People love their routines. We have patterns that govern when we wake up, which route we take to work, what we spend our days doing, what we eat, how we exercise, and when we go to bed. Routines like these (and so many more) come pretty naturally to human beings. We like to feel like we’re on top of our responsibilities and making progress toward our goals, and staying organized helps us feel in control. We find the most effective and efficient way of doing something, and we stick to it.

Unfortunately, if we’re not careful and intentional about it, a routine-oriented mindset can take over our sex lives too, and unlike the workplace, where routines can mean success, routine in the bedroom usually means boredom, apathy, and loss of intimacy.

Old habits are the opposite of what the heart wants. Instead, sex should be a sort of play–a journey of self-discovery that doesn’t always go exactly according to plan. Think of the last big trip you took: Did everything go just as you expected? Were the most memorable moments the carefully pre-planned activities or the spontaneous decision to ditch the museum tour and go for a boat ride or a walk through an outdoor market? In matters of the heart, a little unpredictability and an adventurous spirit go a long way.

If you find yourself feeling stuck in a boring sexual routine with your partner, think of it as an opportunity to try something new and restart that journey of self-exploration. This kind of lull in intimacy happens to all couples eventually, but the good news is that there’s a great (and somewhat surprising) way to reinvigorate your sex life with more novelty, mystery, and play: be just a little bit selfish.

Here’s the thing about routines–they make everything run smoothly, which means that your life can fit in neatly with the lives of the people around you. We all make sacrifices for the convenience and wellbeing of others, and while this isn’t a bad thing on its own, no one can live that way forever. Sometimes, you need to break away from the perfect routines and indulge something just because it interests and excites you.

Take some time to think about what you–just you–love. For once, put your partner out of your mind and reconnect with the things you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s painting, playing music, or going for long walks or hikes. Maybe you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, and it’s skydiving or mountain biking that get your heart racing. Maybe it’s as simple as reading a really good book that’s been sitting on your shelf, unread, for years now. Regardless of the activity, take some time to remember the things that bring a smile to your face, and give yourself permission to do them. Interrupt your routine, take some time just for yourself, be a little bit selfish, and do what makes you happy.

This kind of indulgence has so many great benefits. First of all, it will increase your immediate happiness. Doing activities we love can be a reset button on our whole outlook on life. It’s a great way to put aside daily stress, open your mind to more creative and emotional ways of thinking, and remind you of who you are as an individual.

It will also make you a better partner. Remember when you first met your partner and felt sparks flying every time you learned something new about them? Back then, you were drawn to each other because of your unique passions and your rich, interesting lives. This is your chance to bring that feeling back to life. By indulging your interests and passions, you continue to grow and deepen as an individual, and you make yourself a more interesting and exciting person to be around. This will lead to stronger attraction and more exciting sex between you and your partner, and it might even encourage your partner to reconnect with their passions as well.

Finally, it will also remind you that life is full of choices. One of the things that makes rigid routines dangerous is that they make us forget that we have choices about how to act, think, and feel every day. When you start letting your schedule make decisions for you, you miss lots of opportunities to choose your best, happiest, most fulfilled life.

But instead, if you are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to do what you love–to indulge in your passions and challenge yourself–you will become better and better at living a life that is interesting, exciting, sexy and happy every day.

Photographer: Blair Hopkins 

Sandra LaMorgese Ph.D. is an expert in bridging the gap between sexuality and a lifestyle that focuses on holistic health of the mind, body and spirit. She is the author of Switch: Time for a Change, a memoir of her journey from holistic practitioner to professional dominatrix at 55 years old, and her passion and purpose is to empower others towards healthy authentic living. To learn more about Sandra and receive your FREE eBook “5 Steps for Better Communication, Sex, and Happiness (Did I mention better sex?) visit www.sandralamorgese.com.