Relationships: Talking about sex
Dear Lori and Jeff,
My girlfriend and I have been together for four years and the frequent and passionate sex we used to have at the beginning of our relationship has become more routine and happens much less often. I still really enjoy being intimate with her, but I often wonder if I’m able to satisfy her in the way she satisfies me. Bottom line is I wonder if she still really enjoys it. Any suggestions?
— Baffled in Bed
Dear Baffled in Bed,
Jeff: The confusing and sometime awkward dynamics of sex are on the top of our most-asked-about list and a frequent topic of pop culture. In the nine-year run of “Seinfeld” (one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms), sex was a recurrent theme in many of the episodes. One of my favorites was “The Tap” where Jerry asks George how his latest relationship is going. Here’s the dialogue:
George: There’s one little problem.
George: Yeah. Well, I’ve never really felt confident in one particular aspect.
Jerry: Below the equator?
Jerry: Nobody does. Nobody knows what to do. You just close your eyes, you hope for the best. I really think they’re happy if you just make an effort.
George: I don’t know. Last time I got the tap.
Jerry: You got the tap?
George: You know, you’re going along, you think everything’s alright and all of a sudden you get that tap. You know, it’s like “alright, that’s enough, you’re through.”
Jerry: The tap is tough.
George: I got the hook. I wish I could get a lesson in that.
Jerry: It’s a very complicated area.
George: You could go crazy trying to figure that place out.
Jerry: It’s a hazy mystery.
This is a satirical, but all-too-familiar look at men’s lack of understanding of what women really want. The bottom line here is that there is no easy answer, no “10 Tips for the Best Sex Ever” solution to the complexities of sex — even if “Cosmo” (the magazine, not the “Seinfeld” character) says there is. What I can suggest is that you don’t try to be the hero in bed. Find out what makes her hot directly from the source and, even though getting the tap can be painful, the reward for freely expressing your sexuality is greater than the fear of possible rejection.
Lori: As much as men want to reign supreme between the sheets, the truth is that women are equally responsible for their own pleasure. So if you blow her mind in bed, pat yourself on the back, but if her response is a little lackluster, don’t automatically take it personally. There are a number of possible reasons for why sex may not be as satiating for her—stress, lack of sleep, hormones and confidence can all play a role. But there are some things you can do to create a greater pleasure potential. Dr. David Schnarch in his book, “Passionate Marriage” encourages partners to get out of their heads in the bedroom. Great sex, whether sweet or spicy has much less to do with techniques than with connection — connection to each other and to your own sexuality. If you’re caught up in thinking about what you’re doing and how she’s responding (or not), then you aren’t present in the moment with her. Leave your brain out of the bedroom and let your sensuality guide you.
Lori and Jeff: Even if it’s awkward, talk about sex outside of the bedroom. Find out more about each other’s desires, fantasies and fears. Work on letting go of the pressures you’ve put on yourself to please her, and allow freedom, curiosity and connection take your sex to new heights.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.