Sexuality loves to be explored. What turns us on is always in flux, involving the push and pull of contrasting forces – and that's what keeps things exciting. Whether you're just beginning to test the waters or have years of experimentation behind you, there is always another facet to discover, and more fun to be had.
Here are a variety of ways to broaden your explorations, uncover new desires and give every day new potential for pleasure.
New to talking dirty? Get tips on introducing new ideas to your partner.
It's natural to fall into a routine – when we find something we enjoy, we stick with it. It's also natural to want to push beyond this, and keep “routine” from becoming “rut” by actively seeking new experiences. The missionary position has many benefits, but can lose its luster if it's the flavor of the day, every day. On the other hand, while trying a new position every time you have sex might be exciting, if you never return to your favorites, you're hardly profiting from all the experimentation.
Clearly, the Familiar and the New are inextricably linked; without one, you won't get much out of the other. The Familiar provides us with a solid and reassuring “home base”, making it the perfect launching point for exploring the New. These new experiences open us to different perspectives and keep us intrigued. Since they aren't tried and true, they're inherently a bit riskier, but these small gambles can net big rewards.
Below are three ways to explore experiences both Familiar & New. Our suggestions don't favor one over the other – each complements the other, giving you the best of both worlds. You may even find new explorations becoming familiar, and familiar ones becoming new again.
1.Change the venue. While a familiar bedroom can be a perfect setting for trying something new, simply taking the action outside of the bedroom can be very new, in and of itself. You don't have to go far – the dining room table may turn out to be the just the right height and the pantry may bring out your reverse cowgirl. For those who've exhausted the possibilities of ottomans and credenzas, try an impulsive hotel getaway (even if it's in the neighborhood). The bed may be a familiar sight, but the unfamiliar surroundings can open you both to new possibilities.
2.Flip the script. Start with what you know and love, but turn one aspect of the experience on its head. If one of you is typically on top, now that person's on the bottom. The leader becomes a follower. The quiet gets to be vocal. The one who usually comes first has to give before they receive. You can apply this idea to any of your patterns, making it as approachable or challenging as you want. This is a great way for you to gain new perspective on your own desires, as well as your partner's. Once you try reversing one element, you may find yourselves naturally reversing many more.
3.Same play, new props. The right accessory can bring new thrills to a familiar scene. The opportunities are all around us. After “9 1/2 Weeks” we never looked at the lowly ice cube the same way again. Likewise, a blindfold can create anticipation, heighten the senses, and add new intensity to your partner's familiar touch. Or, you may find that simply holding a small vibrator between your bodies during sex offers plenty of adventure. There's a wealth of options to choose from, enabling you to decide just how far from the familiar you want to roam. Of course, if vibration is what you crave, we can help you find the perfect vibrator here.
For some, the ultimate sexual experience is primarily spiritual, as much a mingling of souls as bodies. For others, the perfect tryst is all about raw desire and physical release. Yet, these two aspects of sex overlap in ways that are surprising – and rich with possibilities for exploration.
Forging a spiritual connection can sound like a lofty (and new-age-y) ambition, one that focuses on what's in our heads and hearts, not our bodies. Yet, as any first-year yoga instructor can tell you, mind and body are inseparable. While taking your loved one on the kitchen floor when they're still sweaty from the gym may not seem spiritual at first, reveling in each other's physical, natural bodies can be a disarmingly profound and honest experience. Without the pageantry or mood lighting, sex becomes more open, letting you express your desires more directly – and know each other more deeply.
The 15-minute hug. Don't laugh – this is heady stuff, and you may be surprised by the experience. Even the most heartfelt hugs are momentary, and we typically feel the impulse to pull away after a few seconds. Overcoming this internal stopwatch may feel odd at first, even uncomfortable, but stick with it – initial giggles tend to give way to something more profound. Sound too PG-rated? Keep in mind that you're both naked. Who knows where you could be in 20 minutes.
Take (or give) the reins. Taking full control of your partner can be a thrilling and eye-opening experience for both of you. While one partner remains passive (with or without assistance of restraints and/or a blindfold) the other steers the experience however they see fit, whether it's by giving pleasure or taking it. Defining clear roles quiets the typical “blur” of hands, lips and limbs, giving you both a newfound awareness of each other's bodies – how they move, feel and respond. Next time through, it's time to switch roles.
Shed some light. Nothing grounds us in the moment and awakens the senses like flipping on the lights. Having sex in revealing glow of an incandescent lamp may seem daunting at first, especially for those of us who are a bit self conscious (and aren't we all?). Yet, such physical exposure rewards with greater emotional honesty, encouraging more eye contact and a keen awareness of what your bodies are doing. You may also find a lot to love in all the visual stimulation.
What would happen if sex became an event? Not an event in the sense of “we always do it on Saturday nights,” but something orchestrated to fulfill a fantasy or surprise your partner? The preparation and anticipation alone would be memorable. Now consider the occasions that call for immediate action – where you don't even manage to get all your clothes off, let alone fill a hotel room with flowers and bon bons or pick up the doctor and nurse uniforms from the dry cleaners.
Here we'll explore how you can enjoy the best of both worlds, with a little strategic planning – and a lot of throwing caution to the wind.
Why don't we do it in the road? Though it may sound contradictory, preparation can make it easier – and more satisfying – to be spontaneous. If you and your partner are not typically impulsive but would like to be, talk about it. Share settings and situations that turn you on, so that next time the stars align and you're in the car on a deserted highway, you'll both be ready to take advantage. Since you've already shared your desires, you may only need to share a look to know the time is right.
Come prepared. Oh, is that a bullet vibe with lubricant, condoms and feather tickler in my handbag? How convenient! Your impromptu rendezvous needn't be all McGuyver-like improvisation. By keeping your favorite accoutrements handy, you give yourself more freedom to seize the day (among other things) and get swept up the moment without any distracting worries. Your action kit can also serve as a not-so-subtle reminder to look for new opportunities throughout the day.
Fly under the radar. What's planned for one can be spontaneous for the other. There's a lot of fun to be had in surprising your partner with the perfectly arranged tryst. For one, making your plans can provide days or weeks of delicious anticipation. This persistent low-level arousal heightens the experience for you when the time finally comes – and, of course, the thrill it'll give your partner will be a reward in itself. Such thoughtfulness can help deepen your relationship with your partner, build intimacy – and set the stage for more exploration.
From push-up bras and Viagra to mood lighting and something called FORM 2, people have dreamed up all sorts of ways to fan the libidinal fires. Yet, there also are plenty of natural approaches that are sure to send you both tumbling onto the nearest organic cotton throw rug. To get you started, we've gathered a few tips from the handy new book Eco-Sex by Stefanie Iris Weiss, along with few of our own.
Get the blood flowing (south). The couple that bikes together, ----s together. Exercise has long been touted by experts as a way to increase desire. However, that doesn't mean 30 min. on the elliptical will set you ablaze with lust. Instead, get outside and play together, choosing activities that require you to touch or interact (kayaking, basketball, even Frisbee) The combination of fresh air and endorphins will make you feel sexier, as will watching your partner shed layer after layer. If you're not the outdoorsy types, take it to the dance floor.
THE NATURAL MEETS THE ARTIFICIAL
Accessorize well. So you barely made it home from the tennis court before you tore off each other's polo shirts. Now what? The right sexual products and vibrators can be the perfect complement to your all-natural efforts. The best of the best use 100% body-safe materials, have a long lifespan and reduce unnecessary waste. And if they're recyclable, so much the better. Keep in mind that the sexual product industry is largely unregulated. Read that label and make sure your accessories are as good for you as they are to you.
See the produce aisle with new eyes. You can make chemistry work for you without the little blue pill. The next time you're at the grocery store, consider healthy foods with aphrodisiac qualities, including Avocados, Basil, Ginger, Truffles and Figs. While some trigger a rush of endorphins (chili peppers), others are thought to boost levels of sex hormones (wild yam). In Eco-Sex, Weiss points out that these foods and spices are not only thought to boost desire, but also to make sex more pleasurable.
Need ideas? This deceptively healthy recipe for Agave-Sweetened Brownie Gems from Eco-Sex focuses on many people's favorite aphrodisiac: chocolate.
Who doesn't love a good show? Pole dancing classes are quite popular these days, but even the more modest among us can find a lot to love about performance. In fact, our daily lives are threaded with moments that engage our desire to watch or be watched. If you've ever lingered at the bedroom door, watching your partner undress, or gotten a thrill from feeling a stranger's gaze as you fix that top button that's popped open, you've already laid the groundwork for this month's explorations.
For many budding voyeurs and exhibitionists, interaction is key – whether it be simply direct eye contact or a highly choreographed lap dance. If you're the star, being able to see your audience's reaction to your performance can be a big turn-on. As the audience, being so close to the action without actually being in it can also be a thrill. Feeling nervous about performing? You may feel less pressure if you begin by pleasuring yourself while you're in bed with your partner, then inviting them to finish you off.
To get inspired, check out Burlesque and the Art of the Teese by the incomparable Dita von Teese. You'll be commandeering your own giant martini glass in no time.
HAVE YOUR CAKE, AND EAT IT TOO.
Get out the mirror. There's no reason you have to take turns performing and watching. All you need is a decent-sized mirror and you can do both simultaneously. This is a particularly fine option for partners who are still feeling a little self-conscious about the prospect of a solo performance, and prefer to be physically in sync as they move and watch together. For a sexy introduction to the creative use of full-length mirrors, watch The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Then get out your bowler hat and see where it leads.
Get out the camera. If watching and doing is a bit too much multitasking, consider making your own movie and enjoying it together later. You've likely already got what you need (most digital cameras can shoot video). To get the best results, use soft lighting, perhaps a few strategically placed candles and a table lamp. Then pick a flattering angle – you’ll have more options by mounting your camera on a tripod, and adjusting the height and tilt. By all means, once you've made your masterpiece, be sure to protect it.
TAKE IT FURTHER.
The prospect of stumbling upon a gorgeous stranger enjoying their own body – or being that gorgeous stranger – is a fantasy many share. There are ways to indulge your desire to secretly watch or be watched from a distance, without drawing unwanted attention from the neighbors. All it takes is a little planning.
Play at home. If you're looking to give into your exhibitionist side, you can arrange to have your partner “discover” you, or simply surprise them with an impromptu show when they come home from work. You can also take turns choosing how or where you'll be watched – this can be a great way to tap into other fantasies, whether they involve hot tubs, cable guys, or perhaps something a bit more original.
Play outside. The thrills (and risks) of public sex draw many a couple to the great outdoors. To do it safely and avoid getting caught, be sure to plan ahead. Sex educator Violet Blue offers a comprehensive how-to guide for couples who can't resist the adrenaline rush. If you're not ready to go public, fantasy in the comfort of home can be just as potent. You can even open the drapes or the window and imagine that anyone could just happen to walk by and see you…which, of course, is a possibility. If you'd like to be a bit more anonymous, consider making your public debut on a vacation or a roadtrip, rather than in your own back yard.
Sometimes you're the epitome of the attentive lover – slowly and tenderly ministering to your partner's every desire. At other times, your approach is best described with a four-letter word. We can't be Don Juan all the time, and, really, what's wrong with that? While taking it slow can be a profound experience, giving in to raw urgency can leave you both feeling like you've been hit by a train (in the best possible way). We've got several ideas to mix things up, whether you want to feel the earth move, or shake it to its core.
Assume the position. Amazingly, there are over 600 sexual positions, and those are just the ones people have bothered to write down. How you and your partner position your bodies dictates the speed, angle and depth of penetration – and it doesn't take a big change to make all the difference.
A good place to begin is by exploring the landscape of your own home. Try using a kitchen chair for the Milk and Water Embrace, a popular Kama Sutra position. The man sits in the chair, while the woman sits astride him facing away, lifting herself up and down and rocking forward and back. This puts the woman in control of the speed, depth and direction of the thrust, while leaving the man's hands free to roam. You can also try this position face-to-face on a living room chair with low armrests. The woman sits astride her man with a leg across each armrest, giving her all the control without being as athletically demanding.
Don't consider yourself finished until you explore every piece of furniture in the house – you'll never look at the ottoman the same way again.
Expand your repertoire. No matter how many moves you've mastered, there's always room for one more. Surprise your loved one by treating them to the deft precision of a new technique. If you don't yet know what your partner would like to try, now's the perfect time to ask. If you don't feel comfortable coming right out with “How do you feel about anal sex?” (for example) there are plenty of ways to be subtle. Next time you're in bed together, ask him or her whether they like this or want more of that. Then take your field research to the nearest sex-positive bookstore or to the internet. Whether you want to perfect the art of giving head or learn from odd-yet-helpfully-animated sexual positions, you'll find no shortage of instruction.
Turn it up to 10. Among the endless variety of sex accessories available, some will take you on a slow, gentle climb to orgasm, while others get straight to the point. If it's power and intensity that you and your partner are after, look for a vibrator with a large motor, or better yet, two motors. If you want to be able to control your level of stimulation and enjoy a long, leisurely ride, choose a slim, versatile vibrator that can be positioned any which way to deliver a little or a lot of stimulation.
Whether your focus is on speed or longevity, you'll also want your vibrator to be easy to hold on to, no matter what position you're in or how wild things get. Bullet vibrators can be cradled in the palm of the hand, while a vibrating ring requires no hands whatsoever.
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