It was that class in high school, taught by your health teacher or Phys. Ed. instructor that served to simultaneously a) answer most of the technical questions about sex that you never wanted to ask out loud and b) embarrass the living daylights out of you while you sat hunched in your seat, surrounded by your peers.
By the time we graduate high school, we typically have a good idea about male and female physiology, the mechanics of sex, and how to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Unfortunately, many of us never receive an education in the finer points of sex, i.e., how to make love.
For adults, learning to incorporate love and sex usually comes through trial and error, if we learn it at all. Given the “Insert Tab A in Slot B” kind of education we get about how sex works, we often overlook the most important rule of all: Sex is a form of communication.
When we care enough about a partner to become intimate with him/her on a sexual basis, there is a much deeper level of closeness that can be reached. Sure, we engage in sex because it feels good to us, but communication is, as they say, a two way street. Your pleasure and your partner’s. In fact, if it’s done right, your partner’s pleasure can and should be just as gratifying as your own.
One of the best ways to explore deeper sexuality with your partner is with the art of touch. Don’t misunderstand sexual touching as direct stimulation of the erogenous zones! Imagine there is no such thing as the spoken word. How will you tell your partner how you feel about him/her?
Take time to discover your partner’s body with your hands and fingertips. Using light touches, feel your way around the landscape of your partner’s body. Forget about your needs for a moment; pay attention to his/her reactions to being touched.
In doing so, you will quickly find out more about your lover’s hot and cool zones of arousal. Keep in mind that a “cool” zone does not necessarily mean an area that does not receive pleasure. As human beings, we desire and need to be touched. Studies have been done that show receiving tender human touch on a regular basis can actually improve our health. Giving your partner pleasure—even if it’s a warm fuzzy feeling as opposed to a passionate sexual burst—is going to bring you closer together.
There’s something to be said for good, old-fashioned talking as well! Let you partner know what s/he means to you. Not just in bed, but throughout the day. Loving communication can, of course, be expressed by saying, “I love you,” but this isn’t the only way.
When is the last time you thanked your lover? For what, you might ask. Anything. Even just thanking your partner for being in your life offers up a deep respect for him/her as an individual. By strengthening your lover’s sense of self, you are strengthening your relationship proportionately.
In the bedroom, communication is also key. Letting your lover know what you want (and don’t want) is another way to fine tune the connection between you. Many of us are not comfortable voicing our needs or wants in life, least of all sexually.
However, if we don’t find some way to do this, no one wins; Your lover will not satisfy you properly (how could s/he if it’s not clear you want?), and as a result, you will inevitably begin to pull away from sex—a very important aspect of your lives together.
Quick tip: Since pointing out what you like or don’t like may be uncomfortable for you during sex, try waiting until afterwards, when you both are relaxed. You may even begin by asking your lover what s/he likes, thereby opening the door to conversation. (Be sure to pay attention to his/her answers; don’t just wait for your turn!)
Having sex that incorporates loving is one of the most gratifying experiences two people can share. Although Love Ed. may not be a course we would have been ready for in high school, but as adults it offers many lessons that can only enrich our lives and the lives of our partners.
“The Interview” is a two-fold exercise: First, you will be sharing information with your partner that s/he may not know. Second, you will be asked to assume your partner’s place during the interview, answering questions as though they are your own.
This exercise should be done when you and your partner have uninterrupted time together. Perhaps an evening after dinner or once the kids have gone to sleep would work best. Most importantly, both partners need to be equally willing to and positive about approaching the exercise.
What you’ll need:
- 20 3 x 5 Index cards
- 2 Pens
- 2 pads of paper (optional)
- Divide the cards in half, ten for each partner.
- Each partner gets a pen.
- Number each card 1-15.
- Cut and paste the following fifteen questions onto a separate page and print out the page.
- One partner will read the first question out loud.
- Write your answer for Question 1 onto the card marked with a 1.
[Note: Take your time, but don’t think too much! Keep answers as brief as you can, using “I” statements. Use only the front of the card.]
- Switch partners to read the following question.
- Repeat steps 5-7 until all questions are completed, and all fifteen cards hold your answers.
- Now switch decks with your partner.
- One partner should now ask each question again, as though interviewing the other partner.
- The partner holding the deck (i.e., your partner’s answers) should answer as though these are his/her own answers. Try to answer with as much respect and conviction as you would your own.
- After all the questions have been answered, both partners should take about five minutes to write down first thoughts about what you have just heard.
- Repeat steps 9-12.
- After each partner has had a chance to be interviewed, discuss your thoughts and feelings about yours and your partner’s answers. (See the list of possible discussion topics at the end of this exercise.)
[Note: Answer as honestly and thoroughly as possible, using specific examples whenever possible.]
- What turns you on most about your lover? (If it’s a specific characteristic and/or memory, what is it?)
- Is there a difference between having sex and making love? If so, what is it?
- Do you like oral sex? (Giving? Receiving? Both?)
- Where is your favorite place to be touched during sex?
- What is your least favorite place to be touched?
- How important is it for you to have an orgasm during intercourse?
- How do you feel about having sex during menstruation?
- Does erotica or pornography turn you on? (If so, what kinds?)
- Do you masturbate?
- How would you feel about masturbating in front of your partner and/or watching him/her masturbate?
- What is your favorite sexual position?
- Do you want more variety in sexual positions during sex?
- Would you like to have anal sex with your partner? (Giving? Receiving? Both?)
- Does role-playing interest you?
- Name one thing you would most like your partner to know about you sexually.
- How did it feel to give your partner’s answers as your own?
- What questions do you have of your partner? (Be specific.)
- What areas did you and your partner synch up in your viewpoints?
- At what points did you differ?
- What will you do to make any differences between you enrich your sex lives together?
- When you next make love, what is the thing you will remember most from this exercise?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May