In “Dr. Ruth's Top 10 Secrets for Great Sex,” the guru provides tips for how to take your bedroom action from boring to mind-blowing. In this excerpt, she writes about improving intimacy, a key ingredient for satisfaction.
Intimacy is the key
Two strangers can’t really be intimate, no matter what they do together sexually, because while their bodies may be joined, they’re emotionally and mentally disconnected. Intimacy comes from sharing yourself completely, and especially sharing your love for each other. Sex with someone you barely know is more like masturbation than intimate sex. Sex without intimacy can be pleasurable, I’m not denying that, but it’s not complete. However, if two people feel as if they’re one, then each experiences not only his or her own pleasure but that of the partner. Together they amplify the sensations that each experiences.
So establishing intimacy is a key to ensuring that other changes in your sex life have the most effect. Obviously, having sex in one position rather than another really doesn’t add to your intimacy. But slowing down the action, so that you’re not both rushing toward an orgasm, and are trying to feel every possible sensation that making love produces, is very intimate.
An intimate act
One aspect of sex that arouses some people is derived from the concept that sexual acts are somehow forbidden or “dirty.” That is an immature way of enjoying sex and is incredibly limiting. The more intimate a couple is, the less guilt and shame they experience and what they are doing becomes less forbidden or “dirty.”
Let me give you an illustration from another arena altogether to help me explain this point: drinking alcohol. Anyone can drink enough wine to get tipsy. You can drink the cheapest, most awful tasting wine and still get quite drunk. But when you drink the cheap stuff, maybe holding your nose so that you don’t taste it as much, you certainly don’t appreciate all the other qualities that wine has to offer. However, if you drink a fine wine, after having learned to appreciate its subtleties, while you may wind up feeling the effects of the alcohol, you’ll also enjoy the taste, aroma, and the overall sensory experience that drinking fine wine entails. So the wine connoisseur enjoys his wine fully, even intimately. And he, or she, doesn’t just gulp down the wine but, instead, swirls it in a glass to release its aroma, smells it, sips rather than gulps the wine in order to savor the many flavors before swallowing, and usually makes sure that any food that accompanies the wine complements it.
Having intimate sex is like drinking fine wine. You may have orgasms with or without intimacy, but you’ll get a lot more out of a sexual liaison if intimacy is part of the experience. I can’t say that immature sex is one-dimensional, but you’ll experience many added dimensions when you have sex as an intimate couple. So that’s why I want you to slow down sex so that you can appreciate all it has to offer and thus make it so much more intimate an experience.
The sounds of sex
How else can you achieve intimacy besides slowing down the experience? One way is a willingness to share your feelings. Clearly, you can pass on those feelings to a partner by allowing yourself to make noise when having sex. I say “allowing yourself” because some people have difficulty when it comes to making noise. In cases where someone can’t focus enough to have an orgasm if they are verbalizing their emotions in any way, this is perfectly understandable. But most people who don’t make any noise don’t keep quiet because they’re concentrating. Instead, they hold in these sounds because they’re somehow ashamed of demonstrating how much they’re enjoying themselves. So allowing yourself to express your pleasure out loud is an intimate act. And if you’re truly making love and not just having sex, one way to make sure your partner understands how you’re feeling inside is to say how much you love her or him.
Giving verbal cues
In addition to giving voice to your emotions, I’d recommend that you also use your power of speech to give verbal cues. Obvious ones include such instructions as faster, slower, harder, or more gently. In other words, don’t be afraid to tell your partner your needs to make a sexual experience the best possible. If using actual words is embarrassing, or spoils your concentration, then give physical signals. Both lovers have to be attuned to their partner, recognizing that he or she is sending a signal that should be respected. And such moments are not the time to start an argument. If your partner is asking for a particular stroke, just do it. Later on you can ask why.
Baring it all
I can understand staying under the covers if the room is cold, but there are people whose desire to stay under the covers results from feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem, leading them to feel ashamed of their bodies. That shame cuts down on intimacy quite a lot. Visual cues are important in creating intimacy.
This reluctance to bare one’s body can derive from several sources. One could be from simple prudery. Some families are very prudish, and that carries over from generation to generation. But just as often the cause is one of low self-esteem. If a woman feels that her thighs are too fat, she may not want her partner to see her naked, even if she has no particular shame of her breasts or genitals. While I may have some difficulty convincing some of my readers who have this fear that their mates don’t think as negatively about their thighs as they do, and may like them just the way they are, let me assure you that a male partner’s desire to see your breasts and genitals will far overpower any negative thoughts about any other of your body parts.
It may be difficult for some people to get over their prudishness, and I say “people” because, of course, there are also men who don’t want to be seen naked. The secret to overcoming such feelings is to take your time, because as I’ve said, if you’re in a long-term relationship, as long as you’re making progress toward positive changes, you’ll feel the immediate effects.
One tip I can offer with regard to this problem is to control the lighting. You’ll feel a lot less naked if instead of daylight or bright electric lights illuminating your every pore, you use candles so your body will be lit only by a soft glow. Installing a dimmer switch for your lights would have a similar effect, as would making sure one lamp in your bedroom has a low-wattage bulb that you use for just this purpose. And if you really want to take only a very tiny baby step, plug a nightlight into a socket, which will give off very little light.
Another way to strategically bare your body is to wear sexy lingerie. There are outfits that cover the parts of your body you’re least fond of, but they bare other parts, or display outlines that your male partner will enjoy. Not only will this help your partner become aroused, but perhaps you can look at this as a step forward, so that after you get used to wearing such outfits, you’ll be more willing to also go nude.
Finally, there’s a place in the house that allows for nudity and coverage at the same time, and that’s your bathtub. If you add plenty of bubble bath crystals to the bath water, you can be naked but covered by the bubbles at the same time. Invite your partner to share the bath with you, and perhaps turn off the lights and use candles. I’d also recommend a bottle of champagne because the effects of the alcohol might reduce your inhibitions somewhat.
Getting too intimate
Some people believe that in order to be completely intimate you not only have to bare your body, you should also tell your partner every last detail about your life, especially about your love life. I disagree with this view. If you tell a partner about past lovers, he or she is automatically going to make comparisons with them. That’s not going to be helpful in creating your own, unique relationship. I’m not saying that you have to lie and claim you were a virgin before you met, but you can be honest while remaining vague. You don’t want your partner to think that you’re hiding something evil, but you don’t have to reveal every little detail either. And I also believe in white lies. If you’re a woman and your partner asks you how his penis compares to your previous partner, and in fact it’s a lot smaller, don’t tell him that. Why make him insecure? What does it gain you?
Of course, if you’re going to keep your past shrouded, then you have to accept that you’re not going to be able to probe your partner about his or her past bedmates. Just remember it’s for your own good, because you, too, might feel bad after hearing about previous passionate affairs.
And definitely be very careful about revealing sexual fantasies. If it’s one that is totally vanilla, like a trip together to a desert island, then you can safely tell all. But if it is at all kinky, you have to be certain that your partner isn’t going to think less of you in some way…
Excerpted from “Dr. Ruth’s Top 10 Secrets for Great Sex” by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and Pierre A. Lehu. Copyright © 2009 by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and Pierre A. Lehu. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.