This could be the most important blog post about sex that you will ever read. Why? Because regardless of how satisfied you are with your sex life now, at some point in your life, you’ll probably need this guidance.
As a sex therapist, I speak regularly with people who want to enjoy sex more. My clients often think something is wrong if they aren’t longing for sex all the time. What many people don’t realize is that folks who enjoy sex have challenges in the bedroom — they’ve just learned how to manage them. Here are some examples:
This is super-challenging in our fast-paced and overstimulated lifestyle. We are so used to living with a high level of tension that we don’t even realize how much stress we regularly walk around with, and thus how much we bring into the bedroom. This tension diminishes your sexual enjoyment.
Solution: You may need to make a lifestyle shift like regularly practicing yoga or mediation. Other options include cutting back on screen time so that you can do calming activities, like a hobby or exercise. The good news is that these choices will benefit more than your sex life; they will increase your quality of life more generally.
Be connected to your body.
Since we spend the majority of time thinking rather than sensing with our bodies, as time passes and lust diminishes, it can become challenging to feel pleasure during sex. Most people can’t just switch from a mind-focus to a body-focus like turning on a light.
Solution: Do things that invite you out of your thinking brain and into your body. Massage, dancing, yoga, and meditation are all good options. Basically, practicing anything that allows you to “let go” and feel rather than think will likely help you connect to your body during sex.
Feel positively about your body, or at least not negatively.
If you are critical of your body, it will be more difficult for you to feel at home there, and open to physical pleasure.
Solution: It’s a mistake to associate feeling positive about your body with feeling good about your appearance. These are two different things. Great sex isn’t about looking great while having sex — it’s about feeling good while having sex. Good self-care, like regular exercise and eating healthy, are what makes the difference here.
Feel emotionally and physically open.
This often requires conscious effort, as life’s stressors cause our bodies to tighten and hearts to close. No good sex will happen from a place of closure because we cannot be vulnerable, open, and receive if our hearts or bodies are closed. For most people, memorable sex happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in some way — to be really seen.
Solution: When your body is relaxed, imagine feeling your heart and body softening and opening — sort of like you allow your heart to take up more space in your body, and your body to expand into the room. These sensations may help you let down your guard, take down whatever walls you put in place for self-protection in your daily life, and allow your deeper sexual self to be seen and felt. You can also try repeating a mantra silently to yourself, like “relax” or “open.”
Take responsibility for your sexual satisfaction.
Don’t wait for your partner to please you or to “fix” your sex life. It can be increasingly difficult to generate higher levels of desire with time. This happens for several reasons. New partners are generally more exciting than partners we are used to. Plus, hormones shift, and physical changes happen with age that can result in decreased desire.
Solution: Remind your body regularly that you are a sexual being. Stimulate your body with porn, masturbation, erotic reading, or sexy movies. Read a sexual technique book and find new ways to touch yourself and your partner. Do these things not to orgasm, but simply to generate lust that you can later bring to the bedroom.
Have an ongoing, open dialogue with your partner.
Sure, it can be difficult to communicate about something as personal and vulnerable as sex, but communication remains the cornerstone of a satisfying sex life. Otherwise, misinterpretations abound, we make false meaning out of our partner’s words or behaviors, and these misinterpretations only intensify over time.
Solution: Give your partner a heads-up by asking for a good time to talk about sex. Emphasize what you like about your sex life and be sure to ask what you can do for them. Keep the dialogue going – regular conversation is essential because people’s needs and wants change. And expect to repeat yourself – people often need to hear information multiple times to really understand and take it in.
Keep your expectations realistic.
We get the message from social media that everyone else is having great sex. But in truth, rates of sexual concerns and dysfunctions are high. Boring sex happens to everyone. High expectations will result in your feeling disappointed in your sexual interactions, making you less receptive to your next experience. This creates a negative feedback loop that can intensify with time.
Solution: Recognize that some sex is good, some boring, and occasionally even bad sex happens. Don’t overreact — it’s just part of the deal. Certainly, there are things you can do to decrease the frequency of those moments but do your best to make space for a wide variety of sexual experiences.
Keeping sex great in long-term relationships takes effort. But the great news is that the energy you put into caring for your sex life will benefit you in a myriad of ways. Couples who feel more satisfied with their sex lives also report more satisfaction in their relationship and with life more generally. Great sex is good for you.