When Things Go Stale: What is Spice and How Does it Work?

I got a request to write a little bit about this scenario: you’re in a relationship, you seem like you’re getting along okay, but the sex is becoming a bore. It seems like you’ve fallen into a routine, and you don’t like that. Enter the headline of every Cosmopolitan magazine ever: How can you spice it up?

Many couples hit this wall, especially if they have limited sexual experience. You need knowledge to explore, and you don’t know what you don’t know.

Pop culture presents two obvious points of exploration:

1. Trying a variety of new positions (as is dictated in books like the kama sutra or 1000000000 new sex positions to try with your beau!) These books are available more or less front and center at most bookstores.

or…

2. Exploring kink. An accessible point of kink would be things like furry handcuffs, or dirty talk. Things that are represented enough in media that people know what they are and how to do them.

As I ponder these two main roads for spicing up your relationship and I’m forced to question what exactly someone feels when they start to desire this spice. I’ve wound it down to two likely possibilities.

1. They may be experiencing pleasure with their partner but it’s at a level that does not feel particularly satisfactory. They’re bored because they just don’t feel like they’re having fun anymore.

2. They are having tons of fun with their partner and they feel safe enough that they want to explore new horizons! They know that there is more out there, but they don’t know where to start! So many fun things to do and try! How does one dip their toe in?

Let’s talk about both.

I’m feeling bored with my sex life, I want to spice it up. How can I make it fun again?

My first hesitation with this narrative is that the couple may be seeking out spice because there is something else going on. That is, of course, general satisfaction is lacking. I don’t feel that this majestical spice can act as a filling putty. If you don’t have a good awareness of how to stimulate each other in things that you’re already doing, its not a guarantee that adding new things to the mix will suddenly make you see fireworks.

Spice can be seen as this secret passkey that people use. If we just sprinkle some more spice on our relationship we’ll have more fun. Which we’ll see in the next part, can be totally true. But if you don’t already feel satisfied and happy with what you’re doing, start there.

1. Learn to communicate what you like and what you don’t like so your partner can start building a base of knowledge about you. This grows over time, and if your partner is a smart cookie, a lot of that knowledge just grows in the subconscious.

2. Make sure that your partner knows how to satisfy you and vice versa. This does not necessarily mean achieving orgasms. Not all couples want to or can achieve orgasms every time they have sex. Focus on making things feel good.

3. Figure out the basics of what you like through experience. Do you like it rough, or gentle? How do you communicate those things? Through moaning? Verbal command? How does your body react? Do you like being on top? Do you prefer your partner to do most of the heavy lifting? All of these basic things about sex will be useful in moving forward with any new exploration. (Ex: If you learn something about yourself like ‘I don’t like being in charge’ you could apply that knowledge to your ‘spicing’ by exploring submission.)

Remember that you have to work together to have good sex. Good sex does not have to be fancy. If you and your partner are in bed and you see things progressing as they usually do, don’t be passive. Express your desires.

Okay. Got the communication down. My partner and I rock together. I totally trust them. And we want to try some new stuff. Where do we start?

This is the fun part! There are a lot of modes of learning. Here are just a few:

  1. Read sex blogs and learn more about whats out there from what other people are doing and writing about. Some blogs are more educational (hello!) but there are a lot of blogs out there that are based in writing erotica, or true accounts of experiences.
  2. Read actual erotica. You can pick up books of compiled stories or research through literotica.com. Reading these stories together can be a form of spice!
  3. Visit pornography websites, or go to a shop and pick up a DVD. You can use the videos as foreplay or steal ideas from the film.
  4. Practice roleplaying. Roleplaying can be a form of learning because with each new role you have new things you may do with/to one another. Roleplaying can also help you expand your toy/clothes chest.
  5. Read books about sexuality. There are so many educational books and tools out there that can help someone think of new ideas. I’m a big fan of Tristan Taormino’s educational books and films. There are books out there specifically about kink. There are books that get more specific, like exploration into S&M. You can find a book about anything! You can also find books that help you cement and improve upon the basics. “She Comes First”, for instance, is a great book about oral sex.
  6. Talk to your friends about it. What are some of their favorite things to do? How do they hold themselves in the bedroom? If you have a friend you talk to about this, you could express you need some new ideas, and see what they’ve got for you.
  7. Go with what feels natural. No one needs a book of positions to try a new position. It’s not that hard. Move your leg a little different. Lift your butt a little higher. Move your arm around and stimulate yourself or your partner. Kiss and touch and bite or scratch or whatever. Each position can be altered and re-altered and added with super-bonuses to make it more fun. If you want to focus on positions, just spend time in bed rolling around until you find one that makes you go ‘oh.’

It’s difficult to give advice about spice without knowing an individual. The individual needs to be able to know themselves, first. What kind of person are they? What kind of person is their partner? Once they master the basics, it should help guide them towards new and exciting questions. How can we further implement our desire for bondage? My partner really likes pain, how can we explore that safely? From there, the questions become more specific, more guided, and you can start looking for resources that will give you better help.

If you feel that your relationship has become stagnant, remember that you need to be an active participant in the sex you’re having. If something isn’t fun anymore, stop doing it, or make it fun again!

You should also remember that emotional intimacy can play a big role in the sex you have with your partner. If you aren’t feeling connected to your partner, the things you used to do might not feel fun anymore. Many couples experience this chain of events in their relationship.

Partner 1: I need emotional intimacy to enjoy physical intimacy. My partner is not making me feel emotionally appreciated so I am just not interested in sex lately.

Partner 2: I need physical intimacy to feel appreciated and loved and my partner has been physically distant lately, which makes me feel emotionally distant from them.

You can see how this would create a tugging reaction between each partner. One partner needs the emotional to have the physical, one partner needs the physical to have the emotional. It’s important to be aware of how your partner receives and perceives affection.

Taking time throughout the day to appreciate one another and reflect in how you feel about one another, extending foreplay, and taking time to re-learn and improve upon those basic sex-skills can help you connect.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog.

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