Sex and physical intimacy are great ways to increase connection and closeness in a romantic relationship. As simple and straightforward as that concept seems, it takes some effort and awareness for sex and physical intimacy to create connection and closeness.
If you’re looking to have better sex with your partner, it’s important to understand the role sex plays in a relationship.
When the relationship going well, it’s easy to see how sex creates a stronger bond in a relationship. However, when the relationship feels a little rockier, sex and physical intimacy don’t always have the same effect!
What makes the difference?
For some couples, sexual problems arise for medical reasons that might require a visit to the doctor. Other couples may experience sexual problems for other emotional reasons.
For many people, sex is a way to create and rebuild emotional intimacy and closeness. However, more often than not, emotional intimacy and closeness need to be present before people are open to the idea of having sex, let alone better sex. After all, it’s not very appealing to be physically intimate with someone that you don’t trust or don’t feel connected to!
This makes sense biologically, too. It is a vulnerable thing to do to be physically intimate with someone. So how can we expect ourselves to get out of our heads and enjoy the experience if we aren’t fully relaxed and emotionally close to the person we’re with?
If you and your partner can relate to this idea of wanting to connect emotionally to have better sex, there are things that you can do to resurface that emotional safety and security that is needed to have a really enjoyable sex life!
Here are five ways to have better sex, according to a couples therapist:
Know the Different Purposes of Sex
There are three different purposes sex serves in a relationship: performance, security, and harmony.
If sex in your relationship is being used for performance, it will be a lot more focused on the release of sexual tension, and measuring up to external standards of what “good sex” is supposed to be.
It is less about connecting and bonding with one another, and more about the physiological benefit of sex. When performance is the focus, partners can lose sight of mutual pleasure in both physical and emotional ways.
Very often, when sex is about performance, it’s easy to get preoccupied with thoughts about how attractive your partner perceives you to be or worries about knowing what you’re doing. Although this purpose for sex can be enjoyable, it is not always a way to feel closer to your partner and have better sex.
The second purpose of sex – security – can be about feeling insecure in the relationship, and seeking sex as a way to overcome insecurity. Dr. Sue Johnson, creator of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy calls this Solace Sex.
If sex as a form of security is happening, it’s a way of showing your partner that you want to feel close to them, but not that you already do. Examples of sex as security would be saying yes to sex because you don’t want your partner to be mad, initiating sex as an apology, or to reassure your partner that you love them.
If harmony and pleasure are the main purposes of sexual interactions, it’s about celebrating and exploring the connection that is already present. Sex happens more freely, as an expression of love, rather than as a way to create it. Couples that have a harmonious sexual relationship feel safe to try new things, speak up if they don’t like something, and share their wants and desires with each other. This kind of sex leads to better sex overall.
Focus on the Quality of Sex, rather than the Quantity
Defining your relationship’s happiness by how often you have sex creates more pressure to just have sex, rather than making sure that the times you do have sex are enjoyable. In fact, the quality of sex is a much better indicator of how connected a couple feels, rather than how often they are having sex. (Outside of medical conditions, of course.)
This is because the couples that report the most satisfaction with their sex life are couples that have more fun together, share nonsexual affection more often, and feel genuinely known and accepted by each other. Focusing on the quality of your relationship makes the vulnerability associated with sex a lot lower, and therefore, more enjoyable.
Focus on Emotional Connection More than Physical Connection to Have Better Sex
There is a book called, “The Normal Bar,” which describes a study about sex involving 70,000 people. These people sharing the differences between couples who report having “great sex” and couples who report having “bad sex.”
It became apparent that the couples who have better sex are doing the same set of physical acts.
All of the differences in quality of sex have to do with the quality of their emotional connection with one another.
The research shows that couples who report having the best sex tell each other that they love each other daily, they are physically affectionate, they have fun together, they cuddle, they have date nights, and they are mindful about turning towards one another when communicating about mundane topics.
In summary, the couples with the best sex life are really good friends.
In a way, this research is comforting. Couples don’t have to get fancy or focus on how well they perform sexually to feel like their sex life is thriving. All they have to do is give their relationship the time and attention it deserves in their daily interactions, and it can lead to better sex.
Have Knowledge about What Turns Each Other on Emotionally to Have Better Sex
Often, couples know what turns each other on sexually. But do you know what turns your partner on emotionally?
For example, Liam knows that Kim usually enjoys when he kisses her neck. But sometimes, Liam leans in to kiss Kim’s neck and she swats him away! Kim may reject him because she isn’t turned on emotionally. In other words, a person needs to be turned on emotionally in order to be turned on physically.
Knowing what turns your partner on emotionally is a great way to start enhancing your sex life. Maybe your partner feels emotionally turned on after you help them clean the dishes. Maybe your partner feels emotionally turned on after a fun date night.
No matter what works best for your partner, having this knowledge is a great tool. You can use it to increase connection and improve your sexual relationship, leading to better sex.
Talk about it!
To many people, talking about sex is an uncomfortable and risky conversation to have with your partner. However, being able to talk freely and honestly with one another about sex is one of the best ways to improve the quality of sex you have.
If the conversation is done correctly, couples will feel more known by their partner and they will feel like they know more about their partner! It’s also a great way to improve emotional connection. If partners know the other person safe to turn to about a vulnerable topic, they will feel more connected.
Ideally, sex talks happen at a neutral time when neither person is interested in having sex. That way, the risk of someone feeling rejected is a lot lower.
For example, after a big meal, spend time talking about different sex topics. For example, what are your partner’s views on masturbation? Porn? What feels good, and what doesn’t feel good to them? Do you and your partner feel like you get enough nonsexual touch? Does your partner have any fantasies that they haven’t shared with you before?
Partners aren’t mind readers. Clear communication and clarification about sex preferences and ideas is a great way to start understanding and connection!
As always, if you think that you and your partner would benefit from speaking to a therapist about other ways to improve your sex life through emotional intimacy, don’t hesitate to make a Greenwood Village couples counseling appointment by calling us at 303-513-8975, X1 or by scheduling online: Schedule Appointment