What do people really want for Valentine's Day? Empty sentimentality? Forced ardor? Anti-climactic grand gestures? No. In my private practice, across the board, from my single hopefuls, to couples bored in the bedroom, and even the womanizers -- they all complain about one missing quality in their sex lives. Passion.
People want to be kissed deeply. Pushed up against walls. Hair pulled. Clothes ripped. Overwhelmed with desire. It's not monogamy that kills this. Even the gleefully single can be missing passion.
Passion is not the same as chemistry -- which is a biological phenomenon we have little control over. Passion is an emotional experience that we can influence. I always ask the men in my practice what they wish for from their wives and girlfriends. Based on their responses, here are five tips for creating more excitement in the bedroom:
1. Don't expect him to do all the work.
Passivity is boring. Don't assume guys want to have sex all the time and you're doing him a favor by simply opening your legs and lying there. Most men would appreciate some seduction. Some creativity. Be an active, engaged partner. Some guys will put up with indifferent, passive partners -- if it's all they can get -- but don't take this to mean they're satisfied. Do you want him to rip your clothes off? Incite him. Flirt, touch, tease. Initiate sex. Take the leadership role and put your ideas out there.
2. Stay present.
Let him know you're there by keeping your eyes open, talk, touch and move up against him. Open up emotionally. Otherwise, sex is flat and mechanical. Your self-expression is what animates sex. That scares a lot of my women clients -- it's vulnerable. But that's a good thing. Passion thrives when we're in touch with our vulnerability and longing. There is always a risk that he won't respond to your feelings or your turn-ons -- but you should own them anyways. Passion thrives with difference. Proudly show off your differences, fight, have opinions, tease. The push and pull of difference fuels desire. Passion requires a sense of self. If you close your eyes and retreat into fantasy, you'll still have an orgasm -- but not passion. Ladies, if you want passion, you have to show up.
3. Value his sexuality.
Don't treat sex like a prize that you give away. This point of view implies he wants it more than you do and so you get to decide when he deserves it. This perspective implies men are indiscriminately voracious and don't see sex as special, like you do. You are not the gatekeeper of sexual sanctity and specialness, teaching men to love and commit first before you grant their animalistic and rude lust. The problem in this perspective is that it doesn't honor that his body worthy of respect. It treats his body like a piece of meat. It's objectification. The men on my couch are not dumb, frothing animals. They are looking for love and connection just like you. Desire is not meant for men alone, but for two strong people in an exchange of energy.
4. Learn to marvel at men.
Look at their bodies with the gaze of a poet. See the magnificence. Or look with ravenous lust. If you just can't see it, read some Pablo Neruda or Cheeky Minx. To be truly empowered sexually is not just to be the object of desire, but to be the possessor of desire. Develop a practice of gratitude -- finding appreciation for each part of his body. This attitude will cultivate your sex drive.
5. Decide sex matters.
You're entitled to treat sex as a duty or a bargaining chip; this is your right. But in the process you're devaluing sex. When you view sex as a chore to maintain your marriage, you invite him to disengage emotionally. Many women have told me that they feel "used" by their husbands or boyfriends when they seek sex on a nightly basis -- that they seem to just want to get off before bed, thereby treating you like a sperm receptacle. However, many men have told me that this is when they feel the most warm and loving toward you. Either way, take the lead in making the experience more significant. If you want passion, sex needs to matter.
6. Let your guard down.
Don't hide behind a pleasant, pleasing persona. Have some gravitas. Passion isn't always nice. It's a force. It requires authenticity. Sometimes it's angry, sometimes it's jealous or sad. Sometimes it's dark. Passion is not sappy or spoony or sleepy. It's kinetic and most powerful when it's raw and real versus trying to follow some script of what "sexy" should look like.
In general, the men in relationships that I talk to want to support women in finding their sexual voice. Men want to support you in developing your sexual self-esteem and prowess. They value your body. They value sex. So give him the best of yourself this Valentine's Day!