How To Set The Mood, According To Sex Experts
If you want to keep the spark and passion in your relationship alive, making the effort to set the mood is key. While setting the mood may seem kind of cheesy and old-fashioned, according to sex experts, it's actually pretty useful. "Much like the stage and props during The Nutcracker help take the viewer into the story, a well-staged environment can help enhance the mood," sex and relationship expert, Dr. Megan Stubbs tells Bustle.
A 2017 study of 40,000 people published in the Journal of Sex Research discovered that setting the mood was the number one thing people did to keep their relationship hot. People in long-term relationships who were most sexually satisfied not only spent time setting the mood, they also practiced good sexual communication, and were happier with their relationship in general.
As Dr. Laura Deitsch, Vibrant's resident sexologist tells Bustle, setting the mood might mean different things to different people and generations, but it doesn't have to be complicated.
"In our parents' (or grandparents') time, setting the mood might have looked more like a movie, with rose petals strewn on a bed, candlelight and smooth jazz on a turntable. Today, it probably means putting phones on silent, coordinating ... schedules and checking ... calendars," Deitsch says. Regardless, it's still important. "Our biggest sex organ is still our head and we need to have some calm, relaxing moments to enjoy ourselves and our partner."
So here are some pretty easy and effective ways to set the mood, according to sex experts.
1. Set Your Intentions
In order to set the mood, it's important to know what you're setting the mood for first. "Are you looking forward to a crazy, headboard slamming sesh, or is this time more about quiet ripples of pleasure coursing through your bodies?" Deitsch says. Once you've decided, share that intention with your partner.
While surprises can be great, it can sometimes go wrong, and it's important to remember to have ongoing consent and open communication with your partner. So be sure to let your partner know what you're thinking so you're both on the same page.
2. Make Eye Contact
"The mood starts the moment you make eye contact," Aubrey Marcus, relationship expert and author tells Bustle. It starts with that look in your eyes that tells your partner you want them. Because of that, Marcus believes the mood is less about other factors like the when and where. It's more about you. "You are the mood wherever you are," Marcus says.
3. Dim The Lights
It may be cliché, but it's worth the effort. "Lighting is a tried and true way to set a sexy mood," Sunny Rodgers, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach tells Bustle. Dimming your lights or tossing a scarf over a lamp is good, but candlelight is even better. "Everything looks so much sexier in candlelight," she says. "Throwing in some scented candles can elevate a sensual mood even further."
In terms of setting the mood with lighting, Stubbs also says it's important to stay away from direct fluorescent lighting if possible. "Soft warm indirect light is easy on the eyes and helps cast everything in a sultry glow," she says.
4. Keep The Space Clear Of Any Visual Distractions
If you're looking to set the mood, makre sure to keep your space clear from any visual distractions. That means no piles of clothes on the floor and no trash laying around. "If you make the space thoughtful, it can help put both you and your partner at ease," Stubbs says.
5. Do Something That Makes You Feel Sexy
"Sex is just as much a mental activity as it is a physical one," Polly Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Unbound tells Bustle. "Setting the mood is so much more than what we traditionally think of." Setting the mood doesn't have to be with a partner. When you're setting the mood for a solo sex sesh, Rodriguez says, it's all about standing up for your self-care and saying, "In this moment, I am only accountable to myself. This moment is for me." If that means putting on an outfit that makes you feel sexy and good about yourself, then do it.
6. Use Your Five Senses To Guide You
"I like to use the five senses to guide how I'm thinking about setting the mood as each has its own components of arousal," Rodriguez says.
When it comes to sight, watching porn that you both like can help set the mood. Spritzing on some perfume or lighting scented candles are a great to arouse your sense of smell. When it comes to sound, "don't underestimate the power of a good makeout mix," she says. Incorporating flavors into foreplay can arouse your sense of taste. Lastly, the best form of touch in Rodriguez's opinion is a vibrator. "Nothing quite sets the mood like a great vibe."
Overall, it doesn't matter what you do. As she says, "Setting the mood is an act that shows compassion and consideration for your partner, it's putting in the effort to show that you care about their needs and are turned on when they're turned on."
7. Do Something For Your Partner That Shows You Care
In relationships, Rodgers says there are two different kinds of people: Doers and sayers. "Doers ... want to do things together and have experiences together, and they definitely want their partners to set the mood for sexy trysts," she says. If your partner is a doer, action is key. Creating the mood can be a huge part of the entire sensual experience for them.
"Often something simple, like playing your lover’s favorite playlist is enough to show you care and put your partner in a loving mood," Rodgers says. "Sometimes setting the mood doesn’t take as much thought and effort as you think."
As you can see, setting the mood doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes, a partner isn't even necessary. There are many simple ways to do it. Whatever you decide to do, keep the phones off and out of sight.