By Marion Winik
It's a simple and, yes, slightly sad truth: Although a new partner works long and hard to show you that he's a caring, attentive, and affectionate sort who loves nothing more than to give luxurious foot massages and make out for hours on end, in long-term relationships, the action tends to speed up considerably. You absolutely want — and need — more kissing, caressing, and all that assorted good stuff, but the thought of actually coming out and asking him for those sensual moves makes you cringe. Fortunately, no matter how shy you might be when it comes to X-rated topics, we've got some very effective words that you can bring yourself to say. Here's the plan:
STEP 1: Get your motor running.
Before you ask your guy to lavish attention on your various hot spots, you've gotta get your mood on. After all, while a single thought — it's time for sex! — might be all he needs to get started, you (like many women) probably require some transition between washing the dishes/getting the kids to bed/straightening up and stripping down. Start with some small requests like these to turn up the emotional temperature and help you get psyched for making more sexy suggestions later.
"Come give me a hug." A nice, long hug (20 to 30 seconds, to be exact) is proven to jack up a woman's level of oxytocin — a hormone that heightens sexual arousal. Since guys love to learn the technical specs for anything, including the workings of your body, share this little tidbit with your partner, suggests Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First. Then, once he's got his arms wrapped around you, put your good feelings into words: "It's so nice to unwind with you" or "I love when you hold me." He'll be encouraged to discover what else he can accomplish with a little patience.
"Can you rub my neck (or feet, or head)?" When a man wants to get you into bed, he'll often suggest that he give you a massage. Remind him of how well that tactic worked in the past.
- "Let's take a shower together." The warmth...the sweet scents...the sexy, slippery feel of it all: Suds and water have a way of moving things in the right direction. Plus, when you open with this suggestion, he'll likely be open to your other steamy ideas.
STEP 2: Stroke his...ego.
Lead into your request by pointing out what he does right, as in, "I enjoy it so much when we're hugging and kissing...." Or if the caresses are in progress, say, "This really turns me on." Avoid negative comments ("Why won't you try such and such?"). And stay away from the word you when talking about what you want, says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve; that way, you're less apt to sound as if you're blaming him for a so-so sex life.
STEP 3: Tell him what you want.
And when you do, bookend each request with praise, says Lou Paget, author of The Great Lover Playbook. Start with a positive: "Oh, it's so good to be with you." Then, present your request (phrased with let's to create a we're-in-this-together feeling), such as, "Let's go really slow tonight." After he grants your sexy wish, give the reinforcement: "Mmmm, that feels really good" or "That makes me so hot."
You can also frame your request by saying, "You were doing something the other day that felt great...." It's okay to fudge a little here, says Paget, even if he wasn't exactly on target; you'll just build on his previous accomplishments. Once you refresh his memory — he was kissing your breast, perhaps — he'll be eager to repeat his success. Then simply move his hand (men never mind this, Paget says) and use one word at a time: "Slower." "Left." "Up." And give some of that aforementioned reinforcement. Even just breathing loudly is good. As Paget says, "Breath is a whole language in the bedroom."
STEP 4: If all else fails, stroke his ego again.
What if, despite your best diplomatic efforts, he seems hurt by your suggestions or reluctant to try them? First of all, don't get negative or resentful — that's like giving up when you're halfway across the tightrope, says Hutcherson. Be brave and positive just a bit longer, remembering that carrots always work better than sticks. Try this: "I think you're so sexy, and there are times when you turn me on so much. I think I could show you a whole new side of me sexually if you can be patient with me."
A whole new side of you sexually? Oh yeah, that'll definitely get his attention.
STEP 5: Now turn up the heat.
Once you've seen the benefits of putting your wants into words, consider trying this "advanced" technique to get even more of what you crave next time. If you have a specific activity in mind, bring it up by saying, "I had a crazy dream about you last night" or "I just had a sexy thought about you." He'll want to know what it was — so let him coax it out of you ("Well, I was on my back and you were kissing me all over..."). "It's about stimulating naughty dialogue," Kerner says. "And if you blush a little, that's fine." Then, let your bodies do the talking.
3 Ways to Say "This Just Isn't Working"
Guys are famously fragile when it comes to their sexual prowess. So when a man is doing something that doesn't feel good, it's important not to discourage him altogether. Here are some ideas from sex expert Lou Paget for correction without rejection.
1."It's like my body is craving something different tonight." This puts the blame on something no one has any control over — and gives you a transition to what that other thing might be.
2."Things feel different when I'm at different times of my cycle." Again, it's nobody's fault — and it's true, to boot.
3."Can you do what you did before? You did it like this...." This takes away the sting by focusing on a past success. And practice does make perfect.
Originally published on May 19, 2009
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