If you’re in or on the cusp of your 30s, get excited about your sex life. Many women in their 30s say they feel sexier and more connected with their bodies than they did in their 20s, leading to better sex overall. (And there’s some research that suggests women reach their sexual peak around their 30s, so hooray for that.)
That doesn’t mean that there won’t be hiccups in the bedroom, though. Below, sex therapists share 10 sex-related mistakes people tend to make in their 30s, and how to move beyond these problems.
1. Settling for lazy sex.
“Everyone gets into routines, and it can be easy to fall into this trap with sex. Lazy sex can be rushing through undressing, skipping over sensual touch and passionate kissing and going straight to the main sources of orgasm. Lazy sex lacks exploration and creativity and impacts your sexual motivation. [The solution is] not about making more time for sex. It’s about using the time you do have and pursuing pleasure wisely.” ― Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and sex therapist in Los Angeles
2. Freaking out when you don’t feel desire.
“Desire can come and go in a committed relationship, so it’s important not to panic when you don’t feel it. Sometimes, just having sex regularly enough can be sufficient to bring desire back.” ― Stephen Snyder, a New York City sex therapist and author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship
3. Not paying attention to your sex life once you have a baby.
“Sure, babies and children require lots of attention, day and night, leaving you tired a lot of the time. That said, if you and your partner haven’t had sex lately and it seems like a good idea to go to sleep early rather than do it, stay awake and do it. Connect with him or her. Stay focused on one another’s needs. This will limit the need for either of you to act on a whim to seek it out elsewhere. Consider your relationship to be your first baby. Give it the care it needs.” ― Laurel Steinberg, psychotherapist and assistant professor of sexology at the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists
4. Taking sex too seriously.
“Sex is a serious part of overall health and well-being, but it doesn’t have to be serious to the point of lacking play and fun. If you’re not having fun, it can turn serious and lead to you criticizing yourself or your partner. Be open to different types of sex and not being a sexual perfectionist. Get out of your head and become more embodied. The only goal of sex should be consensual play that involves giving and receiving pleasure.” ― Chavez
5. Not focusing on the clitoris.
“Most straight women believe they need to get their orgasm through penis-in-vagina intercourse. But the truth is, 97 percent of women need some type of direct clitoral stimulation to achieve an orgasm. The best way to learn to orgasm is to masturbate and explore your own body. Once you find your own ability to enjoy sex, then you will be able to communicate it to your partner. It’s totally OK for couples to orgasm at different times. Your partner may orgasm first, then focus on your own orgasm with fingering, toys or oral sex. All of this requires understanding your clitoris.” ― Angela Skurtu, a sex therapist and author of Helping Couples Overcome Infidelity: A Therapist’s Manual
6. Having an affair instead of renegotiating what monogamy means to you.
“Many people in their 30s and beyond find themselves in relationships where the sex is seriously no longer working but the relationship is otherwise strong. Often, they’ve tried to work on their sex life within the confines of monogamy, but it’s still DOA, and they find themselves facing the choice: Give up the relationship and go your separate ways, or give up on sex. And of course, some folks just opt for infidelity because there are so many aspects of the primary relationship they still cherish and don’t want to lose.
Increasingly, I’m working with couples in my practice who started off with dreams of lifelong monogamy, but are now considering and giving consensual non-monogamy a serious go. Opening up a marriage isn’t for everyone, and it requires having the pioneering spirit, but in my experience, it’s a more courageous and honest choice than turning to infidelity. Sometimes it is possible to outsource the fulfillment of your sexual needs while maintaining an otherwise functional and satisfying relationship. Sometimes the process of opening up a relationship can create a new erotic energy that you can bring back home.” ― Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and New York Times-bestselling author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
7. Powering through painful sex.
“After childbirth especially, some women experience painful intercourse. Having painful sex leads to lower desire and avoidance of sex altogether. Instead, I would encourage all women to go to at least one pelvic floor physical therapy session. If the pain needs work, a physical therapist will help you have better, less painful sex.” ― Skurtu
8. Not prioritizing intimacy, even if it means scheduling in sex.
“We tend to have a lot of commitments in our 30s, between increased responsibilities at work, growing families, and greater financial pressure. So many couples succumb to these pressures, and end up leaving less and less time for their relationships. But your sex life needs your time, energy and attention in order to flourish. And ironically, when you and your partner are in a great place sexually and romantically, you have a lot more energy to tackle your other commitments!” ― Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and online sex therapy course creator
9. Not masturbating.
“Partnered sex and masturbation are two different activities. If you are sexually active with a partner or partners, that doesn’t mean that you should stop masturbating. Self-stimulation primes the body’s arousal response and gets you in touch with your body. It’s a great form of mindfulness which improves mood and can be a sleep aid. It also provides sexual awareness that you can use during partnered sex to guide your partner to participate in your pleasure.” ― Chavez
10. Comparing your sex life to your close friends’ sex lives.
“It’s quite common for people who talk about sex with their friends to complain that their sex lives are lacking.The yardstick that measures the right amount of sex you have in your relationship has to be based on the right amount for you and your partner, not on anybody else.” ― Steinberg