1. It’s not actually that hard, if…
…you’re attracted to your partner and you have great sex. Sexual chemistry is absolutely critical to relationship longevity for couples that plan to be exclusive. At first, physical attraction might not seem all that important. You might think you can look past your inability to imagine yourself boning your significant other because they’re so damn hilarious, witty, or, let’s face it, rich. A few months down the line, however, when shit gets real, you can’t rely on humor, intellect, wealth, or kindness to lure you into someone’s pants. We’re sexual beings by nature, and mutual attraction is crucial to establishing—and especially maintaining—romantic love. If you want to be monogamous, do yourself a favor and pair up with someone you desperately want to bang.
2. There will be hiccups along the way.
No matter how madly in love you are, it’s unreasonable to expect that things will always go smoothly in the bedroom. There will be times when your schedules and sex drives are totally misaligned. One person might be immersed in work for several weeks in a row and too damn tired or stressed out to think about doing it regularly while the other’s in professional La-La Land, always at the ready for a little heavy petting. In addition to logistical obstacles, you’re bound to face problems related to mismatched levels of desire. One person might be horny AF for a stretch while the other only feels marginally inspired by the idea of naked play. The important thing to remember is that this isn’t an indication of trouble, necessarily. It’s okay to fall out of sync once in a while as long as you’re both committed to realigning eventually. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to have sex when you’re not absolutely dying to. If we all sat around waiting to be aroused at the exact same time as our partners, no one would be having very much sex.
3. It’s your job as a couple to keep it fresh.
Unless you’ve established otherwise, sex is part of the relationship equation. Yes, it’s your job to make sure that your partner is sexually satisfied. Just as it’s their job to ensure your sensual fulfillment. Maintaining a healthy sex life is contingent upon two people’s willingness to take ownership of their responsibility to each other in the sack. This is where straightforward, brutally honest communication comes in. When your needs aren’t being met, pipe up. There’s no downside to voicing your wants and concerns (unless of course you’re dating a raging asshole, in which case you’re probably better off breaking up). Additionally, you need to be proactive about finding new ways to keep things interesting. The passion shouldn’t wane completely before you’re exploring different methods of spicing things up. The more you experiment, the closer you’ll become. Even when things don’t exactly go as planned.
4. You will both face temptations.
It’s entirely normal to be attracted to other people, even when you identify as one half of a happy, healthy, thriving couple. Your sexuality is part of who you are as a human being, after all, and you can’t just turn that part of yourself off as you go about your day. So don’t expect your partner not to flirt with members of the opposite sex. They will probably even toe the line of appropriateness once in a while. Remember, you’re not dating a robot. You’re dating a person. On the flip side, don’t be too hard on yourself for batting your eyes coquettishly at a hot stranger on the subway, or bantering suggestively with an attractive colleague. Sexual energy is powerful, and you can channel it into creativity and productivity. As long as you set boundaries and avoid situations in which things are bound to go too far, there’s no harm in a little innocent play. Know yourself, and your limitations.
5. You have to trust each other, or you might as well split.
Sometimes, you’ll feel compelled to interrogate your partner. You’ll want to know exactly what went down at the strip club that night, or why they came home so wasted after that catch-up dinner with “an old friend.” You might even get the itch to cybersnoop, thirsting for evidence to corroborate some inkling or gut feeling you can’t quite shake. Even the strongest couples are susceptible to relationship doubts and questioning. When suspicion takes root, understand that it’s perfectly normal to entertain insecurities now and again, especially when it comes to fidelity. Fact is, we’re territorial creatures, and a little jealousy is natural. But you don’t have to let those pesky uncertainties win. If you want to maintain a loving relationship, you’ll have to choose to trust your partner over and over again, just as they’ll have to choose to trust you. If you can’t control your imaginations or prevent yourselves from making crazy accusations constantly, your relationship is probably broken anyway, so you might as well move on. Intimacy is rooted in understanding and accepting each other wholly—including every single sign of vulnerability, and in spite of every single hesitation you experience along the way.