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Have You Tried Simmering? Build More Sexual Energy Into Your Day With This

Stephen Snyder, M.D.
January 18, 2019
Stephen Snyder, M.D.
Sex and Relationship Therapist
By Stephen Snyder, M.D.
Sex and Relationship Therapist
Stephen Snyder, M.D. is a sex and couples therapist, psychiatrist, and writer in Manhattan. He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York City. Dr. Snyder owns his own practice, where he has been treating patients for the past 25 years.
January 18, 2019
We get it: Between work, workouts, the latest phase of your KonMari clean-out, and all the other things you've got going on in your life, it can be difficult and just exhausting to squeeze in time for a whole sex session. For many couples, sometimes the very idea of trying to get into a sexy mood at the end of a long day can feel defeating, let alone trying to actually get the deed done. But sexual energy isn't frivolous. Sexual energy is creative energy, it's a fresh breath of joy and excitement amid hectic days, and it makes important deposits in your relationship bank as a couple. And contrary to popular belief, accessing this sexual energy doesn't always require actual sex or orgasms. Sometimes all you need is just a little burst of arousal to get those good feels flowing. We love this "simmering" method from sex and relationship therapist Dr. Stephen Snyder's book Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship, which was just released in paperback this week.

A man is about to leave the house in the morning to go to work. Kissing his wife goodbye, he buries his face in her hair to inhale her scent. His arms circle her waist to pull her closer. Her body molds to his, and they breathe together for a moment, both feeling excited. Then he looks at his watch and hurries off, waving goodbye to her.

What is this couple doing?

In sex therapy we call it "simmering." Simmering means taking a quick moment to feel excited with your partner, even under conditions where sex is not going to be practical. That generally means no orgasms, no rhythmic stroking, no heavy breathing. Nothing that's going to leave you too frustrated after you have to stop.

Couples who are overworked and distracted (i.e., most of us) often neglect to get aroused in each other's company unless they intend to have sex. That's a mistake.

Most couples need to get aroused together much more frequently than that. In sex therapy we often counsel people to enjoy brief moments of arousal together for no reason at all, except that it feels good.

Teenagers simmer all the time. Here's a classic example:

Two young people are high school sweethearts. During a five-minute break between classes, they meet at a prearranged spot. They smile, kiss, stroke each other's hair, and enjoy each other's scent. They embrace and their bodies mold together. Then the bell rings. They hold each other's gaze for a long moment, steal one more kiss, then run off in different directions.

You remember the feeling, right? You get to your next class feeling somewhat buzzed. The intoxication, of course, is sexual arousal in action—making you just a little more distracted than usual.

There's no reason that older couples can't get just as distracted in the privacy of their own bedrooms and kitchens. All that's necessary is to recognize that there's more to sexual arousal than just sex.

Simmering helps cultivate the right kind of erotic climate in a relationship. Most couples' erotic climate is sustained more by simmering than by sex.

At the end of the day, two minutes getting excited together before falling asleep can do a lot to keep your sexual self happy. Grind up against your partner in bed and say, "This is just simmering, OK?"

Chances are, they'll be happy for the attention.

The difference between simmering and cuddling.

Don't confuse simmering with "cuddling." Simmering is good for your sex life together. Cuddling not so much.

Too many couples spend their evenings curled together in front of the TV, quietly depleting whatever erotic charge might remain between them.

Too much cuddling can neuter your relationship. I'd rather couples not touch each other so much, unless there's some erotic energy to be passed around.

Some people cuddle rather than simmer, because they're afraid of frustrating their partners. They forget that physical intimacy should be a little frustrating. That's what keeps you in the game. It's OK. You don't have to return your partner to a state of quiescence every time they get excited.

Some women married to men try not to do anything that would give their husbands an erection. They assume that if they were responsible for him getting hard, then they're obligated to give him an orgasm.

That's ridiculous. We men like being hard. It's not a painful condition.

Erections come and go. Not every erection has to end in orgasm. If your man doesn't know this, he needs to learn it.

The simmering payoff.

Instead of kissing your partner goodbye in the morning, why not simmer them goodbye? Hold them close for a bit longer than usual. Inhale the scent of their hair. There's a moment here that won't come again.

Yes, I know you're anxious about the day ahead. But this is important too.

One or two minutes to simmer, on the way out the door in the morning. A pretty good recipe for keeping an erotic connection, for even the most harried modern couple.

The payoff in good lovemaking later can be dramatic. Just heat and serve.

Excerpted from Love Worth Making by Stephen Snyder. Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted with permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

Stephen Snyder, M.D. author page.
Stephen Snyder, M.D.
Sex and Relationship Therapist

Stephen Snyder, M.D. is a sex and couples therapist, psychiatrist, and writer in New York City. He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York City, and chairman of the Consumer Book Award Committee for the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR). He has treated patients at his practice for 25 years and has written for Psychology Today and Huffington Post.