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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Happy Sex Habits

It is not uncommon for couples to go through cycles and phases with regards to sexual interest and activity. What's interesting to notice is that the habits of sexually satisfied couples include an orientation to the relationship which places sex in the flow of all their interactions; how they relate to each other is generally a kind of safety-making foreplay that communicates self-respect, self-awareness and personal responsibility. It’s worth considering that a sustainable, long-term sexual relationship evolves and transforms along with all the other dimensions of the relationship. If partners aren't continuing to emotionally develop and psychologically mature . . . or if one is and one isn't . . . the limitations or resistance to growing up will to manifest in the ways they do, (or don't) interact sexually

Below, some common behaviors, thoughts, communications known to catalyze an interest and spark the motivation to be sexual and express sexually in relationship.

Define Sex Broadly

Couples who are sexually satisfied tend to understand that sex is about more than just intercourse. It's about intimacy and connection. Couples who find their way to a meaningful, sustainable sexual relationship are usually physically intimate with each other during their days and evenings; casual touching, making eye contact, acknowledging each other non-verbally, snuggling in front of the TV. A regular schedule for daily intimacy isn’t a prescription for instant sexual bliss. But getting physically close non-sexually can create a sense of safety, which can ultimately lead to ease and comfort in sexual encounters.

Get Educated Knowledge can lead to a more comfortable, consistent sexual relationship. Learning more about each other’s physical erotic zones, talking about how much stimulation you need, and what turns you on (and off) can also create a sense of caring connection that lets both partners know they matter to the other. When one's needs or preferences are held respectfully, safety and a sense of self-worth are engendered. Great sex blossoms in an attentive atmosphere that encourages curiosity and self-revelation.

Touch Physical contact is a powerful tool that communicates connectedness and safety. Sex therapists sometimes use a technique called sensate focus. It’s an exercise that explores how people respond to different kinds of touch. Focusing on the "in the moment" touch experience takes the pressure off reaching a sexual goal or outcome like orgasm or penetration. Practicing and exploring sensual touch can help partners learn more about each other, which creates a greater sense of safety, which ultimately leads to a greater sense of freedom to be expressive and open.

Confide in Each Other Couples who aren’t honest about what they do and don’t enjoy in the bedroom are more likely to feel dissatisfied. It's important to talk about a lagging libido or if you're having trouble getting to orgasm. Perhaps you feel self-conscious about your body or you're afraid you don't smell good. Maybe your partner's scent is off-putting. Intimacy is the act of sharing, of self-revelation, of showing your vulnerability to the one to whom you most want to appear attractive.

A sustainable, loving sexual relationship does not mean that a couple doesn't have issues or problems. It means that they know how to hold issues and problems with tenderness and respect. Sometimes one partner just needs to be met and held right where they are, with no expectation that they be different in that moment. The commitment to presence and acceptance of each other is the foundation of the most amazing sex you will ever have.

Consider Therapy Sessions with a therapist or with a certified sex therapist can improve intimacy issues by helping couples learn to communicate about their needs and your experiences. Sex therapists can guide couples through touch exercises, and educate them about arousal and desire. If the problems stem from deeper issues, talk therapy can enhance your sex life and shine a light into the overall expression of or resistance to intimacy in the relationship. Stay Flexible Sex has no normal. What partners like, how often partners want it, and how important it is to each partner is different at different times. Your libido can shift with everyday demands and the fluctuation in life's priorities. Children, extended family, work expectations, financial insecurity all affect each partner's sense of security, safety and self-esteem. Interest and orientation to sex can change over time with age, physical health, and the pressures of daily life. Couples who stay curious and open to the movement in each other's emotional lives tend to translate that flexibility into their sexual lives. When it's safe and OK not have it together, when there is room in the relationship for short-comings, losses, failures and insecurity, people tend to sustain a sense of self-worth that is separate from whether or not they got the promotion. Accepting themselves and each other paves the way for a more fulfilling sex life. Make Time Aging affects the body's response time, so it takes longer to respond to sexual stimulation. Lower testosterone levels in older men can make it harder to get and keep an erection. A drop in estrogen during menopause can lead to dry vaginas and slower arousal in women. Not a problem if the above suggestions are already in play . . . Communication, education, confiding about the body's most current manifestations . . . ongoing and always important. The need for more time is one of those things to be discussed and explored. There may be insecurity about increased need, asking for more attention. The discussion then is not really about needing more time, but about exposing a vulnerability to an important person and hoping they won't shame or abandon you! Being able to take the time to explore the vulnerabilities that come with age leads to an ever-deepening sense of safety and security in the partnership. When we know we can change and still be loved, when we can need and still be loved, self-esteem and personal worth are reinforced. Many older couples have reported to me that after decades of practicing and learning to spend the time it takes to communicate, the best sex of their lives happens in their 60's and 70's!

Experiment Is your sex life stuck in a rut? Try out different positions, moves, touches, toys and stimulations to bring back the spice. Go to a different room in the house. Make-out in the car. The new techniques also may heighten sensations so that you can climax more often. Experiencing each other being creative and taking risks engenders love and appreciation and deepens the sense of safety that supports further experimentation.

Cater to Your Partner People who care about satisfying their partner and who take joy from the other person's pleasure are generally happier in the sack. Why might this be the case? Well, a person who is flexible, who seeking connection, comradery, teamwork, and doesn't need a prescribed sexual unfolding to feel sexy or cared about may be better able to adapt and perform for the benefit of both partners! For this person it may be fulfilling to connect, regardless of where the emphasis of the sexual encounter is focused. Whereas, if one partner has very specific needs and is focused on receiving or giving according to specific expectations, they are likely to be resisting anything outside the bounds of those expectations. For the partner who may have some resistance to "sex outside the box" this might mean they need to explore and consider the needs of their partner. They might need to experiment with having sex more often than they are used to, doing it at different times of the day or night than is normal, or even acting out their partner’s sexual fantasies! For the more flexible partner it may mean periodically surrendering to the structure that creates safety for their partner .Sometimes it can be fun to let one partner at a time be the receiver, be in a submissive role while alternately taking turns being the one who dominates or is "in charge."

Seek Gratification in a Variety of Ways Practice makes perfect: When partners do things in other areas of life that increase the feel-good endorphins in their bodies . . . including exercise, laughing, making art, or any activity that brings joy -- they are building and reinforcing the response pathways that helps humans feel aroused more easily. Nutrition is a vitally important consideration as is alcohol consumption, drug use and screen time. When partners are well-nourished and are attending to their own self-care, they feel good about themselves and are more likely to have the head-space and emotional bandwidth to attend to and tender another. This doesn't mean that Olympic-level physical conditioning or emotional enlightenment is required for healthy sex. It means that each person is prioritizing their well-being and taking care of themselves, whatever the state of their health may be . . . and they are in communication and connection with their partner about their experience.

Use Tools and Props Some people are afraid to admit the need for lubrication to ease dryness or are embarrassed to use a pillow to prop themselves up during sex. Sometimes partners are afraid to ask the other to use lubrication or to use a pillow as though it is an admission that they need help to turn their partners on. Interestingly, the opposite is true. The more attentive each person is to the comfort of themselves and their partner, the better the overall experience. Using vibrators, ropes, scarves, oils, various toys of all kinds can enhance the experience and take the pressure off both partners to be solely and absolutely responsible for the enjoyment of the other. Enjoying your partner enjoying themselves is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Work At It It may sound like a mood killer. But research has shown that couples who are willing to put in hard work and effort, willing to stumble and bumble in this sexual territory, willing to learn, explore, make mistakes, admit inexperience, try new things, and fail miserably, suffer rejection and heal emotionally, are the couples who develop a true and lasting sense of partnership, security and safety that serves as the foundation underlying their sexual satisfaction. These couples focus firsti on their relationship with themselves . . . and then on each other. They aren't about finding a soul mate, rather they are soulful in their commitment to intimacy and mating.

Limit Porn Photographic or literary erotica can heat up the sex bed for some couples. Shared exploration of erotica can prime the pump and breathe some life and new ideas into a possibly stale sex life. But a heavy pornography habit can stunt some men’s ability to get an erection and achieve orgasm with their partner. Porn also sets up unrealistic expectations of real life sex. This can undermine a partner’s confidence and self-esteem and hurt the relationship.

Don’t Obsess About Orgasm Penetration and climaxing can't be the goal of every sexual encounter. It still counts . . . its still sex, even if it doesn't result in intercourse and orgasm! Some partners may find it difficult to show up, let alone perform, if sex is only acknowledged to have occurred according to these limited definitions. Sex is a process and a relationship, not a sport or a game in which there is a singular defined outcome. Touching in sensual ways or connecting in whatever form works for you and your partner builds closeness, connection and safety. Never underestimate the role of your own need and your partners need for safety. When you are secure with each other, then sharing the vulnerability of an orgasm is a natural and fluid part of the process.

Read Each Other Understanding where your partner’s sexual “starting point” is can go a long way toward fulfilling sex. Some people, usually men, can get in the mood instantly and without stimulation. Others, often women, need a cue, or some extended foreplay to get aroused. It may be hours or days of subtle gestures . . . a hand on the shoulder, a love note on the counter, some eye-contact at the dinner table . . . all communications that let the partner know you see them and you care about them, they are safe with you. It's important for the more eager or easily sexually aroused partner to remember that while you were entitled to the bodies of your parents, you are not entitled access to your partner's body. Conversely, the more reserved partner can bring some safety to the dynamic by acknowledging the eager partner's desire and suggesting ways to be together that celebrate their shared sexuality without compromise. As an example, this might mean remaining clothed and holding the sexually eager partner while they are self-pleasuring.

Regardless of the strategy, the earlier steps on this list are absolutely key to functionality when each person's starting points are dynamically different. If you have emphasized and developed your capacities for self-awareness and vulnerable communication, then navigation of differing starting points in sexual interactions is simply another process of intimacy, and ultimately an act of love.

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