A post-sex cuddle sesh can work wonders on your relationship (research proves it!), but there are also things you can do just before sex that'll bring you and your partner even closer. Here, 7 sex therapist-approved pre-sex habits that will not only make for better sex, but will also improve your relationship.
The article "
7 Things You Can Do Right Before Sex to Boost Your Bond" originally ran on WomensHealthMag.com.
Stare each other down
Next time things are heating up between you and your partner, take a moment to pause and look deeply into each other's eyes. Yep, sex and relationship educator Laura Berman, PhD, says what she calls "soul-gazing" can have a huge impact on your relationship.
Just take a minute before you start fooling around to face each other (clothing optional) and place your right hand over your partner's heart as he places his own hand over your heart. Stare into each other's eyes, and explain to your guy that you want to synchronize your breathing for 10 deep breaths. It might sound cheesy, but it works. "Getting grounded and fully present together makes for a much more powerful, positive sex experience and allows you to really nurture the relationship," says Berman.
Think happy thoughts
If soul-gazing isn't really your thing, Berman also recommends closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and thinking about a time "when everything was right in the world between you and your partner—when you felt unconditional love, total peace, openness, and joy." Berman says that since your brain can't distinguish between reality and a vivid imagination, if you picture yourself actually in the memory, you'll feel the same bubbling emotion and open-heartedness as when you experienced the moment the first time around. "Your main sex organ is between your ears," she says, so these positive feelings will carry over to the way you feel about your partner during sex and leave you more content with each other afterward.
Even simpler than these joint techniques is a quick solo meditation sesh. Take 30 seconds just to "quiet your mind, take yourself out of your day, and place yourself in the present moment," says Berman. "Women are multi-taskers by nature, constantly running through our to-do lists in our heads. But placing yourself in your body and in the room will put you in an empathetic, generous state of mind." It can also improve the depth of connection between you and your partner during sex, making for better action and, ultimately, a deeper connection in your relationship.
Check out photos of yourselves
You probably (hopefully) already have photos of each other around your room. Right before sex, take a moment to look around your room and appreciate these reminders of your relationship's best moments. "Celebrating your relationship in this way will make sex into more of a celebratory act," says sex and relationship therapist Ian Kerner, PhD. It can also help cement your positive feelings about each other and the relationship.
Share sexy fantasies and desires
A stronger relationship can also be achieved by something as simple as expanding the way you're able to communicate about sex, says Kerner. Too often, he says, we start fooling around and rush straight into the main event. But starting by sharing your private fantasies—even if doing so makes you blush—can open up a whole new dimension to your relationship.
Opening up to each other will increase intimacy—and assuming your partner is part of your fantasy, hearing an idealized picture of the two of you will increase both of your senses of self-esteem. "Self-esteem is directly tied to sexiness," says Kerner, so your feelings about each other, not to mention your performance in the bedroom, will grow stronger as a result.
Don't be afraid to slow things down and spend more time massaging each other, making out, and exploring each other's bodies. "Desire mounts very quickly, so drawing out the process for 20 minutes or even half an hour will build tons of sexual tension," says Kerner. After a long time together, sex can become an automatic, scripted process, but Kerner says that if you're able to put in extra effort and attention leading up to it, sex will be a more connected experience. "This connection is the difference between sex and love-making," he says, and couples with better, healthier sex lives have been shown to have better, healthier relationships.
It's not just for after sex! Kerner says that more time you spend cuddling before things get hot and heavy, the more your relationship will benefit in the long run. That's because cuddling releases oxytocin, and that increases feelings of intimacy with your partner. "Spooning or even just laying comfortably side-by-side, without getting too focused on any one erogenous zone, will make for a more powerful sexual experience and aftermath," says Kerner.