When it comes to knowing what makes your partner tick in the bedroom, tutorials on “mind-blowing sex positions” only get you so far. To discuss a few practical ways couples can actually have more stimulating and gratifying sex, we sought out Dr. Bea Jaffrey—a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist based in Switzerland—and Mary Jo Rapini, a psychiatrist and sex therapist based in Houston. Below are some suggestions from Rapini along with tips from Jaffrey’s new book on overcoming common sex issues, 159 Mistakes Couples Make in the Bedroom.
Tell Him What Turns You On
Research suggests that better communication is key to better sex, and no, we don’t necessarily mean dirty talk. Communicating what you like and don’t like can be instructional and informative as you get to know each other’s bodies. If he’s doing something you like, say so rather than relying on ambiguous gestures or noises. And if it’s something you’re not into, communicate that or guide him in a new direction. Want to try a different angle? Suggest one. If simultaneous orgasm is your goal and you’re close to climaxing, don’t be mum about it.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Praise
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, researchers analyzed answers from 39,000 heterosexual couples that were married or cohabiting for over three years. Sexual satisfaction reported to be higher among the couples who revealed that they gave each other positive affirmation during sex and were open enough about embarrassing moments during sex to joke about them and move on. Dr. Jaffrey notes that this lighthearted approach to sex is key, saying, “Don’t take life too seriously. Happy couples laugh together.”
Keep Things Spontaneous
Even great sex can start to feel monotonous over time if it’s more or less the same old routine. To mix things up, Marie Claire’s guy expert Lodro Rinzler suggests that “if you’re in bed with someone and have a sense of something new you or your partner might enjoy, be it some teasing, a change in position, anything…go for it. Men love it when women are spontaneous and confident in their ability in bed.” Dr. Jaffrey also recommends switching up the time and place to avoid falling into a rut of once-a-week “duty sex.” “Try new places to have sex, maybe on the sofa, in the car or on the kitchen countertops? Or how about the back row of a movie theater? Be careful though because sex is illegal in public places. Try role-playing…take a bath together. Be inventive, have fun.”
Think of Foreplay as a Long-Term Act
Jaffrey notes that setting the mood for sex is vital, for women especially, and that foreplay should start long before sex even begins: “I am talking here about the mental foreplay that happens days in advance, not the one that you have just before sex. Make sure to be attentive to your partner. Small gestures and nice comments are significant to setting the right mood for sex.” She also suggests keeping up communication during the day through texts or emails.