Stop thinking of sex as merely a physical act. It's so much more than that.
Sex is confusing. Is it mostly about lust and a search for the Big O? Is it just nature's trick to get us to reproduce? Is it an addiction?
From my work with couples, I've learned that what we really need to remember about sex is that we call it "making love" for a very good reason. In mammals who rear offspring young, sex is a bonding behavior.
The emotional connection in sex is not just the icing on the cake; it's what creates the sense of safety that allows for spontaneity, openness, and erotic play. If we think of sex as bonding, it helps us to have BETTER sex and better relationships.
Remember—when lovers maintain a long-term, loving relationship, it's definitely NOT because they read magazines like Cosmopolitan for sex tips, or collected baskets of sex toys and role-play clothes.
The kinds of techniques offered in magazines, like making love on top of the dryer in full spin, will likely end up in awkward laughter or even physical injury, rather than in real sexual connection.
Research on bonding and sex is clear—those of us who get caught in focusing only on sensation and performance miss out on another dimension of sex that is really what makes it work—the emotional connection. Because of that sense of "something missing", we end up looking for passion in the wrong place.
Evidence shows that securely bonded couples, who are open with each other emotionally, have more sex and enjoy it more. Their sex life has the most powerful force of all behind it—the longing for emotional connection.
The way we deal with this longing determines how we make love. If we shut this longing down, we move into detached, emotionless sex. This is a bit like dancing without music. No wonder we then need bizarre positions and a truck load of sex toys to get things going.
When couples learn to open up, share emotionally, and respond to each other's emotions, their sex life dramatically improves. They can share their sexual needs, fantasies, and insecurities.
When sex with your partner isn't the way you want it, the first place to look is at your emotional connection and how you might better tune into each other on this level. You could each start by writing out one thing you want the other to know about you and your sexuality.
Unlike in the movies, most people have sexual issues and sensitivities. Sex is like everything else; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We all hit times when we feel less desirable or less aroused; maybe fatigue or health problems play a part.
If we expect every sex act to feel like a symphony that leaves both partners panting on the ceiling, we will end up mightily disappointed.
One of the main reasons securely attached lovers report better sex lives is that they are open and communicate when things are working and when they aren't. Often, a sexual problem is really just a communication problem.
For instance, if the man loses his erection, instead of shutting his partner out because he's embarrassed, the couple should talk about ways to work through it.
Sarah tells Tom, "It doesn't bother me if you lose your erection sometimes. I know how stressed you've been. I can come close and help you get turned on again, but if you shut down, turn away, and refuse to talk then I get upset and we are stuck."
Sarah reassures Tom and they come together as a team, finding their way back to great lovemaking again.
Jack tells me, "I didn't realize that Kim wanting me to hold her and talk to her before sex is all about her needing to feel really safe with me in order to open up to me. This was like foreplay for her. Once I understood that she needed to know where I was and how I was feeling before she could let go with me, I found that talking for a while pre-sex wasn't so bad."
When a couple comes together as a team, they can find their way back to great lovemaking again.
We know now that if we take a little time and learn to share our emotions, we can have lust, love, passion, and play with our partner. We just have to learn to turn on the emotional music.