Daily, I meet with many couples who tell me that their sex life isn’t what they hoped for—it is either not frequent enough OR not exotic enough OR simply there is no passion in it. Some of them will ask me: “Do you have any tips for foreplay that works?”
As an Emotionally Focused Therapist, instead of tips for foreplay, my first question for them is: “So how do you talk about sex…..how do you talk about what turns you on and what turns you off…how do you tell your partner about what is truly satisfying and arousing to you…how do you tell your partner what sex with him/her does to you?”
The answers that I get are:
“He should know! If he really loved me and knew me, he would have known me by now!
“I need to feel connected to have sex!”
“I don’t know what sex with my wife does to me…it feels nice, I guess.”
Similarly to Sue Johnson—the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy and the author of “Hold Me Tight” and “Love Sense”, I want to propose that foreplay that works is the one that focuses on talking and sharing our intimate and vulnerable selves with each other.
As in any other area of our relationship, sexual context can easily trigger two main fears in all of us—FEAR OF REJECTION or/and FEAR OF ABANDONMENT. You can imagine how difficult it can be to play sexually and have fun in bed when we are unable to share and talk about our fears:
Fear of not performing
Fear of not being attractive enough
Fear of not being able to please and satisfy
Couples who have the best sex are those who feel safe enough to talk about these vulnerabilities. From there, they can see sex as an adventure and exploration. Granted, some couples need additional help from a sex therapist who can educate them and provide them with more ideas of how to make their sex life exciting, BUT more often than not, ideas for a more exotic sex life are more productive when emotional connection and safety to share vulnerabilities is already established.
Ask yourself now: What would it be like for you to tell your partner specifically what makes you most aroused or to tell him/her about that sexual fantasies that you had or how special, close, and valued you feel when she/he holds you this specific way?
What are you feeling now as you think about sharing with your partner? If you experience some “uncomfortable feelings”, that is a sign that you might be somehow inhibited in talking about sex. Is it because you are not used to talking about sex and you need a few ideas of how to start that conversation? OR is it because you don’t fully feel emotionally safe with your partner?
Either way, Sue Johnson said it right: “great sex is a safe adventure – like a ride on a zip line.”