What happens when you want to have sex…but just aren't that excited about the possibilities in front of you? Fortunately, the common (but rarely discussed) relationship issue of a boring sex life *can* be solved. Here, in her latest for the Well+Good Council, sex expert and relationship coach Lila Darville outlines a step-by-step communication plan to help you and your partner get "unstuck" and back into the groove.
The feeling of desiring sex—but not the sex that is on offer—is more common than you think. This is often expressed as feeling stuck, bored, or even suspecting you’re suffering from low libido.
But the main culprit is often routine. I liken it to a trip to Paris. Imagine that every time you went to Paris, all you did was go from the airport directly to the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is gorgeous and glittering and a great experience, but after the tenth or the thirtieth time making that exact same trip, the idea of going to Paris becomes less exciting.
Sex is best approached like any other pleasurable activity or hobby. Gather inspiration from your environment. Create your own adventure. Modify it. How can we make this the best experience possible for both of us?
I've already laid out ways to tackle communication in sex through prioritizing your pleasure and getting on the same team. But now, let’s dive into deeper approaches to get things moving in a different direction.
Get out of the bedroom
If you feel as though you might need to have a sit-down conversation about sex with your partner, it is best to do this outside of the bedroom. Make it intentional, rather than a surprise conversation. No need to be sitting at a table opposite each other. Instead, plan to take a walk or a drive and chat about what is going on. It should feel like an invitation instead of a "you-versus-me" conversation.
Make suggestions and invitations, not criticisms or complaints.
Talking about sex can be tricky territory, so try imagining the conversation as if it were another pleasurable activity, like learning how to dance or baking a cake together. It should be low-pressure, because sex is supposed to be fun! It is best for the conversation to feel playful—full of curiosity and discovery—but first, make sure that you are on the same team. It takes teamwork and communication in deciding how both participants can get their needs met. Let's keep running with a baking metaphor: Your partner prefers dark 90% cocoa, but you love your chocolate on the sweet, milky side. How can you combine your needs and requirements in a way that still tastes amazing for both of you?
Invite your lover into the conversation in a fun, light way, so it isn’t supercharged or intense. And remember, the end goal is pleasure for both of you. The key is to make suggestions and invitations, not criticisms or complaints. Discuss what you’d like more of and ask questions, too.
State your desires
Maybe this sounds like:
- “I would really like to desire sex more.”
- “I would really love to be having more sex.”
- “I would like to explore my body more. Here’s one way I see that happening...”
- “I feel like I’m stuck and I want it to be better. How about we try…”
- “I love the tenderness we have created. Sometimes I crave more intensity. How would you feel if we tried…”
- Make a request, tell your partner how you feel, then ask if they have any suggestions.
You don’t have to have the solution. This is just a way to get things moving so that it can get better over time. This type of communication shows your interest in connecting sexually while removing any feelings of blame or criticism.
You can also turn it into an intimacy game:
- Each take a turn and state a few things that you love about your sexual interaction.
- Move on to stating, “I would love it if we could or you could…”
- Do a maximum of two rounds.
It could also simply be presented as an invitation: “I would like to explore... This is how... How would that feel?”
Go back to basics
As I mentioned earlier, when people are feeling stuck, or when the sex is not desirable, it is usually because the sex that is on offer is not appealing. In other words, they are not interested in the default, tried-and-tested way. They want something different—sex more true to the moment, rather than routine.
In this case, I usually give this advice: Take penetration off the table.
This could sound a little counterproductive, but it actually opens up the field of possibility so that penetration isn’t the pinnacle of the sexual experience. It confronts ideas that we have around sex. It offers time to get playful and be curious without an agenda, a way to explore and discover what might be available within your experience with each other.
This still requires getting on the same team and trusting that you ultimately have the same goals. It may feel like a backward step, but sometimes that is precisely what is needed to find a new path forward.
During these conversations, if you are encountering the same negative reaction when you broach the subject of sex, reflect on the way you are approaching the conversation. If you believe the topic of sex awakens a subconscious layer of judgment that triggers underlying wounds in your partner, it could be that you need a guide or a third party to support the process.
We’ve all received messages that keep us from experiencing and celebrating our erotic energy in its fullness. We live in a culture that is full of sexual shame, toxicity, and trauma. I am not going to go into sexual trauma and healing in this article; it is a huge conversation and will be getting its own article. However, it needs to be mentioned as individual trauma should never be downplayed or glossed over.
There is always room to find more pleasure and play.
I simply want to recognize that sometimes there are deeper reasons why sex might be unsatisfying for anyone carrying trauma in their bodies. If this is you, identify where you are, so you can clearly make the choice to get the care you need (either individually or in partnership).
The stigma around seeking support from a relationship coach is dangerous. There is absolutely no shame in involving a qualified third party. You don't have to wait until there is a problem to reach out, either. There is always room to find more pleasure and play.
Not everyone has the time or money available to hire a professional and that's totally okay! If you take nothing else away from this article, simply remember this: Communication is the key. Having the courage to ask for what you need from a vulnerable and above-the-line place will almost always be enough to inject trust, connection, and passion back into your intimate relationships.
Please know that you are not alone. People are working with similar hurdles all the time. Talk to your friends, talk to your partner, and don’t be afraid to enlist the advice of an expert or get some hands-on healing.
An expert on sex and intimacy, Lila Darville is a professional relationship coach who brings her body-positive, real-talk approach to stadiums full of women as the pleasure director of a show in Las Vegas called Magic Mike Live.
What should Lila write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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