Love & Sex
Lack of desire is women's No.1 sexual concern, and research shows that for many women, sex drive begins to drop once they're in an established relationship. But might there be some concrete ways to give our libido a little nudge? Here goes ...
1. Read erotic literature. Jump on the wagon and read the Fifty Shades trilogy. Better yet, try Anaïs Nin, Erica Jong, Kate Holden ...
2. Sleep naked.
3. Hire a cleaner. Doing laundry is not an aphrodisiac. As a rule, the less cleaning a woman does, the sexier she feels. Think of Betty Friedan's quote: "No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor."
4. Turn off the TV. Big Brother is the antithesis of foreplay. Shut down your laptops, too. There's a greater chance of intimacy if you retire early and are already in bed.
5. Sexting isn't just for teenagers. Send your partner outrageously dirty texts. It may start off as simply fun - particularly if you send them when you know your better half is in an important meeting - but the exchanges can help set a different relationship tone. Exercise. A healthy body supports a healthy libido. As does a nutritious diet.
6. Exercise. A healthy body supports a healthy libido. As does a nutritious diet.
7. Educate yourself. If your libido isn't as high as you'd like it to be, ask yourself: is this a lifelong issue or recently acquired? Are you aware of its primary cause? Are you or your partner bothered by it? Is your libido or creative, vibrant energy being re-channelled elsewhere? To what extent are you willing to commit to prioritising intimacy?
8. Drink a glass or two of wine. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that drinking one or two glasses of red wine each day increases female desire.
9. Plan small, out-of-the-ordinary surprises.
10. Consider erotic-themed film nights. Rent out The Last Seduction, Betty Blue, Secretary, Sex and Lucia, 9½ Weeks.
11. Masturbate. Instead of hanging up the next load of washing, head somewhere dark and private and reacquaint yourself with your fantasy life.
12. Shift the kids. To Nana's. To a babysitter's. Eros requires distance from the domestic. Stop expecting desire to show up spontaneously - plan it. As in: meet you next Saturday night, 9pm, our bedroom, nude.
13. Deal with demons. Talk about the things that are driving you batty. See a counsellor. Spring-clean resentment out of the home.
14. Bubble bath pour deux.
15. Manufacture danger. One way to counter the monotony of monogamy is to do things together that boost adrenalin and, in turn, feelings of attraction. Think rock-climbing, dance classes ... whatever gets you on edge.
16. Sex toys. (But probably not from eBay.)
17. Don't over-schedule weekends. Leave space.
18. Read up on practising tantra, where the goal is union, rather than getting off.
19. Date nights. Premeditated but necessary. Go and hear some great music, eat some gorgeous food. See how the night unfolds.
20. Play the compliment game. The more attractive each partner feels they are in the other's eyes, the greater the sexual rapport. Build up each other's feelings of desirability.
21. Dirty "weekend"? Try a whole week.
22. Read Jack Morin's The Erotic Mind. The book explores where our personal turn-ons come from and how to re-create them.
23. Give and receive massages regularly. Touch, without the goal of arousal, is a powerful technique.
24. Censor "beauty porn" in the home - all the fashion and beauty magazines and the like, with impossible-to-achieve female images.
25. Consider a sexuality workshop retreat.
26. Don't forget romance. What is something romantic that you could do for your partner?
27. Keep your eyes open and engaged during foreplay and sex. This will charge the experience and change the emotional intent.
28. Practise sexual mindfulness: the skill of being able to turn off our internal to-do list and be in "the present".
29. See a sex therapist.
30. Feel beautiful. This can be a hard one, but it's often at the heart of our sexual self-esteem. How can we feel beautiful as we are? Play Strip Scrabble.
31. Manufacture distance. New York therapist Esther Perel believes couples suffocate each other, dulling desire. She suggests consciously creating space: taking solo holidays or night classes, diving into projects without your partner, and having other close confidantes.
32. Plan a seduction. Anticipation fuels desire - enjoy the tension of the lead-up to sex.
33. Bring back the pash. Every day. One open-mouth kiss doesn't take much time, but the pay-off is significant. It says, "You are more than a companion to me, more than a friend. We are sensual, in this together."
34. If all else fails, get drunk, turn off the lights and grope on the couch.
Dr Bella Ellwood-Clayton is a sexual anthropologist and author of Sex Drive: In Pursuit of Female Desire (Allen & Unwin).
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