Keep That "Sexual Pilot Light" On
Take Care of Yourself
Let Your Partner Know You Want Him
Figure Out What Your Ideal Sex Life Looks Like...Together
Don't Take Your Partner's Mood Personally
Put It In the Doc
Don't Relegate Foreplay to Just Before You Have Sex
Try Something Small If You're Not Ready to Dive Off the Deep End
Watch Some Porn
Turn Criticisms Into Fantasies
Yeah, He Has to Get "Cliterate"...and So Do You
Okay, yeah, you're tired as all hell from the work day. But! You can't deny the fact that you've got a sexual creature inside your exhausted self, begging to come out. The catch? You can't let that creature fall asleep. "My expression is you gotta keep your inner sexual pilot light on," sex therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., says. Ways to do that might be watching porn, masturbating, or reading erotic stories. Even just buying lingerie might make you feel sexy, too.
Think this is about meeting your partner's insane demands? (Wait, why does he have insane demands?) Nope, flip that idea on its head — this is about taking care of yourself for you so that you feel better.
"I always say, self-care is not selfish," says Fleming, whether that means sleeping or going to the gym or getting a baby sitter so you can have some quality time with your husband. After all, she says, the mind is the biggest sex organ.
Fleming says it's important to let your partner know outside of the bedroom that you want to jump his or her bones. It also adds to the build-up and creates sexual heat throughout the day. That, she says, would mean sending some sexts, grabbing his butt, sending a note or an email, or even giving him a kiss that lasts longer than usual.
"Start with painting the scene, [saying], 'this is the sex life I want with you,'" Fleming says. Figure out what you want to do together — even if that's something small, like getting it on on the couch instead of in the bedroom.
"For most couples — especially with kids — if you don't plan it, it's not gonna happen," Fleming says. Does the thought of planning sex make you feel like bad? Don't let it. "It's like planning a vacation," she says. " You don't enjoy it any less because you planned it." (And aren't planned vacations amazing?)
"Rather than taking your partner's level of desire and mood for sex personally (e.g. if they say no or are unresponsive to your initiating), stay in touch with your own desire and continue to put it out there," says Jane Greer, Ph.D. "Leave them the space to have separate moods and energy." And if your partner's not in the mood and you are...it might be time to whip out a vibrator, right?
Nothing like a sexy Google doc, right?! "One of my favorite tips is to keep a shared Google document between you and your partner," says sex therapist Vanessa Marin. "Whenever you stumble across an intriguing-sounding tip, add it to the document. It can be anything from a sex position to a toy to a fantasy. Then, have regular 'sex dates' where you agree to try out the items on your list. In the moment, a lot of people can feel nervous about thinking of something new to try, so having this list of inspiration will help you both feel more at ease and excited!"
"Have foreplay throughout the day!" Marin suggests. "Foreplay shouldn't be limited to three minutes before you start having intercourse. Keep the fires burning and the anticipation levels high by seducing each other all day long. Send teasing text messages about what you're going to do to each other later. Give your partner a little grope as he's cooking dinner. Leave the door open while you shower."
"A lot of people get intimidated by the idea of spicing up their sex lives, so they end up staying in their comfort zone and doing the things they already know. I'm a really big believer that even small changes can make a big difference in your sex life," Marin says. "Try something like having sex at a different time of day than you normally do, or in a different room. Try having a session where you only give each other oral sex, or only masturbate in front of each other."
Think porn isn't for you? Hold on a sec: "Really, when [people] think of porn, they think of the sites that are all free. That's like going to Pizza Hut versus really having a homemade Italian pizza created by an artisan," says Ian Kerner, Ph.D. "There's a big gulf because most of the porn people see that's out there for free versus porn created ethically for women or for couples that can really offer a chance to explore fantasies and experience taboos together." Yeah, so...stay away from Pizza Hut porn. (Unless that's your thing.)
It's important to really have an open dialogue to express criticism and communicate fantasy, says Kerner. Don't like something your partner does? He advises couples to turn their complaints into fantasies and to start "articulating what you want in the form of a fantasy." So, instead of saying I don't like that, say what you do want instead.
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You need to understand how bodies work — your partner's and your own. "I think it's important to men to go to develop 'cliteracy,' Kerner says, but it's also "important for a woman to have that, too, and to be able to communicate that to her partner." How else can you explain what you want if you don't even understand and know your own body?
And also, the reverse: You should know how a penis (and the whole male body!) works. Knowing your partners' body well can only help make sex better and more satisfying. The more you know!
Laurie Watson, sex therapist and host of the podcast Foreplay, says that couples need to respect their different physiologies — meaning, a man has to understand a woman's slower arousal process, and a woman might need to rev herself up beforehand so she's ready to go. "The number one thing to make both people happy is to know that it can't be one way all the time," she says. In other words...compromise! Isn't that what life is all about?