5 Sexual Skills For A Healthy Sex Life

 Sex therapy & couples counseling at Tri-Valley Relationship Therapy in the East Bay can help you and your partner achieve a fulfilling and healthy sex life.

Sex therapy & couples counseling at Tri-Valley Relationship Therapy in the East Bay can help you and your partner achieve a fulfilling and healthy sex life.

This article was originally published on the Let’s Talk Sex with Dr. Nagma V. Clark blog featured on Psych Central.

As a sex therapist, I get this question a lot: How to have a sexual connection that is fulfilling - and more importantly lasting - even after the initial stage of the new relationship energy has passed.

The answer is what I am sharing in this post.

Couples in long-term relationships who enjoy healthy, fulfilling and vibrant sexual connection have certain skills in common that help them bypass the sexual boredom that occurs because of a higher level of familiarity between partners over time.

Here are 5 skills for a healthy sex life:

1. Clear Communication

Clear and ongoing communication is the foundation for a long-lasting sexual connection. It consists of how often do you and your partner communicate about sex, your needs, desires, and fantasies.

It also includes the manner in which you communicate - without blame, criticism, and ridicule.

During sex, if you or your partner want a different type of touch or sensation, how is that communicated through verbal or nonverbal cues. One way to improve your sexual communication is to get into the habit of checking in with each other after every sexual encounter.

Go back and share the highlights of your experience. Ask your partner what felt good and what did not, what you could do differently next time; which positions felt good and the ones that your partner could do without. Give each other compliments and show appreciation!

2. Flexibility

Many couples develop rigid ways of having sex, driven by sex-negative sexual scripts and messages they picked up growing up and in past relationships. The rigidity usually manifests in the form of having a set routine for foreplay, arousal, and orgasm.

Usually, one partner takes on the role of the initiator and it is very difficult for the couple to swap roles of initiating and responding. The passivity of the non-initiating partner frustrates the partner with the unwanted responsibility of initiation, which doesn’t make for a satisfying sexual connection. Flexibility is a very important sexual skill - being able to take turns initiating, discovering new ways of getting aroused and reaching climax without being dependent on the context, position or fantasy.

3. Pleasure trumps performance

Even though in some instances, sex serves a reproductive function, pleasure rather than performance should be the focus of any sexual experience.

Exposure to unrealistic portrayals of sexual prowess in porn and media, rigid sexual scripts emphasizing performance, and misconceptions about what sex should be are all contributing factors to a host of sexual issues: erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety, and premature ejaculation. Couples that focus on pleasure are able to have a sexual experience even if there are glitches. It’s similar to signing up for a dance class to get some cardio in - when you are dancing, you are having so much fun that you forget that you are exercising.

4. Penetration is overrated

Thanks to our social and cultural influences, sex without penetration is not considered “real sex.”

Every couple goes through a period when penetration is not possible or desired for various reasons, including pregnancy, post-childbirth, age-related sexual dysfunction, illness/disability or just plain fatigue.

It’s during these inevitable periods when couples who are penetration-focused experience a steep decline in sexual intimacy resulting in relationship conflict. On the other hand, couples who are open to helping each other reach orgasm through manual or oral stimulation rather than intercourse are able to maintain their sexual connection during these periods. They are able to overcome barriers resulting from injuries, illnesses or disabilities by being comfortable with non-penetrative sex.

5. Variety is sexy

Couples who enjoy long-lasting fulfilling sexual connection take an active interest in adding variety and stepping outside the box.

They are open to trying new positions, new sensations, and even new places for having sex. Trying new bed sheets, lingerie, scents, sensual oils, positions, places, and routines. Sprinkling in some vacation or weekend getaway sex and if a stay-cation is a better option, experimenting with different rooms and find new sensual avenues within the house.

About the author: Nagma V. Clark, Ph.D., L.P.C.C., C.S.T. is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and PACT Level I Certified Couples Therapist. She specializes in working with couples & individuals struggling with low or mismatched libido, weak or absent orgasms, performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, sexual pain, sexuality & aging, general sexual dissatisfaction etc. She also works with people interested in exploring sexual orientation, gender identity, kink, BDSM & polyamory.