Many spouses want to learn to be a better lover. You may think it takes knowledge about techniques, tricks and hidden tips about sex, or that it takes a perfect body, able to last hours of pleasurable motion, but the truth is that there is one, simple thing that you can change to be a better love.
Over the years, I’ve run a lot of surveys. In fact, we’re currently running survey #22 (fill it out if you haven’t yet). In the responses to these many surveys, there is a consistent response when people are asked, or freely offer what makes their spouse a sub-par lover. It’s their attitude. And this presents in two specific ways: Enthusiasm and confidence.
If you want to be a better lover, then focusing on these two facets of attitude regarding, and during, sex can vastly improve both your own experience of sex, as well as your spouses.
Improve your confidence
People lack confidence regarding sex for a plethora of reasons. Sometimes it has to do with body issues, whether you worry about how you look, that you’re hard enough, large enough, wet enough, tight enough, that your breasts are big enough, shaped nicely enough, symmetrical enough. People worry about their nipples and their body hair, their taste, their scent, and a host of other things.
And the truth is, your spouse probably isn’t thinking about any of these things. At least not on your body. They’re busy worry about their own most likely. But, even if they’re not, I’m willing to bet they’re more focused on how amazing you look, feel, taste and smell and don’t even notice all the things you are worried about. I know, because it’s extremely rare I get a message of someone complaining about these things with regards to their spouse, but I get tons of comments praising all of these qualities.
In addition to that, we have confidence issues regarding how good we are at sex. We worry about whether or not we’re doing it right. Is our spouse enjoying it? If they seem to be, are they faking it? What activity should we do next? What will they want to do next? Will they be upset at what I want to do next? How can I ask without it being awkward, being rejected, or feeling judged? Are they bored with sex? Is there something they want to do and aren’t telling me?
For others, there’s the challenge of getting over past history, either with their spouse or with previous partners. Histories that might include rejection, gatekeeping, shaming or abuse.
Low drive spouses often worry that if they agree to start, that means they’re agreeing to any activity that follows. That if they enjoy it too much their spouse will think they want sex even more often, or that they might be seen as slutty, dirty, or just worried that being seen as sexual by their own spouse is wrong.
We worry that if we let go, our spouse will see the real us. We worry about how we look when our faces are contorted in pleasure (Guess what: most people love to see that face). We get so wrapped up in the thoughts about past sexual sessions and potential future sex (minutes, days or months away) that we miss out on the present situation of sex!
And the truth is, in the vast majority of marriages, both spouses are pretty happy with the quality of sex. I know, because I’ve asked literally hundreds of couples. Almost all spouses (95%+) are also genuinely attracted to their spouse, as much, or more, than they were when they got married.
My point is, that generally, we have nothing to worry about and that if we just focused on the moment we’d not only enjoy it more ourselves, but our spouses would enjoy it more as well because they’d feel more connected.
I know, easier said than done. I struggle with this too. Specifically, I struggle with past rejection. I spent many years preparing to be shot down that I now expect it. Even though I know it won’t happen, I fear it will. Every single time. It’s hard to get over fears like this. And it’s hard to act confidently when you’re constantly afraid of what might happen.
So, here’s what I’m going to try the next time I feel anxious about this:
1. I’m going to acknowledge how I feel
Our brain uses different sections to process feelings and thought. Our prefrontal cortex processes thoughts and ideas while our limbic system processes emotions. Too often we just let our feelings run rampant giving the limbic system control of how we act.
However, what we want to do is act the way we choose to act, rather than letting our feelings control us. The way to do this is to awaken the prefrontal cortex and give it a vote – ideally a louder vote than the limbic system.
Acknowledging and naming how you feel helps quiet the limbic system and wakes up the prefrontal cortex. As soon as you start examining and processing your emotions, you start thinking about them.
2. I’m going to ask whether the fear is valid or not
If step one is simply stopping to acknowledge the fear (or any feeling really), step two is asking if it’s a valid response. Sometimes we feel fear for reasons that don’t really make sense anymore.
For example, I fear rejection, but should I? It’s been years (nearly a decade!) since my wife has given a flat out “no”. She has changed radically from that woman who used to reject me all the time. She understands the importance of sex in marriage and even enjoys it.
So, no, it is not something that makes sense to worry about anymore.
3. What should my behaviour be?
The next step is asking what I should be doing if I was responding to how I think rather than how I feel. Instead of being afraid, instead of waiting for her to initiate so I don’t have to worry about rejection, I should initiate with confidence. After all, I know she’ll at worst be willing (or have an authentic and good reason not to be able to), and at best be engaged and enthusiastic.
So, now I know how I want to act. The final step is to …
4. Just do it
And this is where we get tripped up. At that point, it’s like jumping off a cliff. You just have to jump. Stop thinking about it, stop feeling about it. Just do it. And yeah, it’s a bit like “fake it until you make it”, but also not. It’s deciding to act in accordance with your thoughts rather than your feelings. It’s deciding that my brain is going to be in charge, not the layers of defenses I’ve built up over the years to protect me in situations that don’t match this one. Defenses that are now harming me, not protecting me.
Now, with my specific fear (of rejection), the interesting this is that confidence makes my wife more likely to be enthusiastic and engaged. So, if I act how I choose to act rather than how I feel, the outcome I fear is even less likely, and the best possible outcome is more likely.
Now, it could be that your fears are different. Maybe you have a fear of what you look like naked. Confidence is sexier than a body, and an engaged mind is even sexier. Maybe you have a fear that sex will hurt. A tense body is more likely to get hurt, whereas an engaged mind will loosen the body, produce more lubrication and lessen your chance of pain or discomfort. Maybe you have a fear that your husband will suffer from ED and sex won’t work. That fear, the look of concern and worry on your face is likely to contribute to ED, but a confident and engaged wife is more likely to cause his mind and subsequently his body to respond appropriately.
These aren’t guarantees, but rather natural outcomes due to a shift in behaviour cascading into a shift in physical response. You increase your chances by setting yourself up for success rather than failure. Does it always work? No. But it’s more likely to if you act like you are confident.
Confidence leads to enthusiasm and more enjoyment for both spouses. And it works the other way as well. This is a feedback loop between spouses. If your husband or wife is struggling with confidence, the next section is for you.
The comment I get more than “I wish my husband/wife was more confident” is “I wish they were more enthusiastic.”
A lack of enthusiasm is sometimes linked to fears discussed above, and in those cases, it’s best to go with the process already mentioned, but for many, there just isn’t much of a drive there.
It could be because you were told growing up that sex is a necessary evil, or if you’re a woman, then “good girls don’t do that”, or just that you grew up in the paradoxical juxtaposition of the sexualization of woman while simultaneously shaming any woman than actually expresses that sexuality in any way whatsoever.
It could also be just that you’re tired, overworked, highly stressed and all these things are hitting your sexual inhibitions buttons, as they do for most people. Or perhaps you’ve on birth control or other meds that hinder your sex drive.
Whatever the reason, maybe sex just isn’t that … exciting. The problem is that this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Approaching sex with a lack of excitement yields unexciting sex. Then, the next time sex becomes available, it’s not that exciting, because, well, last time it wasn’t exciting. I mean, it’s good for most people, just not … exciting.
And these reasons, which are perfectly valid, are reasons not to feel spontaneously aroused. They’re not reasons not to decide to be engaged and enthusiastic. As above, we should decide to let our thoughts dictate our actions, not our feelings.
So, how do you become enthusiastic?
1. What would make it exciting?
Most of us have something that really gets our engine going. Do you know what it is for you? For some, getting a massage gets them all worked up. For others, doing something that feels a bit riskier, like using a blindfold, being tied up, taking a video of them having sex, or some erotic talking does it. For some, giving oral sex is a huge turn on for them, yes, including many women. We had a survey about that too and many wives said they were turned on by giving blow jobs. So, if that’s you, you’re not alone. Others aren’t so much, so if you’re not, that’s okay too.
For others, they just need more of a lead in. Trying something like Truth or Dare, or our Spice Jar printable can help slow down sex and add a bit of excitement due to the randomness inherent in the games.
Other need to prepare. They go through the day knowing that sex is on the table (literally or figuratively) that night. So, they dress in clothes that make them feel attractive and/or sexy. They choose underwear that reminds them to get warmed up mentally. They listen to music that puts them in the mood or incorporates scents in the house that remind them of romance. By the way, lavender, pumpkin pie, and licorice scents supposedly increase blood flow to the genitals.
Figure out what turns you on, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
2. Ask your spouse how they know you’re enthusiastic about sex
Maybe you are enthusiastic and don’t know it. Or maybe you don’t know what your spouse is looking for. Now, there are some pretty common answers:
- Be more aggressive -Initiating, pushing them down and climbing on top, wrapping legs around them to pull them closer, etc. are all fairly clear signs that you want more.
- Make eye contact – Eye contact is sexy. I mean, don’t stare at them, but don’t shy away from looking them in the eyes either. People who are confident and enthusiastic aren’t afraid to look someone in the eye, and that goes for during sex as well.
- Kiss them as if they tasted like your favourite dessert – Like you can’t get enough and just want to taste more of it. This works for oral sex as well, by the way.
- Be more vocal – Moan, sign, breathe loudly or even start talking. Don’t know what to say? Check out this resource.
- Ask for what you want and make suggestions – This can be difficult for many, especially if they don’t know what they want. So, one option is just to say “let’s try another card” from our Spice Jar game. That way you can show enthusiasm without actually needing to know what you want.
- Offer alternatives – Similarly, if you don’t want to do something they suggest, don’t just say “no” (the worst response), “not tonight” (better) or “how about something else”. Instead, make a suggestion of something you want to do.
- Smile – Yeah, I know, seems simple, but smiling makes it clear that you’re actually enjoying yourself. A lot of people complain that their spouse just sort of has a blank expression on their face during sex. That can make it difficult to know that they’re actually having fun.
3. Choose to be enthusiastic, and see if your mind will follow your body
Our brains are pretty neat. Our brains can tell our bodies to do things, and our bodies can tell our brains how to feel. There have been plenty of studies to show that smiling improves your mood, even if you’re forcing it. Not faking it, but actively deciding, I’m going to smile and be happier actually makes you happier.
Other studies have shown that standing up, with your chest out, shoulders back causes you to feel more confident. That striking a “power pose” makes you feel more energetic and ambitious.
So, look at the list above, or get feedback from your spouse, and try them. Yes, you might feel awkward at first, but it also might make you feel more enthusiastic, which will boost your enjoyment. Again, this isn’t “fake it until you make it”, it’s deciding that your mind is in charge. How you feel isn’t.
Enthusiasm and confidence go hand in hand
If you are more confident, your spouse is more likely to be enthusiastic. Likewise, if you show enthusiasm, it’s far easier for your spouse to be confident. Enthusiasm in bed is basically one giant ego stroke for your spouse. It shows that you want them, badly. That you desire them in a very intimate and special way that is reserved for just the two of you. It’s a way to express all the appreciation and love that you have for every little thing that they do. I think that would help anyone feel a bit more confident at least.
Likewise, confidence shows trust. It shows that you are willing to be vulnerable and aren’t afraid of it. That you believe that your spouse will accept you, as you are, regardless of what you do or say. That you can be free to explore, suggest, ask and just be yourself, naked and unashamed. It’s far easier for your spouse to be enthusiastic about being with someone like that than someone who seems scared to show themselves to you.
Some people say that how good you are in bed is ⅓ skill and ⅔ attitude. I think it leans even more than that to the attitude side. After all, if you are enthusiastic and confident, you will be able to grow in skills, because you won’t be afraid to explore and exercise them. But, if you aren’t, then you will basically be stuck at the skill level you are at, and won’t be able to rely on attitude at all.
I hope this post helps you be more confident and enthusiastic in the bedroom. To be honest, I wrote it mostly for myself, because it’s something I need to work on (particularly the confidence part). But, I have a feeling some others might benefit from it as well.
If you have any further tips, please suggest them in the comments!
7 thoughts on “The one thing that will make you better in bed”
WOW! There is a lot to digest there. Even though my wife and I have come a long way this last 2 years, I also still fear rejection when I initiate or want to try new sexual things. My wife is super confident and enthusiastic, and I express my appreciation loud and clear. However, it is in a very narrow range of sexual activity. Getting outside that narrow band is quite difficult to navigate.
Now, I am not complaining. I just want more. I see that we have a lot to catch up on, and I dare not go too fast. We are not bored, but enjoy each other immensely. It is like we are just newly weds, just getting to know each other.
Thanks for your post. I wish I had read it in the first 25 years of my marriage.
Great thoughts friend. 🙂
Think this post is one of your best. Absolutely fantastic and so very true. Thank you!
Thanks Joe 🙂
A few months back I bought some edible massage oils in vanilla and strawberry. My wife asked me who they were for when I showed them to her and I said they were for both of us and could have a variety of uses. Thought I’d try something different. When the time came to use them, I got them out and she got very angry. “Put those away. There’s no way I’m sucking your d**k. You can forget about it!”
I asked her why she couldn’t express herself without getting angry. She said she always gets angry when she is made to feel guilty. I know she had a long sexual history before marriage, but this is ridiculous! I go out of my way to add something a little bit different (and pretty tame at that) and I get shot down with anger.
I was so stunned and demoralized that I couldn’t get hard and I could barely even function in bed. How can I make our sex life better when I get treated like that? I can understand that a lot of guys are afraid of rejection and don’t try new things as a result. But when I try something new and get treated like that? I can’t get her to talk about it because it makes her feel guilty and she refuses to have conversations that make her feel guilty.
In case you were going to suggest counseling, save your breath. We went through that a couple of years ago and the counselor informed me that I was wrong to say I needed sex. Sex was a desire not a need he said. Jay has already addressed this issue, but given that this was in the context of a mostly sexless marriage, I’d have to say the counselor’s words were unbelievably obtuse and totally counter productive. I quit going to him very quickly afterward, but the damage had already been done.
Ricky, I HURT FOR YOU!