Research shows we are having less sex than ever before – and Vena Ramphal, sex therapist and star of TV show Seven Year Switch, believes that could be because we’re too shy to talk about it.
The relationship coach says: “There’s a real lack of courage when it comes to conversations about sex.”
So whether you secretly want to reignite that spark or try something new in bed, Vena reveals the answers to everything you are too afraid to ask.
How do I ask my partner for what I want in bed?
We’re often taught to put other people’s needs before our own, but this isn’t good practice when it comes to sex.
The truth is, if you speak up about what you want, everyone benefits. If you’re having a good time in bed, then your partner will too.
Start the conversation when you’re in bed together. Use matter-of-fact words but be explicit about what you want.
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If you feel nervous, rehearse what you’re going to say beforehand.
It’s important to talk about sex outside the bedroom too. Be brave – bring up what you like, and also what you don’t, from positions to fantasies.
Remember the other person won’t know until you tell him or her – none of us are mind readers.
I have split with my partner after many years and am nervous about having sex with someone new. What should I do?
Now is the time to enjoy yourself.
Tear up the rulebook and relish the confidence that comes with age.
For example, there’s no need to wait to have sex if you don’t want to. You’ve earned the right to not waste your time, so go and get what you want. But remember to be safe and use protection.
Technology has definitely changed the dating scene and online dating is very popular.
While there are very good large dating sites, I would also recommend a more bespoke approach. Do you have a special interest? Perhaps you’re gluten free, or a dog lover? Do your research and there may be a site for you.
But don’t feel obliged to do internet dating – it’s still perfectly possible to meet and date in the real world too.
I’m bored by my sex life and my relationship has fizzled out. How can I get that spark back?
It’s likely you’ve slipped into a routine, which is comfortable, but not sexy. Schedule a sex date.
If you think back to when you first started dating, you probably spent ages getting ready, dressing up and really making an effort.
So get back into that mindset. Organise a date and prep like you’re newly in love.
Use it as an excuse to try something different – a new position or sex at an unusual time of day.
If your relationship has flat-lined, try a different approach and do something new and exciting for you.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but you may just need to find your zest for life again. So treat yourself to a spa day or try a new hobby – something just for you.
The result? You’ll start glowing, your outlook will be different and your partner will want to be a part of it.
My body has changed over the years. How can I get my confidence back?
I would suggest changing just one eating habit. This is because the way we feel about our body isn’t just psychological, it’s chemical too. And the food we eat really impacts the way we feel about ourselves.
The truth is, junk makes us feel like junk.
Try eating more greens or reducing your alcohol intake. Or what about eating less processed food, switching coffee for herbal tea or drinking more water?
Pick one that doesn’t sound too challenging and stick to it.
You will feel different, have more energy, your skin will be brighter and, as a result, your confidence will grow.
Also, look at your wardrobe. Do the clothes make you feel your best? It could be time to go shopping. Work out what makes you feel good and make wearing it a daily habit to boost your confidence.
My partner doesn’t feel sexy. How can I help?
In an established relationship, one thing you can do is the food challenge talked about in the previous answer – but do it together as a couple.
Also say how much you love your partner and their new body. Be specific about what you like and what you find sexy. It doesn’t have to only be what turns you on, but what they bring to the relationship too.
Even seemingly mundane things, like remembering your favourite flowers, are important.
When it comes to sex, tell your partner the things you like that they do. It will boost confidence in the way they’re performing. If you find your loved one doesn’t want to have sex with the lights on, try candles and low lighting.
But do keep some light on, even if it’s dim, so they realise you like looking at them.
How do I ease my performance anxiety? They’re so good at it in the movies!
Remember that movie sex is fake sex. There’s nothing real about it.
But because there is so much sex on our screens, and so much pornography available online, it’s easy to end up comparing yourself to what you watch.
My advice is to go back to basics and back to your body. What feels good?
Work on your technique – how you touch and how you kiss. If you’re not confident, be reassured that these are skills you can improve.
There will be something you feel you’re good at, something that comes naturally. Focus on that for starters and build on it.
How do I introduce sex toys without scaring my partner?
Whether or not you use sex toys is completely up to you. Some people prefer sex with nothing added.
However sex toys can be a great way to spice up a long-term relationship.
If you’re nervous, start with a blindfold. It’s not a sex toy, but still something different.
Put it on your partner while talking to them to tell him or her what you’re doing.
Once you both feel comfortable, you could then move on to a more adventurous sex toy.
Remember sex should be fun, so have a laugh about it. Don’t take it too seriously. Why not go shopping with your partner and have a giggle about what you find?
So much is written about sex online – how do you know what to trust?
When looking for advice online, cross check what you read. Don’t just rely on one website or blog, but instead look at several different sources. Is the same point coming up again and again? This means it’s more likely to be reliable.
Try more specialist sites. When it comes to the tone of the piece, is it sensationalist? Is it clickbait?
However, if you want to try something new in the bedroom, nothing beats speaking to real people. Chat to a friend who has your best interests at heart.
And, for anything medical, always speak to a professional.
Make an appointment to see your doctor. They’ve seen it all before.