The 1 Thing Sex Therapists Tell Their Clients Will Change Your Sex Life For The Better
The best sex advice I ever received (aside from always using protection—because, seriously, always use protection!) was simply to take my enjoyment just as seriously as I take my partner's. Seems pretty basic, right? But it's pretty incredible how backwards some of our earliest ideas about sex are. Sometimes, those messages about sex can be pretty, well, anti-sex, and even anti-pleasure. But to be fair, those messages are probably not coming from folks we would call experts. So, with that in mind, I can't help but wonder what the one thing sex therapists tell their clients to improve their sex lives might be.
All too often, the people shaping the way we envision sex early on can potentially misguide us, or cause some shame around the subject. Psychosexual and relationship therapist Kate Moyle agrees, telling Elite Daily, “[It’s] because we have such a poor level of education on the whole when it comes to sex and our bodies, and especially the parts of our bodies that are associated with having sex. On top of this, when things go wrong with sex, it's piling more shame and embarrassment on a topic that is already quite taboo.” That being said, what do the experts think we need to know, or to unlearn, to really improve our sex lives? To answer that, I reached out to three sex therapists. While they all offered different bits of advice, they're all things we should take on board — and to the bedroom — ASAP. Here's what they had to say.
1. Use desire language with your partner.
According to sex therapist Stefani Threadgill, the best sex technique is done with your mouth. I’m talking about using what she calls “desire language.” This is especially important, Threadgill says, as the relationship matures and some of that early honeymoon phase energy begins to wane. “Many couples transition from desire language to love language, which creates intimacy and can diminish desire,” says Threadgill. For example, “‘You look sexy’ becomes ‘You look nice.’” Or, “‘I want you’ becomes “I love you.’” You don't have stop using intimate language with your partner. Threadgill just says to make sure you incorporate more desire words into your language, because “desire words hint at components of desire — seduction, mystery, anticipation, lust, passion.”
2. Don’t ignore the psychological element to any issues you’re having in the bedroom.
For Moyle, the most important thing she wants for women who are having issues in the bedroom is to make the mind-body connection. She says we need to know that “even if there is a physical reason for the symptoms that you are experiencing, that there will also be a psychological element.” So, don't just focus on treating the physical problem without addressing the underlying psychological issue. “For example,” says Moyle, “if sex is painful, not only is there the pain itself, but also how you feel about it and how it impacts the sex you are having and the meaning that sex therefore takes on, e.g., you start to associate sex with pain instead of pleasure which is going to change the way that you have sex.” She adds that “there is almost always some element of anxiety related to sexual difficulties and dysfunctions.”
Her advice is that if you are having a sexual problem, treat it like you would any other physical issue and make an appointment with a specialist. “As with any problem in any other part of our lives, as soon as we understand what is going on, and what we are doing to maintain that problem occurring it[sic] then we can change the thoughts and behaviors associated with it… it’s important to have open and shame free conversations about sex that we are unlikely to have in the same way outside of the therapy room.”
3. Stop worrying if you're "normal."
Kristin Marie Bennion, a certified sex and mental health therapist’s advice is probably going to ring true for a lot of folks, and that is “to stop worrying about whether or not they are ‘normal.’ The perception that there is a normal or ideal way to be as a sexual person has caused so much unnecessary worry and insecurity in the lives of way too many people.”
For Bennion, the key to improving your sex life is all about shifting your mindset from “whether or not [you] are measuring up, to a mindset of pleasure, curiosity, and connection.” She says this can be absolutely game changing for anyone who has “spent too much time thinking they are inadequate or abnormal.”
So, how does this happen? Bennion explains it comes down to not having access to quality information about sexuality and our bodies. “Sadly, a lot of women ... have been influenced by sources that are not the most accurate or healthy when it comes to healthy sexuality. When they seek the information out, many tend to run into the same kind of material, advertising only one certain body type that has a very narrow type of sexual experiences — and that only reinforces the perception that they may be abnormal or subpar.” Spoiler alert: You are neither.
All these expert opinions tie in together in a larger way: not being afraid of owning your sexuality. Whether that be by being more overtly sexual in they way you speak to your partner, or getting the treatment you need and deserve when you're struggling so that you can become a more healthy and satisfied sexual being, or just by embracing your sexual desire and identity without feeling like it's strange or shameful. It also ties into the advice I was given, and that’s that your sexual pleasure matters and that you have a right to pursue and embrace it. And when you believe those two things, your sex life will improve — a lot.
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