Has your sex life become dull? Routine? As infrequent as a fair election in North Korea? You’re definitely not alone: 57% of men in long-term relationships aren’t happy with the sex they’re having, according to a new Chapman University survey.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Another 32% of people said their sex lives were just as passionate now as they had been in the first 6 months of their relationships. The researchers asked them about their habits in and out of the bedroom to figure out what they’re doing right. Follow their lead to get better sex—and more of it—no matter how long you’ve been with your partner.
1. They’re affectionate all day long.
The single biggest predictor of sexual satisfaction wasn’t kinky positions or toys. It was how happy people were with their relationships outside the bedroom.
It makes sense: You’re more likely to hop into bed with someone you’re getting along with and feeling loving toward, says study author David Frederick, PhD.
So take the time to show your affection all day long—not just when you want sex.
2. They actually talk about sex.
Fewer than 40% of the men surveyed had asked for something they wanted in bed in the last month. But the more couples broached the subject of sex—whether it was suggesting a new position, praising each other afterward, or asking for feedback—the happier they were with their sex lives.
If talking about sex feels awkward, start with a baby step. Say one thing you loved about your romp right afterward. Something like, “It was so hot when you climbed on top of me. It drives me crazy when you take charge.”
If you want to request something new but you’re worried about what your partner will think, sex researcher Kristen Mark, PhD, suggests a devious tactic: Say you dreamed that you two [did it in a dressing room/experimented with oral, etc.] and gauge the reaction. Seems intrigued? Segue into asking to try it in real life.
3. They focus on her pleasure.
One of the biggest predictors of a woman’s sexual satisfaction is whether she’s getting off. Orgasm wasn’t linked to satisfaction for men, probably because it’s a given for most guys. But the female orgasm is more finicky: Only 66% of women reported that they usually climax during their sexual encounters. It makes sense that if sex is more pleasurable for both people, they’ll likely want to do it more often, says Frederick. And not shockingly, having more sex is one of the key drivers of sexual satisfaction for both men and women.
4. They mix it up.
When you’ve had sex with the same person 1,500 times, a little variety goes a long way. Couples who tried little acts of adventure like new positions, sex toys, wearing lingerie, or watching porn together were more satisfied with their sex lives, according to the study. Looking for inspiration? Try one of these 45 hot sex positions or order one of these 11 great sex toys for men.
5. They set the stage for sex.
Lighting candles and firing up the John Legend CD can do wonders for your sex life, the study suggests. Setting the mood for sex with lighting and music was one of the strongest predictors of sexual satisfaction, second only to the strength of your relationship. It’s about creating an intimate setting, which fosters romance, says Frederick.
And even though lighting candles and playing music is a total cliché, fewer than 17% of people actually take the time to do so. So be one of the people who bothers—it just might make the difference in your sex life.