We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: how to bring slow, sensual sex back into your long-term relationship.
Q: My partner and I live together and are in a long-term committed relationship. We both work incredibly stressful jobs with long hours, and often come home exhausted. Like probably every other couple out there, our sex life really suffers when we’re both so drained. We have sex much less frequently than we used to, and we’ve resorted to quickies when we do have sex. I would love for us to draw things out more and have the same slow, seductive, sensual sex that we used to. We used to spend HOURS having sex. How can I encourage us both to not be in such a rush?
One other thing — my partner doesn’t have nearly as high of a sex drive as I do. If I want sex but she’s not in the mood, she’ll often agree to have sex but she will tell me to hurry up. She says I’m asking too much of her by wanting her to have sex and wanting to take our time. Any way around this?
A: Thanks for your question! Slowing down is one of the best ways to make sex feel more intimate and more intense, but it can be really, really hard to find the time and energy for passion when you’re running on fumes. Most of us consider it a victory to even have sex in the first place, so we tend to focus way more on quantity rather than quality. It takes some effort to change your approach towards sex, but this is definitely a goal worth working towards. Here are eight tips for slowing things down during sex.
1. Check Your Expectations
I want to start off by addressing the second part of your question. It is a lot to ask your partner to have sex when she’s not in the mood and spend lots of time on it. This is a good opportunity for you to spend a bit of time evaluating your desires for your sex life. Would you rather have less frequent sex that’s nice and slow every time, or would you rather have more frequent sex of varying lengths (some long and drawn out, some quickies)?
2. Talk About It
Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to ask for, it’s time to talk to your partner (no surprise there). Tell your partner that you miss taking your time with each other. Mention specific details that you enjoy about drawing things out. For example, maybe you miss that feeling of intimacy the two of you would get after staring into each other’s eyes. Or maybe you loved ever-so-slowly undressing your partner. Perhaps bring up a favorite sexual memory that the two of you shared (“remember that time up in the cabin…”). The goal is to frame it in a positive light, so your girlfriend doesn’t feel like you’re being critical.
3. Make The Space
From there, it’s time to get practical. If you want to have long, drawn-out sex, you have to make the time for it! It’s simply not going to happen any other way. Take some time to evaluate your schedule and see if there’s anything you can cut out. It’s easy to feel trapped by your work schedules, but there are often ways to open up a bit of time if you make the effort. Maybe you have some after-work commitment that you can let go of, or maybe you realize it’s time to push back against your boss’ expectations.
Talk to your partner about ways that the two of you can prioritize having more time together. Ask your partner, “what do you think is realistic for us?” For example, maybe you can both work late on Wednesdays so you can get out on time on Thursdays.
4. Schedule It
Scheduling sex can be controversial, but it can be a good way of ensuring that the two of you actually follow through on spending that time together. The idea is not to make sex feel like a chore, but a priority. You’re blocking off time for intimacy, and making sure that nothing else gets in the way. Let’s say you have Saturdays off, but you tend to get out of bed right away and start doing chores. Maybe you can agree that Saturday mornings are going to be your special times to stay in bed together. Or you can be a little bit stricter about it and put specific dates in your calendars. Life can get so hectic that sometimes we need the structure of actually putting something into the calendar. Scheduling sex can also increase your anticipation and give you both something to look forward to.
5. Initiate Sensuality In The Moment
It can really help to tell your partner in the moment that you’d like to slow down and draw things out. A simple sentence or two will make sure you’re both on the same page. If you feel comfortable, saying something like, “I feel like slowing down and taking our time tonight. Is that OK with you?” If either of you are on the shy side, you might find it easier to come up with a secret code language for saying, “I’m in the mood to take our time tonight.”
In my sex therapy practice, I’ve worked with couples who felt better calling long, slow sex “anniversary sex” or “special sex.” You can even come up with a signal, like putting a bottle of massage oil out on your bedside table. On the flip side of the coin, it’s also useful to let your partner know when you’re in the mood for a quickie, or when you’d be OK with having one.
6. Spend Lots Of Time Warming Up And Cooling Down
Sex in and of itself takes a lot of effort. You’re often balancing yourself in tricky positions, and giving the muscles in your arms, legs, and core a good workout. Some people get intimidated by the idea of spending a lot of time having sex because it feels so exhausting.
One great way to eliminate that intimidation factor is to remind yourself and your partner that a long sex session doesn’t need to mean long sex (whatever your definition of “sex” is in your relationship). You can spend plenty of time just laying around together naked, taking a bath, teasing each other, cuddling, and kissing. After sex you can keep it going with massages or pillow talk.
7. Take Breaks
Now, let’s move into some tricks for slowing things down once you’re in the middle of sex. Once you guys are getting hot and heavy, the best way to slow things down is by taking frequent breaks. If you feel yourself starting to get too close to orgasm, tell your partner, “ooh I’m getting too close. I want to keep enjoying this.” Or if you can sense your partner getting close, move your hands, mouth, or body away, and say, “not yet” in a teasing, seductive voice.
You can also play an adult version of the “red light, green light” game, and call out “red light” when you want your partner to stop (of course, make sure you explain the game beforehand to your partner so they know what you’re doing!). This can be done in a really fun, playful way. Stop and take a moment to look in each other’s eyes, caress each other, or talk dirty.
8. Redefine Orgasm
Most people use orgasm as a way to define when sex is over. This is particularly true of heterosexual couples, who tend to focus on the man’s orgasm. But changing your ideas of what orgasm means can be a great way to help the two of you prolong your sexual interactions. Maybe you’ve gotten too focused on each other’s orgasms, even to the point of pressuring each other to reach them. Or maybe you’ve really honed your technique and are able to reach orgasm quickly. You can play around with taking the focus off of orgasm by:
- Making it into a game, and seeing who can last the longest.
- Aiming to give each other multiple orgasms.
- “Banning” yourselves from orgasming during a particular interaction.
- Considering whether you want your definition of orgasm to equal climax.
You may find that when orgasm isn’t such a focus, it feels easier to draw things out.
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