Intimacy, or feeling connected to a partner on a physical, emotional, or sexual level, is an energy that needs to be worked on in each and every relationship. With this list, I hope to provide some tips and tricks that hopefully spark a connection in your relationship. Enjoy!
1) Communication is key! I think the number 1 tip that you will hear from most sex therapists is centered around the importance of communicating. Communicating what you want allows for a truer authentic experience of pleasure compared to just assuming or guessing what your partner wants. I love the idea of focusing on the other person’s pleasure and making sure they feel good, but if it is at our expense and enjoyment, that’s not good.
2) Responsive arousal. A form of arousal that is not talked about enough is what we call “responsive arousal.” Not everyone has spontaneous arousal where all of a sudden they want sex. In fact, most cis-women don’t have that kind of arousal. Responsive arousal focuses on your accelerators to arousal, what turns you on, and your brakes, what turns you off. Figuring those out will lead to a much more fulfilling experience.
3) Create anticipation. One of the reasons why people report that the beginning of a relationship has the best sex is in part due to the anticipation we feel around engaging in sex with our partners. So let’s bring that back. Whether it is sexting, games, or dirty talk, find a way to create that anticipation for sex. My personal favorite is dirty texting because you can start and stop whenever you feel comfortable and still engage with your arousal.
4) Personal Reflection. This one is not as sexy as the others, but I think it is important. Think about what sex and intimacy mean to you. If you are feeling like you are not in control of your sexuality or you are doing it for others and not yourself, that may be where a block is occurring. Start with this journal prompt: How did I learn to be a sexual person and what can I do today to start making sex more for me and not other people?
5) Scheduling & spontaneity. I am so bored and tired of everyone stating that all they want is spontaneous sex. Do you know why that is? Well, many reasons that I do not have time to fully get into, but the main one is because that is all we know. All we hear about is spontaneity. So let’s try and push ourselves out of the box. Scheduling sex is a great way to pick a time in the future to engage. When that time arises, you can choose to engage or not, but the best part is that you can be spontaneous during it! Make a rule that one person brings something new and fun to each encounter and see how that helps. I promise you, it will be worth it.
6) Stay away from toxic media. There is so much sex negativity in this world it is no wonder sex therapists exist. If you are feeling stuck in having to be a certain way or act a certain way in a relationship to feel fulfilled, you are setting yourself up for failure. Relationships and sex are for you. That means finding someone who will see you, know you, understand you for who you are, and want to make the relationship work.
7) Introduce a little kink. Kinky sex is basically anything that is not considered "vanilla sex," which would be defined as basic penetrative sex followed by an orgasm. Vanilla sex is beautiful and amazing and once you feel like you have mastered it, engaging in some kinky play could be very fun. Engaging in new forms of intimacy leads to vulnerability and vulnerability can lead us to being more in tune with ourselves and what we are experiencing. Start slow: use a blindfold next time on your partner and see what happens.
8) Hygiene is important and freeing. Another not super sexy one but it has to be said. When we feel completely in control of our bodies, including tastes and smells, itcan go a long way to relax us. Arousal needs two sensations to occur: relaxation and safety. If you need to shower or brush your teeth before having sex, do it! You will feel so much better.
9) Intimacy games. Whether it is an app you download (I suggest Spicer) or card games that you buy, introducing games into the equation is a phenomenal way of engaging with different forms of yourself which can increase intimacy. I tell my couples to play naked twister or a sexier version of Jenga where questions are answered and clothes are removed. Don’t be afraid of games, they are your friends.
10) Building quality time and emotional intimacy. Last but not least, one of the best ways to have mind blowing sex is after emotional intimacy is built. I love a random hook-up and support everyone engaging in slutty, fun behavior. But if you can attain emotional intimacy through quality time or appreciation work, then it will only enhance the vulnerability and connection you will have with your partner(s)!
Cleveland Sex Therapy is owned by Matt Lachman, a licensed professional clinical counselor and certified sex and relationship therapist who specializes in working with individuals, couples, and polyam folx on their concerns relating to sexuality, intimacy, and overall sexual health. The goal of Cleveland Sex Therapy is to promote inclusivity and nurture sex positivity. For more information, feel free to contact him at Matt@ClevelandSexTherapy.com