Let’s Play: Eroticism, Great Sex, and Better Relationships
“I really enjoy our love making, and I’ve always wanted to try this.”
“I had a dream last night that we were…”
“I saw this movie and they were _____. It was so hot I’d love to try it out.”
If you and your sexual partner(s) regularly employ phrases like these then read no further. For the rest of us (or if you’re looking for a refresher), read on for why eroticism, curiosity, play, and suggestive one-liners can positively impact your sex life, emotional life, and the strength of your relationships.
The Power of Play
Erotic play has the power to cut through the barriers of reality. When harnessed in a relationship, an open-minded spirit of curiosity and an embrace of make-believe can disrupt the established predictability of our sexual routine and transform it anew.
Indulging and giving voice to our fantasies creates new neuro-connections through imagination, improves creative problem solving, and counteracts the effects of stress on the body. Play doesn’t just enliven our sex lives, it improves our individual and relational health.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Role-play; use props; rent a daytime hotel room; discover each other at a bar; wear a wig or use an accent. Keep it light or make it seriously kinky. Establish safe boundaries and let your imagination fill the space you’ve created. There’s even science to suggest that receiving a compliment lights up the same parts of our brain that come alive during sex. Practice giving compliments and your partner is likely to give them in return.
Engage in Foreplay Everyday
If the thought of donning a costume doesn’t do it for you, start with something subtler. Flirt, tease, crack jokes, get caught staring, leave a lingering touch on your partner’s arm as you pass by in the kitchen.
Foreplay is not solely reserved for the time before sexual engagement. Think of it as a way to warm each other up between sex acts. Everyday, no-agenda foreplay fosters openness and connection and builds anticipation for what’s to come—even if sex or physical intimacy is hours or days away.
Our brain responds to pleasurable anticipation by flooding the body with feel-good reward neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. And it makes you smell good: Arousal hormones that stimulate the release of pheromones are also released.
Set your usual routines aside and embrace a curious mindset. Curiosity creates space for new discovery—both in your sex life and in understanding your partner. For those in long-term relationships, remember that you and your partner have evolved; you’re not the same people you were when you met. Get curious about who you’ve both become.
Better Sex, Better Fights
When we find ourselves in conflict with our partner (or anyone), it’s easy to understand and justify our own actions and perspective. What’s harder is considering the opposing point of view. It’s uncomfortable to challenge our own beliefs, and even more uncomfortable to admit defeat. By sticking to our side of the story we foster space and disconnection rather than closeness and intimacy.
One solution? Imagination. The same muscles are stretched during playful, fantastical sex as the ones used to envisage another person’s viewpoint: Imagination helps us see where our partner is coming from.
To step into our partner’s shoes and validate their conclusions doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. But accepting the legitimacy of different opinions ultimately brings us closer to those with whom we disagree.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Play can help us to cut through the heaviness that conflict brings. Think about times in which you found yourself so flooded with a distressing emotion that it felt like you were at a stalemate. Then something funny happened: your partner’s angry face looked cute, someone let out a farting noise, or someone cracked a smile while trying to maintain a stoic facial expression.
Through laughter or a sigh the tension evaporated. That break in pressure may be enough to allow space for discussion, apologies, more flexible thinking, and negotiation.
Sometimes conflict cannot move forward for repair until rigid stances are relaxed, and sometimes playfulness can be the icebreaker. Play also helps to regulate one’s own emotional experience, as well as soothe the effects that stress hormones cause on the body and the brain.
It’s Okay to Be Nervous
If sexual play makes you nervous or apprehensive, communicate your vulnerability while still expressing your desires:
“I have this fantasy. I’m nervous to tell you, because I’m not sure what you’ll think, and…”
Make the language your own and know it’s normal to feel shy. Part of the process of play is feeling more and more comfortable in your own skin and unself-conscious about your cravings.
Not ready or interested in engaging in play with your partner? Or maybe you’ve tried and it wasn’t well received. That’s ok! Whether you are single or partnered you can, and should, have fun yourself.
Let your mind play out a fantasy. Imagine yourself as a person or character who personifies sexiness to you and embody the way they move, talk, dress, and hold themselves.
How we play for ourselves impacts those around us. As we model lighter, sexier, and more playful ways of being, we charge the space around us and influence others in the area. If your solo fantasies get you aroused, your lightness of spirit will benefit everyone. There are no thought police to arrest you for who is or is not in your fantasies. Allow them to unfold however you’d like.
Play Is Not A Luxury
In relationships, play is a crucial component for sustaining our health and happiness as individuals and as a unit. Find what excites or inspires you and get curious about how you can bring it forth in your current relationship. From conflict repairs and novelty in the bedroom to allowance for the evolvement of each person, play needs to be acknowledged and practiced. Its effects on our relational lives are powerful.
About the author:
- Men's Health,
- Sexual Health,
- Women's Health,