Spice Up Your Sex Life

This blog is a spinoff from my Spice Up Your Date Night blog. For all kinds of reasons, any couple can get into a sexual rut. If allowed to persist, these ruts can lead to mixed signals in the bedroom, less frequent sex, sometimes even no sex at all! Here are few tips that have helped my clients revive their sexually struggling relationships.

 

Go to Bed Angry AND Get It On!

Angry sex is acceptable and enjoyable! Most people believe we “can’t go to bed angry” or “sex will make him/her think all forgiven.” False! Sex is a natural behavior for humans. The part of the brain that is triggered by anger is the same part triggered during sex. Therefore, it’s natural to want sex when angry even if you haven’t made up. Another benefit of angry sex is focusing a bit more on your own needs than your partner’s needs. As I discuss with many clients, it’s all right to be a little selfish in bed at times! Plus, during this moment, you might focus a little more on yourself, which is also acceptable.

 

That Old Trunk Holds WHAT?   handcuffs-1503841_1920

No one likes eating the same thing every night!  Wink wink.  One way to add variety and spice to your sexual diet is to be adventurous with different toys or activities. For example, create an adult toy box with your partner. Regularly add to the toy box, and replace when things get worn out. And no adult toy is pleasurable with dust all over it: don’t forget to use the toy box on a regular basis. Do you find yourself ‘forgetting’ about using those toys or feeling embarrassed talking about using the toys? Create a code word or system to let your partner know you’re excited to use a certain toy. I suggest clients put the toy on top of the toy box, on the bed, or another place to indicate to your partner you want to play!

 

Not Your Average Romantic Getaway

Not tantra-389099_1920into toys or curious about a more advanced activity? Find an adult workshop in your area such as a couple’s retreat to build more intimacy and closeness, a tantra workshop to tap into your inner sexuality, or a kink workshop to learn ‘the ropes’ of bondage.

Many of my clients have also had success planning a sexcation: a vacation centered around sex and intimacy! Book a nice cabin in the woods or a ritzy hotel room for the weekend. Pack your favorite toys and sexy outfits (or no outfits at all!), leave your phone(s) and other devices off, and enjoy the time with your partner. To spice things up even more, plan your own spa times giving and receiving massages or facials! Who says you need to leave the room on vacation?

 

Kick Aging in the Butt!

You and your partner aren’t as young as you once were though that doesn’t mean your sex life has to suffer. Don’t let aging get in the way of your sex life! Talk to your doctor or sex therapist if there are changes in erectile functioning or if vaginal pain occurs. Yes, I know it’s embarrassing talking about these issues with your doctor, but it’s important! Although many causes of male and female sexual dysfunction are harmless, some sources could cause more long-term damage or chronic medical conditions. Especially as we age, it’s vital to stay on top of all medical issues, not just sexual ones, because we have a more difficult time recovering. Have you started a new medication and noticed a decline in sexual desire or function? Talk to your doctor as well. Making a small adjustment to a medication or trying a different medication is all it takes to resume a great sex life.

I work with many clients on embracing the present and learning a “new normal” for sexual functioning. Our bodies might not work like they did 10 or 20 years ago – but they still work! Embrace your age and change. Sometimes, it’s easier to accept the present than to try to replicate the past. After accepting the body’s new normal, many clients create a new and satisfying sex life with their partners and themselves!

 

Make Sex a Priority

Let the house stay dirty! Who wants to waste time and energy on boring chores when couple-731890_1920you can have sex?! We often get caught up in our daily routine that puts sex on the back burner. Before you know it, a month has gone by without sex! Of course, we need to take care of ourselves and our households, but sex is as important a part of a household being ‘whole’ as buying groceries, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the lawn. Indeed, sex is more important, because the intimacy that sex is part of is the whole reason we choose to have partners, to live and grow with them, in the first place. The chores will always be there, but time for sex may be limited, by schedules, children, medical conditions, or work. Even better, make a sexy game or reward out of the chores! The guests won’t know what really happened in the bathroom!

5 Ways to Improve Your College Dating Experience — Sex and Relationship Therapist

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net It’s that time of year again! Yes, if you are from the south, it is college football season though I’m referring to the fact that college is back in session too. I reflected on my college dating experience and what advice would have helped me back in my college […]

via 5 Ways to Improve Your College Dating Experience — Sex and Relationship Therapist

Is Your Online Behavior Ruining Your Love Life?

If you’re in the dating world, you’re likely no stranger to online dating. From my personal life to my professional life, I hear and experience how people lose manners once a screen is between them and other people. At one point, my best girlfriends and I joked about creating a blog to record online dates-gone-bad.

 As a therapist, I want my clients to feel comfortable going online to find a potential partner. Part of our discussion involves understanding how their actions impact the dating experience. As a person, I would love to report more positive experiences with online dating, and as a therapist, I want hear many more success stories. Without further ado, here are a few things to keep in mind with online dating:

 

  1. Politeness: If you wouldn’t do it in person, why would you do it online? In other words, if you called someone on the phone, and they did not answer, would you call back five minutes later and continue with multiple phone calls? Would you walk up to a stranger and state something perceived as obscene or rude? If you answered “no” to those questions, then why is it appropriate to exhibit this behavior online by sending multiple messages back to back to the same person or to engage in rude conversation with a stranger? If you’ve listened to my podcast, you are aware of my experience with online dating (and if you haven’t listened, then head over to sexandrelationshiptherapist.com to take a listen!). Just recently, I began talking to Chris, who first started out very respectful. After brief conversation, Chris began calling me “sexy” such as “good morning sexy,” or “Are you sweaty and sexy” after I told him I’d been at the gym. I’m thinking (and praying!) he would not greet a co-worker, friend, or other non-romantic partner in such a way!

 

  1. Honesty and Directness: Going back to Chris, after his change in behavior in our conversation, I created theories including: 1) he had no understanding of appropriate and respectful conversation with a stranger, 2) he learned this was how you talk to some one he met on a dating app, or 3) he had an underlying motive. It turned out Chris was only looking for a hookup, which was not my intention for dating. After this discovery, our conversation ended. Now, why couldn’t Chris be up front with me in the beginning? If he had informed me that a hookup was his intention, we could have saved time and ended that conversation sooner rather than later. There are plenty of men and women who only want to hookup and plenty who are looking for dating or a relationship. One of my best dating experiences was with a man who was upfront with his intention for a non-serious relationship. I encourage people to be open and honest about their desires early on in conversation or meeting, and for each to respect the desires and wishes of the other person.

 

  1. Mindful and Awareness: Our prior discussion on politeness correlates with mindfulness and awareness. I have experienced many interactions with different men where it appears they believe I am constantly monitoring my inbox or receiving notifications of new messages. When I don’t respond in a timeframe these men deem acceptable, I receive additional messages ranging from rudeness for not responding to multiple annoying messages asking if I’m going to respond or reminding me they are waiting for a response. Let us keep in mind that 1) some people may not check their messages daily or more than 1x daily, 2) some people may not use the phone app, 3) people could be doing other things such a working/hobbies/social engagements/sleeping and the list goes on, and 4) a person just might not be interested in you for any number of reasons. In regards to number 4, please don’t take this personally. As I discuss with clients, we aren’t going to like or be attracted to everyone we meet. The same goes for other people meeting us. This is not a reflection of who we are as a person though a preference.

 

  1. Grammar: Face to face communication is ultimately the most important as one gives and receives different forms of communication from verbal words, body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. With electronic communication, you lose all but verbal words and your grammar becomes your first impression. These days, emoticons enhance our electronic communication though it won’t ever compare to in person interaction. How many times have you received a text message or email from a friend where the grammar or writing was so bad you couldn’t figure out what your friend was trying to relay? This happens all the time in online dating. As I’m write this blog, I just received a message stating, “Dhali Llama?” That’s it, though I think he might mean “Dalai Lama…” This is not mindfulness or awareness in action. Is this person asking if I am the Dalai Lama? Is he asking do I like or know anything about the Dalai Lama? Could he be asking about my religious preference or if I am Buddhist monk? Is he trying to make a joke about my profile although my profile contains nothing to my knowledge about the Dalai Lama, India, Buddhism, or even lamas or farm animals! Your grammar doesn’t have to be New York Times quality writing, though please know complete sentences and spell check will greatly improve your chances of getting a response.

 

These are only few tips to improve your online dating experience though ones I feel are very important. Remember, your messages may be the first impression you give to another person. Stay tuned for a future blog (or podcast) talking more about how to make your online dating experience successful.

“What’s on Your Relationship Bucket List? Tips to Improve How and Who You Date.”

How many times have you gone on a date thinking, “THIS will be it! This person sounds great!” Then, you leave the date wondering, “what the heck went wrong…AGAIN?’ and “Why is it so hard to find a match!?

Did you use your five non-negotiables and your relationship bucket list for this potential match, OR did you choose someone who SEEMED a great fit for you?

A relationship bucket list is similar to a life bucket list, but for qualities and characteristics you want in your partner. Many times, one creates a list of “don’t want” characteristics versus “do want” characteristics. As a good friend so wisely stated, “How the hell do we know what we WANT if we’re only looking at what we DON’T WANT??”

Bucket 4

How do you create a relationship bucket list? There are many ways, but this is what I recommend to clients:

First, create your list of characteristics you WANT in a partner. This may be hard at first as you are used to creating a DON’T want list. If you find yourself coming up with more “don’t want” characteristics, ask yourself “what is the opposite of that characteristic?” or “Instead of this quality, what quality do I want?” It becomes easier as your list gets longer!

Second, take a look at your list and make each characteristic more specific. If you said you want an “athletic partner,” does that you mean you want someone who goes to the gym after work? Someone who cycles? Someone who plays a specific sport? Someone who will enjoy the same athletic hobby as you, or someone with his/her own athletic interest, or both? It’s “ok” to be very specific if that’s what you WANT. It’s also “ok” to be broad on characteristics. If it helps, create a scale of importance (i.e. very important to not important at all) to help complete your list.

Finally, identify your “five non-negotiables.” I must give credit where credit is due; I’m borrowing this term from Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker and host of the Bravo reality show by the same name. I thought it was great, and I use it with clients all the time. Your “five non-negotiables” are the five characteristics that you will not make ANY exceptions. Your “five non-negotiables” will decide whether you even go on date number one with a person. If a potential match does not meet even ONE of those five characteristics, politely decline a first date. Why waste your and the other person’s time if you know that one characteristic is a deal breaker?

The last part is FINDING your potential match! Where do you start? Take a look at your list! Based on your “relationship bucket list,” create a list of places in your area that you’ll most likely meet potential matches. If you want an athletic partner who enjoys swimming and hiking, go join a local swimming pool or join a hiking club! Looking for someone who enjoys craft beer and football? Check out local craft beer classes or find out where other sports fans watch the game.

Having trouble creating your list or finding matches? Give me a call and let’s figure out how to get you on the right track!

The Rules in a Relationship: Building a Foundation for Success

The other morning, I was driving to the gym flipping through morning talk show stories to find actual music. Yes, I’m THAT person who doesn’t care about the talk, but just wants music to wake me up. On this particular morning, one segment caught my ear. A female listener was recently engaged. Her best friend, who lives out-of-town, was coming to visit and had never met her new fiancé. Apparently, an idea was concocted to have the best friend flirt or hit on the fiancé to test his reaction. My disclosure is that I only heard ten minutes of this segment and that I may not have received all the details of the story, nor do I actually know this woman or her family. What I gathered, from the part of the segment I heard, is that the majority of listeners did not agree with or condone this plan, and people wanted to know WHY one would test their partner in such a way.

couple back to back

The question now is not WHY would one want to test a partner, but what is the STORY behind this behavior? As a relationship and couple therapist, I don’t just look at the two people sitting in front of me. I look at the two people and the two different families that created each person. I also look at each person as a unique individual that (hopefully) developed his/her OWN beliefs in life. My question would be, “Does this relationship work for you both?” If so, you don’t have a problem. If not, then let’s look at how to make the relationship work for both of you. Couples can create rules in their relationship that others might not agree with or support. This is not a problem. The problem is when both people in the partnership do not agree. Continued use of behaviors that create tension can lead to many problems in a relationship, including but not limited to, loss or decrease of:

1. Sexual desire

2. Communication

3. Time spent together

4. Shared decision-making

5. Intimacy (not to be confused with sexual desire). The list could go on.

What one should take from this radio segment is not judging this couple before knowing the rules of their own relationship, whether you would incorporate this into your relationship or not. What one should think about is “Am I happy in MY relationship?”

holding.hands

 

Photo 1 Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net from the portfolio of “David Castillo Dominici”
Photo 2 Credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.net from the portfolio of “arztsamui”

There is No Normal Sex

To err is human, to have “normal sex” is for the birds! Simply put, there is no normal sex.

“Normal” is what makes many people think they are “weird” in life, in love, in family, and in bed! Think back to when you first learned about sex. What did you learn? Did anyone say, “OK class, it’s alright for you all to explore and experiment what turns you on?” Did anyone ask, sans judgment, “Do you want to be tied up, spanked, wear sexy outfits or watch someone wear sexy outfits, or roll around in jello?” I wonder if anyone said, “Yeah, it’s cool that watching erotic videos is sexually stimulating.” Would the word “partner” have even been used? Unless you grew up in a home or community that supported sexual diversity, this is probably not how you learned about sex.

 

refugee class

 

Thinking back to my 8th grade year of school, I clearly remember the experience of “sex education.” This was an all girls class with a female teacher, and the curriculum taught consisted of anatomy, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence, and how to protect yourself from peer pressure and rape. Although this was my experience, I have found that many people share the same experience. Many children learn that “normal” sex solely involves the male and female anatomy. Often sex education is taught in separate rooms, with separate curriculum.   Personally, I have yet to figure out why boys and girls had to be separated for this course. You also might have learned about sexually transmitted infections or STIs (formerly called venereal disease or sexually transmitted disease), and why STIs are “bad” or “dirty” and that “not having sex is the best way to prevent them.” Some of you reading this were probably told that only “two adults who were married and in love have sex.”

Many people grew up with a set-in-stone definition of “normal” sexuality and “normal” relationships. When one decided to go outside that definition, they were “deviant,” or “weird,” and “we can’t talk to them (because it might rub off, Heaven forbid!). This mindset does not allow people to openly talk about sexuality, explore their interests in sexual behaviors, or explore their own body. “Problems” arise when we are not allowed the opportunity to explore our unique definition of sexuality. These “problems” have been given names such as “erectile dysfunction,” “low sexual desire,” and “vaginismus,” to name a few. Although these “problems” are real, they can be treated, AND, sometimes, they can be prevented.

 

crimson forest

 

So, what IS normal sex? Sex is what YOU (and your partner or partners) want it to be. Myjob is not to tell clients what his/her/their sex life or sexuality should look like, but help them discover and embrace their own sexuality. When given the time and space to openly explore sexual interests and learn about one’s OWN sexuality, you not only improve your individual self, but also your relationships improve as a whole.

So, if there is no “normal” sex, does this make us all normal?

 

 

Photo Credit:  Big Thanks to Lorrie Lynn King and 50 Cents.Period for the use of  the lovely photos!  First photo is a class of Burmese, refugee women attending Women’s Circle class to learn about physical and emotional health. Please visit www.50centsperiod.org for more information. The second photo is Crimson Forest in Gryfino, Poland.

Spice Up Your Date Night! Part 2

In Part 1, we talked about reasons to spice up your date nigh with tips to start making your sex/dating/love life better. Part 2 will gives you ideas to create your own “Spice Up Your Date Night Bucket List.”

  • Couples Massage:    If you enjoy massages alone, why not get them as a couple? There are no rules to couples massages! You can choose to talk or not talk, sleep or not sleep, partially clothed or nude.  It’s up to you and your partner!  From my experience, great massage therapists will discuss with you (and your partner) your expectations of the experience.  Want to make this time together MORE hands on?  Find a massage therapist who offers classes on giving massages to others and do it at home with your partner!
  •  Boudoir Photo Shoot:    Who says sexy photos are just for Victoria Secret models?  Don’t tell me your body is not “right” for lingerie or photos.  Your body is what you want it to be and what your partner likes!  Why not show it off for you and that special person in your life? Make it a date and go together for a session or go solo and surprise your special someone with a portfolio!  Again, communicate your needs and wants with your partner and the photographer!  Tell them what YOU are comfortable with doing and what you are not comfortable doing. You don’t want to show too much skin? Then, DON’T!  Make the time enjoyable for you BOTH.
  • Park Picnic:    A spiced up date doesn’t always have to be at night, right?  Plan a day in the park!  Do you like to eat?  Take a picnic!  Do you like to be active? Plan some games or activities.  Looking for something more romantic? Plan an evening picnic dinner with wine, candles, blankets; whatever gets you in the mood.
  • Teach your partner a skill:    I’m an advocate that partners can have differing interests and hobbies, but why not teach each other something you’re good at and enjoy?  This suggestion also comes from blog reader too!  Do you enjoy cooking, woodwork, gardening, shooting guns, playing a sport/game, etc? Take a day or half a day to teach your partner. There is nothing wrong with sharing your hobbies; just communicate your expectations and boundaries with your partner.  If you have regular time with a group doing your hobby, state your need to keep that time without your partner. If your partner ends up enjoying the hobby, negotiate time for him/her to join or time for you both to enjoy together.
  • Learn something new together:    Have you always wanted to learn or try and new skill or hobby?  Grab your partner and go! Like the above suggestion, you might find a hobby you both enjoy or that you enjoy separately!
  • Erotic Workshop:    Want to explore your more sensual side together?  Check out an erotic class or workshop.  Explore adult stores or dance studios for classes and workshops. As with many of the suggestions in this blog, communication is the key!  Communicate with your partner your interests and comfort level as well as respect each others opinions and comfort levels.

Interested in any of the above?  Add them to your own “Spice Up Your Date Night Bucket List” as well as check out local area resources! Have suggestions?  Go to the contact page and email me!  You never know if you’ll see them in a future blog!

photo (6)

Spice Up Your Date Night! Part 1

I don’t care what anyonmedium_5984718411e says, but you are never too old to add a little spice to your life!

A common concern I hear from many couples (and individuals too!) is their romantic and intimate life has become boring.  After hearing story after story, the common pattern for relationships is falling into the “same old” routine. Here are just a few reasons I’m told:

  •  “We only go to the movies for dates.”
  • “We can’t go out during the week!  We have kids!”
  • “We just stopped doing the things we did when we were dating.”
  • “Only attractive and sexy people/couples do those things!”
  • “We just don’t have time during the day.”

When was there a law created that said couples, after a certain time together, can only sleep, work, run errands, clean house, and maybe go to dinner or a movie once a week?  Who said that parents aren’t allowed to go out during the week?  Again, who created a law that only “attractive” people can have “spicy” lives together?

This is my two cents (ok, maybe three cents…),

First, MAKE TIME FOR SPICE!  Before you can actually ADD spice to your life, YOU MUST MAKE TIME FOR IT!  Schedule a date night and make it just as important as your cardiology workup, afternoon gym session, or holiday dinner with the family!  Put it on your schedule and in your budget if you must.

Second, think about what USED to excite you or what you looked forward to on a date with your partner.  Think about activities you never tried, but WANTED to try. Create a list of activities or dates. Call it your “Date Night Spice Bucket List.”  Put that list in a place you will remember and see often so it is a constant reminder of what you need and deserve.

Third, forget about what others will think!  This is for YOU and your partner (or just you if you so choose!).  If we were talking about paying your bills or fixing dinner or your next vacation, would it matter what your best friend/cousin/sister/mother in-law thought?  Right.  Then why are your intimate Spice up date night imageor romantic activities any different?

In Part 2 of this blog, Courtney will give you ideas to create your own “Date Night Spice Bucket List!”

 

 

 

 

photo credit (photo 1):  PhotoPin.com