By Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT
Recently, Dr. Kristen Mark and myself conducted a survey on relationship boredom and were surprised to learn that nearly 50% of couples were bored in their relationships, both in and out out of the bedroom. But we were also comforted to learn that just as many couples believed that trying something new in the bedroom would help get them out of their sexy-time rut. So we conducted a new survey on sexual adventurousness and the findings were a mix of logical and unexpected. Perhaps the most surprising? Women are way more sexually adventurous than men.
After surveying 3,100 people, we found that women were significantly more likely than men to have engaged in a wider variety of sexually adventurous activities, such as talking dirty during sex and sharing their sexual fantasies with their partners. Do women feel pressured to play the sex kitten these days, or is there something more at play?
"I think that times have changed (and continue to change) and women are becoming more and more comfortable being sexually expressive and adventurous with their partners," says Dr. Kristen Mark, Survey Director for Good in Bed.
Which is a good thing. Trying new things has long been suggested as a great way to dig oneself out of a sex rut. Why? Mixing things up can cause a spike in the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine rushing through your system, thereby making you more aroused. "Usually when you try something with a partner," says Mark, "even if you don't ever do it again, the thrill of trying something new can really rev up the satisfaction level."
So what are men and women trying out in the bedroom? According to our survey:
Not only that, but stereotypically taboo behaviors were also found to be fairly common. For example, a whopping 61% had engaged in sex with the chance of being overheard, and 57% had engaged in exhibitionistic behavior.
So why are these behaviors still, for the most part, considered taboo? "I just think that society as a whole is not yet willing to talk about these things openly," says Mark, "so therefore they are deemed 'taboo.' And perhaps behaviors being 'taboo' is part of the excitement of engaging in them!"
So how can you suggest a new sexual behavior to your partner without sending him or her screaming into the night? "Bringing it up with your partner by referencing this study is a great way to break the ice," says Mark. "Perhaps pick your top three exciting behaviors from our list and present it as a sort of wish list to your partner. Also, I always suggest bringing things up to your partner in the context of a sexy fantasy or even 'I had a sexy dream last night...' Then, you can gauge their interest and, based on that, either blame your subconscious or begin a playful conversation of 'what if...'"
Relationships aren't easy. With all of the threats to monogamy these days, couples have to get creative in order to keep their relationships strong. But there's hope. Our study found that the longer you're in a committed, long-term relationship, the more likely you are to engage in a variety of sexually adventurous activities. And the more adventurous you become, the more likely you are to be sexually satisfied and content in your relationship.