Q. Dear Dr. Sex, when you’re feeling the 7-year itch in your long-term relationship, how can you bring the sizzle back into your sex life?
A. Feeling a little sluggish in the romance department Hannah? Well, you’re not alone. Almost every couple experiences a glitch in the sex department at one point or another, and there are a ton of reason why: work, infrequent sex, health ailments, family issues, sexual disorders, hormonal/physiological changes, financial struggles, difficulty reaching orgasm, mental health issues, the fall of Communism, you name it.
Now that we’ve come to terms with the inevitable, what can we do about it? One of the first steps in jumpstarting your sex life is stepping outside the box. Many folks are in a routine they feel stuck in, so pushing those boundaries is essential to changing the sexual script. Here are 5 sizzle suggestions to shake up your sex life and get the blood flowing back to your genitals:
1. Sex Toys. Sometimes all you need is a trip to the local sex toy shop and some batteries. Like a kid at Christmas, a new toy can help a person feel energized and bring a whole new level of fun back into their life. There are light-hearted possibilities, like sexual board games, which playfully bring couples closer together by teaching sexual tips in easy-to-learn and sexy ways. And there are a variety of gadgets for men and women, that tingle, vibrate, pinch, or penetrate. The idea is find what interests you and your partner and try it out. I’ve always said, you can spend $100 in one night on a movie, dinner, and drinks in L.A., or you can spend $100 on a sex toy, stay in, and use it for many, many nights, to come…
2. Role Playing. This will especially resonate with all you actors out there…what better way to step outside the box sexually than becoming a different person in a different situation? Role-play is fun, pleasurable, and helps us express some of our dirtiest fantasies in a safe way. The classic doctor/patient or teacher/student scenarios allow us to experiment with the power dynamics in our relationship, but you can also role-play without the sexy props and costumes (although it’s highly recommended). Maybe you always wanted to be the initiator, the top, the submissive, but never felt quite comfortable doing it in your own skin. Creating a character is the perfect way to venture into these unexplored desires. Always wanted your partner to take control? Create a virgin-like, inexperienced character and tell your partner to do whatever they like, and teach you their tricks. Or maybe create a sex worker role where you have to follow their every instruction. Essentially, create the role play that feels comfortable for all involved, and within your “acting” abilities. Discuss your limits and boundaries, take things slowly, but most of all, have fun.
3. Erotica. Notice I use the word “erotica” versus porn so that half of you don’t run away. Erotica can be a great enhancer, is fantastic for foreplay, and wonderful for the mind. Erotica doesn’t have to be raunchy, hardcore porn that some have a hard time with, it can be any type of erotic material that offers sensory stimulation and arousal; a romance novel, an erotic story or poem, a late night erotic HBO movie, a strip club, sexting, porn, a naughty picture in your inbox, a burlesque show, or maybe your own erotic video you made. The question is this: what sensory stimulations are you using privately, and which ones are you missing in your sex life? Satisfy what’s missing in your sex life by taking your private turn-ons out of the closet (or out of your bedside drawer). Many couples enjoy erotica together, whether in public or in private. It creates a shared sexual sensory experience that can make people feel horny and excited while having an intimate and connected experience. Of course, some people react negatively to erotica, so test the waters and don’t push things onto partners they can’t handle. No one wants a sizzle technique to backfire.
4. Touch. Isn’t touch a given when we have sex? Yes and no. When researching couples, the amount of sexual and non-sexual touch decreases as relationships go on. How sad. The longer I’m with someone, the less likely I am to touch them. That’s bullshit, and I aim to challenge that and you should too. I’m not suggesting a minute-by-minute groping of your partner, but a little skin foreplay can go a long way. Many individuals feel touch-deprived. When was your last intimate touch-a-thon, solid cuddle session, or when did your skin feel like it was the most sought after organ on your body? Most will tell you it’s been a while and they’d like more of it. Back when I was in college, a time of raging hormones, poor communication, and shot glass collections, I had a girlfriend. Towards the end of our relationship, she told me that her favorite thing was to receive massages and she wished I’d given them to her more often. It took two years for us to talk about that and I honestly had no clue of how important that was to her. How can you avoid this? Start talking to your partners about ways you can give and receive more positive touch. Cuddling, holding hands, hugs, placing your hand on your partners leg, sitting next to each other at dinner (not on opposite ends), non-sexual touch (not immediately leading to sex), sexual touch (foreplay touch that is leading up to sex), and massage. I can tell a lot about couples in therapy by the amount of touch they display and research is showing us how important it is. Touch is a sexual and relationship ally.
5. Kink. For most, being kinky means practicing a sexually alternative, non-mainstream idea or behavior. For example, kink can be fetishistic (pantyhose, heels, etc), open minded and alternative (public sex, multiple partners, etc), or BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, Masochism). For bondage (restraining), try tying up your partner or just holding their hands down. Examples of discipline (rules, behavior, and responses) include making sexual rules and playfully rewarding or punishing your partner accordingly. Domination (assuming control and deciding when to exert it) includes being on “top” or the penetrator/inserter. A submissive (yielding control) often places themselves in a “bottom” position and is the one being penetrated/inserted. Doms and subs also get a great deal of satisfaction psychologically, but that’s a whole other article… Sadism (administering sensation), includes spanking, biting, and hair pulling. And lastly, masochism (receiving sensation) includes being spanked, bitten, and having your hair pulled. Wow, that was a lot of definitions and examples. But it needed to be done. So what’s you’re kink? What would you like to explore? Remember there’s no kink competition and gold medals aren’t awarded to the kinkiest. It’s about your comfort, enjoyment, and the pleasure you gain from it. So talk to your partner, take things slow, and remember that playfulness, trust, and consent rule the kink world.
Dr. Sex, better known as Dr. Hernando Chaves in Beverly Hills, is a Psychotherpist and Clinical Sexologist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.749.5777.