What if your sex life isn’t making love but more like making “blah?” Perhaps you have a wonderful, happy relationship with your partner; but when it comes to sex it isn’t the mind-blowing, toe-curling, light-my-hair-on-fire experience you’re craving. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for 20 years or have been seeing somebody for 2 months, this lack of chemistry can really take a toll. It’s all too common that we become tongue-tied when discussing sex with our partner. We may be afraid of hurting our partner’s ego or creating a complex that ultimately makes sex worse. Whatever the reason, keep in mind that a lack of communication will usually do more harm than good.
I’m not saying to go out today and start critiquing your partner’s performance. There are constructive ways to broach this sensitive subject that can leave your partner feeling good about the conversation vs. questioning their abilities. How you go about this can make or break the conversation. In many instances, the partner on the receiving end of the conversation will be glad you are bringing up the topic because he/she may be feeling the same low wattage. Find a comfortable place to talk and bring up your wants. Talk about what you want to add to your sex life. Avoid putting your partner on the defensive by bringing up what they’re not doing or what you don’t like. The goal here is to suggest a new behavior (whatever it may be that you enjoy) to replace the behavior you don’t enjoy. For example, if you don’t like your partner’s hygiene, suggest showering together as foreplay. Consider a subtle hint, like “I love it when you smell like (the soap they use/laundry/fresh linen/baby powder/you get the idea), it turns me on.” My point is that you can turn a negative (what frustrates you) into a positive (ie: a playful, sexy request).
Another common complaint I hear is when one partner likes to have slow, smoldering sex full of eye contact and “I love you’s”, but the other seems more interested in just getting it over with. If you don’t want your girlfriend to bypass foreplay and get straight to “business”, then suggest sensual activities that are centered around taking it slow and playful teasing. If there’s something for the other person to gain or be rewarded with, they’re more likely to meet your request. Give your partner the opportunity to suggest new ideas to your sex life as well. It’s likely that your partner has some good ideas.
Something to remember is that media can skew our expectations when it comes to sex. Every sexual encounter will not look and feel like an L-word scene. Be realistic. Bad sex can improve to average sex or maybe even better. The point is to have realistic expectations and know that no relationship is perfect. If you live a happy daily life together, that will likely outweigh an average sex life. Small improvements may be all that you get, but communicating about sex is an important thing to be able to do and will reap long term rewards.
Having Better Sex 101
Identify what you want: If you don’t know what you want in bed (ie. how you like to be touched) then it will definitely be more difficult to guide your partner. This means you need to know your body and learn what you like, and what you don’t like. If you like a lot of foreplay but your partner likes to get down to business, then that’s a specific detail that can be discussed. If it’s a question of not getting to the right spot, poor technique, or just having infrequent sex, these are all examples of specific wants that can be identified and hopefully improved or replaced.
Break the Silence: As I stated earlier, talk about it. Begin by bringing up the specific want or behavior you want to add to sex; without judging, using a negative tone, or saying what you don't like that they do. Make is sound like a game, “you know something I’ve been thinking about that we should try is ___.” Ask them what they would like to add or change too. If there’s a technique that they’re not doing, suggest that you love it when they do ___. If your partner is unsure of their skills, just tell them sex is not an exact science and part of the fun is learning together. This brings me to the next step.
Communicate in bed: This means tell your partner if they’re doing something you like. If you want them to stay in a certain position longer- vocalize that. Sounds simple right? A lack of verbal and nonverbal communication in bed will often lead to disappointment and even frustration. Encourage your partner to also communicate with you. By being open and honest about what you like, you are modeling good communication and encouraging your partner to do the same. The end result will be better communication, more intimacy, and hopefully better sex. If your partner is not doing what you like, you can guide them and then respond positively when they get it correct. While I’m on this topic, don’t fake an orgasm- you’re only doing a disservice to yourself and sending false messages to your partner on how to please you.
Stay Positive: Give positive feedback so they’ll do more of whatever it is you enjoy. As humans we love rewards, especially positive feedback. If your sex life still is not improving and you’re feeling frustrated, reframe the situation and view this as a work in progress. I’ve also met couples that found instructional books and videos to be helpful when learning new techniques together. There are even educational sex classes at certain adult toy stores.
Different Issue: If the problem is more complex than the examples I just described, such as performance anxiety, trauma history, or pain during sex (vaginismus); then you may find it helpful to see a therapist to address these issues. Working on intimacy issues is a great starting place before trying to address specific problems with your sex life.
I hope this month’s article was helpful in breaking the silence and exploring new ways to improve your sex life. As they say, practice makes perfect! I can’t think of many activities that are more enjoyable or rewarding to excel at!