Seven Tips For Having More Intimate Sex
Do you feel that your romantic relationship has fallen into a sexual rut or that your intimate sex positions with your partner aren't promoting feelings of deep emotional intimacy? Are you hoping to explore each other's bodies and increase closeness during your sexual experiences? Are you struggling with body image issues, sexual trauma, or other health issues that make emotional intimacy and mutual pleasure difficult for you?
You might be experiencing sexual intimacy concerns if you answered yes to any of these questions. Having more intimate sex may influence your emotional connection with your partner inside and outside the bedroom. Communication and openness are two possible skills to develop to improve intimacy. You can also try the seven following tips.
1. Define what sex means to you
Each partner can bring a distinct viewpoint on sex into the romantic relationship. This opinion or attitude towards sex may have formed from their own unique life experiences. Some people might feel unbothered by being unclothed, exploring their partner's desires, or experimenting with new sex positions. On the other hand, some individuals may not know how to effectively talk about their sexual desires and preferences to their partners until later in life. Others may struggle with focusing more on the physical than the emotional part of sex.
To prevent a possible sexual dysfunction in a relationship, define what sex means to you and your partner before sleeping together. Ask your partner the following:
- What do you enjoy?
- What is something you would try?
- What is something you dislike?
- What are your sexual boundaries?
- What sexual activities would you never be comfortable with?
- Do you have a safe word or want to establish one?
Having a clear conversation about needs before sex can help you and your partner understand each other and avoid potentially harmful or difficult moments together.
If you or your partner aren’t sure about your responses, you may consider seeking the help of a certified sex therapist to further communication. This option may be valuable if one or both of you has sexual trauma or self-esteem issues.
2. Communicate your concerns openly
If you are having challenges with intimacy, communicate these to your partner outside the bedroom. Active listening and honesty are proven to improve relationship satisfaction during communication. Find a comfortable location to converse that is not a sexual environment. Reduce distractions by focusing on the conversation.
Be as honest as possible. If you don’t tell your partner what you need, they may not understand what is wrong. If there’s an aspect of your relationship that you need to change to promote feelings of safety, bring this up. For example, you may make statements such as:
- “I don’t feel safe when you wake me up to have sex.”
- “I need a safe word so that I feel safe stopping the sexual activity when we’re in the middle of it.”
- “I want us to hold hands, kiss, and cuddle more before sex.”
- “I don’t feel emotionally loved or cared for outside of sex, making me not want to have sex.”
- “I have sexual trauma from my past and want to go to therapy before we have sex again.”
After you’ve brought up your concerns, leave the floor open for your partner to bring up any of theirs. If you find that conflict continues, you may decide to reach out to a couples sex therapist for support.
3. Embrace new experiences together
Couples whose sex lives may start to feel “boring” or “rare” may turn to new sex toys, positions, or consensual non-monogamy to increase excitement or connection in the bedroom. Although exploring new sexual fantasies can be exciting, focus less on the external aspects of these new items or desires and more on how you experience them together with your partner's body.
Be vulnerable and open to new emotional connections through these new pathways. You can also come up with new sexual activities that promote closeness. Possible ways to try this may include:
- Discussing your experiences with a new toy or position
- “Dirty” talking or words of affirmation during sex
- Sensual touching or mutual masturbation
- Giving each other a massage before sex
- Longer foreplay to enhance orgasms
- Trying sexual positions that increase physical closeness
- Breathing together
- Prolonged eye contact (eye gazing)
4. Take things slow when you need to
You may feel the desire to slow things down for the sake of your well being. Slowing down might mean scheduling time when talking about your sexual wants and needs. According to the Journal of Sex Research, some people may require more time and patience in a conversation about sex, and several discussions over time may feel more comfortable.
You may also take things more slowly when you are in the act of sexual intercourse. Consider focusing on the present moment and not on the end goal of achieving an orgasm or doing everything “right.”
Sex is often pleasurable for both parties, so if an area feels stressful or scary, it may be time to take a break and converse. If you’re having difficulty bringing this up, a couples therapist may be beneficial.
5. Build an erotic “love map” together
An “erotic love map” is an exercise to explore your partner’s preferences and desires in the context of your relationships. As you build this love map, try to ask specific questions about their needs and wants in bed, fostering a sense of intimacy. You can draw your love map on paper or write it down in a journal, especially for women who might find this format more comfortable.
Start with these questions as you build a comprehensive list tailored to your unique relationship.
- What felt good last time?
- What are your greatest turn-ons?
- What feels fulfilling to you?
- Are there any areas we should come back to at a later date, such as a desire to explore anal play or another position?
- What do you need to make sex more intimate?
- What didn’t feel good last time?
Sex and intimacy do not always go hand in hand. Allowing yourself to become vulnerable when talking intimately about sex may effectively bridge the gap between the two terms.
6. Eliminate distractions
With so much going on in the world around us, it may feel tempting to become distracted during sex. Putting your phone away, silencing your notifications, and putting your pets in another room may help you and your partner focus on each other.
Allowing yourself to become distracted may delay sexual pleasure and frustrate your partner—focus instead on eye contact, your partner’s needs, and how you feel during the moment.
If you’re struggling with focus or find that you do not want to have sex at all, let your partner know that you’re ready to stop. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during a sexual encounter.
Non-sexual methods for intimacy
To help focus your energy on the intimate and emotional aspects of your relationship, it can be helpful to practice intimate acts that aren’t sex-related. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Discuss the things that matter the most to you
- Give each other a non-sexual massage
- Kiss each other each morning
- Try something new together, such as a cooking class or dancing lesson
- Help each other with tasks
- Learn each other’s love language
- Spend time cuddling
- Give a thoughtful gift
Partners don’t necessarily have to practice non-sexual methods to improve their emotional connection. However, these methods may complement sexual intimacy in the bedroom. Think about the impression you want to make on your partner and act accordingly to make that impact.
The pillars of an emotionally intimate relationship
If you don’t feel emotionally connected with your partner, improving the intimacy in your sex life may be difficult. Building an emotionally intimate relationship could involve several factors, including:
- Knowing yourself: By understanding your feelings and needs, you may be able to better articulate them to other people
- Practicing honesty: Being honest but tactful can help your partner make informed choices that will improve your sexual experience
- Learning to communicate clearly: Clear communication can involve both an open ear and direct honesty to get your feelings across to your partner
- Showing love: Partners in a healthy relationship may express love in many ways, not just sexually
- Having fun: Not every encounter or conversation has to be serious, and laughing beneficial to your mental health.
Seeking treatment or counseling
Some couples may face roadblocks to intimate sex that are challenging to work through alone. For example, someone with sexual trauma or body image issues may not feel comfortable partaking in close intimate sex without working through the underlying concerns. In this case, couples or individual counseling may be beneficial. However, couples can see a therapist for any concern or reason. Sex therapy is another option available.
Studies suggest that couples therapy is effective for 70% of all couples who use it. For those who feel more comfortable working through intimacy concerns at home, teletherapy is another method that has been proven to be just as effective as traditional in-person counseling. Online therapy allows you to meet with a counselor on your own schedule without needing to get ready or drive long distances.
Licensed mental health professionals, including the staff at BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples, may be able to help you and your partner work through sex and intimacy issues together.
Couples and individuals who improve their sexual and emotional relationship in therapy may experience various mental and physical health benefits. On the one hand, they may reduce stress, lower their blood pressure, and decrease their risk of mortality. Conversely, they may increase their happiness and optimism levels as well as improve their overall cardiovascular health.
Frequently asked questions
For examples of questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy, please see below.
What does having intimate sex mean?
What are examples of intimate sex?
How can I be intimate besides sex?
What does healthy sex look like?
Does sex increase love?
How long is too long without sex in a relationship?
What is a relationship without sex called?
How can I tell if I'm good at sex?
How much sex is normal?
What happens if a person never has sex?
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