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"You Want What?!" How to Ask for New Sexual Moves

It may not be as difficult as you think.

Are you bored with your sexual routine? Have you fantasized about trying something new, but hesitated to ask because you can’t find the words? Asking for any change in a relationship means taking a risk. But asking for sexual changes can be paralyzing. You lover might think you’re more dissatisfied that you really are. Or accuse you of being “demanding” or “weird” or “perverted.” So how do you get what you want —or at least come close to it? It may not be as difficult as you fear.

Try New Things Out of Bed

Trying new things in bed is a subset of trying new things in general. As people become more willing to experience novelty out of bed, they may become more open to sexual experimentation. So, suggest anything new: restaurants, hiking trails, travel, or other activities you both might enjoy. Keep things playful. View your attempts at novelty as experiments. Many experiments fail. That’s life. So what if you and/or your honey decide you don't care for roller blading or ice fishing? What's important is cultivating a mutual willingness to try new things together while maintaining a sense of humor.

If your honey is a real stick-in-the-mud, no matter how much that might frustrate you, ironically, you may be able to use it to encourage experimentation. Many fuddy-duddies don’t abhor change as much as they cling to the familiar. But the habitual feels cozier when you return to it from something else. One pleasure of vacations is returning home to your own bed. But to enjoy that, you have to sleep somewhere else. If you’d like your honey to experiment more, try gently pointing out that novelty is the gateway to appreciating the tried and true.

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Surprise Dates

One way to enjoy playful experimentation is to take turns planning “surprise dates.” One of you takes complete responsibility for planning the date and keeps it secret until it’s time to leave home. The other agrees to go along for the ride. The planner specifies what to wear and when to meet, and pledges not to unnerve the other. The follower agrees to play along, even if the date involves something unfamiliar, for example, salsa dance lessons or a moonlight canoe ride.

Even with no overtly sexual component, surprise dates carry an intimate, erotic charge. During the days leading up to the date, the anticipation can feel playfully delicious. Then during the date, you focus on each other, trust one another, share special time together, reveal new aspects of yourselves and learn new things about each other. And both know that next time, the roles reverse.

For your first several surprise dates, don't introduce sexual novelty. Give your lover time to warm up to the notion of regular novelty—and to trusting you not to overdo any surprises. When you decide to introduce some sexual novelty, take your reluctant-to-experiment honey to a familiar bar, then to a favorite restaurant, and then stroll along a customary route. By the time you've walked 50 yards, your partner is bound to ask: “So, what’s the surprise?” To which you reply: “Wait till we get home, and I undress you—but don’t worry, I promise it’s fun and won’t take you out of your comfort zone.”

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day

Once you’ve introduced ongoing experimentation, birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and other special dates are good times to take things a bit further. Again, don’t expect any great erotic breakthroughs. But compared with you daily routine, it’s often easier to ask for experimentation on special days—and your partner is more likely to play along.

Why Hotels Often Spur Erotic Novelty

The setting is often key to erotic experimentation. That’s why romantic getaways are sex-enhancing. Hotel rooms contain nothing that reminds you of all your responsibilities back home. They’re a time-out from daily life. At hotels, it’s easier to live in the moment, to step out of ruts and try something different. You can bring a bit of the same freshness to sex at home by making love at a different time or in a different room.

Lubricant as Gateway to Novelty

But how do you persuade a reluctant lover to try something really different, for example, sex toys, or fooling around in public, or anal fingering, or light BDSM?

A good place to begin involves lubricant. For the vast majority of lovers, lubricants enhance sex immediately. As a result, your novelty-shy lover is very likely to enjoy instant sexual benefits from this little addition. In addition, if your ultimate goal is to introduce sex toys or anything anal, lubricant is crucial, so you'll want your lover to feel comfortable with lube before going any further.

Be Patient

Warming up to sexual novelty often takes time. Don’t rush things. Keep your initiatives playful. Take small steps along the path to your ultimate goal. Laugh a lot, and reassure your lover regularly that you understand that “no” means no. Never force anything.

The Age Factor

If you’re over 40 or 50 or 60, when you suggest a new move, your lover might say: “We’re too old for that.” Advancing age makes many people reluctant to try new things. But it also opens doors to novelty. If your partner says “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” ask what your spouse plans to do after retirement. Retirement plans often include: more travel, more time for hobbies, more socializing, and perhaps moving to a new home—all new tricks for old dogs. If your mate can consider a huge change like moving, is it so difficult to conceive of playing with a vibrator?

Half a Loaf

As you slowly introduce experimentation, you may have some ultimate sexual goal in mind. If you reach it, great. But understand that you may not. Most lovers find that getting part of what they desire is almost as good. Half a loaf is better than none, and in sex, it can feel like real progress. Count your blessings. You got some of what you wanted. Enjoy that.

Need Help?

If these suggestions don’t get you at least part of what you want, consider a short course of sex therapy. Ideally, you and your partner go together, but if your honey refuses, consider going by yourself. The therapist may be able to help you ask for new moves, or adjust to any hard limits your honey imposes. To find a sex therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, or the American Board of Sexology.

San Francisco journalist Michael Castleman, M.A., has written about sexuality for 36 years. more...

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