If you are reading this, chances are that you are curious about sex and how to make it better. Sex is an integral part of human life and behavior, yet it is rarely an open topic for conversation. Sex can seem simple but can also be complex in how it affects us. Before jumping into the five ingredients that can spice up your sex life, let’s work through some myths that get in the way of good sex.
5 Myths about Sex
Myth #1: Sex is pornography
Eroticism is everywhere. Erotic art has existed since ancient times, and archeologists have unearthed numerous ancient artifacts such as sculptures, engravings, paintings, and pottery depicting sensuality and sexual encounters. However, much like Hollywood movies, pornography may be inspired by reality but usually has little resemblance to it. It is not surprising that viewing pornography has contributed to unrealistic expectations about sex and body image insecurities. After all, actors and actresses in erotic videos have also been chosen for their good looks and follow a script. People who often use pornography usually report less sexual fulfillment and require more stimulation, resulting in frustrating sex lives.
Myth #2: Sex is automatic
Recall a scene from any show you have watched that involves romantic sex. He looks into her eyes. She looks into his eyes. No words are exchanged, clothes are on the floor and both partners are breathing heavily in bed, automatically knowing what to do to smoothly engage in satisfying lovemaking. That’s the movie magic that directors would like us to believe. Reality is usually a lot less automatic. Unless you are asexual, for many people, sexual urges come naturally. However, what happens before, during, and after the act is rarely automatic, and requires thinking, communication, and coordination between partners so that the sex is mutual and satisfying.
Myth #3: Sex is shameful
This is an unfortunate myth that features heavily in many cultures where sex is often a topic that is avoided. Privacy is important and should be respected, but in many families, sex is not talked about. If it is brought up by children, adults talk around it and use images like “the birds and the bees”, or tell stories about the stork, and the child ends up confused. Sensing the avoidance, when children grow up, they often turn to other sources of information such as the internet or their peers for their “sex education”. The sense of secrecy contributes to the feeling that sex is taboo. It is sad to think that after getting married, a young couple who feels anxious and confused about what to do in bed may not have mentors to turn to for advice on a process that is so critical for building intimacy.
Myth #4: Sex is ultimately about achieving simultaneous orgasms
This is a myth that largely comes from watching erotic films and pornography. Sexual release comes in many forms and differs for males and females. However, despite popular belief, satisfying sex does not always mean that both partners achieve orgasm. Various factors like arousal, environment factors, activity levels, health, stress, and hormone cycles can affect a person’s ability to sexually climax during sex. In addition, the sexual organs of males and females are different and respond differently to touch and stimulation. For example, for some women, it is physically not possible to have orgasms through vaginal stimulation, but they may easily have an orgasm through clitoral stimulation during foreplay or other forms of pleasure. Having satisfying sex may not even require both partners to orgasm during sex, and turn-taking can also be a strategy for some couples with different paces of arousal.
Myth #5: Sex needs to be all night long
The longer the sex, the better the experience. Popular culture has inadvertently promoted this myth by saying that the longer a person can last in bed, the better their sexual prowess and ability to please their partners. Yet the lack of time and energy are among the top reasons listed by couples when asked about the greatest barriers to having sex. Just like how every person has different levels of stamina and energy, the length of sex depends on the couple. It can be influenced by their age, life stage, and situation. There is no fixed duration to determine what is the best or ideal. In fact, 7-13 minutes was found to be a commonly desired duration of sex. Good sex is not necessarily longer, and couples should invest time into finding out their “sweet spot” for the frequency and duration of sex.
SPICE up your Sex Life
So what are the 5 key ingredients that couples need to enhance their sex lives?
Adding SPICE – Security, Presence, Intimacy, Communication, and Emotional bonds – to the relationship will add depth and dimension to sexual interactions, just like how spices boost flavor. Practicing the five principles below will help you and your partner enjoy sex with each other – and as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect!”
A strong sense of safety is necessary for sex to feel real and creative. Sex that is separated from a human relationship can feel cold and empty and isolate people instead of bringing them closer together. Humans are made to bond with people that they trust, and sex is a powerful expression of that bond. Feeling secure with trusted partners provides a safe base for exploring and enjoying sex. People with a single, long-term partner often report higher levels of sexual satisfaction. A secure bond means less anxiety about your performance being judged by your partner in bed and opens up more pathways for experimentation and expression based on each other’s needs. For example, would you even consider bungee jumping if you were not hooked up to a secure safety line?
If you find yourself drifting off or getting distracted by other matters during sex, chances are that your enjoyment will be greatly reduced. Sex requires a great deal of physical, emotional, and mental coordination. Being present in the moment is key to being attentive to the sensations in your body. Observing each other’s non-verbal body language for clues is only possible when all the senses are engaged in being present in the moment. Responsiveness to clues helps each partner feel more sensitive and attuned to each other and turns on the sexual accelerator. Practicing mindfulness activities is one way to build up your skills in being present in the moment.
Sex is not just a series of techniques and mechanisms. Nor is it merely about procreation and recreation. A sense of closeness and intimacy is a hallmark of many successful marriages. This is developed through the process of reaching out to each other, repairing the hurts from inevitable conflicts, and falling in love again. This process looks different for every couple, and even each partner goes through the process differently. Growing intimacy through time helps couples learn that while passionate love cannot be constant, it can be constantly renewed. Intimate companionship is the result of understanding and tolerating differences in sexual desire and being willing to put aside personal needs to reach out and affirm to the other partner that the journey will continue and get better in time.
It is not surprising to hear about research that has linked the success of a sexual experience with how well a couple rates their communication. Couples who have spent more time together and have learned how to cater to each other’s communication styles develop a sense of teamwork that is important for good sex. Sharing sexual needs, interests, and desires openly helps both partners feel more willing to try new things. Talking about likes and dislikes in a loving and caring way reduces the anxiety of second-guessing. Of course, even the best communication does not mean that outcomes are guaranteed. It is important for partners to keep communication channels open with a sense of playfulness, curiosity, and acceptance, especially in bed!
Sex is emotion in motion. Often, how you express emotions is how you engage with and attach with others in and out of bed. Strong emotions, attachment, and sex are intertwined, and the quality of our relationship interactions is often shaped by our emotions towards our partners. Outside the bedroom, building strong emotional bonds will contribute to higher sexual fulfillment in bed. Especially for women, emotional safety is a critical element that promotes sexual desire and arousal. Emotional bonding does not automatically happen in the absence of conflict. Intentionally engaging in activities that foster emotional connections, such as nurturing conversations and date nights, will positively impact your sex life.
There’s no need to wait to SPICE up your sex life! Grab your loved one and make a date to try out activities like “Sensate focus” today! (https://charis.regent.edu/sensate-focus/)