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Video: More on the big sex mistakes

updated 9/27/2007 11:49:20 AM ET 2007-09-27T15:49:20

They’ve already told you about the biggest sex mistakes men and women make ; now, iVillage sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox and sex therapist Ian Kerner are revealing the biggest mistakes both sexes make in the bedroom, plus answering questions from TODAY viewers:

Mistakes both men and women make

1. Both sexes fall into routine, and let sex become just physical.
Ian:There are two types of sexual arousal — mental and physical. In the beginning of a relationship, we have no shortage of sexy thoughts and feelings that turn us on and create a sense of sexual anticipation, but after a while the mental component can easily fade and we rely on physical stimulation. We know each other’s bodies and we know how to get where we’re going, but we don’t know how to appreciate the journey anymore. That’s when it becomes time to introduce some new routes and paths to pleasure.

Tracey: How about this for frightening — most couples have sex at 10.36 p.m. on a Saturday night, in bed, for around 4-7 minutes. And they do exactly the same thing almost every single time, in exactly the same order. How exciting is that 10 years on? The trick to good long-term sex is to stop focusing on your bits and start thinking about your brain — that’s the biggest erogenous zone. Stimulate your brain by doing new and interesting things — that does mean role play and talking about fantasies and stuff like that — and your sex life will instantly be better.

2. Both sexes miss the point that your sex life is a function of your overall relationship.  It takes a great relationship to have a great sex life.
Ian
: Diet, stress, nutrition, exercise and medication all play a big role in sexual desire. If you or your partner aren’t taking care of your health together, your sex life could quickly go in the dumps. Eat for your heart and you’re eating for your libido. Don’t just eat to live, eat for love. It also exercise increases metabolism, blood flow and endorphins — all of nature’s natural aphrodisiacs.

Tracey: You can’t separate your sex life from your relationship. The two affect each other. If you don’t particularly like your partner out of bed or are angry with them, you’re not exactly going to jump enthusiastically between the sheets come bedtime, saying “Give it to me, big boy!” And if your sex life is bad, you’re not going to be happy OUT of bed. When sex is good, it usually accounts for about one quarter of the total enjoyment of the relationship. But when sex is bad — or not happening at all — it tends to poison everything else. If you’re not having good sex, you’re not feeling attractive or physically connected to your partner, but you are feeling frustrated and resentful. Both sex and love are equally important.

3. Both sexes assume that a good sex life is measured based on quantity rather than quality.
Ian: I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me and said “My sex life is in trouble — we used to have sex five times a day, now we only have it twice a day.” People change, relationships change. Why should sex stay the same? What’s right for one couple in terms of a number is wrong for others. Averages are at about twice a week, but a little good sex goes a lot farther than a lot of bad sex. Don’t base your sex life on a number or on a past standard. Stay connected and sexual in the present.

Tracey: We need to move away from that ridiculous statistic that says the average couple has sex 2.2 times per week. It’s an average — that means they took the sex life of two 19-year-olds, who’ve just discovered sex and think it’s the best invention since the iPod, and combined it with Aunt Bertha, who’s 90 and hasn’t had sex for 30 years. It’s an average, not the mean. The amount of sex a couple has is much more dependent on what stage of the relationship they’re in. At the beginning, you can’t stop doing it; after 10 years, it’s less frequent.  Stop focusing on the number of times you’re having sex and instead look at how good the sex you both have is when you do have it. I strongly believe you should aim to connect sexually a couple of times a week, but that doesn’t mean a marathon session. A good long, sexy kiss and a bit of fooling around counts as sex, too.

Tracey and Ian answer your questions

How can I get her to stop expecting me to take care of her completely and then she leaves me unfulfilled?
Alan
Tracey: This had me a bit confused because it's usually the other way around! It's actually a good habit to get into for the man to give the woman an orgasm first, because men usually climax far more easily and quickly. But I'd give the same advice I'd give if it was a woman: Reverse it. Say “It's my turn to go first” and satisfy yourself, then her. Be a bit bossy! Sex doesn't have to be reciprocal in the same session, but it should even up over time.

Ian: First off, are you sure she knows how you feel? In my experience as a sex therapist, sometimes we think an issue or problem is obvious and out in the open when, in fact, our partner has no idea what we’re really feeling or thinking. Unless you’ve clearly and constructively communicated the issue, it’s highly possible that she’s unaware of the issue and I would caution you from making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. Or maybe she doesn’t know how to fulfill you, and needs your loving guidance. Try this simple suggestion: Take turns in the role of giver and receiver. One night it can be her turn to receive, the next night it can be her turn to give. Include lots of feedback in the process, and not only will she learn that giving is as much fun as receiving, but you’ll find your connection will deepen as a result of opening the lines of communication.

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My boyfriend just doesn't get it, I tried talking to him about his mistakes, but he won't admit there’s a problem. I feel like he's not into me. He's the type to kiss me on the lips and that's his foreplay. Help!
Anonymous
Video: The biggest sex mistakes

Tracey: How are you wording it when you tell him he's making mistakes? Say “I don't like it when you do so-and-so” or “Can you stop doing this or that?” and you could talk for an hour and he won't be listening. Start any conversation about sex with a criticism and the person can't move past “Ohmigod, I'm rubbish in bed!” Instead of saying what you want less of, say what you want more of. Say “I love it when you do that” or “I'd love it if you did this.” He also sounds quite uneducated about sex: His Christmas present should be a good, nice, informative sex book!

Ian: When you’re talking to a guy about sexual mistakes and problems, it’s easy for him to go on the defensive or tune you out completely. Criticism, expressed harshly, is often the sexual kiss of death, and when it comes to sex, a whisper sometimes is perceived as a roar. Try this simple suggestion: Instead of talking about an issue, express your desires creatively. Tell him that you had a sexy dream about him last night — I’m sure he’ll want to hear more. In describing your “dream,” describe the sex you’d like to make a reality. Instead of just telling him you’re fed up with the lack of foreplay, describe a sexy dream or thought that includes lots of foreplay just the way you’d like it. Use communication to turn him on, not tune him out.

My wife loses her desire after the first two to five minutes during sex. She reaches her peak very quickly and then she just flops, and complains she's tired and I never get "there." What, if anything, causes this to happen, and how can it be avoided?
Wayne
Tracey: It can happen in long relationships, where you know each other's sexual triggers so well, you literally can have sex over and done with, orgasms for both of you in five minutes flat. Fact is, you know what to do to make her climax, so hold off. Tease. Turn it into a game: Say “No, not yet” and put her hand (or whatever else) where you'd like it.

Ian: Lots of women say they’re more “like men” when it comes to sex; they get where they’re going quickly and then they’re done and just want to go to sleep. Considering that most women complain about the opposite issue (never reaching a peak during sex), think of yourself as fortunate. My advice is to take more time during foreplay to get yourselves synced up. She may be approaching the finish line before you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cross it at the same time. Spend more time teasing, touching and tantalizing and bringing yourself closer to your own peak before transitioning into the sexual position that puts her over the top. There’s also the possibility that she’s not interested in sex, or fully enjoying sex, and is telling you that she’s reaching her peak, but isn’t really being honest with you. It might not be as much a matter of finishing as it is her never really getting started in the first place. In either case, focus on other types of stimulation that create new pathways to pleasure.

My girlfriend's sex drive has become less and less during the year we have been dating. We went from having sex 5 to 7 times a week to once a week. She says it's the birth control, but could it be me?
Jacob
Tracey: It's normal for the frequency of sex to drop over time. It could also be the pill that is causing her loss of desire. The good news is triphasic pills — which have varied doses throughout the month rather than one constant dose — can actually increase her libido. So get her to change pills and see if that makes a difference. Then work on being the best lover she ever had. The better the sex, the more effort we're going to make to have it.

Ian: More than likely it’s indeed the birth control pill — it’s a very common complaint. Some studies show that more than half of all woman taking oral contraception experience some sort of sexual complaint, with low desire topping the list. The birth control pill inhibits the production of testosterone in a woman’s ovaries. There are other hormonal dynamics at work, but in short, not only should you believe your girlfriend, but you should use this as an opportunity to suggest that she talk to her doctor about potentially switching the kind of pill she’s taking (from monophasic to triphasic, which basically times the release of hormones over the course of the week), or explore other forms of contraception.

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