Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spicy Sex

Intimate couple laying in bed.
What are you doing this weekend?
        Let’s be real, even if you already have a great relationship with your partner, everybody wants to get more out of their sex lives. This weekend, try switching things up a bit with these 10 ideas from the Hot version of our Gottman “Salsa Deck” for really spicy sex. As we like to say, “Variety is the spice of life”:

1. Act out a fantasy of your choice.  Dress the parts.

  Here are some examples:
Two strangers on an airplane
Boss and employee
Professor and student
Massage parlor worker and customer

2. See how many sexual positions you can shift into before having an orgasm.

3. Spread paint on a large canvas and roll around naked, making love.  Then, frame your artistic creation.

4. Have naked bill-paying night.

5. Think of some hot sexual fantasy and then phone your partner at work and describe it to them.

6. Play Around-the-World in your house: make every room open to a potential sexual experience.  Use things in that room to make it more enjoyable.  Consider using whipped cream in the kitchen, pillows in the bedroom, heat from the fireplace, etc.

7. (Woman to man) Skip the underwear under your dress and tease your partner by showing that your vagina is accessible and being offered.

8. While both of you are naked, one of you stand behind the other and make love in front of a mirror.

9. Make love to the sexiest music you can think of.  Take turns picking the music.

10. Call in late to work one morning after the kids are off to school and have an erotic hour alone together.

The Gottman Institute

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to initiate sex


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pornorgaphy & Impersonal Sex Part 2

John and Julie Gottman.
        Dr. John Gottman: The overwhelming majority, that is 99% of all the research that has been done on sex has been done on individuals masturbating, not on sex between couples. In fact, very little research has been done on couple's sex. The research that does exist however, shows that sex between couples is very different than sex between two strangers. 

        I just read a book by Mary Roach called, Bonk, which is about sex research and in it she dug up this infamous book that Masters & Johnson wrote about sex and homosexuality. Their book became famous because it included a chapter on converting homosexuals to heterosexuals, which of course was madly criticized by the gay communities and lesbian communities.

        But, what Masters and Johnson did in their book that was particularly interesting, was they wrote about an experiment where they had couples actually make love in their laboratory. Their study included both heterosexual married couples, and also committed gay and lesbian couples (this was in the seventies before gay marriage and lesbian marriage). They also had a control group where they had complete strangers have sex with each other, which is really amazing. There’s no way you could get that passed through a Human Subjects Committee today! Interestingly enough, there were many women that actually volunteered to have sex with a stranger, a random stranger. Isn't that amazing? 

        When they did this study they observed that people in committed relationships had sex entirely differently from the way strangers had sex. One of the major differences they found, and this was especially true for gay and lesbian couples, was that the committed couples derived pleasure from their partner's excitement, that is, they got excited themselves as they saw their partner getting excited. There was really this interconnection going on. There was also a much slower pace of sex in the committed relationships that just wasn’t there with the strangers. Very interesting.

        You know, we think about strangers having sex with each other as one the most exciting things in the world. Sometimes therapists even give heterosexual couples the advice to, “Be like strangers when you make love.” They think that this will make sex more thrilling and exciting. They say things like, “Don’t cuddle. If you cuddle with each other then sex will really stink in your relationship. You've got to be like strangers to keep the excitement alive.” 

        It turns out in research, when you actually look at what is going on in sex between two strangers, it’s nowhere near as exciting as the sex that people are having in committed relationships because they aren’t emotionally interconnecting. Impersonal sex is essentially an enhanced way of masturbating. Personal sex is like dancing the Tango.

        We like the Tango, and that's exactly what we are trying to create with The Gott Sex Series, helping to teach people how to have special personal sex, where there is emotional interplay and connection.

The Gottman Institute 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pornorgaphy & Impersonal Sex

Dr. John Gottman.

        Dr. John Gottman: Every positive thing you do in a relationship is foreplay. One thing that’s very important in understanding this definition of sex is knowing the distinction between personal sex and “pornography.”

        Most people think of “pornography” as some site on the internet, but actually pornography is very common in people's sexual relationships. Because at its core, pornography involves wanting sex that is impersonal - that is, sex just for the sake of having sex for pleasure. I’m not saying that wanting a physical release where any partner will do is a bad thing; it’s very common in our species. But impersonal sex that you could potentially have with anybody does not involve cherishing a specific person. You could plug in anybody, any of the number of different kinds of partners, or even body parts, and that's pretty impersonal. It's not about lovemaking and it does not build an emotional connection. 

        We, however, are interested in a different kind of sex, one that is very intimate and very personal. Even though it does involve a physical release, personal sex is also about a meeting of minds and a meeting of hearts.

        Couples who are having personal sex cherish one another as irreplaceable and special, not as tits and ass. Maybe they think of sex as impersonal occasionally, but they are also thinking, this is my lover, this is the person I've chosen. They are nurturing the idea that their partner is special and cherishing them as unique and even irresistible. Personal sex is about thinking only this person will do, and I need them - it’s not just about the physical release.

        This is really what everyone in a long-term relationship that’s working well, and where the sex is good, is doing. They make a lot of love over many, many years, and it gets better and better because they are constantly learning how to love one another better as they connect emotionally. Communication becomes very essential, and that communication is what makes the difference between sex being personal or sex being pornographic.

The Gottman Institute 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Talking about sex

Sexual Communication 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Better Sex Tips - Part 2

        Us: How central of a role does verbal communication play in creating this attitude towards sex?

        Dr. John Gottman: Thinking of sex this way does involve verbal communication and being able to say things like, “What do you need, what are you feeling right now?” This is because when everything becomes sex, sex becomes all about communicating love and affection for one another. It really takes your relationship to another level if you are able to talk with your partner intimately and ask them check-up questions like, “how are you, how was work, do you need help?” And if you see that they’re stressed, asking them something like, “Can I take the baby? You seem really stressed out and tired, why don't you go and take a nap?” or, “Honey, you look like you’re really stressed. Why don’t we sit down and you can tell me about it?” The ability to have an intimate conversation - that is, to listen, ask probing questions, and empathize with your partner, not just about sex but about anything - is one of the things that builds rock solid relationships.

        Us: So, would it be fair to say that couples who do these things enjoy stronger and more stable relationships overall, compared to couples who don’t communicate, or at least who don’t communicate as much as they should?

        John: Exactly.  And part of the skill set that we teach in the Gott Sex Series is really about having intimate conversations, which is a dying art. People don't think of conversation as something that’s related to sex; you know, they’d say that having a conversation, that's not sex. People think that sex is touching and kissing and caressing and sucking and licking. But, having intimate conversation, saying, “Hey baby, how are you doing, how are you feeling about your job, you look kind  of sad you know when you come home, lets talk about it” is really sex.  

        Everything in that conversation is sex, and it helps build friendship and emotional connection as well. It doesn't seem like that would really be a key ingredient for friendship and for having a good sex life, but it's very essential because there is an increasing sense of emotional distance when couples don’t do these things. 

        In many relationships I have observed, people only start trying to be close when they want intercourse, or when they want to have an orgasm, and in these cases then there is no basis for  closeness. There’s no prior emotional connection. In fact, people may be feeling alienated and lonely, like their needs are getting ignored in a relationship, and all of a sudden their partner wants to have sex with them, and it's even more alienating then. Insulting even. This is why communication and friendship are so important to a happy relationship.

        Us: So you’re saying that the best way to build this type of connection is to frequently ask our partner questions about how they are and what type of important things are going on in their life, saying things like, “ how was your day, is that particular thing still bothering you, or how’s your stress level today?.” That sort of thing?

        John:  That's a part of it. I mean that's one way of doing it; that's an active part of it.  But, the other thing is really noticing how your partner asks for whatever he or she needs, and noticing how your partner tries to get your attention, get your interest, start a conversation, initiate affection, give appreciation, say thank you, that kind of thing. It’s about noticing the bids they make for emotional connection and responding to them. A lot of times when people make these bids for emotional connection they  make them indirectly, especially in the areas that involve more intimate connection, like sex. For instance, if a woman wants sex she might say something to her partner like, “Isn’t it a little cold in here sweetie?” Or, “Burr I’m cold.”

        People really are very indirect and often very uncomfortable about saying what they need, so part of what's essential is to develop an awareness of how your particular partner asks for what he or she needs, noticing these important bids for emotional connection, and then acting on them. In therapy we tell couples to try and notice when their partner is experiencing a negative emotion. When your partner is upset about something, feeling lonely, feeling alienated, feeling disappointed, it’s a great time to connect with them. What you do to connect with your partner when they are upset and how you connect with them is very important.

        Over and over again in our Love Lab, we saw that people just weren't aware of how they really turned away from their partner and left their partner hanging, twisting slowly in the wind, instead of turning towards them. It leaves people feeling alienated and upset when they try to get through and their partner just doesn't hear them. It’s actually very sad.

        Us: Why do you think this is such a problem for some couples? Are they just missing some naturally inherent set of skills for turning towards and connecting emotionally?

        John: The problem is generally the advice that is given to couples on this subject. Most of the resources out there don’t give couples a real recipe or anything  concrete or specific about how to do this, for how to turn towards.  And, what's different about the advice we give couples is that we provide them with specific tools and skills for enhancing the key ingredients of friendship.

        Us: And these skills and tools are part of your Gott Sex Series?

        John: That’s right.

        Us: Sounds great!  Any last words?

        John: Sure. Look, this isn’t rocket science. How to be good friends and how to have good sex really comes down to communicating, displaying  affection and respect, and turning towards your partner's bids for emotional connection. 

        Us: Dr. Gottman, thank you so much for giving us your time today.

        John: My pleasure.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Better Sex Tips - Part 1

Black and white photograph of sexuality researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson.

        Back in the 1950’s a pair of researchers by the names of William Masters and Virginia Johnson decided to pioneer the first intensive study into human sexuality. At the time, studying sex in a laboratory was a scandalous thing to do, yet what they found has since become the standard way that people all over the world think about sex. Chances are you are familiar with it.

        The standard model breaks sex down into four phases:

1. Foreplay (Erection for males, and lubrication for females)
2. Greater excitement, intercourse
3. Orgasm
4. Resolution

        Seems pretty reasonable right? Unfortunately, thinking about sex in this way creates several major problems that will almost certainly affect a couple’s relationship in some pretty adverse ways.

        Earlier we sat down with Dr. John Gottman and asked him to tell us the single most common piece of advice that he gave to couples in couple’s therapy about sex. We were surprised to hear what he had to say:

        Dr. John Gottman: It’s to move beyond the standard model. Sex is not just about the standard model that Masters & Johnson created, in fact this model is really a roadblock for good sex; it’s very limiting. For starters, just look at how medicalized sex has become as a result of it. By assigning the sex act to four stages, competence and incompetence can be defined for each stage. So instead of accurately defining sex it actually creates most of the sexual dysfunctions, like performance anxiety and premature ejaculation. If you bust out of that standard model, and you really think of everything that a couple does that's positive together as “sex,” chances are the overall relationship will be happier and more fulfilling.

        Us: That’s an interesting notion; what do you mean, think of everything as sex?

        John: Here’s what I mean by that. Maybe he is washing the dishes and she comes up behind him and puts her arms around him and says, “You know, you look so great in this apron, it makes me want to take your clothes off right now.” That's sex. Or they get up in the morning and they are getting dressed and he says, “Wow, that is a great color for you, you know it really compliments your eyes” and he gives her a kiss; that's sex.

        I mean it really is sex because it's connecting emotionally, and that’s what bonds two people together -  the emotional connection -  not just the act of sex itself. If you look at sex in this way, then the transition from talking to intercourse doesn’t seem that far removed. They just seem like natural extensions of each other, because you are really touching one another's hearts when you ask your partner how he or she is feeling, and you are genuinely interested in the answer.

        Us: How could changing the way you think about sex -  that is, amending your preconceived notions about sex as a standard model, and instead thinking about it in the way that you suggest where everything is sex -  change a couple’s intimate life?

        John: Well, if everything positive that a couple does to connect emotionally becomes sex, and you don't have these sort of lockstep stages where competence and incompetence are defined, then a lot of the so-called sexual dysfunctions that Masters & Johnson and the whole industry of sex therapists in the seventies created just vanishes. All the dysfunctions except for the ones that involve pain just go away.  For example ,  a couple is making out, and he gets excited and comes “prematurely.”  Well okay, you know that's nice for him, great. It may raise the question,  what about her? Maybe she’s fine with it. And if not, he still has hands and a tongue to please her.  There are many successful possibilities that don’t fall in line with the standard model...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sex Test

Playful couple smiling and flirting.

        Is your sex life “normal”? Do you ever wonder how well things are really going between you two?

        Unlike other so-called love quizzes, the intimate questions in our Gott Sex Quiz are designed to give you an accurate idea of the overall health and happiness in your sex life.

        Take 10 minutes and try it now!


Assessing the quality of sex, romance, and passion in your relationship!

For each item, take a pen and check the one box below that applies to your relationship right now?

1. Is the relationship 
        ☐ A. Romantic and passionate?
        ☐ B. Is it becoming passionless, that is, the fire is going out?

2. I would say that
        ☐ A. My partner is verbally affectionate.
        ☐ B. My partner is not very verbally affectionate. 

3. I would say that
        ☐ A. My partner expresses love and admiration to me.
        ☐ B. My partner expresses love or admiration less frequently these days.

4. I would say that
        ☐ A. We do touch each other a fair amount. 
        ☐ B. We rarely touch each other these days. 

5. I would say that
        ☐ A. My partner courts me sexually. 
        ☐ B. My partner does not court me sexually. 

6. I would say that
        ☐ A. We do cuddle with one another.
        ☐ B. We rarely cuddle with one another

7. I would say that
        ☐ A. We still have our tender and passionate moments. 
        ☐ B. We have few tender or passionate moments. 

8. I would say that
        ☐ A. It feels like our sex life is fine. 
        ☐ B. It feels like there are definite problems in this area. 

9. I would say that
        ☐ A. The frequency of sex is not a problem 
        ☐ B. The frequency of sex is a problem.

10. I would say that
        ☐ A. The satisfaction that I get from sex is not a problem
        ☐ B. The satisfaction that I get from sex is a problem 

11. I would say that
        ☐ A. Being able to just talk about sex, or talk about sexual problems is not a serious issue between us. 
        ☐ B. Being able to just talk about sex, or talk about sexual problems is a serious issue between us. 

12. I would say that
        ☐ A. The two of us generally want the same thing sexually. 
        ☐ B. The two of us want different things sexually. 

13. I would say that
        ☐ A. Differences in desire are not an issue in this relationship. 
        ☐ B. Differences in desire are an issue in this relationship. 

14. I would say that
        ☐ A. The amount of “love” in our lovemaking is not a problem. 
        ☐ B. The amount of “love” in our lovemaking is a problem. 

15. I would say that
     ☐ A. The satisfaction my partner gets from sex is not a problem.
     ☐ B. The satisfaction my partner gets from sex is a problem.  

16. I would say that
     ☐ A. My partner is still very physically affectionate toward me.
     ☐ B. My partner is not very physically affectionate toward me. 

17. I would say that
     ☐ A. I feel romantic toward my partner. 
     ☐ B. I do not feel very romantic toward my partner. 

18. I would say that
      ☐ A. My partner finds me sexually attractive. 
      ☐ B. My partner does not find me sexually attractive. 

19. I would say that
      ☐ A. I find my partner sexually attractive. 
        ☐ B. I do not view my partner as sexually attractive.

20. In this relationship 
        ☐ A. I feel romantic and passionate toward my partner. 
        ☐ B. I feel passionless, my own fire is going out.

21. In this relationship 
        ☐ A. My partner is romantic and passionate.
        ☐ B. My partner is passionless, that is, the fire is going out in my partner.

22. I would say that
      ☐ A. The satisfaction I get from sex is not a problem.
      ☐ B. The satisfaction I get from sex is a problem.

23. I would say that
        ☐ A. My partner compliments my appearance.
      ☐ B. My partner does not compliment my appearance. 

24. I would say that
      ☐ A. I am satisfied by how we initiate sex.
      ☐ B. I am dissatisfied with the ways we initiate sex.

24. I would say that
      ☐ A. It is possible for me to refuse sex and have it be okay.
      ☐ B. I am unable to refuse sex and have it be okay with my partner. 

25. I would say that
      ☐ A. I hardly ever have sex when I don’t want to.
      ☐ B. It seems as if I often have sex when I don’t want to. 

26. I would say that
      ☐ A. We have many ways to satisfy one another sexually.
      ☐ B. We have very few ways to satisfy one another sexually. 

27. Overall I would say that
      ☐ A. We are good sexual partners. 
      ☐ B. We are not very good sexual partners. 


        Count all the times you checked “A.” Divide that number by 27, and then multiply it by 100. That is your percent score. If you scored greater than 80 percent, your relationship is fine in the areas of affection, sex, romance, and passion. If you scored lower than 80 percent however, there is an issue you should be concerned about. You might want to check out our website, or our upcoming Gott Sex Series, for help improving this area of your personal life.

        If you think this assessment might benefit someone you know, make sure to share this post with them!

The Gottman Institute

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Make A Relationship Last Sexually - 5 Fun Sex Ideas

Happy couple kissing intimately.

        Welcome back to the Gott Sex Blog! More than just sex advice, we are pleased to offer you research-based tools and skills from The Gottman Institute for building sexual relationships that work. 

        Everyone in a committed relationship knows that sex and relationships go hand in hand with one another. It’s not too surprising then that couples that can talk about sex usually have happy relationships and better sex lives.

        Statistically speaking we know from research that we conducted at our Seattle Love Lab that:

50% of women who say that they are able to talk about sex with their partner also say that they enjoy passionate and fulfilling sex lives. For those women who don’t talk about sex with their partner, the satisfaction rate is only 9%.

        If you are having trouble talking about sex with your partner, read Sex As A Conversation or try our Sex Love Maps exercise, both of which were created to help couples jumpstart this process of open and effective communication. It is always sad to see people wasting years just, “going through the motions” when it doesn’t have to be that way.

        But great sexual relationships are not just about being able to talk about sex, they are about trying new thing and experimenting. “Variety is the spice of life.”

        Below we have a few new ideas and better sex tips that are designed to increase your passion, love and romance. Let’s take a look at some things that you can do together with your partner this week to really make your relationship spicy.

The Weekly Top Five

Monday: Read an erotic book out loud together or rent an adult film and watch it. Find a passage or scene that you like and reenact it.

Tuesday: The countertop in the kitchen is a great place for oral sex…

Wednesday: Help your partner masturbate to orgasm while you watch.

Thursday: Take your time touching one another, with the rule that there will be no intercourse tonight, only pleasuring one another.

Friday: Talk about what you liked best the last time you made love. Then make love using this knowledge.

        Try out these sex ideas, and be sure to share your own favorite ways of spicing things up below in the comments.


The Gottman Institute

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

5 Most Shocking Statistics About Couple's Sex Lives, With John Gottman

John and Julie Gottman.

        Question: What are the biggest/most shocking statistics with regards to sex life between couples?

        Answer: First, that 15 to 20% of all couples have no sex at all. NONE. EVER.

        Second, approximately 70% of the couples who do have sex, are unhappy with the frequency or quality of the sex. Yet they do not talk about it with each other!

        Third, in heterosexual couples, the major complaint of most men is not that they want sex more often. Their major complaint is that they no longer feel DESIRED by their partner.  This makes men feel heartbreakingly lonely.  

        Fourth, the major complaint of women is that they don’t feel emotionally connected to their partner, and so sex rarely feels personal or feels like making love. That makes women feel heartbreakingly lonely.  

        Fifth, gay and lesbian couples are far more comfortable, less defensive, more direct and honest, and they laugh more when talking about sex with their partner than heterosexual couples. They are also more open talking about non-monogamy, so there is less deceit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Q&A With John Gottman

Q: What is the most common advice that you give couples in couple’s therapy? What issues do you find people dealing with the most?

A: The most common advice we give couples is to rethink what sex is, so it’s not just about the Standard Model that Masters and Johnson created.

We know, for instance, that 60% to 70% of women do not have orgasms regularly through intercourse. Every individual is so different that it is necessary to make sex very personal, or it becomes some boring and detached version of pornography, which is a sure road to frustration and loneliness.

Couples have to communicate about sex; they have to create a love map of their partner’s erotic and sensual preferences. They have to develop a ritual for initiating and refusing sex, and for talking about sex and for during sex.

Q: In all of your recent research on relationships and sex, what has been the most compelling finding or shocking statistic that you have come across?

A: Four things have shocked me. First, 70% of all women do not have orgasm via intercourse. Second, heterosexuals are tremendously uncomfortable talking to one another about sex, and they usually don’t at all. Third, when couples can and do talk comfortably to each other about sex, they are dramatically happier with sex and with the whole relationship. Fourth, good sex is all about being and staying good friends.

Q: Tell us about research related to relationships and sex where you hypothesized something one way, and after analyzing your findings, discovered something totally surprising to you.

A: We were totally surprised to find that friendship was important as it is for good sex. My research earlier found that the ability to repair a relationship after a regrettable incident (where you inadvertently hurt one another’s feelings and do emotional damage) was based on good friendship, and we identified the 3 major ingredients of friendship that made repair effective.

What we totally didn’t expect was that these 3 ingredients were also the basis of romance, passion, and great sex in the relationship. That was totally unexpected. Even more amazing was that our findings were replicated in Bernie Zilbergeld’s study about great sex. 

All for now
The Gottman Institute