By Dr. Dan Pollets
Dr. Pollets describes himself as "an enthusiastic practitioner" of Relational Life Therapy® (RLT). He is a faculty member of the Relational Life Institute, and an ASSECT certified sex therapist.
In Relational Life Therapy® (RLT) intimacy is considered a process and a practice. Intimacy occurs when two individuals face each other and deal honestly and respectfully with the space in-between, a space occupied by their private thoughts and deepest feelings. Great sex follows from this practice and results from the chemistry and positive energy created in this unique space.
Mindfulness is the capacity to be present in the moment. It is attention to intention. It is the practice of being fully aware of what is happening NOW. The essence of mindfulness is the ability to embrace present-moment awareness with non-judgment and loving kindness.
SEVEN TIPS FOR GREAT SEX
1. The organ needed for great sex is between your ears
Sexual arousal and physical readiness emanate from your head. So prepare your mind.
Try thinking of the time between sexual activities as "fore-fore play." Behave day-to-day in ways that your partner truly appreciates. Create in your relationship the "flow" that reminds you of what you value and find attractive, and even sexy, in your partner. Of course there must be some foundation of physical attraction and sexual chemistry to build on, but it takes more than this to enjoy good sex over the life of the relationship.
Practice mindfully attending to each other's needs in order to produce a positive flow that leads to meaningful and ultimately satisfying sexual contact.
2. Necessity is the mother of invention, but generosity gilds the lily
Good communication is the sine qua non of good sex. Make your needs known and provide feedback to your partner in the form of verbal and non-verbal communication.
Great sex is like a dance where you learn to move in synchronization with your partner. To enhance the dance of love, learn what buttons to push and how to evolve your touch to engender increasing arousal in your partner. It is difficult to know if your administrations are hitting the target unless you get some feedback. So you might want to grunt or moan a little bit to signal your pleasure. Now adding this soundtrack may be a stretch for some, but if you want to be touched in ways that lead to increasing levels of pleasure and arousal, you have to teach your partner what feels good.
Create the smooth and wonderful dance of sexual intimacy by providing positive feedback to the sweet touch of your partner. Express your love and appreciation freely and often. Do what your partner likes, not what you want to do. Be the lover who is more concerned about your partner's needs than your own.
3. Innovation is the spice of life
Exploration and innovation can add novelty to a satisfying sexual relationship. Confront the attitudes and inhibitions that might limit newness and variety in your sexual behavior. Talk about your fantasies, and if mutually agreed upon, act them out. Try altering the positions you typically rely on. Have sex on the living room couch, in front of a roaring fire, or on the beach (avoid sand in crotch). Plan a romantic weekend away from the kids and take time to explore each other's bodies in a sensuous and erotic manner.
Nurture a safe and intimate relationship centered on the open disclosure of what you think, feel and desire. If you are able to share your feelings and enrich your sexual relationship with variety, you can stay interested and stimulated throughout your lives together.
4. Mindfulness, presence and sweet surrender
Many patients seeking treatment for sexual dysfunction are unable to relax and allow their bodies to do what comes naturally, i.e., getting sexually aroused. They are consumed with thoughts about performance and whether their partner is enjoying the experience. They become observers who are no longer present in the moment of intimacy and find themselves dissociated from the sensations and pleasure that are intrinsic to the experience.
If you are thinking about your work, housework, kids, parents, or your body's shortcomings, you are not present and mindful of what is happening in the moment and thus unable to "let go and let God." Thinking, worrying and being a spectator create the stress response and vasoconstriction that is anathema to the optimal physiology of heightened arousal.
It's not about thinking. Show up in the moment of sexual encounter with all your senses. Allow your awareness to rest in the sensations that you and your partner create. Surrender to each touch, sensation, smell, movement, sound and taste while you are making love. Stay focused on your partner and your experience of giving and receiving. If you begin to drift into thought, bring your awareness back to the moment and don't judge yourself for wandering.
5. Hone your instrument. Practice good health
Sex is essentially a physical act and the natural outcome of intimacy. You need your body to accomplish it, and the better shape you're in, the more fun you can have. Libido stays stronger as you age if you stay in good health. If you don't maintain the body, rust accumulates, and in the words of Paul Simon, "the tools of love wear down." If you become overweight and out of shape: 1) you will reduce your attractiveness to your partner; 2) your libido will diminish; and 3) the physical act of sex will become more difficult simply from a bio-mechanical standpoint. So exercise and practice healthy nutrition.
6. Good sex is a dish best served up cold
Sex alone will not mend relational issues or a fractured trust. Avoid having sex in the heat of the moment of hurt, conflict, emotional pain, or preoccupation. "Make-up sex" will only be successful if there has been an effort to repair the relationship so you can enjoy intimacy free of lingering anger and resentments.
7. Make time for contact
Making time for intimacy in our fast-paced lives may take some planning. Arranging dates might make more sense than trusting that somehow you will both magically appear all naked and primed for a great sexual experience. Don't get hung up with who initiates sex; planning can be a mature, functional adult responsibility that both partners assume and look forward to with anticipation.
So put the champagne on ice, remember Victoria's secret, and when you arrive for the date bring all the spontaneity, creativity, novelty sensitivity and generosity you can muster.
GREAT SEX IN A NUTSHELL
Great sex is about awareness of sensation and allowing oneself to sink into the mindful experience of physical and emotional intimacy. It is about being present in and focused on the moment of sexual encounter.
Cultivating a good sex life requires mindfully practicing intimacy as an ongoing relational experience. If you and your partner are committed to cherishing your relationship, communicate well, share on a thinking and feeling level, and are able to repair disharmony with love, sincerity, skill and moderation, then finding the "gear" of sexual expression will follow naturally, and the distance between the kitchen and bedroom will be markedly shortened.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Special publication on Friday, August 22: Terry Real discusses "The Hidden Epidemic of Covert Depression in Men."