Dear MKE SEX,

When I met my boyfriend three years ago, the sex was hot. Smoking hot. Steaming hot. It was amazing and mind-altering. We had such a deep connection, and the sex felt weirdly spiritual or something. We both felt like we were supposed to be together based on how good we were at fucking. We moved in together after dating for a couple of months and our friends said we were ridiculous, but honestly, it just felt like the right thing to do.

Now that it’s been a few years, we have a great relationship. We trust each other and get along really well. We’ve made a really great life together (and we love to tell our friends they were wrong about us!). But. The sex is…meh. It’s fine, you know? But it’s not hot any more. We used to spend whole days in bed, pushing each other harder and further than ever before. Now we casually have sex for about 20 minutes once or twice a week. We both have decent orgasms, but the earth doesn’t move. It doesn’t even shiver.

Is this normal? Does it have to be this way? Is it a sign that our time together is over? Like, what is the problem here? I miss the hot, hot, hot sex of the early days, and I want it back. He says he does, too. But we can’t seem to get there.

Help?
Glory Days

Dear Glory,

What you two are experiencing is a totally normal development in a long-term relationship. Given how happy you both feel, I don’t see this as any kind of sign that the relationship is ending. But also, given how important the great sex was to the two of you, I agree that you should invest the time to get some of that heat back if you can.

When we’re in a new relationship, we light up the puzzle-solving part of our brain. It’s very exciting to explore each other, and find the best ways to fit our bodies together. We get lots of good chemicals from the reward center in our brain when we find that “just right way” to touch or kiss or fuck. The new relationship (and the new sex) stay on our mind all of the time, and we can’t wait to get back in bed and take another shot at the puzzle.

As time passes, and we get really good at satisfying our partners, our brains start to take shortcuts. See, the part of our brain that solves puzzles is also in charge of efficiency. It’s the part of you that plots your trip through the grocery store and gets angry when your 15-minute drive home takes 20 instead. So, once the puzzle is solved, our brains want to make the journey from point A (pre-sex) to point B (relaxing in the post-orgasmic afterglow) as short as possible. Despite the fact that we are also longing for the extended sensations and attention of those early days, our brains know that if we do step one, then step two, and finish with step three, we’ll achieve our goal (satisfying sex with our partner).

For many couples, there’s a solution though. You have to mutually resolve to not do the thing that you know works. Counterintuitive, right? Right. But totally effective. Have a conversation and decide that you’re not going to “do” or “perform” your typical sex routine, and then start over from scratch. Solve the puzzle all over again. Get really excited about figuring out a new way to have sex, and do that for a while. When that new way starts to feel routine, do it all over again.

There are some things folks often like to try when they’re mixing it up in the bedroom. Adding a sex toy (or two or three) can add a lot of oomph to a sagging (but still satisfying) sex life. Watching porn together, reading erotica to each other, sharing previously undisclosed fantasies—all of these things can give your brains new fodder for fucking. There’s also a free survey site site called mojoupgrade.com. Each of you answers a longish sex questionnaire about things you might like to try, and then the site emails all of your matching answers to your partner. If you’re both interested in trying anal sex, you find out in the results. If you’re interested in, say, exploring a foot fetish but your boyfriend is not, that won’t show up in the results.

Since the two of you have a strong relationship that is grounded in trust and respect, it’s safe to say that if it was hot before, it can be hot again. It’ll take some work and some time (think about using some of your banked PTO if you can—it’s worth it!), but you can get there.

Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her a question at mkesex@gmail.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.