Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on August 12, 2021
They Define Sex Broadly
Couples who are sexually satisfied tend to understand that it’s about more than just intercourse. And studies show that they usually get intimate with each other at least weekly. A regular schedule isn’t a prescription for instant bliss. But getting physically close to your partner often can be a sign that you two are in a healthy place.
They Get Educated
Knowledge can equal sexual bliss. Learning more about each other’s physical erotic zones, how much stimulation you need, and what turns you on can take your sex life to new heights.
Physical contact is a powerful tool that builds connection and trust. Sex therapists use a technique called sensate focus. It’s an exercise that explores how different kinds of touch make you feel. It also eases the pressure off reaching a sexual “goal” like orgasm or penetration. Practicing sensual touch can help partners get closer and make intimacy more pleasurable.
They Confide in Each Other
Studies show that couples who aren’t honest about what they do and don’t enjoy in the bedroom are more likely to feel dissatisfied. So tell each other if your libido is lagging or you have trouble getting to orgasm. Let your partner know, too, if you feel self-conscious about your body or if anything makes you uncomfortable.
They Use Therapy
Sessions with a certified sex therapist can improve intimacy issues by helping you communicate better, guiding you through touch exercises, and educating you about arousal and desire. If your problems stem from other issues, talk therapy may also benefit your whole relationship.
They Stay Flexible
Sex has no normal. What you like, how often you want it, and how important it is to you is different for everyone. Your libido and priorities can change over time with age, physical health, and the pressures of daily life. Couples who stay curious and flexible about their sex needs tend to feel better about themselves, which in turn paves the way for a more fulfilling sex life.
They Make Time
As you age, your body takes longer to respond to sexual stimulation. Lower testosterone levels in older men can make it harder to get and keep an erection. A drop in estrogen during menopause can lead to dry vagina and slower arousal in women. Try and set aside ample time to enjoy sex with each other.
Could your sex life be stuck in a rut? Try out different positions, moves, touches, and stimulations to bring back the spice. The new techniques also may heighten sensations so that you can climax more often.
They Cater to Their Partners
Research shows that couples who care about satisfying their partner -- and who take joy from the other person's pleasure -- are happier in the sack. This might mean having sex more often than you’re used to, doing it at different times than is normal for you, or acting out your partner’s sexual fantasies.
They Seek Gratification
Practice makes perfect: When you do things that increase the feel-good endorphins in your body -- from sex, exercise, laughing, making art, or any activity that brings you joy -- you build and beef up the response pathway that helps you feel aroused more easily.
They Use Tools
Some people might view using lubrication to ease dryness or propping their position with a pillow during sex as an admission that they need help to turn their partners on. But the opposite is true. The more attentive you are to the comfort of your partner and yourself, the better your experience.
They Work It
It may sound like a mood killer. But researchers at the University of Toronto found that couples who believe that hard work and effort, not finding a soulmate, is the key to a great sex life enjoyed a happier intimate relationship.
They Limit Porn
Photographic or literary erotica can heat up the bedroom for some couples. But a heavy pornography habit can stunt some men’s ability to get an erection and achieve orgasm with their partner. Porn also sets unrealistic expectations of what real life sex is like. That can chip away at their partner’s self-esteem and hurt the relationship.
They Don’t Obsess About Orgasm
Climaxing isn’t the goal of every sexual encounter. For some partners, it can create a lot of pressure. Touching in sensual ways or connecting in whatever form works for you and your partner is enough to build closeness.
They Read Each Other
Understanding where your partner’s sexual “starting point” is can go a long way toward fulfilling sex. Some people, usually men, can get in the mood instantly and without stimulation. Others, often women, need a cue to get aroused. Accommodating those differences can boost your mutual satisfaction.
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Mariah Power, LPC, AASECT certified sex therapist, Decatur, GA.
News release, Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: “The International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health Process of Care for Management of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Women.” Journal of Sex Research: “Couples’ Sexual Communication and Dimensions of Sexual Function: A Meta-Analysis.”
Harvard Health: “A Health Sex Life – At Any Age,” “11 Ways to Help Yourself to a Better Sex Life.”
Cornell Health: “Sensate Focus.” Journal of Sex Research: “Sexual transformations and intimate behaviors in romantic relationships.” Journal of Adolescent Health: “The Association Between Sexual Health and Physical, Mental, and Social Health in Adolescent Women.” Sexual Medicine Reviews: “The Effects of Exercise on Sexual Function in Women.” Journal of Personal and Social Psychology: “How implicit theories of sexuality shape sexual and relationship well-being.”
Medscape: “Porn Use Linked to Erectile Dysfunction.” Sex Roles: “Young adult women’s reports of their male romantic partner’s pornography use as a correlate of their self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction.”