Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
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January 3, 2022 — 23:02 PM
It’s 2022, and conversations around sexuality have evolved tremendously. We know more than ever before about the science of orgasms, fostering desire, and all the different ways we can experience sexuality. There are virtually infinite resources out there, from books and podcasts to courses and retreats, dedicated to helping us tap into all the good feelings to which our bodies have access.
If it’s been a long while since you last prioritized your sex life, consider this your invitation to enter into the new year with an intention of rediscovering your erotic self and all the ways in which you can experience sensual pleasure in your body, soul, and partnerships. For inspiration, we asked sexuality experts to offer some tangible, straightforward ideas for how to actually better your sex life. Here’s what they recommended:
1. Talk more about sex.
To have great sex, you must be able to talk about it. When was the last time you talked to your partner about which types of touch you like the most–and least? Do you know your partner’s wildest fantasies? What are the things that make them in the mood for sex–and not in the mood for sex?
“If neither partner knows what the other’s expectations, desires, or needs are around sex, there isn’t much chance of continually making it better,” Richmond says. “Couples that talk about sex can have better, more exciting sex the longer they are in the relationship, which is exactly the opposite of what we’ve been told to believe, that sex gets worse or more boring the longer you are together.”
2. Start a regular masturbation practice.
Whether you’re single or partnered, sex and dating coach Myisha Battle, M.S., recommends making time for solo sex at least once a week.
“It’s a great way to stay in touch with your sexual energy as well as learn about what your body likes,” she explains. “Allow yourself to explore your desires through porn or erotica, have fun, and take notes about what you like and don’t like!”
Some people may feel uncomfortable masturbating when they’re in a relationship, or they let their masturbation practice subside in favor of partnered sex. But Battle says anyone and everyone can benefit from masturbating regularly, including people in long-term relationships.
“Masturbation can help you be less dependent on your partner’s availability for sex. This change opens up so much for people who overly rely on others to be sexual. You can be your most reliable source for sexual pleasure no matter what your relationship status is,” she says.
(Here’s our full guide to masturbation, if you need a little inspo.)
3. Start a mindfulness practice.
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Whether or not we realize it, what we do outside the bedroom can have a big impact on how we feel when we’re actually having sex. That’s why one thing that licensed psychologist and AASECT-certified sex therapist Lauren Fogel Mersy, Psy.D., L.P., recommends to those seeking better sex is to start a mindfulness practice.
“A regular practice of being present in the moment without judgment may transfer to your sex life, which will likely improve your experience,” she explains. “Being present in the moment is when sex can feel most pleasurable and connected. It’s when we are most in touch with our bodies and our partners.”
Learning how to be present in your body in general–such as through meditating, breathwork, or other mindfulness exercises–can help you be more aware of the pleasurable sensations your body is feeling during sex (i.e., sex will feel better).
4. Explore eroticism.
What does eroticism mean to you?
“We each have things that we find arousing,” AASECT-certified sex therapist and licensed couples’ counselor Jessa Zimmerman, M.A., tells mbg. “You can tune in to yours by thinking about your best sexual experiences, your fantasies, and your response to various erotic media.”
Zimmerman recommends taking time to explore what you find erotic and then (if you’re in a relationship) sharing that with your partner–and asking them about their version of eroticism, too.
“Approach this with curiosity and a whole lot of openness rather than judgment or criticism. Then, play in any overlap you find,” she says. “This doesn’t mean you have to do the things you fantasize about, but you might find it hot to talk about, role-play, or fantasize together that it is happening or about to happen.”
5. Commit to some novelty.
If you’re in a long-term relationship, Zimmerman recommends making an active commitment as a couple to prioritize novelty.
“Decide you’re going to find something new to do together every month. You can change the location or setting, delve into each other’s sexual interests and fantasies and find something you haven’t done (or not done in a long time, anyway), or find a great yes/no/maybe list to get some ideas you may not have considered before,” she says. “Approach this with a spirit of adventure and exploration; it doesn’t have to go without a hitch.”