You've lost that loving feeling. Or you want to try something new in the bedroom but just don't know how to bring it up. Or you wish you and your partner had more sex, less sex, better sex. Most of these common problems boil down to one thing: poor communication. Of course, not everyone is equally comfortable chatting about intimate matters, whether or not a therapist is in the mix. Read on for insider tricks and tips and start amping up your sex life tonight.
Give it the old college try
Not in the mood, but your partner is? Don't be so quick to shut down any advances. Most women don't experience spontaneous desire; they need a little help getting there, says Dr Michael Aaron, a licensed psychotherapist, sexologist and sex therapist. He explains that many women need to be touched, kissed, and caressed before sexual desire kicks in. So consider saying yes to sex—or at least foreplay—even if you're not currently raring to go.
That said, you should never feel obligated to finish what you started. "You don't know in the moment how it's going to feel," says sex and relationship therapist Dr Megan Fleming, clinical instructor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. It's never too late to say, "Sorry, not tonight."
If you're not currently having sex but are still being romantic—going on dates, holding hands, kissing—then it might be as simple as carving out some special time to be alone together. But if you and your partner have essentially become roommates, you're going to have to work a little harder to bring back sensuality, says Aaron. Plan date nights, start holding hands again, and give each other a kiss goodbye every morning and the romantic (and sexy) feelings might return.
Get a sexy brain
Your libido is like an engine, says Fleming. You need to find ways to turn yourself on, warm up and get ready to go. But Fleming says she often sees clients who have no idea what gets them going or what turns them off. How to sort it out? She suggests reading erotic fiction, listening to erotic podcasts, or simply allowing yourself time to fantasise. "Think about the last really enjoyable, hot, fun, connected, juicy experience you had with your partner," she says. "Use all five senses, take it in, and let it be something you can come back to time and time again."
Bring in a friend
No, not into the bedroom (unless that's what everyone really wants, in which case, go for it!). But talking about sex with your friends—or just one trusted friend—can help demystify it. Discussing how much sex you're having, how much you wish you were having, or how satisfied you are with your sex life could be a little like therapy. A good friend might even be able to help you work out whatever issue is getting in the way of the sex life you crave, Sussman says. Not sure how to get the conversation going? Fleming suggests mentioning an article you've read in a magazine or on a website (maybe the story you're reading right now?).
Take care of yourself first
We're not talking about masturbation—although getting a little frisky with yourself certainly isn't a bad thing. It's just as important (maybe more so) to get ample sleep, regular exercise and generally keep stress in check (spa day?). "So many women feel depleted, and then sex starts to feel like work," says Fleming. Try pampering yourself and you might find you're feeling more sexy, fun, and playful.
Ask for compliments
If you and your partner have been together for eons, chances are things have slowed down. Forget staying up all night to get down and dirty; you're more apt to watch a little bit of Netflix and drift off by 10pm. But it's not just sex that has gotten lost over the years. Chances are the unexpected gifts and compliments have dropped off, too. Getting back to a place where you feel loved and sexy is absolutely essential, Sussman says. "If you can say to your husband or partner, 'Flirt with me, make me feel attractive,' well, that's probably just as good as taking any medication."
Be a detective
What's really at the root of your sex issues? Figure that out and you just might solve your problem, says Sussman. Some patients have trouble initiating sex, talking about fantasies, or admitting they'd like to have sex more often because they grew up believing women aren't supposed to be interested in sex or because a past partner put them down. Other times sex problems aren't really about sex at all, says Sussman. If you don't trust each other or aren't getting along outside the bedroom you'll need to work through that before you can expect the sensual side of your relationship to blossom.