One of the things I do frequently as a sex therapist is work with people to loosen up their expectations about sex. Many people are focused on the outcome (orgasm, for instance) or caught up in whether they will meet their own, or their partner’s, expectations. This can make them distracted during sex, but it can also make them start to avoid it because the whole thing becomes stressful and disappointing.

I invite people to think about sex like you are going to the playground. You and your partner decide to head to the playground and figure out what to do once you’re there. Nothing says you have to go down the slide; maybe you’ll just want to sit on the bench or swing a little bit. You get to decide as you go along about how you want to play together. It’s the outing that counts, not the actual activities you engage in once you’re there. If you can focus on playing together and not worry about the outcome, you can enjoy your outing and your sense of connection with each other. You will likely find that some of the time you end up more interested in sex than you would have predicted, just because you got into it once the expectations were removed. Even if one person ends up more interested in sex than the other, there are different ways you can handle that – you can consider anything from oral sex, manual stimulation, masturbation with your partner’s help or presence to just stopping and letting your arousal fade naturally.

You might also enjoy: 

When it feels like work to have sex

Saying maybe – instead of saying no

Why I love being a sex therapist

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