7 Mantras To Improve Your Sex Life, According To A Sex Therapist

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A lot of us want better sex, but improving your sex life is just as much about how you think about sex as it is about what you do. To help people think about their sex lives in a way that's helpful, sex therapist Dr. Bridget M. Finn compiled affirmations and tidbits of advice she gives her clients in her book Inspired Vagina, Capable Penis.

"Having great sex is a decision," Finn tells Bustle. "You must decide if, how, and why it is important in your life and in your relationships. You need to clarify the role of sex and intimacy in your life and relationships, the value of it. If sex is important to you, don’t be in a relationship with someone for whom it’s not a priority. It won’t work. This demands conversation. We live to our intentions. If we want a fulfilling sexual life, we need to be conscious of making it just that."

One way to be conscious about your sex life is to establish what goals and values you want to bring to it. That's what the mantras in Finn's book are for. Here are some of the most meaningful ones — and how they can improve your sex life.

1. "Great Sex Is So Much More Than Your Genitals And Whether They Work Or Not."

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A lot of people get caught up in the size or appearance of their genitals, how aroused they can get, how long they can stay aroused, or how often they orgasm. But your genitals are really only one part of your sex life, and focusing only on them not only creates a lot of pressure but also can cause you to miss out on everything else that's amazing about sex.

Plus, having great sex takes more than just ensuring your genitals are working. Even if both people have hyper-responsive genitals, "the sex can still be considered by them as ‘not so great’, or just ‘eh,’" says Finn.

Instead, Finn recommends focusing on your entire body, as well as the emotions that go along with using it. "We are one big erogenous zone from head to toe," she says. "We have many varied ways available to us for experiencing sexual pleasure and sensation."

2. "Talking About Sex Is As Important As Having Sex."

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A lot of people get nervous about talking about sex, but it's the key to an amazing sex life. "Talking about sex helps us become more comfortable with sex," Finn explains. "It allows us to clarify our values and our needs around intimacy, pleasure, relationships, what we want and don’t want, and how we enjoy giving and receiving pleasure. We are better able to identify areas where we might feel insecure or inadequate with our bodies or abilities as lovers."

But talking about sex isn't just good for your sex life; it's good for your overall relationship. "When we talk about sex, we get to know ourselves and our partners better, more fully," Finn explains. "We increase our awareness of who we are as individual sexual beings and who we are in relationships." If you're not sure where to start, you can share your fantasies using a "yes no maybe" checklist.

3. "Be Brave. Be Curious. Try Something New."

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Sex may be an adult subject, but it thrives off childlike playfulness and curiosity. "When we are doing new things, having new adventures, being brave, and embarking on new and challenging journeys, we grow; we are alive," Finn says. "We build confidence in ourselves. Our energy is vibrant! We are more interesting to ourselves and our partners."

Being brave, curious, and open to new things even outside the bedroom will boost our confidence and satisfaction in bed, she adds. "Variety is the spice of sex! We must make the effort try to keep it interesting and fresh, or we get bored."

4. "Spontaneity Is Overrated... Make Anticipation Sexy."

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Finn often hears couples say they wish their sex lives were more spontaneous, but spontaneity isn't actually necessary to keep things exciting. If your schedule doesn't allow for spontaneous sex, she instead suggests "simmering," or "keeping sexual energy on a low boil."

"Anticipating a hot sexual encounter mid-week or on a weekend keeps the fire stoked and the body sexually alive," she explains. "Talking about sex, flirting, sending sexy texts, keeps it on the brain. It’s like planning a vacation. Anticipating how it will be, what you will do and with whom… looking forward… all very exciting and all much more in step with the reality of our scheduled lives!"

5. "Lighten Up... It's Supposed To Be Fun Too."

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Too often, we forget that sex is supposed to be fun. "Sex can become so heavy for people, so serious," Finn says. "If it doesn’t go exactly as we hoped, we can get sad or disappointed, or devastated. Our energy becomes anxious and negative."

To keep things light, Finn advises couples, "Laugh! Have fun! Be Fun! Be silly! Be messy! Be imperfect!"

6. "Great Sex Is A Lifestyle Choice. It Doesn't Have A Life Of Its Own. Active, Participatory, Intentional."

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A lot of people expect good sex to just come to them, but it's something you have to actively work at. "Our sexual energy needs to be fed and watered," Finn explains. "We are participating in making it what we want. It’s not going to just magically happen. You need to push up your sleeves, dig in, learn, grow, be in the drivers seat, and create the sexual life you’d most enjoy."

7. "'All Men Do This' And 'All Women Want That' [Is A Limiting Belief]"

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One stereotype that Finn often sees people struggle with is the stereotype that men always want sex and women don't as much. This not only makes women feel ashamed of loving sex but also makes men hesitant to speak up when they're not in the mood.

"Both bring feelings of shame because it’s not what we’ve been told about how we should be, what we should enjoy or want," she explains. "We can keep ourselves contained, not exploring and expanding our desires and inclinations, because of what we’ve been led to believe is right or OK to do, feel, and be. We shrink ourselves, we limit ourselves, we deny ourselves. And/or, we’re doing things because we think we should, because we’ve bought into a narrative about what’s good and right even though it may not suit us."

True sexual intimacy, expression, and liberation means being your true self with your partner, whatever that is for you.

If you want to take your sex life to the next level, take note of the mantras you like and create your own if you want. Even better, discuss them with your partner, and you'll already have tackled #2.