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Dealing with bedroom boredom
June 2nd, 2011
08:12 AM ET

Dealing with bedroom boredom

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

In my experience as a sexuality counselor and founder of GoodinBed.com, roughly 25% of people are significantly bored in their relationships and another 25% are somewhat bored.

Of course it stands to reason that life can’t always be filled with fireworks and that a little bit of boredom every now and then is only to be expected. But what about when a general sense of malaise settles in - when you’re not necessarily unhappy in your relationship, but you’re not particularly excited either?

Relationship boredom may not be dramatic, but it can be dangerous if left unattended.

Boredom is like an attack on a relationship’s immunity system - once weakened we’re all the more susceptible to a cascade of ailments.

For example, it’s estimated that 25% of people who cheat do so due to boredom, and people who are bored in their relationships are also more vulnerable to emotional infidelity as well. Human beings are innate novelty-seekers, and our brains’ reward systems are wired to seek out new experiences. If we can’t get our thrills from within our relationships, then we’ll seek them without.

Professor Arthur Aron at Stony Brook University has spent a lifetime studying the science of marital satisfaction and has observed that novelty stimulates the transmission of dopamine and norepinephrine - two neurotransmitters that also play a key role in the exhilaration of early romantic love.

According to Aron’s research those couples in long term relationships that make a conscious effort to do exciting things together end up having a higher degree of marital satisfaction than those couples who just do pleasant and familiar things together. In essence, we can tap our brain’s “romantic love” system to stave off relationship boredom.

While many people tend to blame their partners for their relationship boredom, it turns out that those individuals who are bored in their current relationships were often bored in previous relationships.

So relationship boredom may have less to do with the person we’re with than the person we are. That’s why it’s so important to maintain your individuality in your relationship. From your career, to your friends, to maintaining your own personal passions and interests, being part of a strong couple requires being a strong individual.

As we discussed earlier, it’s important to keep things fresh outside the bedroom, but it’s also important to try new things in the bedroom.

At Good in Bed, we’ve found that the majority of people who express being bored in their relationships are also entirely interested in trying something new in the bedroom to combat boredom. Start with sharing a fantasy, and if you need some help jump-starting the excitement check out our book "52 Weeks of Amazing Sex," in which we offer a different creative scenario for every week of the year.

Sure there’s a time and place for “comfort sex,” but, again, marital contentment seems to favor those couples who make an effort to do exciting activities together versus just pleasant activities.

At the end of the day, it's easy to feel like there's nothing new under the sun to possibly talk about with your partner. But when you're feeling this way - nodding and half-listening, with no real interest in how your partner's day went - it’s a good sign that relationship boredom is settling in and that you need to shake things up.

Don’t wait for boredom to develop into a bigger drama, instead start creating a little drama with your partner.

Check out these options for your mediocre marriage from CNN.com.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.