As we finally break the shackles of lockdown, feeling the thrill of warm sunshine on our skin and the joy of laughter with friends, many of us can see a new summer of love on the horizon.
With the easing of restrictions, some are predicting 2021 to be a ‘sexplosion’ of pent-up passion.
Sales of condoms and the morning-after pill have shot up in the last few months and for many it’s clearly time to make the most of our new-found liberation — both in the bedroom and out of it. But what about those of us in long-term relationships, whose sex lives have dwindled to cuddling in front of the TV, rather than anything that gets our pulses racing?
The key here is to change up your sex script.
I’ve been a sex therapist for more than two decades and I’ve helped hundreds of couples get out of a rut and rediscover their sexual mojo, especially in midlife when libido flags and sex starts to seem like a chore.
Some are predicting 2021 to be a ‘sexplosion’ of pent-up passion but for those whose sex lives have dwindled, a sex therapist is on hand to help couples out of a rut (file image)
In 2004, I wrote the international bestseller She Comes First, which redefined foreplay as ‘coreplay’ and put women’s pleasure at the centre of the sexual experience.
And along the way I discovered something profound: for women and men both, it’s the feeling of being desired that, time and again, reawakens sexual feelings.
For that to happen we have to update our moves in bed to reflect not the twentysomethings we once were, but the older, wiser people we are now.
Everyone has a repertoire of sex scripts which are the set patterns and sequences of action you typically follow in the bedroom.
In my experience, problems frequently arise when that script gets boring, or goes wrong in some way. That’s when you can find yourself falling into the same old sexual choreography, a way of having sex which no longer ticks any of your boxes for desire and satisfaction.
But here, I’m going to show you how to rewrite your sex script and transform your relationship. I’ll show you how to do it joyfully, without fear of embarrassing yourself, scaring the pants off your sexual partner, or putting either of you at risk of a slipped disc or a carpet burn.
With summer fast approaching, this is the perfect time to change it up —and start having the sex you have always dreamed of…
Ian Kerner, author of She Comes First, offers tips to change up your sex script saying couples should put sex on the ‘to do’ list and play the ‘yes and…’ game to increase ‘excitors’ (file image)
What kind of sex are you having now?
The most important first step is to take a good hard look at your current sex script. The first thing I say to my clients is: ‘Tell me about the last time you had sex’.
Who initiated it? When and where did the event occur? How did you both generate sexual excitement? Did you undress each other? Or did you undress yourselves? Was the lead-up sexy? Erotic? Fun? Or perhaps predictable and routine?
How did you intensify the arousal? What behaviours did you both engage in? (Kissing? Stroking? Massage?) What behaviours did you avoid? What was off limits and why? Were you preoccupied or distracted? Who had orgasms? Who didn’t? Did the sex leave you motivated to have more? If not, at what point did things stall? Was it good sex? Great sex? Just OK sex? Or bad sex?
Now we come to the crux: can you think of anything that would have made it better?
Answer all these questions, and think back to some of the best sex you ever had. Start to consider what constitutes great sex for you.
Play the ‘yes and…’ game
A great game to increase ‘excitors’ and reduce the chance of ‘inhibitors’ spoiling the build of arousal is to agree to accept and add another statement to your partner’s prompt.
So if one of you says: ‘I’d like to have sex,’ the other might reply, ‘Yes, and I’d like to draw a hot bath beforehand’ and the first person adds: ‘Yes, and I’ll add soothing essential oils.’
It’s time to spice up your life
One way to find inspiration is to think about ways your personality traits might be expressed sexually. If you’re an open-minded kind of person, perhaps you could consider something new and a little bit out of your comfort zone.
If you’re giving and generous, are you expressing those qualities sexually? If you’re funny, shouldn’t you be able to laugh a little during sex? If you like to be a little hedonistic and decadent, could you create an environment for your sex script that has elements of indulgence and sensuality?
Studies show that engaging in sexually adventurous behaviours increases sexual satisfaction.
In fact, the greater number of sexually adventurous activities you engage in with your partner, the greater the level of relationship satisfaction you stand to gain.
It might be simply a question of flicking your sex script switch from ‘relational’ to ‘recreational’.
Relational sex might be described as intimate, connected, affectionate, passionate, warm, tender, loving, romantic, and gentle. Recreational sex, however, is more fun, adventurous, creative, raunchy, thrilling, unpredictable, and possibly kinky.
Another great tip is to switch the emphasis away from intercourse and create a sex script which focuses entirely on kissing, stroking, touching, talking (everything other than penetration). I call this ‘outercourse’ and it can be supremely successful.
But don’t just stop with one sex script. Try creating another. Think about it from your partner’s perspective. Would their script be similar or different? In what ways can you accommodate that?
How to mentally get in the zone
A common source of conflict and frustration in long-term relationships is when one of you is seemingly always ready to go, and the other needs a little persuasion to get properly in the mood.
It’s like being at the theme park where one of you has a fast pass to the big dipper and the other isn’t even sure they can be bothered to queue for the ride.
Ian said a sexy movie, reading erotic literature and dressing up now that we are allowed to go out again can be helpful for generating mental arousal (file image)
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of generating mental arousal for your ‘warm-up’ and aiming to pack plenty of psychological novelty into the beginning of your sex script.
What about finding a sexy movie to watch? Or reading a bit of erotic literature to each other? When my wife and I go on holiday, we take a book to the beach with us and take it in turns to read to each other.
Right now, take every opportunity to make use of your re-found freedom to stimulate all your senses, heightening sensations and experiences you just haven’t had access to in recent months.
Put sex right at the top of your ‘to-do’ list
Put sex right at the top of your ‘to-do’ list. Make the decision to give sex top priority, just for one day, and think about how you’ll spend that day.
Will you eat differently? Drink less? Get out in the fresh air? Make a point of not nagging? Plan a dinner out? If you reconstruct your day with the emphasis on sex, it can only end well…
Now we are allowed to go out again, this is your chance to dress up, make yourself look and feel fabulous, flirt a little, and bring every drop of that external stimuli and expression back to the bedroom.
Let your sexy self emerge and do what you can to spin a semi-erotic thread through your day — I always encourage clients to find time to experience as many ‘sexual sparks’ of primal desire as they can, even if they only last 30 seconds. A kiss, a grab, a squeeze; an expression of full-throated desire, a whispered fantasy, a moment of erotic playfulness.
Great orgasms guaranteed
My research shows that many women find getting into a trance-like state makes orgasms not only more likely, but exquisitely pleasurable. So, an ideal sex script should include behaviours to aid total absorption.
It can be challenging at times to get lost in the moment when thoughts of work, children or schedules interfere.
But people who are able to achieve this total immersion report having learned skills to cope with such distractions.
If you’re the sort to be easily distracted, aim to factor in elements of a sex script that help lead you to a process of absorption. Perhaps giving and receiving a massage, or taking a hot scented bath. Try complete darkness. Or even sex toys.
Sometimes keeping familiar elements in your sex script works well. When you’re doing a dance you’ve danced many times, it can become encoded in a part of the brain that stores routines.
It’s easier to lose yourself when you don’t have to think twice about choreography. Ultimately, great sex is less about completely reinventing new scripts as taking the time and effort to fix, tweak or augment your current script.
It’s about keeping the bits that work and making them work better — and having the courage to throw out any elements that no longer serve.
This is the route to bridging the gap between the sex you’re having and the sex you want to have.
Choose your ruse to share ideas
Coming up with your sex script is one thing, but are you ready to share your thoughts and ideas with a partner?
It is understandable to feel shy or hesitant, and to worry about being judged or rejected.
And if you’re single…
For singles, now is the time to get out and have fun.
Take this opportunity to reinvent your sexual self with a new sex script that puts your needs and desires first.
The temptation can be to go along with the dominant narrative about what sex should be like, but studies show women are far less likely to orgasm that way. So why not take this opportunity to factor in the chance to talk about what you’d like and what you need, and to take every opportunity to let a sexual partner know what feels good for you.
One trick is to pick an opportune moment to tell your partner you’ve had a sexy dream about them — and then describe one element of your new sex script.
Hopefully, this will pique their curiosity, and give you the opportunity to describe key aspects of it, in the form of a fantasy.
You could prolong the psychological arousal by saying: ‘I’ll tell you more about it tonight’ then send a few tantalising ‘sexts’ during the day.
Another trick is to suggest playing ‘Two Truths And A Lie’ and offering up three different fantasies of sexual scenarios you’d like to explore with your partner and then letting your partner try to guess which ones are true.
Whatever ruse you decide to use, I urge you to go for it.
Trust me, it’s far better to take the risk of talking, rendering yourself vulnerable, and, ultimately, getting closer to someone than it is to be lying in bed next to them and feeling a million miles apart.
A new sex script really is the best way of bridging that divide.
Summer is just around the corner and we have so many reasons to be optimistic and positive.
Grab this chance and don’t have your sexuality tucked up in the back of your wardrobe with your lockdown leggings!
Adapted by LOUISE ATKINSON from So Tell Me About The Last Time You Had Sex by Ian Kerner (£16.99, Scribe). To order a copy for £15.12 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £20. Offer price valid until 03/06/2021.