I try not to "prescribe" sexual activities; you are all entitled to make your own decisions when it comes to your sex life. I merely make suggestions, and this time, the suggestions are actually coming from you -- the readers. But this is not a mandate; consider it elective homework. If you haven't been doing the following things, maybe you should try them.
1. Mutual Masturbation
When I asked Facebook and Twitter users what they thought people weren't doing enough of (sexually), the first response I received was "mutual masturbation." I must admit, this made me smile. We often hear about this underrated activity under the umbrella of safer sex (and usually during a high school sex ed class), and while it is that, it can be a highly pleasurable and erotic activity. As an added bonus: You can see how your partner likes to be touched (and vice versa). It is also a great way to have sexual satisfaction if you are not in the mood for intercourse. Pleasure is pleasure -- does it really matter if there's no penetration involved?
2. Admitting what you like -- or who you like.
When was the last time you looked at your partner and said, "I'd really like it if we (insert fantasy of choice)?" Many of us don't admit that there are things we would like to try in our bedroom. Perhaps it is because we have all these preconceived notions about what is "right" and "wrong" when it comes to sex. Maybe it's because we're not sure what we like because we've haven't experimented enough... or at all. Maybe there is something about our fantasy (or our fantasy partner) that makes us feel guilty. Throw all of that guilt away and make a commitment to speak up about something/someone you want in your sex life.
3. Mixing up your sexual repertoire.
Many of us (especially if we've been in a long-term relationship) start to develop a sexual routine. We have sex on a particular day of the week, in the same room and often in the same position. Do we mean to be sexually mundane? Definitely not. But sometimes life takes over and we don't prioritize our sexual relationship. Many people would like to make their sex lives more exciting; novelty is the easiest way to get there. Get out of your comfort zone. Try a new position. Mix up your location: you know, move out of the bedroom. Try new sex behaviors. Are you an intercourse-only couple? There are lots of other activities that end in orgasm -- i.e. mutual masturbation, oral sex and anal sex.
4. Not Faking Orgasms.
You heard me. Lots of us (believe it or not, men, too!) fake orgasms. I get why we do it -- we want our partner(s) to feel confident about their sexual skills, we want to get sex over with or we are frustrated with our own inability to have an orgasm. But in the end, is it really helpful? Probably not. There's a difference between faking an orgasm once and consistent faking. If you're not being satisfied, don't let your partner assume you are. How is that person supposed to know what you need? (And consider what happens if and when that partner moves on to his or her next relationship...) A good partner is concerned with your pleasure as well as his or her own. I'm not suggesting that orgasms are the goal of every sex act (because when we focus heavily on the "end," we can actually psyche ourselves out of having an orgasm). But I am suggesting that pretending to have pleasure is a surefire way of insuring that you don't have any. Kind of defeats the purpose.
5. Using Condoms More Regularly.
You didn't think that I could possibly write this without including something explicitly health-related, did you? I am a huge proponent of condoms -- always have been. Condoms are the only form of contraception that offers protection against sexually transmitted infections, HIV and pregnancy. Condoms today aren't like those of the past. There are lots of innovations that make for pleasurable protected sex. In fact, in the largest nationally representative study of sexual health and behaviors (IU, NSSHB, 2010), adults wearing condoms for intercourse were just as likely to rate the sex positively with respect to arousal, pleasure and orgasm as having intercourse without a condom. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself (www.nationalsexstudy.indiana.edu). But in all seriousness, I believe that people should be free to explore all types of consensual sex, but we should be protected. There are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. every year (some are curable, some are treatable). So I'm not saying to avoid sex, I'm saying to be smart about what we do and how we do it. (And of course, if you are a woman who has sex with women, you should be using dams for oral or oral/anal sex, condoms with sex toys and getting tested regularly, too.)
In the end, I'm sure that there are plenty of other things that we could be doing in (or out of) our bedrooms. What would you want to be doing more of? Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. I look forward to reading them.
Follow Dr. Logan Levkoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LoganLevkoff