Has Your Sex Life Got You Down?

Love, Sex

Tips on how to put the spice back in your love life.

This guest article from PsychCentral was written by Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW.

You may be suffering from an ailment that is common to a great many individuals and couples, more than most of us would imagine. And speaking of imagining, it's the lack of imagination that's the source of this problem. Creatures of habit that we are, most of us have a tendency to find comfort and predictability, and therefore, some degree of security in routine. Security, of course, defined as a "customary or regular course of behavior; habitual, unwavering, and unimaginative or rote procedure." If this definition doesn't inspire you to reach great heights of ecstatic pleasure, it's not surprising.

Balancing our competing drives for security and excitement, we often find ourselves pulled in one of these two directions, alternately favoring one or the other, then making corrections that are designed to bring us back to a more balanced state. But balance and equilibrium can themselves become too much of a good thing when it comes to sexual passion. Passion has to do with the experience of intense and compelling feelings, a state of being that we find both attractive and frightening. Sometimes that part of us that craves powerful sensation is dominant in our experience, and things can quickly become very hot and even dangerous, while at other times we go for the same old same old.

As you've probably guessed, there is no "correct" way to have sex (fundamentalist opinions notwithstanding), but rather there are many varieties of sexual experience that may feel "right" to us at any given time. And variety is, as they say, the spice of life. Knowing what the possibilities are and that you aren't limited to any one of them, and remembering that you have the power to choose whichever type of sexual experience you're up for at any given time is one of the best ways to avoid the pitfall of an uninspired sex life.

For those who need a reminder, here is a partial list of some of the more well-known varieties of sexual experience:

The Standard, or "meat and potatoes" variety (or "tofu and sprouts" for those who favor the vegetarianism) is also known as "maintenance sex." It's the old standby: in the bedroom, in the bed, with the old tried and true positions and techniques that work. Not particularly exciting, but it gets the job done.

Next is what we call "Junk Food Sex," also known as the "quickie." The inclusion of this practice in one's overall sexual repertoire can produce short but very pleasurable experiences. This variety tends to be more popular with those of the male persuasion, but there are also quite a few women who enjoy sex in this form. A steady diet of it, however, tends to be low on nutrients. If practiced on an occasional basis, especially if it is balanced by the practice of "Gourmet Dining Sex" or GDS, junk food sex can be quite delightful.

Gourmet Dining Sex, also known as "romantic sex," is designed to produce delicious, relaxed, extended periods of deeply pleasurable experiences of emotional and physical intimacy characterized by full-body stimulation, lots of eye contact, and uninterrupted shared presence. Enhancements to GDS can include soothing music, bathing together, candlelight, and any other elements that enrich the experience.

"Hot Chili Pepper Sex" is definitely for the more adventurous of us who enjoy the exploration into the further reaches of sexual experimentation in the territory between discomfort and pleasure. It is not for the faint of heart. The rule is that there are no rules here, other than the requirement that both partners be in agreement with whatever is being done at any given time, and that either one has the power to stop things at any moment without resistance from the other. Changing the location or setting of our sexual encounter can also serve to enhance the nature of this experience. All manner of costumes and sexual accessories are welcome, and you're limited only by your imagination.

And last, but certainly not least is Ambrosia, or "sacred sex." This has to do with the practice of devotion to the divine through the expression of shared sensory bliss. Ambrosia is food and nectar for the gods, which ensured their immortality. Sacred sex takes us into the realm of the timelessness of full presence. It involves anything that tastes and smells delicious, and can include items that awaken the senses such as meditative music, sweet smelling oils in bath water, essential oils in glass dishes over a flame, scented candles, massage oils, incense, and silks. The practice often focuses on the holding back of orgasm to prolong the experience and plentiful time for heightened stimulation. It may also include chanting, breathing techniques, sounding mantras, paired yoga poses, and the maintaining of eye contact throughout the entire length of the experience.

Knowing the nature of our sexual desire at any given time and being willing to express that preference without strong attachment or coercion is essential to the process of being responsible and proactive in the fulfillment of our sexual needs. The more willing we are to honor these needs, the more likely we'll be to have the kind of sexual experience that will enhance the overall quality of our relationship. Sex is an important aspect of our relationship, and as many couples of all ages have told us, we never outgrow our desire for it, nor the pleasure we receive from it, even as we adapt our practices to our aging, changing bodies. As one sexy octogenarian  told us not too long ago, "My body isn't what it used to be. I've had to make some adjustments, but the pleasure is still there. In fact, in some ways it's greater than it was when I was so hormonally driven. Aging has its benefits, and one of them is to be relieved of the need to be the world's best lover. What I love most about making love now is the amount of pleasure that I get in the pleasure that I can give my wife. I just love to love her. It just doesn’t get much better than that!"

No, it doesn't.

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This article was originally published at PsychCentral. Reprinted with permission from the author.