We each have unique sexual tastes, and our libidos vary vastly in strength. To complicate things further, our sexual preferences aren’t static: They evolve as we age, and different factors—hormonal, psychological, situational, and environmental—come into play. So when two people—two individuals with specific, ever-changing carnal tastes—pair up, it can take time and effort to establish an erotic rapport that’s sustainable beyond the lustful honeymoon phase. But that’s not to say it’s impossible, and the rewards of figuring it out are pretty great.
When it comes to a couple’s sexual habits, there are more possibilities than there are flavors of Heinz ketchup. But long-term satisfaction is definitely attainable. Below are 17 signs you’re in a healthy sexual relationship.
1. When your partner takes a trip, there isn’t necessarily a break in your sex life. You keep things going from a distance, whether that means exchanging erotic emails, talking dirty over the phone, orchestrating a mutual masturbatory Skype session, or sexting.
2. No one is immune to the trappings of routine life. But as soon as that nagging sense of déjà vu sneaks up, you alter the program. The fix could be simple (getting busy at an atypical time of day), or adventurous (including a third party). The important thing is that something changes.
3. You do new stuff together outside the bedroom, too, understanding that a sexual relationship transcends whatever goes on beneath the sheets. Passion can be stoked through sharing new experiences anywhere, at any time.
4. You don’t care if the lights are on or off when you’re naked together because you make each other feel confident in all circumstances.
5. You share masturbation stories—when, how, and why you touched yourself in your partner’s absence—with each other only.
6. You discuss highlights from sexcapades past, sharing memories and arguing over which of your encounters were hottest, and why.
7. You check in regularly with each other to see if the other person is sexually satisfied overall, and if they have any future requests. You withhold judgment during all sex related chats.
8. Sometimes, you have sex when you’re not at all in the mood—because even when you’re least aroused, it’s satisfying to pleasure your partner.
9. You don’t feel threatened when your partner checks other people out. Your motto: Read the menu all you want as long as you don’t order.
10. You’re not intimidated by any of your partner’s exes because what you have is better, stronger, current.
11. There are no requests to un-friend members of the opposite sex, either virtually or IRL because there’s no need for that.
12. When you do get jealous, your partner smiles, feeling flattered. After reassuring you appropriately, you both decide to view your brief dance with the green monster as a positive: Your mate is desirable and you’re biologically programmed to hold onto them.
13. In the dark of a movie theater, you instinctively reach for the other person—their hand, elbow, shoulder, leg, or groin, depending on your personal limits—during every sexy scene. This is your way of communicating that you’re envisioning each other in place of the actors.
14. You don’t have to look or feel your best to have great sex because even when you’re wearing old sweats, sick with a cold, or droopy-eyed following a long day at work, your partner manages to make you feel attractive.
15. You have code words for certain sex acts and/or pet names for each other’s body parts.
16. In the process of trying out new positions, you end up tangling yourselves into a human knot that can’t possibly be listed in the Kama Sutra. Together you claim naming rights, even if no one else knows about it ever.
17. A tiny part of you looks forward to fighting because there’s nothing better than makeup sex.