I have met so many people in my sex therapy practice who long for ‘perfect’, passionate sex — like the kind in the movies, where no one’s hair gets messy and everyone has ecstatic orgasms.
But, that isn’t realistic. That’s Hollywood.
In real life, sex can be confusing, disheveled, and even disappointing. People may feel scared to have sex with their significant others, frustrated about not doing it regularly, or too anxious about whether they’re doing it right.
Often, by the time they visit my office, my clients are also feeling a bit angry. Which is completely normal. Having frustrations is common when expectations aren’t met, and, after having too many fights or avoiding the subject altogether, most people have forgotten how to communicate and hope professional advice can help.
Here are 10 of the most common tips I find myself giving clients to help achieve and live out those feel-good moments we all see on TV.
1. Use your senses
Use your five senses (yes, all five) to focus on your own body sensations. Abandon the performance-based mindset and adopt a pleasure-based approach instead. This helps reduce that kind of sexual pressure most people complain about when it comes to sex-pectations. Practicing this can help you learn to eliminate fears that arise from believing you must know everything about sexual intimacy.
2. Expand your definition of sex — try outercourse!
Sex is more than penile-vaginal intercourse. For variety’s sake, try outercourse, which may include anything from deep kissing, sensual touch, and erotic massages, to using vibrators or other sex toys. Exploring a range of body pleasure is key to achieving orgasm.
3. Understand each other’s love language
When the going gets tough in the bedroom, rely on your strengths. It’s quite easy to shift blame and get mad when your needs aren’t met. But, instead of calling it quits, make some time to understand each other’s point of view. Find some common ground.
Bickering usually happens because one person is feeling unappreciated. So learning and expressing your love in your partner’s language (whether it’s via gifts, physical affection, or taking out the trash), you’ll create a foundation for sexual intimacy.
4. Avoid comparing your partner to your past sexual partners, because who wants to be compared?
Comparison tends to create unnecessary insecurities and resentment. Instead, indulge with each other and keep things exciting. Make new memories! Schedule date nights to ensure you’re making time to create new sexual escapades.
5. Be a detective
Be curious about your body and theirs! Consider this practice in expanding your awareness on what makes you feel sexually alive. All of this will help you become better equipped to teach your partner how to touch you.
6. Know your own limitations
When you’re able to recognize your own motives, and how much time, energy, and resources you’re able to devote to yourself and your partner, you’ll begin to feel less pressure, and more in control of creating the sexual life you want.
7. Be playful
Seriously, let yourself be silly and fool around together. Sex doesn’t have to be so serious.
8. Make an intentional decision to be intimate
Schedule time for yourself and your partner, or more simply put, don’t overschedule yourself with non-relational activities. To keep the spark alive, you must reserve at least an hour per week to explore each other’s bodies and indulge in adult play.
9. Put the phone down, and get some sleep
To feel more comfortable in your body, and more energized to explore something new in the bedroom, you must feel well-rested. Skip checking your Facebook each night and reserve your first and last hour of your day to refuel, reconnect, and experiment with sexual pleasure.
10. Prioritize your time
Create more opportunities for sexual intimacy. Stop juggling too many balls in the air. Clear your schedule for rest, relaxation, and sexual activity.
And since you need blood flow to your genitals for sexual arousal, keep up with regular exercise. It’s vital to increasing pleasure. Not only that, but exercise lifts your mood and gives you an endorphin boost — two necessary ingredients that promote sexual desire.
Sex doesn’t have to be frustrating or scary. Take these home and practice them to start feeling more empowered about your sexuality, relationships, and yourself. When we set realistic expectations and be honest about needs and likes with ourselves and our partner, then we can begin to have a more satisfying sexual life.
Janet Brito is an AASECT certified sex therapist who also has a license in clinical psychology and social work. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Minnesota Medical School, one of only a few university programs in the world dedicated to sexuality training. Currently, she’s based in Hawaii and is the founder of the Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health. Brito has been featured on many outlets, including Huffington Post, Thrive, and Healthline. Reach out to her through her website or on Twitter.