We are surrounded by various myths and fantasies about how fantastic sexual experiences either happen on their own or not. Given that sex is a natural phenomenon, why is it not seamless and free? For many couples it is one of the most challenging parts of their relationship.
Despite the fact that sex can potentially be one of the most intimate, exciting and tender connections, most people will admit that they don’t feel truly comfortable or free to express themselves with their partner. This leads to couples feeling loneliness, disappointment, resentment and sadness.
I want to suggest five ways to help deepen your experience of intimacy in the bedroom. Start out by focusing on what you desire to achieve in your sex and intimacy with your partner. By getting in touch with your expectations, and those of your partner, you can turn sex into an experience that really and truly satisfies both of you.
1. Cultivate a secure friendship with your partner.
Having a safe, secure and friendly relationship with your partner is the bedrock of deep and rewarding sexual experience. Many people who want to feel deeply connected during sex tend to focus too much on technique. In reality, however, the quality of your relationship with your partner is far more important for feeling intense intimacy and closeness in the bedroom.
Emotional connection, mutual trust and a sense of safety within the relationship can basically be thought of as a prerequisite to the fulfillment you are striving for. Intimacy also requires acceptance, understanding and, of course, physical attraction. Ultimately, we all crave being “at home” with our partner, and that makes our sexual experience so much more meaningful.
This is one of the most overlooked causes of sexual difficulties. Without trust, solid, always-evolving friendship with your partner, there is no safe space to explore, be creative and express your love and your fantasies. Your ability to offer more of yourself and surrender without reservation in the bedroom greatly increases when you have that level of comfort. When that is lacking, it can hinder the intimacy in your sexual experience.
2. Connect deeply to your own sexuality.
For many of the couples I see in my office, everyday stressors of life such as their job, their roles as parents, making dinner or paying bills keep most of them from maintaining consistent self-care. As a result they devote minimal time to explore, embrace and enjoy their own bodies.
Knowing your body, i.e. what turns you on and what are your preferences are all part of your sexual identity. Ask yourself: what makes me feel desirable and attractive? Without a clear, intimate relationship with ourselves, it’s nearly impossible to cultivate a deep and intimate sexual relationship with someone else. When you create the space to feel, explore and know your own body, you are better equipped to communicate what you want, what you crave and what makes you feel fulfilled.
3. Express yourself.
One of the most common reasons that sex starts to feel routine, and far less passionate, is lack of communication. Many couples think it is sexier if it all happens spontaneously. The truth is communication is necessary even when it is not verbal. Ask yourself: Am I expressing my authentic self in my relationship? Or am I hiding my true desires from my partner? Do I feel safe to express myself without fear of being dismissed or judged?
Even outside the bedroom you may be afraid to voice how pissed you felt when your partner looked at your friend with flirty eyes. It may seem unnecessary to express how disappointed you were when your partner didn’t really acknowledge your effort in planning the perfect date. But think about it this way: when you suppress your pain in one moment, it doesn’t go away; it will simply come up again, in another form. The more you can practice shortening the time it takes between feeling hurt and letting the other person know, and repairing the harm, the more secure and loved you will feel.
In my practice as a couple’s therapist I coach couples to be open and honest in a safe and supportive manner. Full disclosure will promote emotional and sexual closeness. Less resentment and other negativity enables couples to give and receive more generously, especially when it comes to sex. Of course, expressing your negative in a non-threatening way will ensure your partner can hear you without feeling attacked or defensive. This is one of the most common skills we work with in Couples Counseling. Knowing yourself and your partner, their vulnerabilities and sensitivities will enhance a mutual feeling of understanding and care.
4. Enjoy the familiar and explore novelty.
Many couples fall into the trap of sexual monotony over time. Surprisingly, this monotony often coexists with a sense of comfort and safety — and feeling safe with your partner is a good thing. Yet widening the range of sexual play can be a doorway to the deepest spiritual connection between two humans, and that often involves stepping a bit outside of the safety zone (in a variety of ways).
Maybe expressing your fears about something in your relationship strikes you as risky, something to avoid. Well, stepping outside the safety zone, and embracing your “dark” parts may be exactly what you – and the relationship – needs in order to feel greater excitement. In the bedroom this might take the form of allowing your partner to take you with more strength and abandon, or for you to express a deeper degree of hunger, sensuality, vulnerability and openness in your desires.
If you allow yourself to explore your fantasies without shame and surrender more fully to your deeper desires, you will proactively enrich your experience in a surprising way.
5. Surrender to the present moment- don’t attach to the outcome.
So much of the anxiety that arises during sexual intimacy can be traced back to pressure to perform or achieve something. Whether it is about having an orgasm, or being perceived as an awesome lover, it distracts from your ability to be relaxed and enjoy the beauty of the present moment.
What if the entire outcome was to experience your partner in the moment and offer something special to him or her? If you didn’t feel pressured to reach a milestone during intimacy, how much deeper could you go, enjoy and surrender to your partner?
When we can use sex as an expression of love and closeness we deepen our connection and feel loved and cared for no matter the outcome. Most human beings use intimacy to experience release or feel pleasure; if you think of it as a door to get into your lover’s heart, you will have an experience with your partner that might surprise you.
Couples counseling San Mateo provided by Edna Avraham, MFT.