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~ September, 2021 ~ Whether you’ve been in a monogamous relationship for years or you’re single and loving it, it’s easy to find yourself wanting to infuse your sex life with more adrenaline. After all, no matter how much you adore getting it on with your partner — or yourself — it’s just human nature to crave novelty between the sheets.
“As humans we are constantly growing, changing, and evolving” — and it’s normal to want your sex life to evolve as well, Stephanie Macadaan, a licensed marriage and family therapist in the Bay Area, California, points out.
Nazanin Moali, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist in Torrance, California agrees, adding that sexual pleasure can suffer when sexual experiences feel monotonous and routine. “While the sense of safety that couples feel with one another can deeply enhance sex life, over time, it may also become mundane and repetitive,” she notes. “It is vital and healthy for couples to push themselves to introduce change and novelty, even if only by a small amount. This ensures that the security, care, and intimacy one feels with their partner doesn’t turn tedious.”
Here, several techniques for spicing up your sex life, according to experts.
How to Lay the Groundwork for Spicing Things Up
You might feel ready to dive into experimenting with new toys, positions, or something like role-playing but also find that you or your partner are grappling with underlying fear or hesitation. This is due to messaging that certain types of sexual play are not acceptable or are shameful, says Macadaan. That’s why it’s important to first reflect on and get in touch with what you learned around this in order to bolster openness around sex, she explains.
“It’s also really important to talk openly with your partner about what you are each comfortable with,” she adds. “Sex can be a sensitive topic, so getting help from a therapist may help to ensure you are staying connected, on the same page, and not feeling pressured or pushed into things that don’t feel comfortable.”
Techniques to Turn Up the Heat
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many ways you might be able to switch up your between-the-sheets routine, but Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., sex and intimacy therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy suggests thinking of it as simply adding a new or less frequently included dimension to your sexual repertoire. “This could be a mindset, a position, an accessory, fantasy, etc.,” she notes.
A few steps to consider taking when you’re first getting started:
Balestrieri recommends checking out the sexual education site OMGyes, whether you’re solo or partnered. “It’s a great resource for vulva owners or the people who are intimate with them,” she says. “Their science-backed research on pleasure offers tons of new ways to play.”
And Zhana Vrangalova, Ph.D., NYU professor of Human Sexuality and a sexpert for LELO likes online courses offered by Kenneth Play, Beducated.com, and KinkAcademy.com. “People can also take in-person or online workshops at sex stores and communities like the Pleasure Chest, Babeland, or Hacienda,” she adds.
Share a sexual fantasy with your partner.
Even if you don’t plan to explore it in real life, tell your partner about a fantasy you’ve had. “Giving your partner access to your hidden, sexual thoughts can feel vulnerable and sexy to both of you,” says Moali. “Through this, you may also be able to open the door to exploring shared sexual interests.”
Along the same track: Read erotica and listen to steamy podcasts or stories (an app to try: Dipsea).
Get creative with toys.
When you think about sex toys, dildos and vibrators are likely the first examples to pop into your mind. But there are a variety of toys that can be used all over the body to crank up the intensity and fun of foreplay — during partnered or solo sex. Balestrieri recommends the following:
- TheTrojan Ultra Touch Fingertip Vibrator: “This one’s unique in that it allows you to use your own hand to touch, but changes the sensations you or your partner receives, making it great for nipple, clitoral, or other erogenous zone stimulation,” she says.
- The Neptune 2 from Jimmy Jane: “An amazing start for prostate stimulation, this toy gives you access to the P-spot through stimulating the perineum or the anus.”
- The Anal Training Kit and Education Set from B-Vibe: “A must for beginners looking to explore anal play safely.”
If you want to get more hands-on with toy selection, Amy Baldwin, sex educator, sex and relationship coach, and co-host of the Shameless Sex Podcast recommends going on a date to your local sex toy shop — solo or with your S.O. “Walk around the shop and check out all of the toys that are available to you,” she advises. “The best sex-positive shops will have knowledgeable employees who can tell you more about each toy while providing specific recommendations based on your preferences.”
You can then add the toys you find to one of three lists labeled, “yes,” “no,” and maybe.” “Some toys might be a strong yes while others might be a strong no, and that’s for you to decide,” says Baldwin. From there, you can start out with the one(s) that felt like a no-brainer.
Set the stage for dirty talk.
Speaking of sexually-charged communication, Vrangalova recommends trying any of the following if you want to get started with dirty talk:
- Start by describing what you’re doing to each other, going to do to each other, and would like to do to each other.
- Pick some names or honorifics you can use for each other (slut, whore, boy, girl, daddy, sir, ma’am, etc.).
- Recount a porn video you watched together.
Invite aggression to the party.
Sure, you might not be ready for full-blown Christian Grey-level activities, but moving from more vanilla to rougher play with a partner might appeal. “If you’re new to pain exchange during sex, you might try some light biting, pinching, or spanking before moving to more aggressive moves,” says Balestrieri.
However, a word of warning to bear in mind along the way: “Always get enthusiastic consent before you try something aggressive and check-in throughout to ensure your partner is still on board,” she notes. “Establish a safe word, so you both have a hard stop if anyone gets uncomfortable. Remember to engage in adequate aftercare after your aggressive sexual experience to help each other transition back to your everyday lives and to debrief.”
Come up with a sexy schedule.
Vrangalova recommends setting up a weekly or bi-weekly or monthly — whatever works with your schedules — research and development play date. Every time, one of you can introduce a new toy, accessory, or sex act for you to both try to whatever extent you are both comfortable with.
As she notes, “Some things might work great, and you might incorporate them more regularly into your sex life; others might not work out and you get to laugh about them.” And ultimately, openness and experimentation with the activities that didn’t work out can elevate your overall pleasure.
The bottom-line, according to Macadaan: “It’s normal for sex to ebb and flow throughout a relationship, but if sex and intimacy decrease to the point of feeling disconnected, it’s important to notice that and put a renewed focus on that part of your life as a couple. After all, if you’re monogamous, sex is the one thing that makes your relationship unique from every other relationship in your life.”
A version of this article originally appeared here on instyle.com