My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half. That is long enough for the flames of passion to turn into a mere flicker without a bit of effort. Nothing kills a good boner (of the lady or manly variety) quicker than pressure, self-consciousness, or criticism. The key to keeping sex hot while in relationship is to settle into the fact that you’re going to be doing this act with this person many, many, many, many times, so there’s no need to put pressure on any one roll in the hay to be the best in your lives. Instead, it’s about learning each other’s bodies and continually raising the bar.
You’re creating a sexual relationship with your partner and, like all relationships, it will require communication and a little effort to stay healthy and vibrant. The most toe-curling orgasms aren’t planned out: they sneak up on you. And like many things in life and nature, they’re ephemeral. Subtle differences in mood, context, and connection make each sexual encounter unique. The best we can do is set up an environment that invites this kind of magic.
Here are a few tips to fire up the action in your bedroom:
Unpack your bags. No matter your gender, if you’re over the age of 20 then it’s likely that you have some skeletons of the emotionally traumatic variety hanging out in your closet. It is helpful to know some things about your partner’s history. When you know what the body you’re touching has been through, you can touch that body in a way that subtly acknowledges those experiences. This can be incredibly healing and is the first step to clearing the slate for the relationship that you’re creating now.
The flip side: Don’t feel like you have to rush through this process! At a year and a half, my boyfriend and I are both still working on certain deeply ingrained beliefs and patterns. If you’re suppressing a thought or feeling because you’re afraid your partner won’t understand, this is either a sign that you need to build the courage to speak up or a sign that this isn’t the right partner for you.
The male ego can be sensitive. In my experience, men often do not receive criticism in the moment very well. I’ve had more than one partner over the years ask me to please bring things up outside of the bedroom. It is so much easier to discuss the anatomical / mechanical aspects of sex when you’re not in the middle of doing them.
The flip side: Men, make sure your lady feels like she can talk to you. Lady parts are highly sensitive and personal preferences are as unique as finger prints; if you don’t encourage your partner to share these details with you (which may feel nitpicky if your ego is in the way), you’ll never fully understand how her body works.
The female sex drive is (often) a slow boil. Men, I suggest you make peace with this fact now. After the initial hump-like-bunnies phase, many women start to feel sexual urges in sync with their hormonal cycle. We’re horny when we’re most fertile, which is a bit of a catch-22 if you aren’t trying to make a baby. The key is to know how to warm your lady up in the in-between times. She may not want to jump your bones on sight, but if you check in with her there are probably many things you could do to heat things up. A few standard ideas: massage, cuddling, kissing, heavy petting, etc.
The flip side: Ladies, your man may sometimes need a reminder that you want him, really want him. Make sure you slow down and lavish your attention on him some of the time, too. It can help to make sure that you proposition him some of the time. Surprise BJs are another option for making your man feel extra happy.
Put your focus on your partner. When either partner is caught up thinking about their own wants and needs, he or she isn’t fully present. The quickest way to get out of your head? Stop thinking about yourself. Put your attention on pleasing your partner and all of a sudden you’ll feel your body light up, too.
The flip side: Don’t focus so much on your partner that you aren’t enjoying what they’re offering. If one of you habitually leads or follows, one way to shake things up is to switch roles and see what happens with a fresh dynamic.
Revel in the beauty along the way. Don’t rush to the big O. As long as time allows, savor every moment with your partner. Remember what it was like seeing them undress the first few times. Remember what it was like to hold each other naked when it was new. Even if you aren’t in the mood to go down memory lane, there are ways to slow down and savor. I once saw an article in a grocery store lady magazine (probably Cosmo or Glamour) that pointed to all the parts of sex that it’s easy to overlook if you’re focused on orgasm: from the moment of penetration to the pleasurable plateau that precedes orgasm—the more your mentality is about absorbing and enjoying the whole experience from start to finish, the more enjoyable it will be.
The flip side: Quickies can be really hot. ;)
A note about gender in this article: this article is written from the perspective of a cis-gender, heterosexual female, since that’s the only perspective from which I can knowingly write. I find the gender binary is useful here in teasing out the differences created by the hormones men and women have in their bodies. That said, I hope these tips will be relatable to anyone anywhere on the gender spectrum.