Inside each of us is a secret erotic world, a place full of creative, exciting stimuli we tend to focus on when we want to turn ourselves on. It's a common couple tragedy to feel unable or disallowed to share that juicy internal world with your partner out of fear of rejection or shame. However, if you have the trust in your partner and the courage to get over your fear of showing 'too much', the erotic rewards can be great.
Couple research tells us that the happiest erotic couples tend to have created a shared, overlapping erotic world made from combining parts of their own erotic imaginations, in which they can escape everyday life. They find ways to unashamedly explore fantasy and desire together without too many barriers, and are open to stepping out of their comfort zones at least a little, to keep passions alive and vibrant.
Overall, they prioritize finding ways to show each other that they are desirable and that they matter - even when they have differences.
Here's my 5 favourite secrets of erotically-charged couples:
1. They know how to turn themselves on
It's vital to know how you turn yourself on to passion - the thoughts, the feelings, the kinds of experiences your erotic imagination thrives on - that's the stuff you can nourish, refresh and bring into your relationship. Instead of only relying on your partner to turn you on, you each inspire and generate excitement from within yourselves. That's very attractive.
2. They know how to have mindful sex
Try looking into each other's eyes more than you habitually do - does it feel strange, do you feel shy, do you laugh? That's all good. Detach from fear. Understand that vulnerability is sexy. Be welcoming. Be receptive. Be open to new experiences. Author Gary Zukav suggests that a way to feel more alive in your life and relationships is to have the courage to explore your vulnerability.
3. They understand that complacency kills passion
Author Tony Robbins wrote that if you want a relationship to last it's a good idea to keep behaving as you did at the start, pretty much across the board. It's not bad advice because what he's getting at is that at the start of a relationship we understand that there's no place for complacency - we have to make an effort to attract the partner we desire and keep them engaged and having fun. We know we have to put in - why would we want to stop?
4. They're unafraid to change roles
Playing with roles doesn't mean playing scenes in costume (although, do it if you like it). It simply means exercising a different side of yourself for freedom, pleasure and fun. For example, therapist Esther Perel suggests it can be incredibly relaxing for someone who makes decisions all day to have their partner be 'boss' in the bedroom sometimes. It can be bliss for a partner who is constantly caring for others to be treated to 100% pampering; washing, stroking and all kinds of intense, no-holds-barred care from their partner so that for once, they don't have to do a thing.
5. Special sexual techniques
Sorry. As for fancy techniques, there's no one simple magic move that will guarantee great sex, but I guess you know that. Good lovers are made not born, and technique in bed won't matter a bit if the passionate connection between you is not there. Openness, mindfulness, aliveness and embodiment of your feelings are the conditions most likely to inspire great sex.
Dr Debra Campbell-Tunks MAPS