How to Be a Better Lover in 5 Steps
"I don't feel loved."
"My partner doesn't want to touch or have sex as often as we used to."
"I don't feel the passion in bed anymore."
Does this resonate with you or your partner? By evaluating your relationship and sex life, you begin to correct course.
What makes a good lover?
Wyatt Fisher, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and relationship coach in Boulder, Colorado, explained that when one partner in a couple complains the other partner is not a "good lover," the underlying struggle is often with the frequency or passion during sexual activities.
This struggle is often worsened when partners are unsure how to communicate to each other tactfully and effectively.
"How do I communicate to my partner what I want without them being offended, upset or hurt? And when is the right time to bring up this issue?" asked Katherine Hertlein, Ph.D., a researcher and professor in the couple and family therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "Couples are often unsure of how to deal with such communication."
If you and your partner have been in a relationship for some time and the honeymoon period has waned or you've reached a plateau in your relationship, you're more likely to run into sexual disappointments.
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To have a more successful relationship, here are five other tips to help you work with your partner to keep the passion alive.
1. Approach the issue using 'we' language
Channa Bromley, a certified dating and relationship coach at the platform Relationship Hero, based in California, said telling your partner they're not a good lover could result in anger or them shutting down.
"We experience fear and insecurities around our capabilities," she said. "Framing this topic with compassion and approaching it as a 'we' topic is essential."
Framing the discussion from both of your perspectives allows a more collaborative approach rather than placing pressure on one party to overcome their challenges.
2. Understand and manage each other's expectations
The next crucial step is communicating and understanding what each other's expectations are in the relationship as well as in the bedroom.
"Sharing power is essential in all areas of a relationship, including the bedroom," Fisher explained. "Hence, it's important for couples to discuss both of their expectations for sexual activity and then discuss possible compromises that could work for both."
In other words, don't rely on assumptions.
"The greatest complex humans have is that we assume and expect the other person to think and feel as we do," Bromley said. "We all have very different visions of what a relationship and 'being a good lover' entails.
"Take porn as an example. A male growing up may think this illustrates good sex. However, a woman who enjoys the slow pace and anticipation of romantic movies and books would not," she continued. "It's important we share our visions, along with our needs, and create agreements versus having expectations."
Also, remind yourself that your partner is not a mind reader.
"Avoid expecting your partner to read your mind about what you want and how you want it," Hertlein said. "If there is something specific that you are looking for, let your partner know."
3. Find out what makes your partner feel loved
"Do not assume your partner feels loved by the way you feel loved," Fisher said. "You first must learn how they feel loved, then find out what that looks like for them."
He explained that a "filler" is anything that makes your partner feel loved, such as affection, emotional intimacy, sexual contact and so on. On the other hand, a "drainer" is anything that makes them feel negative toward you, such as being critical, defensive or not sharing power, among others.
"It's all about discovering the top fillers your partner needs to feel loved in the relationship and then learning how to provide those things in ways that also work for you," Fisher added. "Equally as important, you also must discover the top drainers you do that make them feel negative toward you and reduce those behaviors. Otherwise, all your effort at providing their fillers will be erased by your drainers. The goal for all of us is to learn how to maximize our partner's fillers while reducing the drainers."
In a way, you can also see it as understanding and practicing each other's love languages.
"Be open to learning about each other's love and sex languages, and showing love in the other person's love language," Bromley recommended. "Also, adopt a practice of positive perspective and intentionally look for the ways your partner shows you love in the way they understand it."
4. Be curious and open to trying new things
In the bedroom, curiosity and openness are two hugely important elements.
"Understand that foreplay begins when the last orgasm ends," Bromley said. "Maintain a high level of play in the relationship. Put intentional effort into creating connection rituals and experiencing novelty through trying new activities, positions and experiences together."
"It is almost always the case that couples will not see eye to eye on what constitutes a loving exchange," Hertlein said. "Couples can improve their relationship dynamics by remaining curious about what constitutes love for their partner.
"Check in periodically about whether your actions are meeting the mark or whether adjustments should be made," she added. "As the receiving partner, try to come from a place of assuming your partner has good intentions, even if they miss the mark on the exact behavior."
5. Be flexible and supportive of each other
"The couples who do the best are couples who have a nice balance between being flexible and supportive," Hertlein explained. "They are perhaps able to have some ideas about what they are looking for in a sexual relationship, but are flexible enough to allow for various interpretations of what that could look like. In addition, they're supportive of their partner's needs and desires, as sometimes this changes over the course of their lives.
"Ultimately, intimacy happens on many different levels: physical, intellectual and emotional," she continued. "Take the time to get to know your partner and develop an intimate relationship on many levels. It will make the experience in the bedroom more enriching and meaningful."