The 8 Best Habits for Your Libido
Having trouble getting in the mood for love? The fact is that your libido (your sexual desire) can vary, depending on the many factors, including state of your relationship and what else is going on in your life.
"Most people in a new relationship experience high sexual desire for one another the first few months of dating," says Kristie Overstreet, a mental health counselor and sex therapist with the Therapy Department in Jacksonville, Florida. Over time, though, the intensity of these feelings tends to mellow. This means that, as time passes, you may have to do some extra work to keep the flame of your sexual desire burning high. But the rewards youíll get in return will likely be well worth the effort.
Here are the eight habits Overstreet recommends to keep your love life humming...
Habit #1: Experimenting to Find Out What You Like
"If you donít know the type and location of touch you like, how is your partner supposed to know?" Overstreet asks. "Experiment through self-exploration or make it a game with your partner and figure out what you like and donít like. You can greatly improve your libido through this exploration and increase confidence in yourself at the same time."
Habit #2: Communicating Your Preferences
In his attempts to satisfy you, your partner may try some moves you donít really like. If this happens, speak up! "Donít think that youíll hurt your partnerís feeling by telling him something heís doing that doesnít feel good to you. Donít let him think that something is good if it isnít," Overstreet says. If you're worried about upsetting him, diffuse tension with an encouraging approach: "Be gentle and reassuring when telling him. Make sure you give positive feedback as well as the redirection." And know that by telling the truth in the moment, youíll have the chance to guide your partner towards something you prefer. As Overstreet says, "Heíll be happier knowing that heís really pleasing you versus your faking what feels good."
Habit #3: Doing Something Active at Least Three Days a Week
Part of having a strong libido is feeling good about yourself. Thatís why Overstreet recommends that women make an effort to stay active on a regular basisóat least three times a week. "I prefer talking about being active rather than focusing on working out or exercising because it makes the goal more realistic as well as achievable," she says, since itís easier to squeeze in some activity even if you donít have time (or the inclination) to take a spin class. "By taking a few extra steps to increase activity, the increase in confidence is worth it. It also helps improve the image we have of our body, which can also increase libido."
Habit #4: Cultivating Your Hobbies and Outside Interests
It may sound counterintuitive, but finding time for yourself can bring a host of benefits, especially in the bedroom. "Many busy women laugh when I encourage them to find a hobby or an interest outside their role as a mom and a wife," Overstreet notes. "But when I ask them what they used to do before these roles started, they often identify something that they stopped doing. Having a hobby or involvement in an activity outside the family can remind you of who you are as an individual.
"We balance many things every day; however, the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important. These activities can serve as a huge boost to our confidence and remind us of who we are. This benefits all areas of our life, family, and relationship."
Habit #5: Knowing About Any Medical Issues, and Well as Medication Side Effects
"One way to ensure that your libido is firing on all cylinders is to know if any medications youíre taking, or any medical issue youíre dealing with, can have sexual side effects," Overstreet says.
Remember that medical problems include emotional and mental as well as physical issues: "Mental health [issues] can have a huge effect on libido. For example, depression can lead to extremely low or nonexistent sexual desire."
If you're having trouble pinpointing the cause of a lagging sex drive, itís worth asking your doctor to check your hormone levels and make sure theyíre within the normal range. If not, find out what your doctor suggests to get them more balanced.
Habit #6: Scheduling a Vacation or Long Weekend AwayóWithout the Kids
"Itís important for couples with kids to take vacations or long weekends without them if possible. When you donít have your kids with you, you may feel less responsible and more able to cut loose," Overstreet says. After all, "The two of you started as a couple before kids, so you remind yourself that you can still have fun. Having time to relax, get away, and just be you will increase your libido because you will be able to reconnect with yourself as well as with your partner."
Habit #7: Thinking of Sex Like Exercise
"Oftentimes you donít want to take the time to put on running clothes and shoes and hit the treadmill or the pavement. However, I bet you donít feel bad after youíre active," Overstreet says. She recommends thinking of sex in a similar way: "You might not want to have to stop what youíre doing, take off your clothes, and make sure everything is taken care of so that you can have sex with your partner. However, once you get going, your body begins to respond; and if you can lose yourself during the process by tuning out all of the thoughts in your brain, youíre bound to enjoy at least some of the encounter." Better yet, youíll be happy you did it and so will your partner. "Think of the Nike slogan, 'Just do it!'" she adds.
Habit #8: Keeping it Real(istic)
If you feel like your sex life doesn't reach the passionate heights you'd like, remember that the spontaneous and ecstatic sex you encounter in romance novels and movies isn't all that common in real life. So keep your expectations reasonable, Overstreet advises.
"Women tend to live in an unrealistic romantic view of how their relationships are supposed to be, thanks to movies and TV shows. In real life, no oneís relationship looks like the one portrayed in The Notebook."
Still, "you can improve your relationship by working on trust and intimacy, which will lead to more fulfilling sex for both partners," Overstreet says. Better yet, as your intimacy grows, you just may find your libido responding with renewed vigor.
Kristie Overstreet, LMHC, LPC, CST, CAP, reviewed this article.
Overstreet, Kristie, LMHC, LPC, CST, CAP. Email interview January 11, 2016.
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