Photographer: Craig White
Sometimes when we are in a relationship — especially a long-term relationship — we get comfortable and fall into a routine. Nowhere is this more common than in our sex lives. Instead of delving deeper into each other’s wants, needs, interests, turn-ons and -offs, and deep desires, we fall into a pattern and stick with it, even when it becomes less exciting or fulfilling. We also get distracted by the stresses and demands of our career, children, and family, and more often than not, our sex lives are the first thing we put on hold until life calms down.
When you think about it though, this is a truly strange and irrational reaction. Besides yourself, your relationship is probably the bedrock upon which most of your life rests. Your partner helps you when you’re stuck, comforts and supports you. You plan your daily lives around each other, and you share an important connection that influences how you think and live, even when you’re apart — and yet, we often treat our sexual relationship, an essential expression of that connection, as something optional. Something that can be pushed aside.
When this happens and we find ourselves in a rut, it’s important to set aside some time to reconnect. Believe it or not, sexual intimacy is elemental to happiness.
On an individual level, it releases oxytocin (the “calm and cuddle” hormone) along with serotonin (the happiness neurotransmitter). Both of these relieve stress, help us connect, and give us a sense of wellbeing. Wilhelm Reich, one of Freud’s inner circle, believed we all had to periodically release orgone energy (Chi) through orgasm or else our worldview becomes cruel, dark and demented.
But our connection to ourselves is not the only thing we lose when we neglect our sex life. Both men and women report feeling closer to their partner after a bout of fulfilling sex. It rejuvenates and strengthens the couple’s bond.
So how can you continue to add novelty to your sex life and increase your sexual intimacy and your happiness, not just as an individual but as a couple? First, realize that the point of sexual intimacy is to deepen your relationship. Everything stems from feelings. If there is love, mutual respect, and good communication, then renewed sexual intimacy is possible.
The next part is bringing your entire self into the experience.
Start slow. Build an atmosphere of non-judgment where inhibitions melt away, a place where your deepest, darkest fantasies feel safe enough to come out. This takes time. Accept your partner’s fantasies without judgment, and start working toward fulfilling one of them. Be a giving lover and accept the same in return. The more novelty you can introduce the better. Get a sex book (or several!) and talk about interests and fantasies over wine, feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries or something else you both enjoy. Build an atmosphere of sexual engagement and awareness that starts at the beginning of the day. Flirt, tease, hint at what you will do later, and always leave them wanting more. Work on extended bouts of foreplay.
Most importantly, practice saying “yes” to new things.
Photographer: Blair Hopkins
One day, a male friend of mine suggested that I ask my long-time boyfriend if he would be comfortable with him listening in on the phone while we were having sex.
“I don’t know if he’ll go for it,” I said, “but I’ll ask.” I texted him, “Hey, I have a male friend who wants to listen in while we’re having sex. Just so you know, I have never had sex with him.” After about a minute or so, a text came back “Great, how about tonight?” Well, I’ll be damned! I hadn’t expected him to agree. We set it up for around 11:00 p.m. After a few kisses hello, I called to begin our threesome. My boyfriend got into it right away, but I needed a little coaching. After a while he looked at me “Don’t be shy,” he said. “It’s fine.”
I relaxed and went with the flow. Soon I forgot about the phone altogether. I was entirely focused on being with my lover. After a bit, we turned off the phone. “Now it’s just you and me, baby,” he said. That’s when the party really got started. After he hung up the phone, the sex between us was tremendous. We had taken a risk together, which created a closer bond between us and lifted our happiness and connection up into the stratosphere!
Before this experience, I would have jumped straight into fearfully thinking, He must not love me or respect me if he’s willing to share me with someone else, but I replaced those old negative thoughts with new, more loving ones, like, He loves and trusts me enough to explore our intimate sexuality together.
Sex is best when it is unabashed, unadulterated fun. Remember that developing dynamic, invigorating sexual intimacy takes time — it’s important so set aside some time for it at least each week to reconnect as a couple again — but by working on it together, you will strengthen your bond, relieve each other’s stress, and create amazing new opportunities for happiness and fulfillment.
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