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Long term relationships and female libido

Counteracting the decline of a woman’s sex drive

woman in bed peeking through arms

Photo by Jan Zhukov on Unsplash

By Tara Blair Ball

It may not be a surprise to some women, but a new study that came out just last year shows that the longer a woman is in a committed long term relationship, the more likely it is that her libido will decrease.

The study concluded that women need variety and novelty in their sexual experiences to stay interested.

This article condenses research on the nature of female desire in long-term heterosexual relationships. The culmination of that research states:

“[For] women only, lack of interest in sex was higher among those in a relationship of over one year in duration,” and “…women living with a partner were more likely to lack interest in sex than those in other relationship categories.”

The reasons for this are not found to be solely biological, as in “women have a lower libido than men.” Instead, women often present as equally or more enthusiastic for sex as their male partners at the start of their relationships.

Their desire dwindles once they have been with the same partner for a year or more, much faster and much earlier than their male partners. This does not happen because these women enjoy sex any less than their male partners, but because they desire less of “the same sex with the same person over and over.”

The findings reveal that women, just like men, require variety in their sexual experiences. For couples to remain in monogamous relationships where both participants are satisfied, they must introduce novelty.

Sexual novelty: the antidote to boring sex

In one study that included both men and women, female and male subjects viewed a pornographic film daily for four days and then were exposed to either “(i) a film showing the same actors engaging in different sexual acts or (ii) one with different actors engaging in the same activities shown in the original film.”

After the participants viewed the “new” film, they self-reported their sexual arousal. The male subjects became more aroused by the films containing different actors, while the females became more aroused by the same actors performing different acts.

For the female subjects, they were more aroused by the novelty of the different acts than the novelty of different people.

How to spice up your sex life

Whether it’s you or your partner that has a flagging desire, it can easily be corrected by bringing something new into the relationship. Here are some ideas to spice up your sex life:

1. Have a conversation

Improving sex in your long term relationship often starts by having good conversation about your sex life. What do you and your partner like? What do you and your partner not like? What have you and your partner always wanted to try, but never felt brave enough to ask? What are definite no’s vs. maybe’s?

Many of us grew up with very shame-based views about sex, but your romantic relationship should be the one place you feel the freest to discuss and try new things. Even if you have a desire you’ve always thought was a bit weird, ask your partner to be open and nonjudgmental, and share it with them! You may be surprised to find out that they’ve always wanted to dress up as an alien too…

couple telling secrets

Photo by Ba Tik from Pexels

2. Try sex toys and lubricants

Purchasing a sex toy for yourself or your partner can definitely improve your sex life! The possibilities for experimentation may actually surprise you. For example, with the purchase of a vibrator, the woman could use it on herself, her partner could use it on her, or her partner could penetrate her while she still used it.

Purchasing a “smart” vibrator, such as the Lioness, can also provide valuable information on her orgasms that she could share with her partner to help improve their experience as a couple.

There are also hundreds of different specific couples sex toys or toys to enhance or complement the sexual experience, such as bullets, butt plugs, cock rings, etc.

New lubricants can also increase your sensitivity, be tasty for some edible play, or enhance certain sensations (such as being warming or cooling).

3. Switch locations

If you’ve been mostly having sex in your bed, try some place new: the kitchen, the bathroom, the hallway, the closet.

If you can, splurge on a hotel room to get out of your digs altogether. A location change can also change up whatever’s been holding you back and spice up your sex life.

couple cuddling in the kitchen
Photo by Diva Plavalaguna from Pexels

4. Research ways to improve your sex life

If you feel clueless about what to add next, try reading up on ways to improve your sex life. Look into things like:

Look up what other options are out there for you to try and explore with your partner. What are you both interested in adding to your “sexual bucket list?”

5. Participate in role-playing BDSM, or other fantasy-based behaviors

Have you always been curious what it might feel like to, say, spank your partner’s bottom, or role-play a one-night stand with a “stranger?”

Talk with your partner and think about what you’d like to try. Set some ground rules (for all BDSM role-plays, for example, make sure to have a special “word” that either partner can use to stop the proceedings in their tracks), and remember to practice being open and nonjudgmental.

6. Schedule sex

It may seem like the LEAST sexy thing on this list, but hear me out.

When you plan for a vacation, don’t you get excited knowing it’s coming up? You look up things to do, places to eat, etc. The same excitement can be used to improve your sex life.

When you schedule sex, you know it’ll happen and can plan something special for it.

Don’t settle for low libido and boring sex

Variety is important and necessary to sustaining the enjoyment for both partners in a heterosexual long-term relationship. When you start to notice the fire is dwindling, it’s time to talk about it and try something new.



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