Co-habitation can play havoc on your sex life, even without a global pandemic, but these easy steps will help you put the fire back between the sheets.
Has your daily clothing regime degenerated to sweat pants and yesterday’s t-shirt? Are you binge-watching Netflix as a couple? Has sex become something that needs to be scheduled like a dentist’s appointment? Sounds like you’ve hit a rut, and while that’s perfectly normal in any relationship, conditions of lockdown, stressful work environments, having the kids at home for what seems like an eternity, and the general, looming uncertainty of 2020 is certainly going to compound things.
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In fact, the signs are everywhere that you’re not in this alone. Sales of condoms are down, and libidos are crashing faster than the stock market. The intimacy that often fuels a healthy sex life can be drained thanks to anxiety, confined living, and a new routine that saps some of life’s delights. Fortunately, there are steps any couple can take to stoke the fires of desire, and here are some of our favourites.
Start From the Basics
Sometimes you just need to step back and start fresh. This means planning date nights, working on your grooming, dressing up a little, and following through on your plans. You don’t have to go out to fancy restaurants, the expenditure of which could actually add to the stress at the root of the problem, it’s all about being together, away from at least some of the stress factors.
Instead, simply break away from the norm and find new activities and experiences to do together. Go hiking, take an evening walk, cook a new dish at home together, do a yoga class, or even take a weekend away as a couple, and in the process get to know each other again without the spectre of doom and gloom hanging over you, and the stress of routine clinging like GladWrap.
Boost the Intimacy
Familiarity is the death of the sex drive but chances are you’re with whomever you’re with because you’re attracted to them and rekindling the day-to-day intimacy will help get things back on track. When we’re stressed, we turn to our fight or flight instincts and sex is often the last thing you’re thinking about when your own safety seems in question.
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Instead, kiss (for as long as 6 seconds if you can), hug, snuggle, hold hands, and generally bring back some of the common traits of your formative years as a couple. The effects of these little actions reduce stress through the production of dopamine and work as a stepping stone to the main event in the bedroom (or wherever else you like to do it, you kinky lad!).
Be Present For Each Other
Uncertainty is a two-way street and while we may not be making as much effort to look our best during the epidemic, it’s important to ensure your partner knows you’re attracted to them (especially when they do make said effort, on date night for example). The little boost we get from knowing someone fancies us has the same effect as the physical stuff – it boosts confidence while reducing stress. Simply greeting each other a little more intimately, using long-forgotten pet names, and making an occasion out of the trivial all helps. Imagine if there was a chance you wouldn’t see your significant other ever again – you wouldn’t be mumbling goodbye into your cereal, would you?
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Also, don’t think that those old habits will come back quickly; sometimes the basics are the things that take time to reclaim, but small steps start the journey. Also, ensure you’re both aware of what you’re doing and trying to achieve otherwise it might end up being an uphill battle of awkward routine-esque rejections that only make matters worse.
Focus on Foreplay
Eventually, you’re going to end up in bed, perhaps not in the fits of passion of your 20s but at least you’re physically present in a place that’s traditionally home to nookie. Time things so your partner isn’t thinking about all that needs to be achieved the next day, put some music on to fill any nervous voids in the conversation, and approach the whole process from the standpoint of mutual affection – chances are you’re both gagging for it so have fun!
You can also try adding some fun games and toys to your foreplay; there are some great apps that help break the ice and a glass of wine will almost certainly help strip away some of those inhibitions. Alternatively, try a sensual massage, ensuring the focus is on intimacy and contact, rather than just a rush for the goalposts.
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Small Screen Erotic
Watching porn together has usually been a rather one-sided solution to a lacking sex life, but watching something erotic can certainly be effective. The key is to ensure you’re not just projecting your own tastes on your partner (after all, you don’t want awkward conversations about your personal persuasions afterward). Go for soft porn that has a bit of a storyline that you can follow together so that when the characters do get it on you’ve got more than a stilted conversation between a pizza delivery man and a bored housewife to work with.
Just remember, intense porn can also be off-putting to some people and raise internal questions about their own abilities to make their partners happy, so keep it fun, laugh at the shocking acting and poor dialogue, and then use the sex as a smorgasbord of positions and temptations you can pick and choose from. If there is something you’re like to try out for the first time together, talk about it first, so there are no nasty surprises.
There’s no shame in asking for help to get your sex life back on track – after all, you’re certainly not alone. Sex therapists have heard and seen it all and know ways to help break down communication and intimacy barriers. You’ll also love the kinds of homework these teachers set.
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