Listen Up, Long-Term Couples: You Should Probably Be Making Out More

Early in your relationship, you and your partner probably couldn't keep your hands off each other. But these days? Not so much. It's a common occurrence in long-term relationships — in fact, research has even proven that the initial chemistry partners feel for each other has an expiration date. A 2018 survey by Bryant and May (via SWNSdigital) reported that the average lifespan of a relationship spark is five years and two months. After that, couples tend to engage in less physical touch, adopt more separate routines, and become busy with child-rearing and other duties.

It's possible to reignite the spark in your long-term relationship, but some of the commonly recommended strategies might make you groan, like having more date nights (no time!) or scheduling sex (no energy!). Thankfully, there's a super realistic alternative, according to sex therapist Vanessa Marin. In a viral TikTok video, she says that a good ol' make-out session, done daily, is exactly what long-term couples need to bring passion back to their love lives.

Marin explains that the tip comes from her own relationship with her husband. "Our rule is that we have to make out every single night and there has to be some tongue contact," she explained in the clip. Here's how French kissing might save your LTR from stagnation.

Making out can up relationship satisfaction

In her TikTok video, Vanessa Marin advocates for making out at least once a day, without there being any pressure to engage in sex after locking lips. While PG-13 kissing might not seem like enough to bring back a long-lost spark, a 2013 study published in "Archives of Sexual Behavior" suggests otherwise. The study found that partners who regularly kiss tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction, while couples who frequently have sex aren't necessarily happier than those who don't. "It appears that there is something unique about kissing that is related to relationship satisfaction in a way that sexual intercourse is not," Rafael Wlodarski, one of the study's authors, told Women's Health.

Other research has pointed to similar findings. A 2009 study published in the "Western Journal of Communication" concluded that kissing can be a powerful form of affection for married and cohabiting couples in particular. Pairs in the study who increased how often they smooched were more satisfied with their relationships than a control group who made no changes to their kissing habits.

Locking lips might help you rein in stress together

Most long-term couples know a thing or two about stress — there are bills to split, chores to do, and busy schedules to juggle. And these stresses can make it hard to passionately connect the way you did when you were newly dating. Luckily, carving out a little daily time to make out could help manage everyday tension.

Sexologist Jennifer Litner explained to USA Today that kissing triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. "A lot of times, when people experience higher rates of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin [from kissing], they will also notice that that often counteracts or lowers cortisol, which is a stress hormone," Litner explained. Moreover, these hormonal changes can lower anxiety and fight back against low self-esteem, according to Healthline – so clearly, puckering up is a total win for your and your boo's mental health.

Of course, it's important to nurture your relationship in other ways too. For example, kissing likely won't be enough to help you de-stress if you and your S.O. are constantly arguing (not to mention you likely won't feel like making out mid-fight anyway). When combined with healthy communication and mutual respect, a daily 30-second smooch can be the perfect stress-busting pick-me-up.