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Heat Up Your Relationship This Summer

The thrill of the chase may be over in your relationship, but there are lots of ways to spice up your sex life that you've never tried.

Explore Erotica (or Look ... and Touch) continued...

He recommends Nancy Friday's books, such as the classic My Secret Garden, as well as Men In Love and Women on Top. These are compilations of regular folks' sexual fantasies, as told to the author, a sort of Studs Terkel approach to erotica. Similar books include The Sweet Life by Violet Blue and The Pocket Book of Sexual Fantasies by Richard Craze. There's a whole world of erotic fiction that you could delve into also, from the many anthologies of literary erotica to Penthouse Letters.

In addition to getting worked up over fantasies on the printed page, many couples go for watching erotic videos together. While common hardcore adult films, produced primarily by and for men, serve some couples perfectly well, a growing genre of female-friendly films may fit better into a shared experience.

"A lot of traditional pornography women find offensive, and they can't relate to it," Bartlik says. "These new products that are directed by women have a slightly different take on them and women are more likely to enjoy them. They tend to be more naturalistic, I think, in the way couples really make love."

New Flavors

Vanilla is good. There's nothing wrong with it. But imagine if you'd never tried anything else -- no vanilla chocolate chip, even. That's how it is in some relationships, and sex therapists and educators usually try to get couples to experience new things together.

Fitzgerald says he is consistently surprised to hear people say they would have liked to try something, but were afraid their partner would think them kinky. Get over it, already.

If you haven't before, "visit a sex shop or a web site," Bartlik says. Buy a fun dildo or vibrator, and use it with your partner.

The booty is another territory that many couples haven't fully explored.

"One of the most common things that comes up in sex therapy is he or she proposing to experiment with anal intercourse, and then to find the other partner either very enthusiastic beforehand, or very enthusiastic after the event, and wondering why they didn't try it sooner," Fitzgerald says.

"Try having sex in a place that's different from where you normally have sex," Bartlik says. Especially summertime, you could go out to a secluded outdoor spot and get your thing on there. Probably everyone has fantasized about languid, passionate lovemaking on a private tropical beach. Unless you're planning to travel to an uninhabited island anytime soon, however, you may have to settle for the woods out back.

That other ubiquitous fantasy, the ménages à trois, rarely works out for couples in committed relationships, Fitzgerald says. "Their fantasy is so out of proportion with reality that it's ridiculous," he says. He says that in 17 years as a sex therapist he has seen only two couples for whom it has been a truly great experience. More commonly, it begets weirdness between the two principals.

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