Sex Secrets from Happy Couples

By Dr. Sari Locker

from 2007

Ever wonder what those couples who are truly satisfied in bed do differently from other folks? Below, their surprising answers—and advice.

Have you ever noticed those touchy-feely couples—the ones who give each other sly let’s-get-out-of-here glances at parties and always seem to be holding hands or putting their arms around one another. Those are the couples who seem to inspire admiration and maybe even a little curiosity from everyone around them. What’s their secret? Well, it’s hardly news that for many of these couples, it has to do with their rockin’ sex life. But how, you may be wondering, have they achieved such a satisfying physical connection, and how do they keep it going long after the initial lust period has worn off? I took it upon myself to ask some exemplary pairs what their secret is. And their answers, I found out, are attainable by every couple out there. Try some of this advice to see whether it works for you, too!

Secret #1: The sex isn’t always amazing, and that’s OK.

Couples who are truly into each other have great sex all the time, right? Come on now.

The happiest of couples accept, even expect, that sex won’t always be perfect. “We’re very happy, but here’s a newsflash: We have bad sex sometimes,” admits Erin, a 29-year-old from San Francisco. “He might be tired, I might be tired or whatever.” The key, however, is you need to know when to put in more effort to make your bad sex turn into good sex. “If it’s been bad the last two times, then maybe on the third I’ll ask her to bust out the lingerie or try something new on me,” says Erin’s partner, Mike. “Or, I’ll make more of an effort to do things that I know she likes,” he adds. It’s this mix of realistic expectations and a willingness to keep working that’ll keep anyone’s sex life going strong.

Secret #2: There’s always a way to surprise each other.

Whether they’ve just started dating or been together for years, truly satisfied couples know how to bowl each other over with something unexpected in bed. Just ask Diane, 31, from New York, NY, who’s been with her boyfriend Edward for a few years. “For a while I thought that we’d done everything in bed that we’d ever do,” she says. “Then all of a sudden one night, he nibbled on my neck. Total shock.” At first, Edward worried what she’d think of him veering off their usual path. “I was afraid that she wouldn’t like it or wonder where I picked that up from,” he says. “But I just did it to keep her on her toes.” And it worked! Even couples who are newly dating can, and should, keep the element of surprise in mind, as Marie and Tony did after just a few months of dating. “One evening, he told me that he would stop by my apartment on his way home from work,” she recalls. “I rushed home early, and set up my bedroom with candles, music, champagne and I put on a very sexy outfit. He walked in and was very happily surprised when he saw what I’d prepared for him.”

Secret #3: Know that rules are made to be broken.

Many of us have rules when it comes to getting physical, whether that’s not kissing on the first date or waiting until you’re seeing each other exclusively to do the deed. While these guidelines are helpful, the most blissful couples learn to bend — and sometimes even break — their own regulations in the name of romance. Case in point: New Yorkers Craig and Kimberly, for example, had been having issues about how long they should date before consummating their relationship. Kimberly’s rule was always to wait six months no matter what; Craig wanted to move things along more quickly. But Craig exercised a little patience, and by the four-month point, Kimberly realized she was so happy with how things were progressing that the time was right. In retrospect, “My six-month deadline seemed artificial,” she says. “I was willing to comprise and start earlier than I had planned.” Craig believes that the secret to their happiness is “that we can be flexible, even about something as important as our first time together.”

Secret #4: Spicing things up doesn’t necessarily involve accoutrements

Some people assume that when you want to kick things up a notch, that’s accomplished by trying a sex toy or indulging in role play. Not so. Truly content couples know that “spice” assumes many forms, many of which aren’t stereotypically racy. Maybe it’s establishing a little more eye contact during sex or returning to the basics of making out with no agenda of taking things further. The point is that you should find what’s exciting to you rather than reach for what you think should rev things up. “We tried the gadgets, but that stuff was not for us,” said Melina, a 26-year-old from Boston. She says that instead, they experiment with different positions and a variety of locations around their home rather than the bed. And that works just fine for Melina’s boyfriend, Jon. “Just us and the ways our bodies move is perfect for us.”

Secret #5: Honesty is more important than sparing someone’s feelings.

Sure, it’s all too tempting, especially in the heat of the moment, to not speak up if you’re not loving someone’s kissing skills or how he or she strokes your skin. But Lindsay and Michael say that one secret to their happiness is that they tell each other exactly what works for them to make sure that they can correct the problem pronto. “Some people say that it’s best to protect your partner’s feelings, but that doesn’t feel honest to me,” says Lindsay. “I tell him when I want him to kiss me or touch me differently. I figure that if I don’t tell him the truth, then we’ll never be able to do what can make me feel good.” What does Michael think of this? “Well, it’s not all rosy sometimes, but I’d rather know than not know,” he reasons. “Yes, she’s brutally honest but she’s pretty nice about it, so it doesn’t hurt my feelings. I know that she thinks I’m sexy no matter what.” And that’s the kind of confidence you get from good communication—in bed and out.

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