The Six Do's and Don'ts to a Better Relationship and Better Sex
How To Make Your Relationship Better, Emotionally and Physically
For those who are now in a marriage or committed relationship, the following are some "do's" and "don'ts" to aid in the maintenance of a lasting, strong, healthy, and sexually fulfilling relationship. Many of us have spent the majority of our adult sex lives as serial monogamists. We have had multiple relationships with partners other than our current one. In the process, there may have been some experimentation, one-night-stands, and other casual experiences. These are the things that made us who we are now sexually and emotionally. This is how we have obtained our sexual and emotional identity and maturity. Our relationship history has paved the way for our future, by giving us experience to draw upon for reference as to what we want and like as well as what we don't want and are opposed to in a relationship, in a partner, and in bed.
1. DO talk about what you want—both sexually and emotionally. Even the most outgoing of us all will suddenly censor ourselves when it comes time to express our true feelings and needs. We fear we may hurt our partners. We are afraid of being judged, hurt, or of uncovering sensitive issues. It is important to breach these topics with the sensitivity and sincerity they deserve. It is also important to choose the occasion and topic(s) carefully. Most importantly, it is crucial to power through the shyness and fear, with the awareness that a few minutes of uncomfortable conversation is worth what could potentially be a lifetime of more gratifying sex and a stronger, more intimate emotional bond with your partner.
2. DO know what it is you want. Before you sit your partner down and put yourself through the potential anxiety of "the talk," be certain what it is you want the result of the discussion to be. If you are a woman, in particular, you should be in touch with your body enough to know what to ask for in the bedroom. Women, we tend to be more in touch with emotions, but less aware of what makes us aroused, or how to achieve climax. Men, you tend to be the opposite, more in touch with what you want physically, and less conscious of what you need emotionally. A note to both sexes--do some serious soul-searching and independent sexual self-educating, before you attempt to express your needs.
3. DO balance these issues of honesty and directness with levity, and maintain a sense of humor. If you don't know yourself well enough, or are not able to laugh at yourself, you will never be able to achieve a higher level of intimacy with your partner. Write down your thoughts, desires, and needs. Ask your partner to do the same. Be specific. Focus on a positive approach. Remember that the more you highlight the areas where your partner excels, the more flexible and open he or she will be to your suggestions. Let your partner know that while this exercise may seem silly, it is important to you and to the relationship. Some examples of conversation starters and ways to achieve balance in this arena are to begin with things like "I love it when you______," and then, "I would like if you would______," or "I like it that we/It is important to me that we______." Show that you are open to making changes yourself, too, by saying things like, "I know I should/you would like me to______more often," and balance that with, "Incentive for me to do that might be______."
Now, for the things to avoid. The following are some ways that you can draw on your relationship history as well. But in this case, remember the ways in which you could have approached your partner better in the past. Use your sexual wisdom and relationship savvy to help create your ideal situation. These are a few suggestions of what not to do, in order to truly deepen your emotional bond, and surpass the sexual hurdles of this specific relationship.
4. DON'T use this conversation to judge, criticize, or otherwise manipulate your partner's emotions in his or her vulnerable state. Remember that he or she is taking a risk, too. That he or she is trusting you with his or her most honest, deepest wants, needs, and desires. This is a chance for you to grow as partners, to potentially get and give all of the right things to one another, not a time to list everything you dislike about their behaviors and actions. Even if something he or she says seems silly or irrelevant to you, it is obviously something important to him or her, and thereby worthy of your attention.
5. DON'T expect perfection. Realize that you are far from perfect, and your partner loves you anyway. Give him or her the same respect and unconditional love. Make it clear that you are not so naive as to think everything is going to be like a romantic comedy. Demonstrate your willingness to share, listen, and broaden your horizons as an individual, a lover, and a partner.
6. Finally, although the past has led you to your current knowledge of relationship navigation and passionate skill level, DON'T compare the past with your current sexual or romantic relationship. Don't be specific in this arena. He or she already knows you're no virgin, but almost nobody wants to hear the details of your previous trysts, and they certainly don't want to be held in comparison to prior loves or lovers. Remember that this relationship is unique and that although you may have had amazing sex with an ex, or a deep emotional connection with someone in your past, they were not right for you in one way or another. That is why you are with your current partner, not them. Telling your partner the details of a past love or sexual encounter will only lead to insecurity. Keep the specifics to yourself.
As you may have noticed, there is a common thread in this advice…communicate with your partner. Communication is essential in the preservation of a happy relationship and a satisfying sex life. If you tread lightly but honestly, with encouragement, and a willingness to consistently work with your partner to better your relationship, as well as work to better yourself as a lover and partner, the above communications will undoubtedly lead you toward the next level of depth of emotion and passion in your relationship.
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Why I Am Qualified to Give Advice in This Arena
I have had a lifelong engrossment with gender, relationships, sex, and sexuality. In my world travels (which include living in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, among other places) I has always made it a point to question natives of each region about their sexual and relationship conflicts and triumphs. In fact, while in Nairobi, I taught “Sex and Sexuality” to young women at Boxgirls (an NGO that teaches girls and women to box for self-defense and self-esteem).
In addition, I put myself through college as a bartender, some of those years I bartended at a predominately gay bar. I learned valuable lessons about people’s relationships and sexuality as an observer. Those who know me the best will often refer to me as the one who will ask the questions that everyone wants to know, but no one will ask.
I have read and researched the topics of sex, sexuality, and relationships at length, and have always been the “go-to’ for friends whenever they have had sexual or relationship issues. As a student of life, and serial monogamist, I am a self-proclaimed sex and relationship guru. My own life experiences and relationships have always been subject to my writing, stand-up comedy, and filmmaking. As a former professor, I have a natural desire to educate and inform. So, as I learn about my subjects of interest, I hope to enlighten others through my writing.
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© 2014 Emily Ullrich