10 things that are secretly killing your sex life

When it comes to getting it on, you could be mistaken for thinking that person A plus person B equals a big O for two.

But it turns out that sex is more like a recipe.

“You have to have a range of different ingredients in order to be able to have a good time,” Hanna Hosking, a Melbourne-based sexologist told news.com.au.

Because not only do we need a variety of factors to knock our socks off, but there’s a whole shopping list of things that are secretly killing our sex lives.

Forgetting foreplay

Rushing through the opening act is one of the biggest blunders anyone can make, according to Ms Hosking.

“Studies around foreplay have actually shown that it can create a more intense orgasm,” she said, “and the opportunity to create a more emotional and physical intimacy for deeper connection.”

While skipping out on the warm up can also be detrimental.

“If people don’t build up that arousal beforehand and spend enough time in that arousal state before jumping into sex, that’s when people can experience quite a lot of pain which can have adverse effects on people’s sex lives because they won’t want to have sex as much,” explained Ms Hosking.

Now don’t go thinking it’s all about oral sex. Foreplay can simply be asking what your partner wants.

“Like how do they like it, what do they want, is that good for them, and what turns them on,” the sexologist suggested.

“Just exploring, experimenting, spending time eye gazing, giving each other a massage and things like that really help set the mood.”

Focusing on an orgasm as the goal

Orgasms are great. We all know that. And to be fair they’re often the reason why we have sex.

“But if it’s the only goal it actually creates this pressure and so you feel like a failure if you can’t get there and that creates this negative rhetoric in your brain,” Ms Hosking explained.

“Only focusing on an orgasm actually adds stress which can then inhibit the opportunity to have an orgasm.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Hugh Crothers, the founder of Melbourne lube brand drip, points to an even bigger issue.

“The patriarchy and porn and everything else that we consume has really created the narrative that a man’s orgasm marks the end of sex,” he told news.com.au, adding that the broader our definition of sex is, the better off everyone will be.

“I don’t think that penetrative sex with an orgasm has to define sex and I think everyone would have a lot more sex in relationships if they were broader in their definition of what that could be”.

It’s less about the destination and more about the experience, Ms Hosking added.

“If you are both mutually satisfying each other, it should just really be about the pleasure journey,” she explained, “rather than, ‘you’ve orgasmed, therefore my work here is done’.”

Not using enough lube

We’ve all been there when your mind screams yes but your body says ‘not today thanks’.

“Even though naturally people might produce a lot of pre-cum or vaginal fluid, if they’re with someone that they feel nervous around or if they’re feeling butterflies or perhaps they’re distracted by work or laundry, they won’t necessarily perform the same way that they would by themselves or with someone that they’ve been with for a really long time,” Crothers explained.

Enter, lube, a lover’s best friend.

“Lube is a really great way to ensure that there is less friction,” said the founder of drip, which produces vegan lube.

“Not only is lube a far superior and safer alternative to spit, but reducing friction can also help prevent micro abrasions and cuts that could lead to infections and STIs.”

Not communicating with your partner

While sex is literally the single most intimate act that can take place between two people (or more!), communicating vocally is often the hardest.

“People – and particularly women – can feel ashamed to say, ‘This is what I need, this is what I want and this is what I like’, because there’s that dialogue that we’re asking for too much and our pleasure comes second,” Hanna told news.com.au.

She explained that good communication is about learning to be vulnerable, being open to feedback and asking what your partner likes, which can bring you closer.

“Discussing sex can actually be more intimate than the act itself,” the sexologist said.

“So it’s really important to listen and hear what somebody has to say without Judgement or defensiveness.”

Communication is especially important when it comes to exploring in the bedroom, according to Crothers.

“Be that with a partner of 20 years or 20 minutes,” he said, adding that before you get under the sheets it’s vital to talk about what you’re both comfortable with.

“Even though that can feel a bit unsexy at times because it feels quite practical or there’s a degree of vulnerability that comes with expressing those desires.”

Having sex out of obligation

“If it’s not a f*** yes, it’s a hell no,” according to Ms Hosking.

But she said it’s not uncommon for couples to have mismatched libidos, which can create frustration and resentment in the relationship.

“If one person with a lower libido is worried about losing their partner, or just agreeing to sex to avoid a fight or passive aggressive behaviour, it’s going to appear to alleviate issues in the short term but it’s going to create adversarial sexual satisfaction and relationship dissatisfaction in the long term,” the sexologist explained.

“So it’s about trying to find that happy medium and also making sure that people are open to having those discussions about what their needs are in order to help facilitate solutions.”

Not knowing your own body

Ms Hosking gave a great analogy for this one.

“Imagine how hard it might be to describe to somebody how to drive a car if you don’t know how to drive a car,” she suggested.

“It’s the same thing when it comes to pleasure.

“If you don’t know what works for your own body, how can you possibly explain to somebody what you like if you don’t know?”

So here’s some homework: Use self pleasure as a mindful exercise to discover your erogenous zones, or read or listen to material that really engages your senses to help you feel confident in knowing what you like.

“Which then helps you to feel confident in asking for what you want,” Ms Hosking said.

Forcing yourself to try new things

Hoping that some crazy kink will spark up your love life?

Think again, said Crothers.

“I don’t think it’s necessary that you try all sorts of wild activities,” he explained.

“You could be trying to impose your desires or preferences onto a partner that potentially doesn’t want that.

“So I don’t think having a blanket, ‘yes, everybody should be trying all sorts of kinky behaviour’, should be the case.”

He also argued that it’s really up to couples to have those discussions, and be as honest and open as they can.

“And those can be really difficult conversations, particularly if you’re in a monogamous relationship, where those expectations don’t align and you’re not in a position to be able to explore outside of that if you are practising monogamy.”

Thinking that sex always comes naturally

Let’s be clear here. It doesn’t.

“We’ve kind of been sold this false narrative, particularly from TV and movies and even porn, that good sex is just something that happens naturally and it happens from the get go and there’s this amazing sexual chemistry,” Ms Hosking said.

So it’s no wonder that people get a few years into a relationship and wonder why that sexy spark is diminishing.

“You’ve got the initial rise of sexual chemistry and then it might come down from the peak a little bit,” the sexologist.

“What needs to happen next is sexual growth.

“So it’s making sure that you both have aligned expectations and that you work towards mutually satisfying outcomes.”

Having devices in bed with you

Call it an obvious one, but try telling that to the tech-obsessed.

“Devices are the worst,” Crothers argued.

“No, not sex toys. I’m referring to iPhones and Androids and I think they and our addiction to them are probably the biggest vibe killers.”

“I definitely think that in modern relationships, it’s so common for a couple to get into bed and be looking at their phones, checking their work emails or Instagram or whatever it is, and that really detracts from intimacy and connection with your partner.”

So what does get the green flag in the bedroom?

“Absolutely softer lighting, lamps, candles, soft textures, good music, and all those types of elements are much better than the sort of 7/11 store lighting,” told news.com.au.

Throw in a fireplace on a weekend away and you’ve got yourself the perfect set up.

“But again, it just depends,” Crothers added.

“Some people are really into the kitchen bench with really harsh lighting.”

Feeling like you have to put on an act or perform

When all you’ve got to go off are pornography stars, it’s no wonder that people feel like they need to put on a performance in the bedroom.

“So often, that comes from body image concerns and self esteem, and it can make people feel like they need to behave like pawns in order to make somebody happy,” Ms Hosking explained.

“What this does is it puts pressure on either the person or the people engaging in the act, and creates patterns of sexual anxiety, and that creates intrusive thoughts, and then that disrupts the mind-body connection.”

So it’s really important to create a safe space for pleasure, to feel full present, to check in with yourself during sex, and to speak up for yourself.

“Because nobody wants their partner to be faking it. That’s just a mood killer right there.”

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