I remember once seeing a cartoon that showed two men, obviously long-term partners, sitting on a couch. One was doing a crossword puzzle and asked his boyfriend, “What’s an eight letter word for monotony?” His partner replied: “Monogamy.”

The last panel had the first man hitting the other over the head with the newspaper and the first saying, “Only kidding!”

Unfortunately, for many long term couples, monogamy is equated with boring.

But it doesn’t have to be. In order for romance to remain hot in any long-term relationship, both partners have to remember their most important sex organ is between their ears. There are multiple ways to achieve a successful long-term relationship, ranging from the completely monogamous to the completely open. Talk honestly with your partner about what will work for you and be open to revisiting the important issues in your relationship at different times.

After several years of working with same-sex couples I found that most often a couple reports they have been sexually exclusive for certain periods of their relationship, at times lasting for years. Most couples are likely to remain monogamous with a high level of sexual activity during the early phase of their relationship.

When asked why, they generally responded that the excitement of being in love is so intense and satisfying that, though they find others attractive, they have no interest in diluting what is going on between them by seeking sex outside the relationship.

It’s a given that every relationship requires work. Part of that work involves open communication, which allows both partners to feel safe expressing their feelings and secure that while their partner may not always agree with them, he or she does always care about how the other is feeling. 

To achieve your goals, we’ve come up with 12 suggestions for couples seeking tips on how to keep it hot and sexy over the long haul. 

1. Sex is not a competitive sport

One of the major problems unique to same-sex couples can be competitiveness. Both of you don’t always have to be ready for sex at the same time or even have an orgasm during every sexual encounter in order for it to be fun or fulfilling. Leave the sports minded competitiveness on the playing field when you’re playing in your partner’s field and you might just end up scoring a whole lot more.

2. Timing

There are going to be times when one wants to play and the other does not. It should always be permissible for either partner to indicate they would like sex. Similarly, neither partner should feel like a sexual robot who has to perform on demand. How each of you responds to these situations will determine the sexual and emotional climate within your relationship. A simple “I’m not really there tonight, but I promise before the weekend ends I’ll jump your bones,” is a lot easier to hear than a flat and matter-of-fact “no.” 

Another option for the one not in the mood for a full scale romp? Ask the partner if he or she would like to be held while they take care of themselves. In these situations, stranger things have happened than both individuals finding themselves really turned on.

3. Keep it interesting

Routines and sameness and how and where you have sex can make even the most exciting sex partner seem like a double-yawner. If your partner is the one who generally initiates sexual advances, why not try seducing them for a change? If you normally have sex in your bedroom, try having it in front of the fireplace, or on the kitchen floor, or in the backyard. If you normally have sex with both of you undressed try it with your smelly gym clothes on, or your suit, etc.

4. Foster romance

Part of the excitement and fun of a new relationship is the romance of it all. In order for this to continue, both of you have to work at it. Dr Betty Burzon, a Los Angeles psychotherapist and author, suggests: “If the romance is waning at home, the world is full of romantic places that are a perfect backdrop for a romantic afternoon, evening, weekend or vacation, even if it means checking into a hotel or motel for one night in order to give yourselves a change.”

5. Continue the courtship

Treat your significant other as thoughtfully now as you did in the early days of dating. Send them flowers or a card for no particular reason. Never stop demonstrating that you do not take them for granted. Set up a date night with the phones turned off, no television and the two of you spending time together getting reacquainted. 

6. Touch

Be physically affectionate with each other on a regular basis in ways that do not necessarily lead to sex. Keeping in close physical contact with one another helps keep the erotic fires simmering. Take turns giving one another massages that may or may not lead to sexual play.

7. Prioritize sex

For a couple with demanding professional lives it is all too easy for sex to be put on the back burner. If one of you is cooking and the other comes up behind you, begins to hug, nuzzle and get frisky, don’t respond with, “The chicken will burn!” Turn around and pounce. You can always order in if the dinner is ruined.

8. Casual encounters

Remember how excited you used to get about sex with someone new? Take the best of hit and run sex and what makes it exciting and bring it into your home. Sometimes it can be fun play to treat your partner as a sexual object. If you’ve had a really tough and stressful day, there’s nothing wrong with walking into the house, kissing your partner and telling them you are so stressed out that some type of sexual release would be most welcome. Of course, it’s fine for you to say that, but it’s also alright for them to tell you “that would be hot, but could we do it in 20 minutes?”

9. Be daring and creative

Think of sex like food: you want it fresh not stale. If you know your partner finds you sexy in a junk, leather, lingerie, aluminum foil or whatever, surprise them by greeting them at the door dressed for action. Try doing it in the doorway. Just keep it interesting.

10. Talking about sex

Tell each other what would turn you on and what sexual fantasies you have. How are you going to find out whether your boyfriend or girlfriend has been dying for you to tie them up unless the two of you talk about it? But if your partner shares with you their desire to do something you feel is just way too kinky for you, try not to respond with, “Ugh! That is really weird.” Try to remain open to having your sexual boundaries expanded. As they say, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. 

11. Don’t avoid fights and don’t stay angry

If a couple does not share enough passion to occasionally fight, then chances are there’s not enough passion for a good sex. You have to feel safe and secure enough with your partner to be able to get really angry at them without fearing that if you do, the relationship will end. Plus, many a heated argument has led to a sizzling makeup. My grandfather, who was married for over 70 years to my grandmother before she died, once told me that they never went to bed angry. This is very wise advice for any couple. Closing down and not telling them how you feel is a clear path to an unhealthy relationship.

12. Expect it to change

The initial sexual excitement that creates a profound mood altering sexual intoxication really lasts for about two years on the average. It is unrealistic to expect even the best relationship to maintain the same kind of sexual energy that is a normal part of any new romance. One couple I know who have been together for more than 30 years and are still sexually active with each other put it this way: “Of course I see that his body has wrinkles and sags and that he doesn’t get as excited as he used to. Yet when he starts to get amorous with me, I still see the 25-year-old boy I fell in love with.”