She Said, He Said: Time to create new experiences with same playbook
She Said, He Said
Dear Lori and Jeff,
My girlfriend and I have been together for about three years and we’re in a rut. I still think she’s very attractive and she says the same about me. The problem is that our sex life has become too routine. We seem to just be going through the motions in a predictable sequence. We’re not looking for new ways to do it but it seems like we’ve done everything we want to do.
Need a New Spark
Lori and Jeff: Sex can be a powerful reinforcement of the bond between two partners. But for many long-term couples, it also can feel like an item to cross off the weekly chore checklist. Sex becomes mundane and loses its luster when partners become complacent about their own sensuality and stop being curious about how to grow their sexual connection with each other.
Jeff: Most of us have grown up with similar cultural assumptions of heterosexual intimacy (especially in partnered relationships). We start off with some version of foreplay and finish with intercourse, hopefully ending with each partner reaching a climax. This linear mindset leaves little room for personal preferences and rarely takes into account daily moods or preferences. Sometimes, when couples feel the need for a “boost” to their sex lives, they throw in a little twist like a change of position, but the basic progression stays the same.
Dan Savage (Savage Love podcast on sex and relationships) says his biggest gift to the straight world is disclosing how this dynamic plays out between gay lovers. Because not all gay men are into penetration and they all share similar anatomy, there is a greater amount of possibility and uncertainty around what will take place during sex — who does what, when and how. He says there are four magic words that begin each sexual interaction: “What are you into?” He suggests that if straight couples connect in the same way, it will open up all kinds of new possibilities. This doesn’t mean that “anything goes,” but it does allow a conversation and negotiation as to what is about to ensue.
Lori: David Schnarch, in his book “Passionate Marriage,” explores the concept of wall socket sex — mind-blowing, toe-curling, sends-you-into-the-stratosphere sex. It’s the intimate, passionate, carnal connection that so many couples crave. And here’s the kicker: it has nothing to do with what you’re doing. Great sex is all about how you’re showing up when you’re doing it.
Let’s back up for a minute. Sex with a person we love is one of the most vulnerable experiences we have. Not only because we’re completely exposed, but also because we care so much about them, their experience and, ultimately, what they feel about us. All of this caring can keep us trapped in our heads (the ones above our shoulders). We plan our moves, focus on perfect execution, and try to interpret the feedback — every twitch, breath and moment of silence — to assess our level of failure or success. We also edit out our more erotic impulses because we’re afraid of being judged. Sex becomes reduced to a prosaic performance. Great sex requires both partners to get out of their minds and be present in the moment. Get out of your own way by letting your desires take control. Play with energy and tone (sweet, sensual, playful, kinky) to create new experiences with the same playbook.
Lori and Jeff: Stop assuming you know everything about your and your partner’s sexuality. Get curious, start talking and explore how to expand your experience.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.