We’d like to turn here to some of the messages you’ve sent in asking about what you can do to boost your relationships and revitalize your sex lives with your partners. Many of you are telling us that you’re looking for some quick, sexy tips – so if you dip and delve in the Lovers’ Site and DVDs you should find something to take your fancy. Some of you, though, seem really to feel that your love lives aren’t what you’d really like them to be.
A theme that’s come up a few times is that less than great sex is leaving you feeling dissatisfied not just with your relationship but with your life as a whole. Before we get to the question of whether you should go to the wire and consider dumping your partner if your sex life sucks, we’d like to offer a few suggestions as to how you can revitalize the relationship you have and get your sex life where it should be.
1. Check your Independence Quotient.
For many of us, relationships are at their best when each partner has a good balance between involvement and a sufficient level of personal independence. While we value each other enormously and feel we are building our lives together, we recognise that we also need to remain in charge of our own lives and carry with us a healthy sense of our own desires and interests. Our sense of independence helps keep the relationship fresh and to avoid any risk of our feeling stifled – or of ‘co-dependent’ behaviour. We should be feeling that we are properly choosing the relationship, rather than just going along with something that was decided a long time ago. It also means we’ll have plenty of life and experience to bring into the relationship and share with our partner each day.
Your action plan:
· It’s simple. Make time to pursue those pleasures in your life which are important to you. Whatever your pleasures might be, and your career might be one of them, know that your capacity to feel rewarded by life is yours individually. You should then find that the interests you share as a couple become even more rewarding; your partner’s presence is then a wonderful added bonus rather than an essential condition for a good time. Your personal confidence should also soar.
2. Share your feelings
In a healthy relationship, our partner is one of our – if not the – closest emotional supports in life. We’re ‘on the same wavelength’, we communicate successfully about all manner of aspects of our lives, be they sexual, to do with our thoughts, plans and aspirations, hopes and desires, or about the day to day running of our lives. And they’re our bestest of best friends.
It’s when communication breaks down that we may feel this emotional support and partnership slipping away from us. More seriously, and if the problem persists, our relationship can come to seem like a prison in which we actively hide our feelings from our partner, seeming ever increasingly alone as we do so. If your relationship does reach this point, you may wish to seek counselling, or to decide that you are going to change things yourself, or to move on from this partner. Far better, of course, is to make sure your relationships never do get to the point they’re actually hurting you. (There’s a great book on the subject of this being a critical conundrum, and the title says it all – “Mating in Captivity – Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic” by Esther Perel. See we aren’t always just recommending Lovers’ Guide to you!)
Sharing feelings should be a healthy process. It doesn’t mean, for example, imposing them or trying to insist your partner always gets what you’re saying. It’s a two-way process, for one thing, and also relies a lot on your feeling confident and comfortable with your own feelings, rather than, say, in the grip of feelings you don’t know how to express and which are out of control.
Your action plan:
· Make a point especially of sharing the good things. It should be the case that most of the feelings you share are good, simply because we hope you’re mostly feeling good about your life. It’s really worth remembering to do this, and to express the good things verbally as well as through actions, so that they may have their full, beneficial impact on your relationship and keep your communications with your partner feeling healthy, the good outweighing anything that’s problematic. The ratio is supposed to be at least five good things to every one bad – and not go lower. There’s the problem though of what weight you put on the good versus the bad…
· If it is the case that things aren’t going so well and it’s this that has led you to realise you don’t have an emotionally communicative relationship with your partner, then a more deliberately problem-solving approach may be required. Find the time to explain what is troubling you. Explain that you are looking for ways to tackle the problem together. Aim to enlist your partner on your team to make things as they should be. And use this also as an opportunity to express your good feelings about the relationship. Kick start the habit now of being emotionally honest, confident and articulate – about all manner of things – with your partner. Another really important point here though is not just to talk at them but with them. You may both need to learn the art of Active Listening – where you check back with the other – by repeating back to them in your words – what you think they’ve been saying to you.
3. Think and re-think your relationships sexually
All other things being equal, great sex – the sort of sex that is right for us – is at the heart of our intimate relationships. After all, it’s probably one of the biggest reasons why we got it together in the first place and then stayed together. Sexual tastes and drives should be very much up there on the compatibility check-list we run when considering if we are about to move on from the first months and make this a long-term relationship – whether this person is truly right for us.
It might seem odd, therefore, when we’re months or years down the line from this, that we might need to think about how we enjoy ourselves in our relationships sexually – or not so odd if you think about every other pressure in life and then realise just how much effort you really were making in the first months of the relationship to be really sexy. The good news is that making that effort again can be a real pleasure.
Your action plan:
· Check your sex appeal. No, we don’t mean fall victim to the glossy magazines’ attempts to make you feel personally and physically inadequate unless you buy into whatever product. Feeling sexy is mostly about feeling healthy and liking what you see when you look in the mirror – so good diet and a little exercise takes care of most of it. Top it off with great clothes that suit you, add a dash of real confidence in who are, and your sexy appeal’s basically there.
· Expect good sex – regularly – and great sex often. Have this attitude and you’ll probably find you behave in a way that lifts your relationship to these high-expectations. It will be an issue to tackle head-on should sex go missing, rather than a worry to slink quietly away from. Put yourself in charge of your schedule and go for what you want.
· Romance each other – and think of romance as a verb, as something you do and achieve, rather than as a static state that can somehow exist apart from your and your partner’s actions. Think for yourself and freely discuss with each other: ‘What are we going to do this week that’s going to feel sexy, adventurous, loving and special?’ Don’t just dreamily wish for things that might be nice; get out and do them.
Should you dump your partner if the sex is bad?
Possibly not. If it’s a new relationship and your partner is really trying to please, but perhaps isn’t quite there yet due to inexperience, lack of confidence or because he or she doesn’t yet know what most pleases you – or you them – then there’s plenty of room for progress and it would seem a good idea to stick with it and play teacher – and/or student – for a little while.
If, on the other hand, the sex is bad because your partner’s whole attitude is wrong, because he or she is unwilling to give you pleasure, or because on a deep level you’re simply not sexually compatible, then why oh why would you want to stick with it? Go for what you deserve.
A really great relationship is when the other person makes you feel that you are – or are becoming – the best person you can be. It makes sex making love to your soul mate – and that’s brilliant.
Let us know your views, please!!!