Chances are, you’ve found yourself in some sort of rut at some point in life, be it with working out, eating healthy, carving out time for self-care, etc. Ruts are normal, and a part of life. Couples, too, can find themselves in a rut when it comes to their relationship—and one of the most common is known as a sex rut. As the name suggests, it means that you and your partner have reached a point where the sex you’re having feels mundane, boring and is maybe even nonexistent, notes Nikki Goldstein, Ph.D., relationship expert and author.
Not only is falling into a sex rut quite common for couples, but Dr. Goldstein feels it’s important for people to normalize the concept so that couples aren’t so fearful and concerned when they find themselves there. “Just like we accept that relationships can be hard work, we also need to accept that our sex lives are going to go up and down,” she says.
There is a multitude of reasons why a couple might find themselves in a sex rut. “It might be because of the lack of education about sex in general and asking for pleasure, it might be the stress of everyday life or it may just be a matter of feeling that you’ve done the same moves over and over again,” notes Dr. Goldstein. Regardless of the reason you’re in a sex rut, it absolutely shouldn’t mean that your relationship is over—it is just another area in your relationship that could use some fine-tuning.
Co-creating the kind of sex you both want, and finding the quality time to do so, is the first step in the right direction, according to Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., AASECT-certified sex therapist, sexologist and licensed marriage and family therapist for AdamEve.com. “Focusing on being playful and enjoying the pleasure and arousal in your body will help couples re-direct into a great sex life again,” she says.
Ready to shake things up in the bedroom and shelf that sex rut you’re currently in? Follow these expert-approved tips to get out of a sex rut.
Explore any issues in other areas of your relationship.
According to Dr. Goldstein, a sex rut can sometimes be linked to a relationship rut. “You might be holding on to negative thoughts, issues or just feeling like your relationship is lacking something exciting,” she says. “Getting things back in the bedroom can also start with getting things back outside of the bedroom too.” First thing first: Maintain open lines of communication so that you can both figure out what pieces are missing and how you can reconnect in each area of your relationship.
Even the hard stuff—the fears, the grief, the darker thoughts—is important to talk about, according to Dr. Skyler. “Opening up and sharing what lives in your heart helps us feel seen, heard, and validated,” she says. “The emotional intimacy and depth can be just the needed foreplay to level drop your relationship into deeper, more intimate sex.’
Talk about your sex life.
Speaking of communication, Dr. Goldstein notes the importance of being comfortable having conversations with each other about your sex life. “Even just acknowledging things that need to be worked on and changed can help,” she says. She also recommends discussing your likes, dislikes, fantasies and things you might want to explore together.
While discussing your sex life, Susan Kaye, Ph.D., sexologist, sex educator, intimacy coach and surrogate partner specialist, recommends discussing the things that turn you off and on. If you prefer not to discuss this verbally, she has another solution: Turn it into a game. “Separately, each partner should write on one side of a piece of paper the things that turn them on and on the other side those things that turn them off,” she says. “The turn on and turn offs should also include inside and outside of the bedroom.”
Try one new thing.
“Often it can just be a matter of doing the same things over and over and feeling as though it's a bit boring,” says Dr. Goldstein. Simply mixing things up can go a long way in making a difference, she notes. She recommends trying a new product, a different position, or a new room in the house to have sex in. “It doesn't have to be a big change but something small can help,” she says.
Share your fantasies.
For many, this can be a vulnerable topic, so Dr. Skyler recommends only sharing what is comfortable for you. She reminds couples that the goal in sharing your fantasies is to figure out what turns each of you on. “Sometimes just sharing the fantasy and talking about it can be exciting enough to get you out of that rut,” she adds.