How Does Your Brain Score? Take the Staying Sharp Brain Health Assessment

 

Four Ways to Heat Up Your Love Life

You have the power to fire up the bedroom — tonight

En españolWhy does the erotic heat couples feel at the start of a relationship cool over time, making sex routine? The answer may be more matter of chemistry than of romance.

See also: Improve your sex life.

Low angle of couple on beach-4 Ways to Have Better Sex

Doing exciting new things can help you have better sex. — Photo by Ocean/Corbis

Dopamine, a chemical in our brains, is the key player in this drama. When people fall in love, their dopamine levels soar, causing all sorts of reactions: Your heart pounds. You lose your appetite. You can’t sleep. And you become obsessed with your object of desire. In short, you become head-over-heels in love.

As the dopamine rises, so does testosterone, the hormone that fuels sexual desire in both men and women. But over time — six months to a year or so — dopamine levels return to normal, and burning desire morphs from Fourth of July fireworks to Thanksgiving’s cozy affection.

But there’s good news for the romantic in us all: You can tweak your dopamine levels so that even long-married couples can enjoy the erotic heat of a second honeymoon.

How? In a word, novelty. In one experiment, psychologists gave 28 couples questionnaires that explored their feelings for each other. Then half the couples completed a tedious task, while the others engaged in a new and exhilarating activity. Afterwards, everyone completed the questionnaire again. The couples involved in the exciting activity reported greater relationship satisfaction, and said they felt more passionately in love. Credit their novelty-induced spike in dopamine.

Here are four effective ways to boost your dopamine and break out of sexual ruts:

1. Do exciting new things together.
“This is standard relationship-enhancement advice,” says sex therapist Louanne Weston. “It’s no coincidence that weekends away are often called ‘romantic getaways,’ or that sex often feels more passionate in hotel rooms. You’re in new and different surroundings. That’s exciting and romantic — and it spurs the libido.” Of course, there are different grades of “new,” from a new restaurant around the corner to a month in China. The newer the activity, the greater the increase in dopamine. But any shared new experience can echo in the bedroom.

2. Laugh.
Humor is funny because the punch line is a surprise — in other words, something new and unexpected. Like other novel activities, humor raises dopamine levels. “Ask couples how their relationships have endured, and many credit a shared sense of humor,” Weston says. “When humor dies, the relationship is in trouble.” If you’re feeling a lack of inspiration, put some funny movies in your Netflix queue or book some tickets at a comedy club.

3. Keep ’em guessing.
Oscar Wilde once said, “The essence of romance is uncertainty.” Romance experts Barbara and Michael Jonas, coauthors of The Book of Love, Laughter, and Romance, urge couples to schedule regular “surprise dates.” One partner plans an afternoon or evening outing, but keeps it secret, telling the other only what to wear and what time to be ready. “The anticipation makes surprise dates very romantic and enriching,” Barbara says, “and each person sees the other expending effort to please them, which is flattering — and arousing.”

4. Make love.
The skin-to-skin contact of lovemaking and especially orgasm trigger release of testosterone in men, and closely related hormones in women (androgens). These, in turn, release dopamine. To make sex more exciting, and to inject an element of playful surprise, try something new on the way to bed or between the sheets. Make love in a different place, at a different time, and with different accoutrements: candlelight, music, lubricant, lingerie, sex toys or professional massages beforehand.

Of course, love is a mystery, but on some level, everyone seems to appreciate its hormonal basis. Perhaps that’s why, when two people fall in love, they say: “We have great chemistry.”

Michael Castleman, author of Great Sex, answers questions for free at GreatSexAfter40.com.

You may also like: Are you a surperb lover?

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

Next Article

Read This