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The Best Sex Advice We Heard In 2021, From Neuroscientists, Sexologists & More

Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor

Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

The Best Sex Advice We Heard In 2021, From Neuroscientists, Sexologists & More

In complicated times, it can feel harder than ever to prioritize feeling good. At the same time, it's more important than ever to do so! Pleasure is healing for the soul, and we all could use a little healing these days.

That's why, here at mindbodygreen, we're committed to continuing to have conversations about how to create satisfying, soul-nourishing sexual lives. So in case you missed these gems, here are some of our favorite bits of sex advice we heard from experts throughout this year. We invite you to take a breath, slow down, and get inspired thinking about what new ways of feeling good you could explore in 2022. 

Stop worrying about whether you're having "enough sex."

“An even better question is 'Am I (and is my partner) having enough pleasure and connection?' I mean, what counts as sex anyway? If you're focused on 'the act' (whatever that is for you) and the frequency of such, then you're focused on the wrong thing. It's not just about 'getting it done' or checking the box. The point of sex, from my point of view, is to share pleasure with your partner and to feel connected in the process, no matter what you do with your body parts and what the end result is.

"So consider whether you'd like more pleasure and whether you feel enough connection in your relationship. And ask your partner about whether they'd like more of those things. If so, prioritize that. Spend intimate time together, without pressure to hit a goal or do a certain thing. As I say a lot, sex is like going to the playground. It's the outing that counts, not whether you go down the slide. We don't need an agenda; we can get inspired in the moment and do what we feel like doing. The truth is that you literally cannot fail. Any shared outing like that is a success."

Jessa Zimmerman, M.A., AASECT-certified sex therapist and couples' counselor

Read the rest here.

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Sexuality is different from sensuality.

"A lot of us have been given the message that sensuality is synonymous with sexuality, that the only way we can experience sensuality is within a sexual context. But sensuality is so much more than that.

"The way I like to explain sensuality is that it's about paying attention with your senses. If you have ever taken a bite of a juicy piece of fruit and felt your eyes closing as you savored each succulent bite, if you've felt your body sway to the sound of music without your prompting, if you've ever felt totally connected to the aliveness and pleasure in your body—you have had a sensual experience.

"The practice of sensuality is about making those moments happen with intention rather than having them be fleeting or accidental. And once you master the art of sensuality outside of a sexual context, it'll help enhance and deepen the experiences you have within a sexual context."

Ev'Yan Whitney, sexuality doula and sex educator

Read the rest here.

Instead of waiting for desire, find ways to invite arousal.

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"Because women often aren't exposed to what is more typical of female sexual desire, they often end up saying, 'What's wrong with me?' or falsely concluding, 'I'm just not a sexual person.'

"Many women have what's known as responsive sexual desire. For people with this type of desire, the context of the moment is critical to your openness to the idea of sex. If you're tired, preoccupied with a work project or a troubled family member, stressed, or feeling blah, interest in sex is going to be hard to come by. These are not just factors affecting your interest in sex; they are central. There's nothing wrong with you for not being interested. You just need a change in context."

"A common experience for responsive people is that desire shows up after arousal. This is normal. It's just not advertised. What this means is that you have to change the question from, 'Am I feeling frisky?' to 'Am I open to engaging in touch?' With physical touch, arousal may well show up, followed by, 'Oh, now I feel very glad to be here, doing this!'"

Deborah J. Fox, MSW, couples' counselor and sex therapist

Read the rest here.

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Having sex after a big fight can be healing.

"Of course, you don't have to have sex then, or ever. But maybe you've noticed that you can use your body to influence your feelings, and not just the other way around. Anger, bad moods, or stress can change for the better if you and your partner have a nice, passionate time on a physical level. You don't need to be in perfect harmony for that.

"Having sex despite a fight can have a totally positive effect on your relationship: On the one hand because sex and orgasms help you to relax, and on the other hand because it's a way to come closer to each other again. But how can you open yourself to sex when you feel no desire? By throwing yourself into it even if you don't feel like it. Think of the party principle: Go to your partner, make out with him, stroke him tenderly. That way, you stop the downward spiral. Of course, I'm not saying you should have sex against your will. It's just about giving yourself or each other a chance to see whether your appetite grows when you taste the food. Like the words one of my students has as a tattoo: 'When you cuddle, you repair each other.'"

Dania Schiftan, Ph.D., psychotherapist and sexologist

Read the rest here.

Good sex is connected sex.

"Often the best way to connect is actually going beyond words.

"Look into your partner's eyes and breathe with your partner while sitting silently. See the person in front of you, the being you fell in love with. Spoon your partner and hold them and synchronize your breath to synchronize your nervous systems. This actually works. We are like tuning forks and go into 'cardiac' entrainment with lovers (and even our pets) when we settle into the connection. Good sex is connected sex."

Nan Wise, Ph.D., LCSW, CST, certified sex therapist and neuroscientist

Read the rest here.

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Better sex starts with a better relationship to our bodies.

"Because of the society we live in, women have a lot of pressure to look a certain way: young, slim, wrinkle-free, and the like. But it doesn't do us any favors thinking like this. In fact, this body shame can be devastating for a person's sex life.

"Worrying that your body isn't sexy or desirable can stop you from wanting to have sex. It can also make you turn down sex when you do want it because you're too embarrassed or ashamed to expose your body. It stops you from enjoying the sex you do have because you're too busy spectatoring (i.e., hovering above yourself, trying to guess what your partner is seeing, and thinking about your cellulite or your tummy). This, naturally, leads to problems having orgasms."

"There's a saying: 'When shame walks in the door, lust flies out the window.'"

Tracey Cox, sex educator

Read the rest here.

Relinquish control.

"One simple practice that can be explored and enjoyed is to give up total control to your partner. Let them take you in the direction that they believe will bring you the most joy.

"When you give up your control and put trust in your partner, you are able to release your energy to them. This strengthens your connection. So many of us love being ‘in control,’ and the thought of releasing that control can be challenging. Relinquishing control can come in different forms like bondage, sensory deprivation (blindfolding), or edging and orgasm denial. … This practice will allow you and your partner to reach new heights of sexual ecstasy that brings you closer together."

Taylor Sparks, holistic sex educator

Read the rest here.

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If you want better sex, you'll have to start talking about it.

"Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. You know when you're really excited about someone new and want to know everything about them? You ask them loads of questions and love constantly learning about them? Treat your sex life with your partner like that too, whether you've been together for one year or 50-plus years. We are continually evolving and growing, and our sex life is no different. Being inquisitive adds curiosity, spark, safety, and fun to your sex life. And who doesn't love that?

"Sex only feels awkward to talk about when we don't talk about it. It will likely feel very uncomfortable first if you and your partner(s) aren't used to having in-depth conversations, and that's OK. Uncomfortable doesn't have to mean bad."

Rachel Wright, LMFT, licensed marriage therapist and sex educator 

Read the rest here.

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