Staying Sexually Connected: Is Your Long-Term Relationship Losing Its Spark?

couple in relationship

Almost every one of us might have heard that love naturally takes a downward turn over time in a relationship or marriage1. However, this may not always be the case. Certain theories also suggest that with time passionate/romantic love generally evolves into compassionable love1. This may include deep friendship, being more comfortable with each other, and sharing common interests. It may not necessarily be sexual attraction or desire1. Does love really lose its spark over time? Well, let’s see what research studies have to say.

Does love really keep couples together over time?

When it comes to long-term romantic love, people go through different stages of love that comprises of1:

Mania (also known as an obsession) is commonly seen in adolescents

Eros (also known as romantic love) is the love in early adulthood

Storge (which is similar to companionate love) is the love seen in middle-aged people

Pragma (also known as pragmatic love) is also seen in the middle years

Agape (also known as all-giving love) is the love seen in later stages, especially old-age, of life

Unlike popular belief, romantic love can be sustained or increased at all stages of relationships until old age. In fact, several studies have revealed that intense romantic love (which includes intensity, engagement, and sexual desire) does exist in certain long-term relationships1. Also, people in long-term love exhibit symptoms that are similar to those in an early/new relationship with a partner1. These symptoms include craving for sex, high on energy (especially when with a partner), motivation to make their partner happy, being sexually attracted to their partner, and thinking about her/him when not together1.

A healthy and successful relationship acts as a crucial source of emotional bonding between couples and also contributes to overall wellbeing including both physical as well as mental health2. Romantic relationships, when sustained over time, improve the quality of the relationship, the history of the shared experiences, the sense of attachment, and the beliefs which arise from the whole experience2. Love is also known to be closely linked to personal happiness, higher rates of self-esteem, safety, satisfaction with life, positive affect, and achievement of personal and relational goals2.

How to improve your sexual relationship and health as you age?

Several studies reveal that men and women are highly likely to stay sexually active in later life. Moreover, it is also shown that with increasing age, there is a decrease in sexual activity and satisfaction3. Here are a few tips to keep the spark alive:

Communicate openly with your partner: Satisfaction with sex lives between couples is strongly associated with the quality of communication with their partner3.

Change your routine: The desire or ability to adapt or modify sexual routines and practices can add spark to your lives as you age. You can even try alternatives to penetrative sex3.

Keep an eye on lifestyle factors: With age, there are numerous changes that happen both physically and mentally, so monitor your diet, exercise as well as overall health3.

Do not let sexual problems hinder you: When dealing with sexual problems in older people, take into account the needs and preferences of your partner for sexual activity3.

Counseling can help: As your age, your health also declines, which could be one of the many factors that influence sexual activity and satisfaction in later life. So seek professional help3.

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Disclaimer: Issued in public interest by Pfizer Upjohn.

Your doctor is the best resource for medical advice and information. The health information contained herein is provided for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a medical practitioner and/or medical advice.

While due care and caution has been taken to ensure that this content is free from mistakes or omissions, Pfizer makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied; as to accuracy, completeness of the contents or any actions taken basis the content and will not be liable for any damages, adverse events, and personal liability arising therefrom.

PP-VIA-IND-0214 dated 2/9/2020


1. Acevedo BP, Aron A, Fisher HE, et al. Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012;7(2):145-159.

2. Gómez-López M, Viejo C, Ortega-Ruiz R. Well-Being and Romantic Relationships: A Systematic Review in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(13):2415.

3. Erens B, Mitchell KR, Gibson L, et al. Health status, sexual activity and satisfaction among older people in Britain: A mixed methods study. PLoS One. 2019;14(3):e0213835.

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