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Ask Dr. Ruth: How Do I Keep My Long-Distance Relationship From Fizzling Out?

3 minute read

After 30 years of working as a sex therapist, the legendary Dr. Ruth isn’t done sharing her wisdom. Here, she answers your most pressing questions on sex, relationships and life. Email your own queries to drruth@time.com, or catch up on previous installments of the Ask Dr. Ruth series.

Q: How do you maintain sexual desire in a long-distance relationship?

A: Sexual desire is directly related to the state of a couple’s relationship. If two people aren’t getting along, then even though they share the same bed every night, that doesn’t mean that they want to have sex. So the first key to a long-distance relationship is to make sure that the lines of communication are open. That’s so much easier to do these days as there are so many options with technology. But if all you do is send brief texts, then that won’t be enough. So make sure that you have time to actually talk to one another, whether it be a video chat or just on a plain old land line.

I would also advise using sexual fantasies. If you’ve been fantasizing about your lover while you’re far apart, your libido will be primed to respond when you’re finally together. If you’re constantly pushing away sexy thoughts about your lover, telling yourself since you can’t have him or her, such thoughts are only frustrating, you may end up making it more difficult to become sexually aroused when you’re actually in each other’s arms.

Normally I’m not against fantasizing about someone other than your partner, but not when you’re far from each other. If you’re fantasizing about your next door neighbor or someone at work or school, you might be tempted to live out that fantasy. You might find it frustrating to fantasize about your lover who is hundreds of miles away, but I’m here to tell you to do just that as it will serve several purposes.

One, it will allow you to fend off any tempting thoughts about having sex with someone else. Fantasies may seem totally innocuous, but they have a way of insinuating themselves in your psyche so that after a while they’ll pop up automatically. Such fantasies could make you more likely to cheat or else they could mean that the next time you are with your lover, one of those imaginary lovers from your fantasies may fill your mind instead of your actual lover. That could spoil what should be a positive experience to both your sex life and your entire relationship.

Email questions to drruth@time.com.

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