KISS & TELL

Women's Health (Malaysia) - - LOVE COACH -

I love my boyfriend, but I won­der if I could be hap­pier with some­one else. Nor­mal, or a sign I should date around? —Ma­caile

To­tally nor­mal. But that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean that if your guy is av­er­agelook­ing, you’d be hap­pier with some­one who re­sem­bles Bradley Cooper. How­ever, if your boyfriend doesn’t have some­thing you need, rather than want, like sim­i­lar val­ues or long-term goals, then you should keep look­ing. That said, don’t throw away a good thing search­ing for Mr. Per­fect if you’re al­ready with Mr. Per­fect for You.

Is it shal­low to ex­pect my once-fit hus­band to stay in shape? He’s be­come a couch potato! —Laura

Q You have the right to ex­pect your spouse to stay in shape—mar­riage no longer means let­ting your­self go. Inspire him by sug­gest­ing some fun things he can do with you, like tak­ing a box­ing class or sim­ply jogging through your neigh­bor­hood. Even if he doesn’t join you right away, your fit body and healthy life­style may en­cour­age him. He’ll be re­minded of all the pos­i­tive ben­e­fits of an ac­tive life­style, in­clud­ing in­creased en­ergy and im­proved mood.

The Big Os are elu­sive. Most women don’t have one ev­ery time (or maybe even most times) they hit the sheets. Plenty of sur­veys—and likely your own bed­room ex­pe­ri­ence—ver­ify that. But that doesn’t mean a romp with­out the grand fi­nale is an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. Far from it.

In fact, on the oc­ca­sions when you know you aren’t go­ing to cli­max or when you’re just not mo­ti­vated enough to strive for it, there are ways to sim­ply en­joy the val­leys with­out hit­ting the peak. Lots of women are dis­cov­er­ing that it’s smart to ap­pre­ci­ate in­ti­macy for more than only the last 10 seconds. So go ahead, don’t get off—and love ev­ery minute of it.

Why Or­gasms Go MIA

“For me to cli­max, I have to be feel­ing it be­fore fore­play even starts,” says Jamie,* 27, a new­ly­wed. “I have to put in a lot of ef­fort, and the stars have to align. But I feel sat­is­fied know­ing that my hus­band is sat­is­fied ev­ery time.” It’s a sit­u­a­tion that many women can re­late to, and one backed by stats. Ac­cord­ing to re­search, women in re­la­tion­ships or­gasm about 80 per­cent as of­ten as men in re­la­tion­ships (for women in casual hookup sit­u­a­tions, it’s closer to 50 per­cent as of­ten).

Re­searchers have coined this dis­crep­ancy “the or­gasm gap” and have de­ter­mined a few key fac­tors for its ex­is­tence. You prob­a­bly don’t need science to tell you that cli­max­ing is tougher with­out cli­toral stim­u­la­tion,

but you may not re­alise that over­stim­u­la­tion or the wrong kind of stim­u­la­tion of your cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, which con­trols sex­ual ex­cite­ment and in­hi­bi­tion, is an or­gasm killer. Stress or a poorly timed “Wait, why is the cat star­ing at us like that?” ob­ser­va­tion is all it takes to cause over­stim­u­la­tion—at least for women. (And speak­ing of stress: “Wor­ry­ing about whether or not an or­gasm will hap­pen can ac­ti­vate your stress re­sponse, which can make you feel less turned on,” says Emily Nagoski, PHD, a sex ed­u­ca­tor in Mas­sachusetts.) Guys were blessed with evo­lu­tion­aided blin­ders that make the cat (or an­noy­ing email pings, a weird hum­ming sound, what­ever) non­fac­tors in the mo­ment. “Men had to or­gasm for the good of the species,” says Laura Berman, PHD, author of The Pas­sion Pre­scrip­tion. “That means their brains are primed to tune out all dis­trac­tions. Women’s aren’t.” (How come evo­lu­tion is never on our side?)

How to En­joy the Ride

What isn’t re­flected in these stats is the en­joy­ment some women de­rive just from the ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing in­ter­course. “I rarely or­gasm, and I don’t care,” says Jenna,* 29. “I’m on anti­anx­i­ety med­i­ca­tion, and while it has def­i­nitely af­fected my abil­ity to cli­max, it hasn’t af­fected how much I en­joy sex.”

That’s not to say you should ac­tively deny your­self an O —that would be like sti­fling a sneeze, but worse—and if you’ve never had one and you want to have one, that’s some­thing you should dis­cuss with your part­ner, says Debby Her­benick, PHD, author of Be­cause It Feels Good.

But putting mid­act pres­sure on your­self ev­ery time could mean that you’re miss­ing out on plea­sure in the mo­ment. “Re­search shows that women can climb be­tween sex­ual­de­sire stages, from ex­cite­ment to plateau to or­gasm, then back to ex­cite­ment,” says Berman. Fo­cus too much on the end point and you’ll end up brush­ing past the pleas­ing plateau. (Al­though it may sound flat, the plateau is ac­tu­ally when arousal is at its peak and your body is sa­vor­ing your part­ner’s touch the most—a pretty sweet place to linger.)

Play Close to the Edge

The key to a no­gasm ex­pe­ri­ence that’s any­thing but “eh” is to amp up your arousal early and stay there as long as pos­si­ble. You’ll know when you’re there by the text test: If your phone buzzed, you’d be more an­noyed by the in­ter­rup­tion than cu­ri­ous who it was, says Dr Stephen Sny­der, an as­so­ciate clin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Mount Si­nai School of Medicine. Heed these tips to en­ter a height­ened state.

1Hit the shower.

Get­ting wet and sudsy helps you find eroge­nous zones you may not have re­alised you had. Ask your guy to rub down your back and shoul­ders with a sponge, then have him switch to his bare hands. “The dif­fer­ent sen­sa­tions of the wa­ter and the body wash, plus the an­tic­i­pa­tion of his hands on your skin af­ter the sponge, will all add to your plea­sure,” says Morse.

2Show off. “Part of a woman’s plea­sure dur­ing sex comes from feel­ing de­sired,” says Sny­der. Or put on a solo show: Watch­ing him watch you pro­vides an awe­some view of how much he wants you.

3Rewind… and ratchet

up. If he has al­ready cli­maxed, go back to the stuff you love dur­ing fore­play, only take it up a notch by play­ing with hot and cold sen­sa­tions. “When you’re turned on, your brain is open to new ex­pe­ri­ences, so sit­u­a­tions that might have made you self­con­scious when you weren’t aroused can be ex­tremely sexy,” says Nagoski. If you start get­ting rest­less or if the fric­tion be­gins to veer more to­ward “ouch” than “OMG,” have him give you a back rub or mas­sage to tran­si­tion to­ward end­ing the ac­tion so you don’t feel like you stopped abruptly.

4That out­door el­e­ment.

Have the win­dows open or get it on in the back­yard un­der a blan­ket. The nov­elty can make it hard to con­cen­trate on the cli­max… but that’s be­cause your brain is pay­ing at­ten­tion to the we­could­be­caught­at­any­mo­ment thrill, which adds in­ten­sity to the en­counter, says Morse. *Names have been changed.

It’s the way I’m wired. Some­times it hap­pens and some­times it doesn’t. Tell him di­rectly it’s no big deal. Re­as­sure him that you had a good time— or­gasm or not. You were great! Be spe­cific so he doesn’t think you’re just be­ing nice. I re­ally liked when you did [ blank].

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