How to spice things up in the bedroom when you're in a long-term relationship

Here, sex therapists reveal how to spice things up in the bedroom with exciting new ideas

Woman and man lying in bed together laughing and smiling under the covers, representing how to spice things up in the bedroom
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering how to spice things up in the bedroom? Even the happiest couples can experience a sex-life lull after a couple of years together. With time comes comfortability, and unfortunately, that's not traditionally an aphrodisiac. 

Research shows that couples tend to stop being interested in regular sex after just a year together but there's no reason why this has to be the case. A solid relationship makes for a great foundation for an exciting sex life. 

Many of the best sex books will tell you all the ins and outs of revitalizing your sex life both in and out of the bedroom. But if you're looking to learn how to have better sex (and more of it) with some fun new ideas, you're in the right place. Here, woman&home speaks to three certified sex therapists to reveal how to spice things up in the bedroom. 

How to spice things up in the bedroom

1. Explore your fantasies

To be able to ask for what you want in the bedroom, you need to know what it is that you want. One way to do this, suggests Lyndsey Murray, a certified counselor and sex therapist, is by exploring sexual fantasies together. "Explore fantasies and new toys together, or even watch and read ethical erotic material together," she says. 

Try to approach the conversation with an open mind as you might learn some new things about your partner, but ultimately no matter what happens, it'll serve the purpose of breaking the ice. "As time passes in a relationship, we become 'known' by our partner. This is a wonderful thing in some ways, but it can also lead to inhibitions," explains certified couples therapist Kendra Capalbo.

Beyond this, you could look at what your sexual fantasies mean together, to get more ideas for how to spice things up in the bedroom in the future. 

2. Role play

Role play is often depicted in films as a super intense, super public affair, where a couple meet at a bar and pretend not to know each other. Dynamics like teacher and student, boss and secretary, or whatever other costumes you can find in the sex store also come to mind. And this can work for some people who want a little more excitement in their relationship. But as Capalbo says, it can be as simple as coming up with a persona and then going on a first date.

"No need for costumes or props, just come up with a story and play out what being on a first date as that character with the one your partner came up with would be like," she suggests. 

For those without a flair for acting, role play may feel a little comfortable - but it can really work to teach you how to spice things up in your relationship. "For example, if I were to all of a sudden start talking dirty or sexting my husband when I have never done so before, he may love it, but I may worry that he'll be confused because it's out of character. On the other hand, if we are role-playing, there are no expectations of the character I am choosing to be." 

The only people role play may not be suitable for are those trying to come back from infidelity because "it can be triggering", the therapist says. 

3. Try mindful sex

Sometimes spicing things up in the bedroom means slowing things down. If you're tired of the same positions over and over again, or you feel that your sex life has waned in recent months or years, circling back to the beginning could be helpful. 

Mindful sex is the practice of being 'in the moment' with your partner. "There's little to no sexual anxiety with mindful sex," explains Murray. "Participants are not thinking of their to-do lists or household chores. They're not thinking about what's happening at work or elsewhere at home. Together, you're both focusing on creating pleasure and the best sensations for each other, and nothing can take you out of your moment."

Engaging in more mindful practices could be the key to learning how to spice up your relationship completely. As a review by Radboud University Nijmegen outlines, there's a connection between regular mindfulness and partner acceptance - always a healthy trait in any partnership - and importantly, in two out of three studies, mindfulness was directly and positively linked to relationship satisfaction. So, try moves like the lotus sex position and missionary-style moves where you're facing your partner. 

Couples hands clasped together on bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Remote control panty vibrators

The idea of wearing a vibrator out in public may be a big step for some but if your best vibrator is a bullet, the step between using it inside the house and out isn't too big. Remote-controlled panty vibrators are just what the name suggests, small vibes that fit into specially-designed panties that you wear out on a date with your partner. 

As one of the best remote vibrators generally, remote-controlled panty vibrators are a great way to spice things up in the bedroom by building suspense before the main event. "Technology has come so far and there are so many options you can control through your phone, which can be a turn-on for both partners," Capalbo explains. "There is something sexy about being able to turn your partner on in public while watching them squirm a bit to mask what's really happening. By the time you get home, the buildup may very well lead straight to the bedroom, so be prepared for that."

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5. Sex apps

Speaking of technology, while our phones are normally at least part-responsible for distracting us from regular sex, one of the best sex apps could be the ticket you need to spice things up in the bedroom. 

"Apps like Spicer can be a great tool to add a spark to your sex life," explains Capalbo. "Each partner is allowed to go through a series of sex questions and respond with a yes, no, or maybe. If you both answer yes or maybe, you will see your match."

As well as being a fun sex game for date night, Spicer and similar apps allow you to have conversations about sex, sexual fantasies, and your individual wants and needs without fear or judgment, she explains."If you're into something and they aren't, no big deal, they won't even know you are unless you choose to share that information yourself. There are different levels of questions and you can add your own."

How does this help us learn how to spice things up in the bedroom? "A lot of times, the ability to say yes, I would like to try this thing without having your partner staring at you allows you to explore your own sexuality more," the therapist says. 

6. Explore intimacy

Foreplay is a huge element of sex, one that often gets ignored in favor of other activities. But we're not just talking about exploring the best oral sex positions together when it comes to exploring intimacy and more foreplay together - you can also learn how to be intimate without sex

"Take the time for intimacy," says Murray. "Don't just focus on sex. For example, imagine how intimate it would be to lick or kiss your partner's body head to toe before you even engage in sex." If you're looking to learn how to be happy in a relationship again, this will be essential. 

7. Try a new sex position

We can improve intimacy with a partner, learn how to revive romance in a relationship, rebuild trust, and generally make sure that our relationship is in good working order, but when it comes down to it, changing the way you actually have sex could be all you need. 

For example, you may not have fully explored all the best sex positions. Doggy is one sex educator Sarah Riccio personally recommends. "Lovers who have never tried a doggy-style sex position might want to give it a go. There's no one right way to do it, which might ease your mind if you're a beginner, as long as the giver is behind the receiver. It's a great one for the partner behind to have access to their partner's back and pelvis, for massaging and reaching out to provide clitoral stimulation."

Those who don't enjoy intense penetration might find this one a little intense, if that's the case, find something new that works for you. The speed bump sex position may be a little more up your street, for example, or the butterfly sex position. Both of these offer the receiver a little extra support. 

"If you're both exploring a new position for the first time, don't be afraid to tell your partner how you're feeling, even if it's not overwhelmingly positive," Riccio, who is also the owner of, suggests. "The more you let yourself be vulnerable with your lover, the greater your shared intimacy will be."

Two women hugging each other, sitting at the foot of their bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. Switch up missionary

If a new sex position isn't on the cards for you, for whatever reason, there's nothing wrong with changing up an old favorite. Missionary is a favorite for a reason: it allows couples to physically connect while keeping that all-important eye contact. 

So why not learn how to make missionary sex better for everyone? For this, Riccio has a suggestion. "Known as a modified missionary, this position puts a romantic spin on the classic. To do this move, the receiver wraps their legs around their love and pulls them in extra close. The giver cradles their partner's head and draws it into the erogenous zone between the ear and shoulder," she explains. "This slight modification allows partners to hear and feel each other's breath and body movements in an incredibly intimate way."

Other fun takes on the missionary sex position include the closed missionary sex position and the Amazon sex position, for a little bit of a power play.

9. Mirror sex

We know the power accessories can bring to our sex lives (hello, all the best sex toys), but something as simple as a mirror can go a long way. "Making love in front of a mirror can make any position feel more romantic," explains Riccio. "It gets couples to admire themselves mid-play. For those who aren't quite ready to try a new position, but still want to explore a sexy new sensory experience, this could be a great stepping stone."

If you normally have sex on a bed, position the mirror at the foot of your bed where both of you can gaze into it. It could be the confidence booster you both need to kickstart your sex life again. 

10. A weekend away

While it won't be possible for everyone, as the founder of Esclusiva Couples Retreats, therapist Kendra Capalbo has seen first-hand the benefit of taking a relationship out of its regular context. "Sometimes stress is the thing that causes our sex lives to fade," she explains. "Leaving all that behind to really relax and focus on increasing your intimate connection may be what's needed to kickstart a new phase of your sexual relationship."

For the weekend stay to really work though, she warns, it needs to be more than just a holiday - and it should just be the two of you. "Vacations with family and friends are wonderful but there is something sensual about a couples' vacation that gets lost in the shuffle of worrying about everyone else. Planning some activities is great but don't forget to schedule in time to just be with each other, whether it be staying in bed longer than usual making out, or making sure you retire to bed early enough at night to decrease the odds of being too tired for sex."

Why do couples stop having sex?

Couples can stop having sex (or start having less sex than they were previously) for many reasons, but it's a perfectly normal thing to happen. As Capalbo notes, we become "known" to our partners after several years together, essentially quashing that spark of the unknown. We may still have romantic and intimate feelings towards them, but that might not manifest in sex like it used to. 

"It's very common for a couple's sex life to hit a bit of a rut," explains Mairead Molloy, a relationship consultant and strategist. "Many people in long-term relationships fall into particular patterns or routines - how sex is instigated, what positions you use, what time of day you do it. It's important to remember that, when it comes to sexual desire, your interests and activity can fluctuate depending on what's going on in your life." Equally, it's important to remember that no matter how you feel about having sex right now, even if you're debating whether it's important to have sex at all, you can create a sex life that works for you. 

"The beginning stages of a relationship are marked by powerful feelings of infatuation, fantasies, and desire and while you can’t expect that fuzzy sensation to last forever, you can revisit the places where the butterflies started," she says.

Grace Walsh
Health Channel Editor

Grace Walsh is woman&home's Health Channel Editor, working across the areas of fitness, nutrition, sleep, mental health, relationships, and sex. In 2024, she will be taking on her second marathon in Rome, cycling from Manchester to London (350km) for charity, and qualifying as a certified personal trainer.

A digital journalist with over six years experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace has covered (almost) everything in the world of health and wellbeing with bylines in Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more.