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8 ways to up your love life that don't involve sex

Massage couple
Massage couple
Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Whether you’re single or paired up, most people think everyone else is having more sex than they are. If you do the math, it’s clear that many spend time worrying about why their sex lives aren’t up to snuff rather than thinking of creative solutions and alternatives.

Life gets in the way of allowing us to be the sex-crazed maniacs we secretly would love to be. We’ve got jobs and kids and hormonal changes and STDs and fatigue. There are all sorts of completely valid reasons why we can’t stay in bed all day in multi-orgasmic bliss. What we tend to neglect are all of the other things we might be doing to connect with our bodies, our sensual side, and our loved ones.

The below tips for spicing up your love life will be sure to deepen your intimacy with your partner or yourself, and you don’t have to be in the mood to get things going.

1. Massage – while massages may seem like a clichéd suggestion to some, if you’ve ever taken the time to partake in a long, sensual full-body massage with your partner, you’ll agree this is one excellent precursor or alternative to sex. Use essential oils, dim lighting and relaxing or sexy music to create ambiance and don’t leave any body parts out! Take time to slowly and deeply massage those non-traditionally sexy areas that are especially sensitive – nerve endings for every part of the body can be found in the hands and feet.

2. Bath – This isn’t your morning shower to get ready for work (in fact, all the better if you’ve already had your shower for the day and are already clean). Make a nice, hot bath for your partner (or both of you if room allows) and take turns bathing one another. Use bath salts, bubbles and candles to create a luxurious and relaxing experience. Soap your partner up and use a large bath sponge to gently rub their 2,000 parts. This will leave you in a state of utter relaxation, not to mention zestfully clean.

3. Erotica – Sometimes it takes more than the imagination to get you or your partner in the mood. Reading erotic short stories or erotic poetry aloud to one another (or alone to yourself if you’re riding solo) is a great way to get the creative and otherwise juices flowing. There are all types of erotica, from ancient Greek and Hindu poetry to dirty, sassy anthologies; much of which can be found online for free.

4. Finding the right match – Dating can be daunting. Marriage can be miserable. Both can be enlightening and enriching if you find the right match. Don’t be dismayed if you’re afraid to put yourself out there because you have an STD. Find the right outlet to search for your someone special. One largest herpes dating site is PositiveSingles.com, the largest community for people to put aside their pretentions and connect with thousands of potential partners.

5. Sensual film or images – When reading an erotic book seems like homework rather than foreplay, look to film or photographs to help turn on your sensual side. Sure, there are some diverse and free porn sites, but there are also sexy movies with plotlines and photo books that leave some room for the imagination. Sometimes subtle gestures – a woman draped in fur, a couple stealing a forbidden kiss - can be more of a turn-on than overt imagery of the act of sex.

6. Meditation – Meditation can be beneficial for just about everything – your heart, your brain, your general sense of well-being. Meditation is also a great way to calm those nerves and open up your energy flow if you’re feeling stress or having trouble getting turned on. It’s also a great way to diffuse sexual tension.

7. Role play – Sometimes routine can be a buzzkill. Role playing, or the act of taking on the persona of someone else, can inject a dose of newness into play time and reinvigorate your love life. Try a date night out where you pretend to meet for the first time, take on the role of someone completely different from yourself, or replay your favorite, intimate scenes from the honeymoon period in your relationship.

8. Gratitude – More than anything, it’s easy to get caught up in our mundane, day-to-date lives and forget what we have right in front of us. And that includes you! Taking the time to remember all that you’re grateful for, both in your love life and with yourself, goes a long way in creating happiness and satisfaction.

The most satiating part of sex is the human interaction factor. An orgasm lasts a few short seconds, but the effects of a massage or sexy talk can last an entire day and relax your mind, body and spirit. The goal with any of the above suggestions isn’t necessarily the act of coitus (though any can certainly help light that flame!). Enjoy any of the above activities as a way to connect with your partner and your own sense of self.