured, but it does take some careful planning, says Dr Economakis. “Practically speaking, set a no-pressure, no performance-objective regular event like ‘naked Tuesdays’,” he says. “On Tuesday evenings, both of you agree to turn up naked for bed early and watch TV. If you happen to let hands stray and things progress to something physical, then great. If you are both tired and too into what you’re watching on this occasion, or if you’re too sleepy, then that’s fine too, but this convention will get you into the habit of being naked and in proximity to each other.

“If you’re not too tired, taking turns to massage would also be recommended. It starts off being a chore, but can soon switch into a physical mode once a person does it for a while.”

Couple in bed (© Getty Images)

Dr Economakis also stresses the importance of differentiating between the ‘fun’ and ‘functional’ aspects of your relationship. He says: “Think of it as being able to switch between husband/wife to boyfriend/girlfriend mode. Boyfriends/girlfriends date. They make plans to spend time with each other. Husband/wife is more like a business partnership to ensure the corporation (the family) is running smoothly. It’s all about work for others and not enough time for each other.

“Get back to making dates. Take an interest in her, pay her some compliments, share information and you will feel closer to her and you will reconnect with those dormant feelings and desires.”

Ignoring your problems, hoping they will go away on their own, is the worst approach you can take, says Ziff. “It won’t get any better by sweeping it under the rug,” she says. “It’s vital to know what’s important to you. There is nothing sexier than someone who’s leading a life that they love. If that spark has gone from within yourself, then your partner will feel it, and that can be very unattractive.

“What are you doing to meet your own needs? You can’t expect your partner to fulfil them all for you. Create your own interests, your own life, as well as the one you have together. You are whole and complete, two different people, not one. So take that time out for you, to refuel and actually miss one another. Stop calling or texting every 10 minutes. You’ll start to wonder what the other is up to, creating some excitement and keeping some mystery.”

Communicating with your other half, rather than bitching to mates, is key, too. Ziff adds: “Discuss it with the one person who can do something about it – your partner, rather than complaining to your friends.”

Also, just make sure you are there for your partner, even right down to helping out with the little things. “The small things can make a huge difference to a woman, even putting on the laundry, washing up, making her breakfast or bathing the kids,” says Ziff.

Finally, ask yourself this – do you feel sexy? If the passion has evaporated, maybe it’s because you’re not making the effort you used to. Ziff concludes: “Start with you. Do you look at yourself and say, ‘yes I would’? Your partner will sense this too. Confidence is so sexy.”

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