I had the opportunity to talk to a few sexperts (as I like to call them) about ways to keep intimacy alive in the bedroom. Here's what they had to say:
"To maintain the spark, the key is always allowing room for experimentation and creativity," said Timaree Schmit, Ph.D. in Human Sexuality. "That might mean going to new places, trying new activities and continuing to work on building intimacy, even after you know each other well. Effort and thoughtfulness always make a bigger impact than money spent, so surprise and treat your partner in the ways that would be entrancing on a first date, but with the knowledge that you've gained from getting to know them and what makes them tick."
Creating and maintaining relationships in the initial 'getting to know you' phase is very important, too. "It's within this phase that the strongest connections and understandings of each other are made," says Renee Lee, matchmaker and Frangelico's Valentine's Day love coach. "Taking time to become involved in each other's lives, learning one another's schedule, paying attention to what each other likes and understanding each other's needs will help you avoid the obstacles of wondering if you really have a connection. Bonding over shared activities become a couples 'norm' and the exciting part is discovering what those activities are!"
New relationships can bring about a lot of pressures and stress as we women analyze every little thing about our actions, what we think our partners think about our actions and so on. For these new relationships, sex therapist and relationship expert Sari Cooper believes that couples should stay in the present without racing ahead to the 'what ifs' of the future. She says, "Staying relaxed is the best way to enjoy your own and your partner's erotic power. Express your natural sensuality and flirtatious side to your new love interest without worrying about how he will interpret it, because the bottom line is you should keep checking in on what you're interested in doing sexually, not what he's expecting."
To maintain the feelings of desire in older relationships, Kenneth M. Maguire, Psy.d., M.Ed., Assistant Director of Council for Relationships' Institute for Sex Therapy, suggests that couples "plant seeds during the day and week for your next sexual encounter. A text message about missing them, loving them or even a subtle reference to something you want to do with them in bed is a great method to design a fantastic sexual experience."
In long-term relationships, complacency can be a very bad thing. Having a routine for your sex life can turn it from romantic and fulfilling to a chore couples feel they have to do. "A date night is often recommended for older relationships," says sex educator Christine Laplante, M.A. "Bring back spontaneity. Surprise your partner with something they like. Pay attention to them when they talk about the things they want and make it happen every once in a while."
As time passes in a relationship, sexuality takes more time and attention. "The longer the distance between sexual experiences, the harder it can be to get back into the swing of it," says American Association of Sex Counselors, Educators and Therapists (AASECT) member Chris Donaghue. "Couples need to keep their partnership sexual with constant flirting, sensuality and eroticism. Daily touching, hugging, kissing and some form of sexuality will keep your partner from becoming just your nonsexual friend or roommate."
Here's what the experts say you should be trying:
"Classics like cowgirl and doggy-style are standards because they are effective," says Schmit. "But, you can try something slower, like what can be achieved from laying on your sides with her back to his front. Switch up who is on top, which way you are facing, the way in which you move against your partner."
"A position that I might recommend," starts Cooper, "is one in which the woman's and man's legs are intertwined like scissors with the woman lying back and the man either sitting or lying back. This allows for a relaxed type of intercourse with her clitoris and breasts available for stimulation either by rubbing against his thigh, or by his or her fingers or a toy while his penis is still inside."
"The Wedding Walker," starts sexologist Dr. Ava Cadell, "is a sexual intercourse position where the man picks up his lover with both arms while penetrating her from the side as if he was going to carry her over the threshold after getting married." Woah! Sounds interesting and kind of challenging.
Even with a wide variety of positions to choose from (let's face it -- you could theoretically do a new position every night for 365 days), Tom Winner, staff therapist at the Council for Relationships' Institute for Sex Therapy, says, "People focus far too much on technique and not enough on attitude. Even the wildest, most acrobatic position in the world won't help you if the energy you are bringing to it is negative. The new and interesting sexual position/act/game that you should be talking about is the one that you are really interested in trying but haven't had the courage to pitch to your partner yet!"
Why not try switching it up? Most of the experts I've interviewed agree that it's not always about the positions. Spicing up your sex lives can be as simple as changing where you do the deed. Try a different room in the house, go to a semi-public space or rent a hotel room for a night (or day!). Breaking up the 'norm' and predictability of your sex act is key. Dana B. Myers, founder of Booty Parlor and author of Mojo Makeover: Four Weeks to a Sexier New You says, "In addition to all the regular sex you'll be having, take time once or twice a month to create an out-of-this-world sexy scenario together."
Treat yourself (and your boo) to some sexy or playful costumes! "Putting on a sexy costume is a playful way to let loose and explore a different side of your sex life," says Myers. In her book, she explains, "Exploring lingerie shows your man that you care and he'll likely reciprocrate with his efforts, too!"
Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D., agrees. Her biggest suggestion? No flannel pajamas! "Countless men have complained to me about how their girlfriend or wife used to wear sexy lingerie when they met, but then started wearing flannel PJs instead." She says this was a turnoff, as was the women going from sexy high heels to boring comfortable flats. (Oops, guilty!) "It's not just the articles of clothes themselves," continues the author of the book Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, "but the message that they convey. By the woman making less of an effort to appear hot, the man feels that he's not turning her on anymore and this emasculates him."
It's important to realize that while sex is very important for a healthy relationship, it's typically something that's taken for granted. "When the sex is working," says Marty Klein, PhD. and author of Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex, And How to Get It, "it's typically a very small part of a relationship and people take it for granted. When the sex is not working, for many people it assumes a huge importance."
After speaking to over 15 sexperts, I can tell you that there is one common and solid message throughout their expertise: communication. "Somewhere along the line, many forgot that it was OK to talk about sex, to communicate desires and to say when something doesn't feel good," says Laplante. "Sexuality is individual. What worked in one relationship may not in another. What body parts fit together in the past won't necessarily work now."
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