What do you think of when I say “intimate sex”?
What are the keys to opening up channels of better connection, better attachment, and better intimacy with your partner? I think the answer is knowing how to have intimate sex.
Think of intimacy on a continuum. On one side is your closed self, and on the other end is your open self.
On the closed side, you are disconnected and shut down. Think eyes closed and holding your breath during lovemaking. You aren’t inhaling the scent of your partner, and you might be thinking negatively about them. Your mind may be someplace else and not oriented to the moment in front of you.
You are tense, stressed and cold. Disconnected.
On the other end of the continuum is your open self. Your open self is connected with another, and your mind is open, your eyes are open, and you're looking into the soul of the other person. You are breathing in their scent, focused on what’s in front of you, thinking positive thoughts, and not feeling anxious about how you look, smell, taste, or feel.
You are relaxed, warm and open. Connected.
Now think about the concept of open or closed intimacy. Think of the last time you were sexual with another person. (Certainly, you can be open or closed sexually when you self-pleasure, but we are focusing on partner sex for the moment, how to increase intimacy with another person.)
Now imagine what it could do for your sexual relationship if you brought the qualities listed above to the equation. Having a mindset and an aura of openness and relaxation can aid in the bonding process during sex and make the experience even better. Good sex can hold a relationship together in times of stress. Having sex be tension-reducing and relaxing rather than tension-producing and stressful can aid in the intimacy bond and the quality of the connection.
Some couples even report that good sex can bridge the distance gap in times of stress, such as during the child-rearing years. Good sex is free, adds longevity to your lifespan, is excellent for your cardiovascular health, and can contribute to a sense of calm and inner peace.
So what do you do if you find yourself on the closed side of the intimacy spectrum? How do you work towards having a more intimate sexual relationship with your partner?
You can do several things to begin promoting change.
First, you have to accept that you are a sexual being and that you deserve intimacy, sex, pleasure, and connection. Feeling shameful, guilty, worried, or negative towards sex will only promote that frame of mind. If you need support to shed that belief, try taking with a certified sex therapist to help you work through those feelings.
Second, you have to believe that sex and sexual pleasure should happen for you and not for anybody else. Sex is not a servicing activity in which you are solely there to pleasure someone else. Sex is an activity that you do for you. Believing that you deserve sexual pleasure and sexual satisfaction in your life is a cornerstone of achieving intimate sex.
Next, we need to talk about orgasm. One of the keys to intimate sex is having an orgasm. Keep in mind that about 10-15% of the time, naturally occurring sexual dysfunction may occur. Usually, this is caused by being too tired, too stressed, having too much to drink, anxiety, etc. In order to really connect and have intimate sex, you need to allow your partner to pleasure you and you need to be willing to make your pleasure a part of the sexual experience.
Making time to have an orgasm during sex is a key ingredient for building intimacy. It allows you to be vulnerable with your partner and allows them to touch you and pleasure you, sometimes as you coach them, to strengthen the bond between you. Intimate sex is a symmetrical experience in which partners take turns pleasuring each other and looking at one another at the same time.
Here's the next tip: Don’t skip the foreplay! Many couples I see in couple’s therapy who aren’t having good sex have completely done away with foreplay. Foreplay is so important to intimate sex! Foreplay is the only part of the sexual script where partners generally take turns pleasuring one another. Think about it—the kissing is mutual and the sex is mutual but the foreplay is the only piece of the sexual script where partners can take turns doing something solely for their pleasure.
It promotes feeling desired, aroused, and ready for sex. It encourages partners to look at one another and communicate about what feels good through words, hand movements, and noise. Don’t skip foreplay—it should be a part of your script every time you are sexual. If you feel like you don’t know what you are doing or need to build your confidence around it, ask your partner to give you tips on what feels good to them as you are touching them.
Another important tip is to make sure you are scheduling and prioritizing time for intimacy. Aim to set aside at least an hour a week to spend with your partner in bed, in the shower, or in any other intimate setting where you can connect physically. The excuse of being too tired or having kids is not acceptable. The most valuable gift you can give your children is modeling a happy and connected relationship. Get the kids out of your bed, put a lock on your door, and schedule a time to spend with your mate every week. Yes, weekly!
The last tip for intimate sex is to physically look at one another. Be open to the experience of really trying to connect with them while you are touching and being touched.
The keys to intimate sex include feeling that you deserve sexual pleasure, participating in foreplay, achieving orgasm, scheduling time, and locking eyes with your partner. Good and connected sex can hold your bond together during stress. Learning how to have a deep connection and more intimacy with your partner will protect the relationship and keep your bond strong.