I often warn my clients about trying to have sex “the way they do in the movies.” That kind of sex, I remind them, is scripted. Those are actors. Hollywood doesn’t do the best job of portraying the sexual mishaps that are so common off-screen. Box office sales would probably drop if movies spent too much time depicting the communication and negotiation skills that are necessary for good quality sex.
On the other hand, I know what my clients mean when they reference Hollywood sex scenes. They want sex that feels effortless, harmonious, and in sync. They want both intimacy and passion. They want to feel equal parts spent and energized after an erotic encounter.
Attunement in Sex
In a previous post, I explained how becoming attuned to your partner can optimize your relationship. Developing strong attunement skills also has the power to transform sex from mediocre to mind-blowing. Below are three tips to get you started.
1. Practice Makes Perfect. I want to begin by saying that strong attunement skills come with time and practice. You’re not going to see the same level of flow and harmony in a pair of novice dancers as you would in a couple who has been dancing together for years. A newly assembled band is not going to have the necessary skill set to know when to step back and let one of its musicians rock out on a drum or saxophone solo in a way that captivates the audience before seamlessly coming back together to finish the song. The same concept applies to team sports. Teams that have been practicing together for a long period of time tend to win more championships.
Sex is no different. You’ll never learn all the little idiosyncrasies of your partner’s sexuality within the first few months of a relationship. Sex isn’t better when it’s rare. The more you practice and fine-tune your skills, the more effortless sex will feel. Furthermore—and this is part of what makes sex so exciting—what worked yesterday might be different from what works today. Think of how musicians evolve in their style and create different songs. Once you and your partner have an understanding of what each other typically enjoy, you can begin to create new and exciting harmonies together.
2. Make It a Priority. Many couples are guilty of letting fear take hold when the honeymoon phase of the relationship wears off. It’s not uncommon for sex to feel both easy and insanely intense in the beginning of a relationship, but it can start to feel lackluster when you’re also finding yourself paying bills together and negotiating who is going to run the kids to soccer practice.
Couples who prioritize sex don’t let this transition slow them down. As the initial intensity in the relationship wanes, intimacy and closeness begin to bloom. With patience and commitment to prioritizing sex, couples can discover an entirely different—much more erotic—kind of intensity within intimacy. Sex becomes less “automatically driven” by new-relationship neurochemicals and more about intentionally seeking an opportunity to be seen, felt, and loved.
3. Strengthen Your Nonverbal Communication Skills. One of the key elements of sexual attunement is strengthening nonverbal communication skills. Unfortunately, the way we live our lives doesn’t lend itself to developing this skill. We rely on technology for just about everything. The result has been a major mind-body disconnect as well as a wide gap in interpersonal relationships.
These days, couples are lucky to spend half an hour sharing a meal together, and honestly, what percentage of that is truly uninterrupted time? How many couples simply plop down on the couch in front of the TV after a long day? The truth is, we spend very little time engaging with each other with focused attention. The result is a deficit in our ability to read nonverbal cues.
When this skill is poorly developed outside the bedroom, it’s hard to master inside the bedroom. For tips on how to fine-tune this skill in your relationship, reference my last post. Once in bed (and after you’ve developed strong verbal communication skills), start paying closer attention to the signals sent by your partner’s body, facial expressions, and breathing. We can gain so much by focusing on these elements and learning how to adjust ourselves in response to them. The result—over time—is a more effortless harmony that isn’t interrupted by too much chatter.
Can you have sex the way they do in the movies? Yes. You just have to go about it in a different way. Write your own script. Revise it. Collaborate. Practice. Tune into your body. The result will be symphonic, erotic, and intimate sexual compatibility that stands the test of time.
About the Author
Emily Jamea, Ph.D., LMFT, LPC is a sex and relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. She maintains a busy private practice and researches how to create optimal relationships and sexual experiences.
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