Do These Things And You’ll Rev Up Your Relationship
From time to time, I get asked for my opinion on topics related to sexuality. Not long ago, I was shown an abstract and asked a series of questions about sex frequency:
- Recent research has exhibited a decline in sex frequency among American adults — especially married/partnered individuals. As an expert, what do you think the contributing factors may be?
- Could technology play a role in the decline? The increase of women in the workforce?
- Is it necessarily a negative thing?
- Are millennials having sex later in life? Why might that be?
- Is there any information we should pass along to people in the Gen Z generation to ensure they experience sex healthfully?
- What can couples do to encourage a healthy, active sex life?
Studies about sexuality help us understand sexual behaviors, but they only measure a number. Asking how many times per week one has sex with their partner shouldn’t weigh as heavily as the quality of sex when they do have it. If the quality of sex is less than desirable (sometimes this is one-sided), then maybe that’s why people are having it less often. If the sex is great for both parties, they are more likely to do it more often. To improve the quality of your sex life, thereby the quantity, consider seeking out a knowledgeable sex coach or sexuality educator who will educate and inform about pleasure-centered sex education. Professionals like me can help.
Declining Sex Frequency?
People are marrying and having kids later than they did 10 years ago. Could that lead to a decrease in sex frequency? Common sense would tell us yes. Speaking for myself, I had my kids in my 30s and felt more tired when they were little. As a result, I was less interested in sex at that time. My interest came back as I learned how to ask for what I wanted, and started pursuing things that gave me passion. (I’m speaking also about passions for personal interests, not limited to sexual passion, which I’ll get to in a moment). Asking for and getting what you want contributes to a feeling of empowerment. It lead to me wanting to have more sex.
How does Sex Education Play into This?
Sexual education is important for a healthy sex life, but sex ed is more than just vulvas and penises. The quality of interactions, the respect we have for one another and finding other ways to connect with each other are super important for relationships, in and out of the bedroom. Sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors are really just one way of showing love and caring for one another.
I use my 5 Building Blocks to a Healthy Sexuality when I talk about learning to have sex in a healthy way to GenZ-ers and all audiences. These blocks don’t have anything to do with penises and vaginas. Instead, they are about creating a healthy foundation about sexuality in general. The basic blocks are Communication, Consent, Respect, Pleasure, and Fantasy. Each block contains concepts under them that address items like Porn, Nudity, Emotions, Needs Wants & Desires, and that big word, “Virginity” (or what I prefer to call Sexual Debut).
Fantasy can be a fun, liberating tool in sex play, but its prevalence in our culture has some drawbacks too. With fantastical depictions of sex everywhere we look, and very little education about what healthy sex actually looks like, there’s a disconnect between what people think sex is supposed to be and what actually happens.
How Can We Bring Back The Spark?
In talking about ways to have a healthy, active sex life, I encourage couples to find fun and adventure in their lives — again. This advice doesn’t have to be limited to their sex life, but certainly contributes to healthy attitudes in and out of the bedroom. A sense of curiosity and playfulness brings delight to so many people. It reminds them of when they were first dating, or when they were younger themselves. Ask a child to pretend to be “an adult,” and you’ll laugh at the faces they make. The look on their faces is often serious or stern. That’s no fun! Try to bring fun back into your day, however that looks, and you may find yourself being more playful sexually as well.
One playful exercise I learned from a mentor of mine was the idea of a “Love Lab.”
How to do this?
This is an exercise about touch. Go to the bedroom, select who gives and who receives. Then select and agree upon a body part. You don’t have to focus on the genitals– try ears, neck, inner thighs, or waist. Set a timer for 5–10 minutes, then spend that time exploring that body part. Vary your touch intensity from firm to light and in between. Use tools if you’d like; feathers, leather, or a simple hairbrush can provide interest. Ask for feedback on how your touching feels to them. You can adopt a 1–10 rating scale for “don’t like it,” “neutral,” to “it feels good/wow.” Make a mental note of the responses for future reference. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing, get dressed again, and go back to your day.
Remove the pressure of “getting busy.” Pretend you are a researcher mapping their body “for science.” Don’t forget to switch roles and select new body parts next time.
If a person isn’t having mind-blowing sex, they are more likely to say “no” more often. If you want to start having sex again, think playful. Bring the pleasure back into the equation and then enjoy the ride.
Originally published at www.themamasutra.net on September 14, 2018.