Ways to Please Your Lover: Perk up Sex, Passion, and Intimacy

by Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D.

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The greatest challenge that confronts monogamous relationships today is to maintain the sexual passion once the newness of the initial months or years has worn off. You don't have to have a sexual problem for sexual desire and excitement to wane. Excitement tends to wane for three reasons.

1. The stress of life in our culture today. Many of us are so busy with two careers, children, cooking, errands, etc. that we are left exhausted with little quality time left over for sexual or emotional intimacy. In the priorities of life, our sexual relationship gets relegated to last place.

2. The second interfering factor is the suppression of feelings. When something bothers us, we tend to hold it in -- either because we don't want to rock the boat or because we feel too vulnerable and unsafe to be open.

Unfortunately, you can't suppress some feelings while leaving others free to grow and expand. If you are holding in angry or hurt feelings, you automatically will be holding in sexual feelings as well. If you don't feel safe to express yourself or trust that you will be heard and respected, you are likely to protect yourself by holding back from the vulnerability that occurs with sexual intimacy.

3. The expectation that sex should take care of itself is the third culprit responsible for diminished sexual passion. Many of us grew up in families that taught us to be ashamed of our sexual feelings or to feel embarrassed about sex. We expected great sex to just happen if we were really in love with our partner.

But this is not true. Like other areas of life, if you expect to reap the rewards of sexual intimacy you need to put energy in. You would never consider putting energy into a business for a year and then expect it to support you for the rest of your life. For the same reasons, a sexual relationship requires ongoing attention, expansion, and even risk. It requires that you set aside time to experiment and have fun, thereby prioritizing your partner and your sex life.

Here are a few ideas for spicing your sex life.

The Treasure Hunt

Begin with a written note or a message on your partner's voice mail or answering machine with the first clue. Then, by prearranging the steps, leave cards and clues, each one leading to the next, until you end up at the final destination.

Attach a card to a rose waiting in a florist's shop. -Wrap a note in a box with one truffle to be picked up at a local candy store.

Place a clue inside the refrigerator, beneath a lily in the garden, or under your partner's pillow.

The special surprise that awaits your partner at the end could be anything from a new CD to an engagement ring. Or the final destination itself could be the surprise -- maybe a room in a quaint hotel or your bedroom alit with candles.

Take-Out Sex

On your way home from work, pick up a pizza, hamburgers, Chinese food, sandwiches, or some other take-out dinner.

When you get home, jump into bed -- with or without clothes on. (If you have young children, get into bed right after putting them to sleep.) Take your clothes off and talk while you picnic between the sheets. Then turn the lights low, and savor your partner for dessert. I know a couple who have "chop suey night" every Tuesday.

Tie And Tease

Choose who will go first and tie that person's wrists and ankles loosely to the bed with ties, scarves, or an old stocking. If you have no bedposts, you can safety pin the tethers securely to the mattress.

To ensure that no one gets hurt, pick a word like "applesauce" or "caterpillar" -- a word you would not normally use -- as a way to signal your partner that you really do want to stop. This way you can actually use the words "stop" or "don't" without your partner having to worry that you really mean it. Obviously, when the word for stop is signaled, it must always be heeded at once.

Then have some fun. Slowly and seductively tease the tied person. Torture your partner with desire. Relish this new forbidden aspect of your sexuality. Create scenarios that excite your imaginations and fantasies.

Other activities include video cameras, sex toys, new sexual positions, finding out your partner's greatest sexual desires, fantasy play and on and on.

1/10/98

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Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D. a San Francisco clinical psychologist, is the author of numerous best-sellers on intimacy and sexuality. Her latest, *50 Ways To Please Your Lover* is featured in the Self Help & Psychology bookstore, The Amazing Bookstore Catalog.



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