Caitlyn Harkins is an English sophomore, Mustang Daily copy editor and sex columnist.

Long term. Depending on your personality, those two words can mean anything from a week and a half to two years.

I’ve had the experience of being in two long-term relationships — one in high school and the one I’m in now. The one in high school lasted a little over a year, while the one I’m currently in is inching toward the year-and-a-half mark.

Sex in long-term relationships (LTR) can take a few different routes. One path is to lead the fairytale lifestyle in which you and your partner have the same frequency of sex throughout the relationship, leaving you both satisfied. This article is probably not for you, but you can read on if you’d like — or go have sex — that’s what I would do.

Another route your sex life can take is, unfortunately, mired with mud, thickets and bramble. Essentially, your sex life gets stuck. Sometimes due to other commitments, like work, school or family, your sex life stagnates. This leads to the oft-heard complaints of having sex rarely, if ever, or having boring sex. Most sex advice columnists would be out of a job if these situations didn’t exist, so don’t worry — your relationship is normal.

However, there are the couples who take advantage of already knowing what sex is like with each other. They turn to experimentation and discovering new ways to get each other off, whether by introducing toys or new people to the bedroom.

Regardless of the path you and your partner have already found yourselves on, check out these three tips to maintain fun and function in your LTR.

1. Make time. It’s dead week, and you have an awful finals schedule. Later in life, you may have a tight deadline on a project at work, or a new addition to your family. Should you always be putting aside your academics or career for your partner? No. It shouldn’t be expected for either of you to shirk your responsibilities. However, you should be actively trying to instill romance and sexuality into your relationship.

Passivity in a LTR is the cornerstone of a bad sex life. Even small gestures, like holding hands or kissing when greeting and saying goodbye engenders a sense of physical intimacy, even if you aren’t having sex frequently. Try to keep track of how often you’re having sex. If you and your partner are usually getting physical a few times a week, and you realize it has been a few weeks since your last session, make the time for sexy time.

2. Be inspired. I’ve written about this before, but watch porn together. If you get off by watching girls use vibrators, buy one and use it on yourself or on your partner. Read not only this column, but sex articles in magazines and online to get tricks and advice on sex acts to try. Boring sex is not good sex. Period. If you are constantly using the same position (missionary, lights off), your sex life becomes routine. Formulaic moves may work, but it’s in experimentation where you two can discover the big orgasms.

To give some examples, let’s say you and your partner always do oral before having sex. Try having sex, and then finishing with oral or 69. If you and your partner are STI-free and/or have backup forms of birth control, then switching positions or going to oral midway through is safe.

Whatever you and your partner do, don’t absolutely forgo your previous knowledge. Trying something new is fun, but if it is not working for one of you, use your tried-and-true methods to get each other off.

3. Talk. Yeah, I know I harp about talking a lot in this column. But seriously, unless you’ve figured out telepathic communication (in which case the government would like a word with you), talking is the most important tool you have in a LTR. You can talk to figure out comfort levels. Maybe while reading this, you were contemplating bringing up the idea of a threesome to your partner. You’re not just going to show up with a random from The Graduate, are you? No. Don’t do that. That’s bad. Talk to your partner first before deciding what is good for your relationship and your bed.

Relationships are symbiotic, weird things. Sometimes it feels as though one partner has more weight in decision making, either by force of a decisive personality or veto power. Yet, in functioning and healthy relationships, that weight should shift back and forth until a balance is found.

With these three basic tips, you can fight LTR boredom in the bedroom. Consider how often and what you do during sex, and ask your partner if there is anything they would like to try differently.

Who knows, maybe you will finally get that threesome.

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