How Couples Can Amp Up an Idling Sex Life

Hugging and kissing may seem trivial, but they are a great way to build intimacy.

sex life
Fear not: there are several things couples can do to reignite the flame. (Getty Images)
Getty Images/Westend61

Traditional methods of getting in the mood, like lingerie and porn, might help amp up your and your partner’s sex drive, but it typically isn’t quite enough.

That’s because today’s American adults are way too stressed-out most of the time for simple gimmicks, sex educator and author of the best-selling book “Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life,” Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., told NBC News.

“Those things are great if you like them, go ahead, but it turns out that people are struggling usually not because there’s not enough stimulation to the accelerator — it’s that there is too much stimulation to the brake,” Nagoski said.

And nothing hits the brakes faster than stress.

“Stress is a survival mechanism to help you when your body is sending you signals that say you are not safe right now,” Nagoski said, “and if you’re not safe right now, is that a good moment to be having sex?”

Everything from your career to childcare and a lack of sleep can contribute to stress, according to Nagoski, and for many long-term couples the added pressure of keeping their sex lives interesting may only contribute to their overall stress.

To beat stress and all the other ailments on your life that stand between you and your partner, Nagoski recommends scheduling time for sex — as regimented as it may sound — in order to give yourself time to “eliminate any stressors that are hitting your brake.”

She advises not to “chase” your partner for intimacy when she or he isn’t in the mood, even when you are, and to stop focusing so much on sex itself. Instead, Nagoski advises couples to spend time building intimacy each day in small ways that add up big — like cuddling and kissing.

Finally, if all else doesn’t seem to do the trick, Nagoski said there’s no shame in seeking the help of a trained sex therapist, “because we are all so tender and sensitive around sexuality, and it can be difficult to talk with each other about it in a way that is never blaming and never hurtful.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.