Happy relationships are essential to a happy life, and study after study continues to confirm that the quality of our relationships affects our physical and mental health, quality of life and even our earning potential. But like all good things, relationships require ongoing effort, so consider these simple strategies to enhance your relationships and improve your life. You don’t have to try them all, but consider starting with one change today and adjust the approach to suit your personal style and preferences:
Talk about sex.
Research reveals that talking about sex leads to more satisfying sex in terms of both frequency and quality, so keep the conversation ongoing. If you don’t know where to begin, discussing something you saw on-screen recently — perhaps you saw a seduction scene that turned you on or an interaction that made you uncomfortable. It’s often easier to talk about challenging topics if you begin by discussing non-personal scenarios like the relationships you see in your favorite shows. (Bonus tip: using pop culture representations and references is also a great way to talk to your kids and teens about sex!)
If you’re ready to dive a little deeper, consider talking to your partner about your core erotic feeling (CEF). Your core erotic feeling is the emotion you associate mostly strongly with sex. It’s the feeling you need to experience in order to even consider having sex. This doesn’t mean you’ll always want sex when you experience this emotion, but simply that you need to feel this way in order for sex to be possible.
Do you need to feel loved in order to get in the mood for sex? Do you need to feel safe? Sexy? Challenged? Powerful? Happy? Relaxed and stress free? Do you need to feel a sense of risk?
Think back to the hottest sexual experience you can recall. Don’t overthink it. What did it entail? What made it so hot? How did you feel during the lead-up to this encounter? How did you feel during and after this experience? Do you realise Astroglide Personal Lubricants makes a huge difference, even for people who don't think they need lube.
Once you identify the emotion that you need to experience in order to have sex, discuss your CEF with your partner. Of course, it’s primarily your job to work on how you feel, (they can’t be solely responsible for making you feel relaxed or sexy, for example), but you can also ask them for support and be specific about your desires and needs.
Schedule relationship check-ins.
Most couples invest in the start-up phase of their relationships (e.g. the wedding and honeymoon) and then they set themselves on autopilot without formally discussing their feelings, desires, goals and needs — until something goes wrong. By scheduling weekly or monthly check-ins, you can reduce tension, improve understanding and nip issues in the bud before they erupt into bigger problems.
Consider taking a few minutes each week to check in with your partner. You might begin by asking and answering three simple questions:
How are you feeling right now?
How are you feeling in this relationship?
How can I support you at this moment in time?
Relationship check-ins do not need to follow a specific format. They can be semi-formal (e.g. a conversation with notes over brunch) or more casual (a text chain you update in the afternoons). It’s up to you to decide what works for you knowing that the more you talk about your feelings, needs and concerns, the more likely you will be to meet one another’s expectations.
Perform 60 second favours.
This is one of the easiest ways to invest in your relationship and make your partner feel loved and important every single day. Some options for mood-boosting one-minute favors include: peel and plate fruit, warm up their socks on the heating vent, shine their shoes, pick up their favorite treat, serve them coffee or tea in bed, massage their feet, hands or face, warm up their side of the bed, leave a chocolate on their pillow, clean their laptop screen, refill their petrol tank or windshield wiper fluid, warm up their towel while they’re in the shower, draw them a bath, or steal one of their chores.
Try to change up your favours from day to day and be sure to thank them for the little things too!
Listen to your partner’s heartbeat.
At the beginning of each day (or before you go to bed at night), rest your head on your partner’s chest and listen to the beat of their heart. Take a moment to remind yourself that this small muscle is what keep them in your life. This reminder of life’s fragility can help to emphasize the attitude of gratitude on a daily basis. It’s easy to get annoyed with one another for the little things, but you’re less likely to sweat the small stuff if you’re feeling grateful to have them in your life. Life is short and it’s worth appreciating every single day.
Be purposefully vulnerable to deepen intimacy.
We live in a culture that celebrates strength and so many of us have been conditioned to avoid being vulnerable. Vulnerability, of course, is a natural and universal experience, but we often suppress our need to be honest about more vulnerable feelings — from insecurity to sadness to fear to jealousy. But if you want a more intimate relationship, you need to be more honest, and expressions of vulnerability are a key component of this honesty.
I’m not suggesting that you fake vulnerability, but simply make purposeful space for it in order to counteract its learned suppression. The next time you’re feeling sad, try opening a conversation with the words, “I’m feeling sad…”. When you feel insecure, ask for reassurance. If you feel jealous, accept these natural feelings and talk to your partner about why you feel jealous without making accusations.
When you express vulnerability and your partner responds with love and support, you’re co-create the formula for intimacy.
Compliment your partner.
Compliments will get you everywhere! Be generous and genuine with your compliments and consider different types of compliments:
Compliments of pleasantry: these are compliments that are family-friendly and essential to showing appreciation. For example, “You’re such a great cook! Thanks for dinner.” or “You’re a great friend. We’re lucky to have you in our lives.”
Compliments of flirtation: these are compliments that are playful and flirty. For example, “You looked hot in than skirt tonight.” or “You’re so funny. It’s part of what makes you so alluring.”
Compliments of seduction: these are complaints you reserve for your lover alone. For example, “You look so sexy in those jeans. I can’t wait to get you out of them.”
Don’t be shy with your compliments or assume that your partner knows what you’re thinking. If you have something nice to say, share it with the world (or at least with your partner).
You can revolutionise your relationship tonight with these simple strategies, so go ahead and get started now! Adjust these strategies to make them work for you and enjoy the process. Relationships require effort, but they should also be fun, so take a lighthearted approach and allow yourself to make mistakes along the way. You’re likely to find power, passion and even eroticism in imperfection.