Has your sex life dwindled from a hot, steamy affair to a lukewarm, occasional romp in the bedroom? You're not alone; many couples worry that their relationship is losing its original flair when the physical fun begins to simmer down. While this may mean that your relationship is deepening into a new phase, a healthy sex life certainly goes a long way in terms of keeping partners connected.
So how do you maintain it?
Here's something you need to know: improving your sex life means focusing on more than just the physical. While connecting on a physical level is essential, remember that sex is an interpersonal act that occurs within the context of your unique relationship. In addition to the physical and interpersonal levels, your personal feelings and attitudes toward sex play a major role in the quality of your sex life. If any one of these aspects feels off to you or your partner, your sex life probably will too.
Let's look at each level in more detail:
- The physical. On the most basic level, the experience of sex is a primal and physical one that relates to arousal and sexual pleasure. Difficulty allowing or tolerating these experiences can stand as an obstacle to sexual enjoyment. In this sense, men are often (though not always) focused more on reaching orgasm — the end result — than on the gradual enjoyment of sexual arousal and pleasure. Unfortunately, this can mean missing out on feeling physically connected to your partner. In much the same way, women often feel unable to "let go" and truly experience the sensations of pleasure. This inhibition often leads to lack of exploration or sexual connectedness. By learning to let go and relax into the physical sensations and pleasure that sex allows, partners can open themselves to more rewarding and satisfying experiences.
- The interpersonal. Because sex is also an intimate communication between two partners, sex can be an expression of the relationship itself — so it's necessary to look at anything that could be interrupting your intimacy. Many sexual problems are actually relationship problems; when we experience emotional distance, it often shows up as physical distance. Resolving your issues and building trust and safety are the biggest contributors to a healthy sex life. For women, feeling secure, admired and emotionally connected to their partner are paramount to feeling comfortable in the bedroom. Men also need to feel desired by their partner. Improve your interpersonal dynamics, and you'll improve your sex life.
- The personal. This is crucial to your comfort level with yourself and your body and, therefore, your approach to sexual intimacy. When we're emotionally open and present in the moment, our enjoyment increases and intimacy deepens. It's important to explore your personal beliefs and attitudes toward sex. Some people feel very comfortable with the idea of sexuality and sexual desire, while others feel hesitation or shame. Some people feel comfortable sharing their sexual needs and desires with their partner, while others find it difficult to talk about sex. Our feelings and attitudes towards sex and communication can act as a barrier to our sexual fulfillment and enjoyment. So, working on your personal issues will help improve your sex life.
Addressing all three levels, either on your own or with the help of a couples therapist, will go a long way toward enhancing your sex life. Focusing on adventure and spicing things up is certainly one way of livening things up in the bedroom, but attention to these other elements will improve your sex life holistically, over the long run.
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