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 licensed sex psychotherapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the details. This week’s topic: How to increase intimacy during sex.
Q: I know my boyfriend loves me. But when we have sex, he seems to go off into another world. It's not that he doesn't pay attention to my pleasure — it's just that there's none of that looking-into-my-eyes-Titanic-kind-of-feeling. I've tried to hint that I'd like more intimacy during sex, but he seems to think that just means being more gentle, which gets old. How do you increase intimacy during sex without making it boring?
A: This is a great question! The essence of intimacy is being present with each other. But being present doesn’t need to mean slow and gentle. You can be present with each other while being goofy, or while being raunchy. Here are 11 ideas for creating intimacy during sex without boring yourself to tears:
Explain your desires in greater detail
It sounds like your boyfriend doesn’t fully understand what you mean by intimacy, so try sharing more details about what you want. You might say something along the lines of, “I want to feel like you’re here with me when we’re having sex. Sometimes it feels like you’re off somewhere else mentally. I don’t need you to be really slow or gentle, I just want to feel like it’s you and me having sex together.”
Try reading some of the suggestions from this article to him, and have him pick the two he’s most interested in trying. Ask him what his experience is like when he’s having sex; it would be interesting to see if he feels disconnected too. The act of having this conversation in and of itself will naturally create more intimacy between the two of you.
It’s hard to be intimate with each other when your cell phones are buzzing or you’re trying to be quiet so your roommates don’t hear. Try to set yourselves up for success by creating a distraction-free atmosphere. Make your bedroom comfortable and inviting. Turn off electronics, lock your door, and kick pets out of the room.
Make the moments before (and after) sex intimate too
Try to create intimacy before the two of you start having sex. Lots of people need time to unwind and relax before they’re ready to be intimate. Spend time talking to each other and making each other laugh. Take your time working up to intercouse, and don’t start until you feel connected. After you’ve had sex, keep holding each other, and talk about what you really liked about that particular session.
Play the stop-and-go game
One way you and your boyfriend can practice being more present with each other is to play a little game called stop-and-go. Every time you feel your boyfriend drifting off, gently say “stop.” You both have to immediately stop whatever you were doing and focus on trying to connect with each other. When it feels like he’s more present, say "go," and resume your activities. Your boyfriend gets to call “stop” and “go” at his discretion too. You can make this feel like a sexy, teasing game, and it sure serves as a good incentive to learning how to be more present!
Talk to each other during sex
Being more vocal is a great way to usher yourselves into the present moment. You can share the things you’re enjoying, for example, “wow, this position is hitting all the right spots for me.” You can talk about your feelings, like, “I love having sex with you” or “I feel so close to you right now.” You can playfully tease each other with inside jokes. You can also use your words to gently call back his attention, like, “hey, where’d you just go?”
If your boyfriend is jackhammering away, it can be easy for him to get lost in the rhythm and start to space out. He may also be going somewhere else mentally to try to distract himself from orgasming too quickly. Regularly changing your position, speed, or thrusting pattern will help bring his attention back into the moment. If you sense him starting to go somewhere else mentally, take the lead and ask to get on top for a while.
Keep in mind that certain positions are more conducive to intimacy than others. It’s hard to feel very connected to your partner when you’re bent over the bed in doggystyle! Try positions where your bodies are close and you’re able to hold each other. Missionary is usually a good bet, or you can try climbing onto his lap and having both of you sit up.
Make eye contact
Eye contact is one of the fastest ways to feel intimate. Looking someone in the eye and having them return your gaze can be a deeply vulnerable and connecting experience. Try kissing each other while keeping your eyes open, or maintaining eye contact as you touch each other. You can also try to make eye contact (even if just for a second!) while you’re orgasming.
Try something new together
When you experiment with something you’ve never tried before, you’re naturally prevented from going into autopilot. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing, walk each other through it, and give feedback. You can try a new position or sex toy, incorporate some kink, or talk about a specific fantasy. Plus, trying new things together is a sure-fire way to prevent boredom.
Touch each other more
It may sound silly to recommend touching each other during sex, but a lot of couples don’t actively try to touch each other when they’re being intimate. Make a conscious effort to stroke each other’s arms, backs, chests, and faces while you’re being intimate. You can also take brief breaks from intercourse to focus on just touching each other.
Don’t try to force intimacy every time
Sex comes in a thousand different flavors. You’re not always going to have the right conditions for intimacy, and that’s totally OK! Sometimes sex can be just about getting off. Other times it can be about relieving stress. If you don’t put pressure on you and your boyfriend to have deeply intimate sex every single time, you’ll find that those moments will emerge more naturally.
Readjust your expectations
Sex in the movies is a far cry from sex in real life. Try to remember that movies and TV shows are entertainment, and aren’t even trying to accurately portray sex. It’s perfectly fine to want to feel more connected to your boyfriend, but don’t expect Titanic-style sex every time. Instead, focus on finding your own unique kind of intimacy with your boyfriend. Think about what feels intimate between you and your boyfriend, rather than picturing Jack and Rose. Nurture inside jokes, favorite positions, and your own ways of connecting.
That said, that scene holds up.