Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

3 Ways To Sexually Reconnect With Your Partner

How to get busy in the bedroom again no matter how long it's been.

It is not uncommon for couples to experience periods of waxing and waning sexual frequency. Sometimes, for various reasons (such as illness, injury, medication reactions, relationship conflict, etc.), a considerable hiatus can occur in a couple's sexual relationship such that months or even years can go by without any sexual intimacy.

For reasons related to my oft-cited saying, "Your head and heart will follow your feet," when a couple enters into one of these sexual doldrums, it often results in a vicious circle of reduced sexual interest, and hence less sexual activity, which can further reduce libido. What is needed is a virtuous circle of heightened interest leading to increased sexual intimacy. But how does one do this? It's especially difficult because after a period of inactivity, reconnecting sexually can feel awkward.

Basically, there are three ways to restore sexual energy in a relationship that has stalled. The first I call "Top Down" that encourages couples to "Just Do It!" This begins a pattern of sexual intimacy that can build on itself once the ice is broken. Since how we act strongly influences how we think and feel, simply diving in headfirst (no pun intended) and resuming sex can be a powerful catalyst for increasing sexual interest and activity.

The second approach I call "Bottom Up" because it starts at the base of the complete relationship. In essence, a good, deeply intimate relationship rests on the foundation of a strong friendship—the "bottom" of the intimacy pyramid. This approach involves a couple first reconnecting as very special friends by doing mutually fun activities (but nothing sexual) like going out on dates and doing other fun things together (such as taking walks, playing tennis, golf, movies, dinners, visiting other friends, etc.). In this way, the fondness of the friendship can be rekindled, which naturally leads to the second part of the "Bottom Up" approach which is physical affection.

Physical affection is very important for both expressing positive feelings and becoming re-familiarized with one another's bodies. Thus, affectionately touching each other on a frequent basis is very helpful in facilitating the next step of the "Bottom Up" method, namely sensual touching. Unlike affectionate touch—largely hugging, patting, caressing, squeezing, kissing, holding hands, walking arm-in-arm (usually while dressed)—sensual touch is much more intimate and involves things like luxurious foot and back massages, more passionate caressing, breast and butt caresses, more intense kissing, and some non-coital, genital contact (slowly undressing each other while engaging in sensual touching can greatly heighten arousal.)

Next, and finally, comes (again, no pun intended) sex. By progressing to sensual contact, most couples feel ready for actual sexual activity including manual, oral, and penetrative intercourse.

The third, and often the best, method is to do the "Top Down" and "Bottom Up" approaches in parallel. So "Just Do It"—but also work on nourishing the friendship, being more demonstratively affectionate, and engaging in more sensual touch. In this way, it is very likely that the fuel of sexual desire, and perhaps even passion, can be reignited, resulting in rejuvenated sexual activity.

To sum it up:

The Top Down way to reintroduce sex into your marriage or relationship: Dive right into sex again no matter how much time has passed since you were last sexually active. As the Nike adage goes, "Just Do It!" And because how we act affects how we think and feel, acting sexually tends to stimulate sexual thoughts and feelings.

At the same time or separately, try the Bottom Up approach:

  • First, focus on nourishing the friendship of your relationship.
  • Then, engage in plenty of nonsexual, physical affection.
  • Next, resume sensual touching.
  • Finally, have a go at sexual activity.

Of course, as mentioned above, if a couple is faced with some serious or complicated challenges, such as illness, medication side effects, intense conflict or unresolved resentments, the help of a skilled professional is often necessary to facilitate the process.

Remember: Think well, Act well, Feel well, Be well!

Copyright 2015 Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D

Dear Reader,

The advertisements contained in this post do not necessarily reflect my opinions nor are they endorsed by me.

This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance or personal mental health treatment by a qualified clinician.