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If you're finding reasons to skip sex, your partner doesn't understand your needs or sexual intimacy feels like a chore, these suggestions just might improve your between-the-sheets outlook.Great sex starts with knowing what turns you on. The best way to discover that? Have solo sex. Toronto sex therapist Rae Dolman recommends carving out enough time so you're not interrupted, and setting the mood by lighting candles, taking a bath or wearing sexy lingerie. Then, get comfy on your bed or couch. "Start with a slow, gentle exploration of your body—not just the genitals—and see what feels good," she says. "Experiment with different pressures, speeds and touches." When you're ready, move on to the breasts, vulva and buttocks. You may choose to use lubrication. Dolman also suggests looking at your vulva in a mirror. Get to know the different areas so you see what your partner sees; you'll be better able to direct him to the places you like to be touched. "Men aren't mind readers," she says. "Even if you have a female partner, she can't know what it's like to be someone else."
If you really want your partner to do the things that get you hot, you're going to have to communicate. For some women, though, even the thought of a sex discussion makes them squeamish and amplifies insecurities. Dolman makes it easier with these expert tips for talking about sex:
"What if he gets defensive?"
Start the conversation outside the bedroom (with your clothes on) so you both feel less exposed. "Use sentences that begin with 'I,' such as, 'I'd like more of A, B and C, because it feels really good,'" says Dolman, “rather than, 'you never...' or 'you always....'" Focus on what you want and what he does right, instead of what he does wrong. This will help ensure that he feels loved, not attacked.
"I told him. He just doesn't get it."
In this case, you might need to show him. For instance, if you don't love the way your partner kisses you, you could say, "I find it really hot when I get kissed this way," says Dolman. Then, demonstrate what kind of tongue action and lip pressure you like, and where he should place his hands.
"He might think I'm weird."
If your guy's not on board with your sexual disposition and he makes you feel weird, dirty or abnormal, it's time to find a different partner.
"I feel shy talking about sex."
You don't have to have a conversation about your sexual needs right away. When you're being intimate, use nonverbal sounds of enjoyment to communicate that something feels good. To get used to talking about sex, lean on a friend for advice and start reading books such as Sex Yourself: The Woman's Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms by Carlyle Jansen. You can also head to the erotica aisle and browse until you find the content and writing style that turn you on. For non-judgmental advice, no matter your sexual orientation, listen to Dan Savage's podcast, Savage Lovecast. The more you talk, read and hear about sex, the more at ease you'll feel.
When it's something more
Certain medications, such as antidepressants and antihistamines, can dial down your libido or reduce lubrication (which may cause discomfort during sex). If you think meds are derailing your sex life, talk to your healthcare provider; you might be able to adjust your dose or change prescriptions. Sexual desire can also be torpedoed by chronic pain, disease or mental illness. Talk with your doctor to ensure that it's OK to be sexually active, then make adjustments to the way you're having sex. "If you have mobility issues, for example," Dolman says, "you could experiment with sex positions to find out what makes you feel most comfortable and turned on."
Have you read the results from our 6th Canadian Living Sex Survey? Check them out here.
This story was originally part of "Let's Talk About Sex" in the May 2016 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!