Want better sex? Of course you do. Instead of reaching for a blindfold, a porn video or a cocktail (not that there’s anything wrong with those things), how about something less tangible and more effective: enhancing the emotional intimacy in your sexual relationship?
As a therapist, I think of intimacy as your willingness to be yourself — to be vulnerable — without attempting to shape your partner’s opinion of you. That kind of honesty, trust, self-acceptance and courage can translate into great sex. Intimacy involves the reciprocal acceptance of each other, despite any faults or insecurities either of you may have. In fact, intimacy is a kind of meditation: we’re committed to the cycle of getting to know another person, working hard not to judge him/her, and ultimately accepting and even appreciating him/her.
These twin pillars of intimacy — revealing the self, while accepting the other — drive a relationship to grow. As you accept your partner, you become both more humble and more proud: humble that you’re just as imperfect as your partner and proud that you’re learning to love. So here are some tips for enhancing the intimacy in the bedroom:
Focus on creating a close, passionate experience.
Penises and vaginas don’t create great sex — people create great sex. If you aren’t involved with each other you’re not relaxed and you’re not enthusiastic either, so the sex won’t go far. When you focus too much on your own body, it takes away attention from your partner.
So how do you want to feel during sex — desired? Do you want to feel attractive, graceful, close, relaxed? Focus on these feelings, let your partner know this is what you want and try to evoke those feelings.
Stay connected to your partner.
If things don’t go the way you want them to, stay connected rather than withdrawing in disappointment. If your body does something you don’t want it to (you fart or he drools), stay connected in the moment rather than withdrawing in embarrassment. No matter what unexpected or unwanted event happens in bed, withdrawal will never make it better.
If you need reassurance at a particularly awkward time, ask for it. Don’t refuse to ask because you assume you won’t get it. And don’t assume your partner will be as turned off by something as you are. Give your partner a little credit for having compassion and a sense of humor.
Communicate with more than words.
Facial expression and tone of voice do matter in human communication. Our smiles, sounds and body language let us know what’s really going on.
Unfortunately, digital “communication” is now so common that we forget how much it lacks. We are social animals — we need to see, hear and smell each other in order to feel connected. During sex, keep your eyes open. Let your partner know, “I’m glad we’re doing this.” Ask your partner “Do you like it better this way or that way?” If you like what’s happening — smile.
Emphasizing emotional intimacy adds up to bringing you closer during sex. As I say in my current book, that’s the concept that sex is more than just an activity — it’s an idea.
Dr. Marty Klein is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist. He is the award-winning author of seven books, including “Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex, and How to Get It” (HarperCollins). He blogs at www.SexEd.org.
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