By Lybi Ma, published on March 8, 2004 - last reviewed on February 8, 2008
Everyone wants great sex, but how do you get it? It takes a lot of ingredients such as having the right attitude, trusting your partner and getting over your hang-ups. Yet once you have the elements in place you can look forward to a more fulfilling sex life. From letting it happen to desire and foreplay, therapist Arlene Goldman shows us the 10 keys to sexual bliss.
Let it Happen
You can't force sex to happen, great sex must be allowed to happen. The act of pursuing orgasm breeds performance anxiety, which then undermines sexual arousal. The idea of goal-oriented sex flies in the face of letting it happen, you may end up faking orgasms or having problems with sexual function. So relax and enjoy the process.
The Right Attitude
Give yourself permission to completely experience sex and its pleasures. That means you must let go of guilt, self-consciousness, judgments and personal hang-ups. Also, forget about your to do list and be prepared to "fully experience the moment," says Goldman. In short, "be here now."
Connect, Communicate, Trust
To feel safe and secure in your relationship, you'll have to open up and communicate how you feel. Going hand in hand with this is feeling empathy toward your partner. From here you can understand, embrace and communicate more easily. If you want something, you can ask for it. And remember to let go of grievances. "As a colleague said, for a long-term relationship, you need a short-term memory in the bedroom," says Goldman.
Feed Your Desire
Also, in a long-term relationship, desire can certainly fade. Where's that initial passion you once felt? Grocery lists and household chores often replace romantic excitement, so how do you tap into lost desire? The key is finding the triggers that lead to passion. To do that you will have to trick your brain. One thing that helps is novelty, which kicks brain chemicals linked to arousal and romantic love. And it doesn't have to be a trip to Paris; try a walk on the beach, a visit to the museum, reading poetry in bed, or just calling your partner and saying I love you
Love Your Body
"My penis is too small." "My breasts are too flat." "I've gained 10 pounds." Body image hinders intimacy. You can't have great sex if you're self-conscious about your body. Learn to like yourself and all your curves. From there, tap into your sensuality by thinking about what makes your body feel good. How do you feel when your partner touches your neck? How does your body feel to your partner? Maybe that extra weight feels more sensual to him.
"You want to do what?" What is inhibiting you from exploration? Now is the time to let go of shame and embarrassment. People are often too serious in the bedroom. So you may need to rethink sex and see that it's actually fun. Share your fantasies with your partner and discover how you can carry them out. Take risks: Perhaps by being creative and doing things a little differently. "It's about learning and experimenting, and if it doesn't turn you on, that's OK," says Goldman.
Foreplay and Afterplay
It's not about copping a feel. Foreplay begins out of the bedroom; in fact, it's about lovers connecting throughout the day. And it doesn't have to be overtly sexual or sexual at all. It can even be as mundane as helping with the dishes—anything to be more connected. And don't forget that afterplay is just as important. Rather than jumping up after lovemaking, stay physically and emotionally connected.
Everyone should practice safe sex. If you have a new partner, get to know him beforehand, as you'll need to know where he has been. Try to get comfortable talking about safe sex and don't look at it as a downer. "If you're worried about having safe sex, you're not going to have great sex," says Goldman. And although you can make sex fun by incorporating condoms into lovemaking, remember that sexuality is more than the exchange of bodily fluids.
Every couple needs time to relax. "You have to decompress before feeling turned on," says Goldman. So consider stress-reducing ways to be together. To do this you may have to rethink your priorities in life. Perhaps you'll need to make time for relaxation by letting go of other activities. So get away together, go on a date once a week or take a bath together.
People who get more sex are less depressed. But to do that, you need energy. "If you're worried about getting enough sleep," says Goldman, "you're not going to have great sex." So it's important to get plenty of rest, regular exercise and the right foods. In fact, all these things help blood flow to the genitals, which is paramount for arousal.