What does it take to have amazing sex in your relationship?
By Karen Gless, PhD — Updated on Feb 18, 2023
Photo: DavideAngelini | Shutterstock
Sex is an important part of our lives, and great sex brings a couple closer together throughout their relationship.
Couples and individuals may experience various sexual problems throughout their life, such as the lack of sexual desire, inability to orgasm, premature ejaculation, and more. Some of these problems are physical, and some are psychological.
In my sex therapy sessions, I always begin by making sure the issue is psychological and not physical by making sure my patient has seen their medical doctor.
Eventually, these sexual problems call for an exercise or two that would allow the couple to have great sex.
All these sexual challenges and problems have one thing in common, and there’s one special exercise that will do the trick.
Couples take intimate sexual connections seriously — sometimes, too seriously.
Here is the unsexiest secret to mind-blowing intimacy:
When serious sexual problems are not present, sex brings a couple closer together, increases the natural feel-good hormones called endorphins, decreases stress, and adds to our “love bank account.”
The love bank account is the total of good feelings you each have for each other — and making love is a great way of increasing those good feelings.
Even so, sex can take a backseat during times of stress and fear, like during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Men and women can have different reactions to stress.
There are many times when a couple comes into my office, and the woman complains, “He wanted sex and I said ‘no’ because we were in the middle of a fight!”
This shows how men are more likely to try to use sex to reduce stress, while women often have lower sexual desire because of stress.
So, why do couples take intimate sexual connections so seriously?
First, it’s really important to have a happy relationship for most couples. And second, we all come to sex from different beliefs and experiences while growing up.
It can be hard to relax or feel comfortable if you feel that you don’t know what you’re doing, might be doing something wrong, or have really high expectations of yourself — or each other.
That’s why it can be particularly challenging for a couple to get to know each other, sexually.
Some thoughts that may come up include, “I’m not sure what would please her,” and “I don’t know how to tell him what I want, because I’m not sure or I’m afraid he’ll be hurt.”
Couples don’t always know what they expect out of sex for themselves or each other.
So, what’s the special exercise that can help when you’re having issues with sex in your relationship?
Don’t work so hard — play, instead!
Sexual issues have a certain level of tension in common. The tension comes from trying hard and “working” at sex.
So, the special exercise I give my couples is to play at sex, instead of working so hard.
For instance, shower together — get soapy, and move against each other. No expectations, just play and explore each other.
And afterward, no sex. Just be present and enjoy the moment. This removes anxieties and expectations and lets you just play and be in the moment.
Each time you remove expectations and play, you’re learning the secret to great sex.
Relaxing the body and mind goes a long way to resolving many issues. To relax, you must enter the brain state of play.
I tell my couples with a slight tone of admonishment, “Sex is adults at play, not at work,” and we all laugh at the truth of it.
Play is the number-one secret to great sex that you need to know about.
No matter how you get there — through a mutual shower or recreating what you did when you first got together — the key to great sex is adults at play.
Adults at play enjoy each other without a specific goal in mind. That’s how you let go of the work mode.
Relax and get into your senses of sound, taste, smell, and touch. Do something fun for both of you.
It’s spontaneous and playful, or it can be erotic.
Either way, you’ll discover it to be connecting and enjoyable. The key is to relax, have fun, and perhaps even be silly and just play.
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Karen Gless, Ph.D. is an RN, LMFT, sex therapist, and couples counseling expert. She is the creator of The Pure Pleasure System for Men and The Pure Pleasure System for Women.