Working as a Relationship and Intimacy Coach, I often encounter male clients who report concerns about not doing the “right things” to stimulate and arouse their partner during sex. On the flip side, I also hear from women sharing versions of “we pretty much do the same thing every time” or “I’m not really into it” or “I don’t get turned on like I used to”. These patterns have the ability to disconnect two people.
Since sex is often a touchy subject and in general, we are not in the practice of verbalizing our authentic sensual desires, I sense this challenge probably rings true for many couples at some point in their relationship. When this type of intimacy and communication start to break down, other aspects of the partnership may soon follow. However, sexual intimacy doesn’t necessarily have to wane as life gets more demanding. It can be easy to attribute the lack of energy or creativity to time constraints, kids, or exhaustion from work/life, etc. but the benefits of cultivating and maintaining a healthy sex life are too important to dismiss.
The 7-Step Sensual Sampler can help relieve some of the anxiety, frustration, or apathy in a relationship by reinstating fun, connection, and satisfaction. Imagine for a moment being curious about your lover’s turn-ons. What might it be like to have him/her lovingly explore your body? What would be possible if you were both in a playful, uninhibited state and were communicating exactly what you wanted to one another? Now imagine those same qualities of curiosity, loving exploration, playfulness, and clear communication carrying over into other aspects of your relationship. How could that strengthen the partnership?
Inspired by a Sex Nerd Sandra podcast, I recently created a the following intimate exercise to help both partners (re)discover what gets the motor running. I call it The Sensual Sampler. Think about it. When you’re uncertain what appetizer you want to eat, you order the sampler platter so you can explore and enjoy different flavors, textures, and so on. Maybe you really like some while other items on the plate don’t do it for you. Do you ever find you’re fond of something you hadn’t tried before? Well this pleasure play exercise is just like that!
The Sensual Sampler works like this:
Step 1. Choose a time that works for both of you to just PLAY. You may have to schedule this and plan ahead if you’re very busy. Anticipation can be exciting!
Step 2. Begin playtime agreeing to just “see what feels good”. No expectations. No judgments or criticisms. No need to be serious. Really let your hair down.
Step 3. Decide who samples whom first. One of you gets to relax, breathe and feel. The other samples an area on your body no bigger than the space his/her hand (with fingers spread wide) covers.
Step 4. Kiss, lick, nibble, caress, massage, etc. that small area of your lover’s body while inviting them to respond.
Step 5. As the recipient of the sampling, share your experience with your partner. You might say things like: “good”, “not so good”, “harder”, “softer”, “more of that”, “move on”, etc. Essentially, you want to let them know what you like, what you don’t care for, and to what degree (really turns you on, feels okay, uncomfortable, etc.).
Step 6. Continue the Sensual Sampling until you’ve covered feet to knees, belly to buttocks, breasts and full back, hands, neck, ears…and ALL areas in between! Leave nothing unattended.
Step 7. Switch. Of course if you’re both so turned on and connected that the desire for passionate lovemaking is too much to ignore – go for it! Keep the fire stoked by carrying over the stimulating and arousing pleasure play techniques into intercourse.
You can always repeat steps 1-7 with the other partner sampling another time.
Based on my experience as well as the feedback I receive, if a couple is able to communicate openly in bed, they are more apt to speak freely and lovingly elsewhere. The bonus here is you may encounter areas of your body that you did not know were pleasurable. More pleasure equals more ease. One thing’s for sure: this fun little exercise will shake up the routine. Plus, letting your hair down, communicating what feels good, and inviting your partner to playfully explore with you can really increase intimacy in a relationship. You never know, you just might learn something about your lover you have yet to discover.