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Optimal Sexual Chemistry

What Honeymoon Phase!

If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know how tricky it is to keep the chemistry going long-term. Most people know that relationships naturally go through a “honeymoon phase”, but they panic when they notice things start to slow down in the bedroom.

It’s hard not to get worried when you can’t remember the last time you had sex. OR you feel like the sex is the same old same old. At this point your thinking geez how do you stay monogamous, loving and full of passion. Well the simple answer I have is keep things in perspective and go into your sex relationship with the same curiosity that you have for anything else you want to work on.

Most of us stop there, at the panic stage. We don’t truly take any fight or action, or for that matter make any effort. Our motives can be complicated, but habitually it’s because we just don’t know what to do.

The actuality is that having an active and satisfying sex life isn’t rocket science. There actually are concrete steps that we can take to keep the passions intense, love strong and like all my weekend sexperiments can be creative and fun.

Research presented in this month’s Journal of Sex Research offers some fantastic – and fantastically practical – advice. A team of researchers surveyed 40,000 heterosexual couples about long-term sexual satisfaction, and were able to identify several key variables to long-term happiness:

Sex once or twice a week is the ideal frequency

Ok this weekend’s sexperiment was going to be having sex for 7 days and process it with you partner, and then I read this. Of the men and women who described themselves as “sexually satisfied”, 80% said that they have sex once or twice a week. Of course, it’s tough to conclude whether it’s the sex that makes couples happy, if happy couples have more sex, or if it’s some combination of the two. My guess? It’s probably the latter.

Trying new positions makes us happy

When asked about the specific sexual acts that made them happiest, both men and women agreed that trying a new sex position was the most fun thing.

Here’s the breakdown for women:

  • Trying a new sexual position

  • Taking a shower or bath with their partner

  • Getting or giving a massage

  • Wearing sexy lingerie

  • Talking about or acting out fantasies

And for men:

  • Trying a new sexual position

  • Their partner wearing lingerie

  • Taking a shower or bath together

  • Talking about or acting out fantasies

  • Getting or giving a massage

Communication is key

When the researchers focused on communication, they discovered that there were five types of communication that were most important:

  • Praising your partner for something they did in bed

  • Getting asked by their partner for something they want

  • Asking for something they want from their partner

  • Talking on the phone or email with their partner during the day to tease about something they want

  • Asking for feedback on how something felt

We all like setting the mood

When asked more broadly about what makes for a good sex session, women said orgasms, mood setting, and communication. Men said setting the mood, sexual variety, and communication, in that order. Men get unfairly stereotyped as wanting sex “wherever, whenever, whatever”, so it’s interesting that so many men emphasized the importance of creating the right atmosphere for sex.

While we’re on the topic, what helps set the mood? Here are the most important variables:

  • Saying I love you during sexual encounter

  • Engaging in sexy talk

  • Laughing about something funny that happened during sex

  • Lighting candles or dim the lights

  • Playing background music

The path to enlightenment around the sex conversation does not have to be overly stressful, actually it would help if we remind ourselves about the importance of the person we are with and all the fun we have with them.

What strikes me about these discoveries is that so much of this boils down to making an effort. Simply trying and being vulnerable to asking and listening always helps!

We want to believe that our partner prioritizes being intimate with us. We feel good when our partner takes the time to put on something sexy, suggests a new position, or lights a candle. We like knowing they’ve put thought into sending us a teasing text or drawing a bath. These are moderately minor things. Next time remember to smile, laugh, light a candle, put on your favorite music. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting in the effort.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in fear, perfectionism, anxiety, pressure, embarrassment, overthinking, or self-consciousness, but we can’t let those feelings paralyze us. Because at the end of the day? What matters most is the effort you put into it.

Ryan Westrum is a sex therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota and specializes in a variety of topics and relationship models that help clients seek authenticity within themselves and their partnership.

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