How would you describe your sexual relationship? If it’s boring, you may be on the road to splitsville.
According to a recent study in "Psychological Science," couples who say they are bored seven years into a marriage are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their union at year 16.
Boredom further lends itself to greater unhappiness, since bored spouses are likelier to divorce than those still enjoying one another. So what can couples do to avoid the dullness and unhappiness that eventually ruin intimacy, romance and the relationship?
More than anything, lovers need to keep themselves mentally stimulated. Thus, couples need to pursue novel, challenging activities in a shared context in and out of the bedroom to reignite passion.
If you or your lover is bored, here are some tips to make the relationship more exciting:
1. Influence the other’s brain chemistry
The study’s findings complement research by brain researcher Dr. Helen Fisher, showing that the same area of the brain lights up in those who have newly fallen in love and those passionately in love after 20 years of marriage. The ventral tegmental area (VTA), the region related to feelings of reward and satisfaction, is involved with increasing levels of dopamine.
So you want to activate the brain neurotransmitter dopamine by heightening your lover’s sense of novelty. To increase dopamine levels, pursue new, challenging activities in a shared context, like hiking, kayaking, or testing out a new sex toy.
2. Challenging your partner’s diversions
Intimacy suffers from “soft addictions” — habits, behaviors, or indulgences that fill one’s emptiness and not the one in your midst. You need to have your partner tune in to you instead of the television. Capture your love’s attention with something as simple as an intense gaze, without saying a word. This can ignite foreplay.
3. Finding each other’s flow
Research in "Scientific American" shows that finding a new interest or hobby and exercising reduces boredom. By pursuing any of these options, aim for flow – the optimal balance of challenge and ease. Like a runner’s high, get into a groove that requires more skill and “agility,” but at a low enough intensity to boost your partner’s sense of accomplishment.
4. Remind the other that “I still want you”
People often need to feel desired in order to feel desire. Express genuine affection and attraction regularly. “It’s been said that men fall in love using their eyes and women fall in love using their ears,” said Dr. James Houran, a compatibility psychologist in Texas. “Nothing is more arousing than to feel genuinely loved, appreciated, and desired.”
This is best achieved by giving your lover your undivided attention. Step away from the computer. Turn off all of your gadgets. Close your bedroom door. Solely focus on your lover. Instilling a sense of safety and comfort will encourage uninhibited action.
5. Pursue time travel
Remind each other of why you fell for the other. “Look at photos of yourselves from your early days together,” sex therapist Dr. Catherine D. Ravella recommends. Tapping past feelings can spur new ones, including amazing sexual experiences. This allows your lover to remember what went into it, connect with the feelings and long to recreate the moment.
6. Cater to one another’s personality type
If your lover is an extrovert, research in the "Journal of Research in Personality" reported that this person becomes bored more easily. So he or she requires more stimulation to maintain optimal levels of arousal. You’ll have to be more proactive.
Thankfully, research published in the British Journal of Psychology reports that extroverts are better at seeking stimulation, particularly within social contexts. Hence, this partner is quite good at reducing his or her own boredom.
7. Tend to your inner child
Lovers need to avoid blaming their partner for their boredom. Often, your boredom is a symptom of something else going on with you. Examine how you’re to blame for your own boredom, considering ways to stimulate yourself once more.
8. Get each other’s blood pumping
Lovers should get the adrenaline going by watching a scary movie, going to an amusement park or taking a chance by trying sexual seduction of a new sort. Such activities lend themselves to physiological arousal, which can be translated into sexual arousal.
9. Share your fantasies
Sexual or not, fill his or her head with stimulating visual images of what you want to do, places you want to go, fictional scenarios that turn you on... Don’t underestimate the power of your imagination in countering boredom. Plus, your lover will love having greater access to the mysteries of your mind.
To counter boredom, it’s important to remember that this is a dynamic process. More than anything, action breeds motivation. So get busy with your anti-boredom campaign!
Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."