You don't have a literal "on" button, but it's not impossible to get turned on quickly.
The scene: You're coming home at the end of the long work day, exhausted, and want nothing more than to put on your favorite sweatpants and eat cereal out of the box with your bare hands. Except, wait, not really — you also want to have sex. But, like, that can't possibly happen — not with the kids, not with work stress, and certainly not with the fact that your body feels like the zombified version of its former self. Well...that's not exactly true. There are ways to get turned on and feel sexy, even when everything around you seems to indicate that zero sex is going to happen.
1. Make Feeling Sexy a Priority
"Women are more like crockpots, men are more like microwaves," says Megan Fleming,Ph.D., relationship and sex therapist. Yes, Crate & Barrel is a metaphor for your marriage — in that you can't zap yourself into becoming turned on. There is no sex switch in your body that can make you go from "work mode" to "sex mode," unless you are a robot, in which case, hi, cool.
In order to be able to get yourself feeling sexy, you have to let that sexiness ~simmer~. Fleming calls this '"keeping your pilot light on." That means making your sex life a priority and having your sexuality be something you carry with you every day — as opposed to just leaving it in the rusty attic-like part of your brain ("oh, I'll take that out when I need it!" ***Never does***). It then makes it a lot easier to get into the mood — if you already consider yourself sexy, why wouldn't you feel ready to go at a moment's notice? There are a myriad of ways to do that, because feeling sexy is subjective. So ask yourself: What makes you feel sexy? Is it wearing sexy lingerie? Or is it thinking about an extremely hot time you had with your partner? Or is it...yoga? Or dancing? Or...
"I've worked with some clients who feel sexy when they practiced yoga. Others feel sexy when they dance to their favorite songs, put on a new lingerie set, or touch their own bodies," says sex therapist Vanessa Marin. "You want to think of getting turned on as a gift you can give to yourself, or a way that you're pampering yourself." In fact, she considers the upkeep of your own sexuality a part of self-care.
2. Create a Routine to Relax
One way to get in the mood faster when you get home from work? Create a routine that allows you to even be able to get turned on quickly, let alone at all.
"When I'm working with a client around this issue, one of the things I've found most helpful is to create some sort of ritual around coming home," says Marin. " Something you can do to indicate that your long, stressful day is over, and it's time to transition into relaxing and connecting with your partner. It's different for every woman, but it could involve taking a shower, changing your clothes, putting on some fun music, or meditating for a few minutes. Even closing your eyes and just taking a few deep breaths can work wonders!"
It's probably time to ditch your routine of getting home from work...and reading work emails.
3. Don't Let Your Bedroom Feel Like Your Ex-Boyfriend's College Dorm
No one is judging your ex-boyfriend from college (or am I...), but the environment where you plan to have sex is crucial, and a messy, hellhole of a bedroom is not going to do your sex life any favors. Anything you can do to make your room feel sexy — and less stressful — is helpful.
"The foundation of arousal is relaxation," says Fleming, so keeping your bedroom clean and free of clutter is one way to help keep it a safe space, or a "sanctuary," as she puts it. That will keep you from being distracted and able to feel sexier and turned on way faster.
And given the importance of environment, don't discount the help of a little mood lighting! Lighting candles to give the room a sexy feel can certainly help, too. Whatever mood music works for you, too — whether that's The Weeknd or 112's classic jam "Peaches and Cream" – can also help to facilitate an environment that primes you for getting turned on.
4. Make Sex About Your Pleasure
It's not exactly rocket science, but think about it: If you go into the whole sex thing thinking that you're not going to enjoy it, you probably won't get turned on very quickly. "If you don't enjoy sex, how can you get expect yourself to crave it?" Marin says. "It's important to work with your partner to keep exploring sex and finding ways to make it more pleasurable for you both." So, be open with your partner about what you want and what you need to orgasm. Knowing sex means a mind-blowing orgasm is certainly a way to desire it.
5. Try a Sex Toy Literally Designed to Get You Aroused
Fleming recommends using a sex toy that focuses on your pleasure — like the Fiera, which has been praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for being "a device designed to help women overcome the anxiety of not feeling in the mood for sex when their partner is ready." It was designed by an ob/gyn and claims to help women feel aroused when they're not in the mood by using suction and vibration. Hooray for technology.
6. Fantasize About Something That Gets You Excited
Don't underestimate the power of thought! Brains are cool — having a go-to fantasy can be a surefire way to get you feeling sexy. Even if that just means a firefighter coming to rescue you with his, uh, fire hose.
7. Stay In the Moment Right Before Sex
If you want to feel turned on and you suddenly start thinking about this massive project that's due next week...you, um, know that's probably not going to help too much, right?
"One powerful trick is to gently remind yourself what your options are in the moment," says Marin. " Let's say you had a really rough day at work, and you keep finding yourself feeling distracted. You can say to yourself, 'OK, I can keep thinking about my boss and what a jerk she is, or I can focus on spending some time with my partner." Sometimes just putting it in that context can make us feel much more open to connecting.'"
8. Think About How Your Partner Thinks You're Hot AF
Remember how your partner thinks you're super sexy, even at times you might feel less so? Marin suggests picturing yourself from your partner's perspective. "Most of us women are really hard on ourselves." she says. We're critical of our bodies, and we struggle to think of ourselves as sexy. But think about how your partner views you. Think about specific compliments they've given you. Think about how excited they are to be intimate with you! You'll be ~feeling yourself~ in no time.
9. Spoon (or Cuddle Somehow)
There has never been a better excuse to just lie there, naked, with your partner. "The best thing you can do is get naked and hold and touch each other. Studies have shown that our bodies release oxytocin after just 20-30 seconds of skin to skin contact," Marin says. "Oxytocin helps you relax, feel more connected to your partner, and feel the desire for even more connection."
10. Schedule Sex So It's Something to Look Forward to
Though this might not seem like an instantaneous way to get in the mood, preparation can pay off. Fleming is a huge proponent of scheduling sex. "If you don't schedule sex, it isn't going to happen," she says. "You don't know if you're going to feel horny or sexy at 2 o'clock on a Saturday." If you know you're having sex on, say, Tuesday night, you can do little things all day on Tuesday so that when it's go-time, you actually feel ready to go.
11. Don't Put Pressure On Yourself
Though women can get aroused quickly with the right stimulation, imagery, or fantasy, any pressure — from yourself or someone else — will kill the moment.
"The irony here is that rushing to make yourself turned on will probably make you less turned on," says Marin. "Whenever we feel pressured to do something, we usually react the exact opposite way. So it's really important not to bully or pressure yourself into feeling desire. "
Chances are, it's probably (hopefully) not your partner who's pressuring you. If you're pressuring yourself to feel turned on to have sex when you're just not feeling it, then it's a no-go. Obviously, you should never feel like you are obligated to have sex under any circumstances, and it's OK to just sometimes not be in the mood.
12. Send Some Sexy Texts
The next time you're trying to get through a midday slump, head to the bathroom and snap a sexy picture for your guy. Spending a few minutes sending some perfectly inappropriate texts back and forth will get you both excited to head home...and spend the rest of the night acting out your convo in between the sheets.
13. Tell Him About Your Dirty Dreams
OK, OK — this one's cheating a bit. But experts say one of the best ways to tell your hubby some of your turn-ons without feeling embarrassed is to pretend those said turn-ons happened in a dirty "dream," even if they didn't. Sharing the naughty things that went down in your sleep is a sneaky way to let him know your real-life fantasies — and there's a good chance he'll act on them.
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