Dr Karen Gurney is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychosexologist for the NHS and director of The Havelock Clinic, an independent sexual problems service in London. She writes, teaches and researches around sex as well as offering sex and relationship therapy to help people get the sex life that they want. AKA @TheSexDoctor, Dr Gurney translates key research around sex and relationships into meaningful ideas or suggestions that people can use in their own lives. Here are her top tips for how to have better sex…

Lose the idea that it’s possible to be good in bed
The notion that we can be ‘good in bed’ came from the labs of sex researchers in the 1960’s during the advent of behaviourism in psychology as a way of understanding people and how they learn and interact. Although this idea was a great move away from the pathologising view of Freud and others that went before (where if sex wasn’t going well it was usually attributed to your personality flaws),  the idea that you can be good at sex seems to have stuck in the social psyche as something to aspire to.
Magazines targeted at men and women are full of these promises of helping you be ‘better in bed’, but the truth is you are only as ‘good’ as your knowledge of your own body and needs, your ability to communicate this and elicit the same from a sexual partner, and your ability to let go of worries and distractions to enjoy sex.

Finding a way to connect with our partners in the moment by moving our technology to another room and paying attention to each other without distraction can really benefit our relationships

Spend more time connecting in the moment with others and with yourself
We now have the science to show us that our ability to have 17 virtual tabs open in our brain, whilst simultaneously worrying about something we said at dinner last night and speculating on what might happen tomorrow is detrimental to our sex lives. As a society we are less able to tolerate ‘just being’ than ever before, and our brains and screens are full of stimulation and distraction that stop us noticing what’s happening in our bodies and minds.
Finding a way to connect with our partners in the moment by moving our technology to another room and paying attention to each other without distraction can really benefit our relationships and we need to find a way to do the same with our bodies and sex. There’s growing evidence that practicing mindfulness in relation to sexual sensation and in the moment during masturbation or sex is the perfect antidote to this.
As someone who helps people overcome worries or distractions during sex which affect their sexual enjoyment or function, I have seen the great effects that tuning into our sensations and experience in the moment can have on increasing arousal, pleasure and desire.

Dr Karen Gurney is an NHS psychologist and psychologist

Do more kissing
In my work I very rarely meet a couple in a long-term relationship who tell me that they are still kissing. I’m not talking about a peck on the lips in the way you might kiss a close friend or your child- I’m talking about long, sexy, passionate kissing. Kissing for kissing’s sake often falls off the agenda after some time in a relationship, instead we end up with kissing only as a precursor to, or part of sex. This takes away the joy of having the freedom to initiate or respond to a kiss, to briefly engage with each other sexually, without it necessarily having to go anywhere. It also makes a kiss a signal that someone wants more, and the pressure and predictability of this can be really off putting and stop either of you getting into it.
In the early days of being together, desire often started with this preference we had for frequent kissing as an activity in it’s own right. Without it we lose a big trigger for desire. One of the most impactful changes couples can make is reinstating passionate kissing often. Not only is it one way to reconnect with each other as sexual partners, to feel wanted and sexy, but it will at times be an easy stepping stone into more frequent desire and sexual connection should either of you wish to take it further.

Too often women in heterosexual relationships find themselves going along with a version of sex that doesn’t fit their anatomy

Know what you want and ask for it
Too often women in heterosexual relationships find themselves going along with a version of sex that doesn’t fit their anatomy, leading to an orgasm gap of around 30 per cent between men and women when they have sex together. This basically means that women orgasm about 30 per cent less than men in the same sexual encounter. Women having sex with other women don’t have this issue and are likely to both orgasm at a rate (almost) equivalent to heterosexual men when they have sex. This orgasm gap has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with our definition of ‘sex’ having become synonymous with just one type of sex that suits male anatomy (penis in vagina penetration). On my blog I also write bout why orgasms are a feminist issue.

Use masturbation as your guide. If you predominantly masturbate by touching the area around your clitoris (as most women do) and find this is where you prefer to experience sexual sensation then why would you go along with sex that suits someone else’s anatomy for the vast majority of your sexual experiences? I’m not suggesting you stop having the type of sex that meets your partners needs. Just not every time, especially if it’s at the expense of your own.

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