Haven’t had sex in…well, let’s not even talk about how long? Long enough to make recommencing sex seem like it’s going to feel really awkward, anyway.
If that’s you, you might want to try one of these programs.
The two I am going to suggest here are frequently recommended by the world’s top sex therapists. They clearly work or else they’d stop sending their clients off with this as homework.
The Sensate Focus Programme has been around forever. It was standard practise for couples who’d lost a sexual connection right back when I wrote my first ever book in 1999. I didn’t include it and it doesn’t feature prominently in any of my other books.
The reason why is I didn’t get it.
If I had a sex drought and wanted to break it, I’d be more likely to go away for the weekend, drinks buckets of wine, and just do it rather than lie around stroking. The sex would probably be both basic and awkward but at least I’d have done it and broken the drought and then we could both go from there, introducing some exciting new stuff that’s a bit edgy later on.
For some couples, this may still be the best way to do it.
Now I’m older and calmer and (a little not much) more patient, I realise focusing on the mechanics of sex and not enough on the emotional side doesn’t always work. Resurrecting your sex life might not just be about giving lust a rude prod and saying, ‘Wake up, you lazy bugger!’.
Lust needs bedfellows to work long-term. It needs togetherness and closeness as companions. Eroticism is an essential part of good sex but you can’t skip straight to that part, if you haven’t been having regular sex, without relaying the foundations.
Right now, you’re both vulnerable.
The gentleness of these programs might be just what you need.
The world’s easiest sex practice
The first is by sex therapist Stephen Snyder and it’s called the Two-Step Plan.
Now, read this carefully: the aim here is to experience arousal for arousal sake. Not to have sex.
Don’t force it and be patient.
“Too many couples assume that every time they get aroused, they have to extinguish it with an orgasm – as if arousal was something irritating or unpleasant that has to be got rid of right away,” Snyder says. (Ooops! Definitely been guilty of that one!) Instead, he advises couples to experience their own arousal as something warm and nourishing. To let that feeling stay, live with it, before acting on it.
Snyder calls it ‘the word’s easiest sex practice’ because it really is.
Here’s how to do it.
Step one: Lie in bed and do nothing. Get naked if you’d like to, if not, don’t. Talk. It can be about anything but keep it simple: just enjoy lying beside each other with no agenda. Or just lie quietly and notice your breathing. You might like to stroke your partner’s skin or your own. Keep the touching non-sexual at this point. Do it for as long as you’re enjoying it. You will feel awkward to start, says Snyder. That’s OK. Just acknowledge it then let it go.
Step two: If you got aroused in step one, just enjoy the feeling. Don’t feel you have to do anything with it. “Don’t worry about arousal,” Snyder says. “Let your arousal take care of you. Be a passenger and let it take you wherever it wants.”
If it takes you to a place where you both decide you do want to have some type of sexual stimulation, go for it. Otherwise, hold onto the stillness and intimacy, says Stephen, and enjoy the moment. Get used to being naked together and aroused together.
And…that’s it! Do this once a week for a month or two and then take it further if you want to.
This is a great technique for any couple to use, if you want to hit refresh and take sex back to basics again. Think of it as a sex detox as well as a gentle way to ease back into being erotic.
The Sensate Focus Program
Couples used to really like doing the Sensate Focus Program “maybe because it gave them a break from the terrible sex they were having”, says Snyder wryly.
Sensate focus basically involves getting naked and taking turns caressing each other. Non-erotic to start with, then moving on to include erogenous zones and the genitals. You advance slowly: progressing from non-sexual to sexual touching could take weeks or months not days.
The concept is simple: the person whose turn it is to touch, focuses purely on doing just that. The recipient simply allows them to do it.
The beauty of it, says Snyder, was that nobody had to worry about or take care of anyone else. You could relax.
He says couples these days aren’t as keen. We have shorter attention spans and are more competitive. We try to come up with ways to be the best toucher ever and expect congratulations for our efforts. Fingers are itching to take selfies and Instagram the moment – #intimacy#connectingtime.
Programs like sensate focus or Two-Step are really about mindfulness. Paying attention without judgement and being in the present moment. Something we find increasingly hard to do in today’s technology-based world but really should master.