We don't often associate long-term relationships with hot, earth-shattering good sex. The reality is, plenty of couples have figured out how to keep things fresh in the bedroom even after being together for years.
What are they doing differently between the sheets? Below, sex therapists share seven habits of couples with the hottest sex lives.
1. They let themselves get excited together, even when sex isn't on the menu.
Savoring the slow buildup ― drawing it out or teasing each other when you're out in public and can't do anything sexually explicit ― is a trait that most couples with hot sex lives share, said New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder, the author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship.
"For most highly passionate couples, sex is just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "They enjoy feeling aroused together even when it's not possible to have actual sex or orgasm."
Sure, that might be a smidge frustrating, but getting all hot and bothered and letting it build gradually can lead to super-intense, satisfying sex when you finally find the right time, Snyder said.
2. Every year, they get a little bit dirtier.
Couples with hot sex lives are always upping the ante in the bedroom. Whether it's grapefruiting or trying some next-level sex position, they seek out the new and unexplored, said Celeste Hirschman, a sex therapist who wrote Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple's Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion with her business partner, Danielle Harel.
"One couple we worked with said, 'Every year, we just got a little bit more dirty,' and that really captures it,'" Hirschman said. "For a sex life to stay hot in the long term, you have to be willing to be creative and get out of the habitual ruts. Talk dirty. Try new experiences. Do whatever it takes to keep it fresh and fun, and your sex life will stay hot long after other people's have burned out."
3. They take care of themselves.
Couples with hot sex lives understand that feeling confident bolsters their sex drive. That doesn't mean that they're hitting Spin class every day and have zero body fat. The kind of confidence and inherent sexiness they possess is more full-bodied and holistic than that, said Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and the creator of the Passion Project: A Couples' Blueprint to Rediscovering Desire and Reigniting the Spark.
"Phenomenal sex isn't just about your relationship with your partner. It's also about your relationship with yourself," she said. "You have to take care of yourself. That might mean making time for self-care, treating your body right, overcoming sexual shame or guilt or learning new skills, like how to orgasm or how to last longer in bed."
4. They laugh in and outside the bedroom.
Sex isn't always sultry, seductive or hot. Silly things happen when two bodies slap against each other, not to mention funny noises. When awkward moments arise, couples with great sex lives take it in stride and laugh about it, said Kimberly Resnick Anderson, a sex therapist and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.
"Humor is a great aphrodisiac," she said. "Laugh during sex. Couples who can leave stress outside of the bedroom and enjoy sex as a fun, temporary escape from reality are more satisfied than those who can't shift gears and hang on to the stress, anger or resentment of daily life."
5. They masturbate during sex.
Here's a dirty little secret about relationship sex: Masturbating is much more fun when you're not doing it alone. Plus, in the process, your partner gets a master class on the most reliable ways to please you, said Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and sex therapist in Los Angeles.
"Couples that masturbate together stay together," she said. "Showing a partner how you touch your body gives them insight into how you want to experience pleasure. It puts you in control of your own desire and allows your partner to participate in your pleasure."
6. They explore each other's fantasies.
In the words of sex columnist Dan Savage, the best sex partners are "good, giving and game." In other words, they're skilled in bed (thanks to a lot of practice), they're generous, and they're willing to try out whatever their partner's into, within reason.
The three G's are especially important in long-term, committed relationships, in which things can easily become stagnant in the bedroom, said Hirschman.
"Long-term couples with hot sex lives know that each person has their own unique erotic imagination," she said. "They've learned their partner's deepest fantasies and desires and are willing to stretch outside their comfort zone a bit to give their partner what they really, really want in bed."
7. They kiss and touch throughout the day, just to show they care.
A playful pinch on the butt or kiss before work matters more than you think. Putting a premium on non-sexy-time touch is a great way to remind your partner that you're content and still very much attracted to him or her, Chavez said.
"When you touch each other, you feel more connected and loving toward one another. It shows you want to be close to a partner," she said. "In short, people that caress, hold hands, kiss, massage, rub and stroke each other without the expectation of sex tend to be more relaxed, aroused and sensually connected as couples."