3 Ways To Harness The Psychology Of Sexual Enhancement
Sex will not be as pleasurable as it can be until we stop looking at it as a strictly physical act.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | November 3, 2023
Sexual satisfaction refers to the level of contentment, pleasure and fulfillment experienced during a sexual encounter. It is a complex and individual experience, influenced by a variety of emotional and psychological factors that extend beyond the physical act itself.
It is essential to recognize that sexual satisfaction is an ever-evolving aspect of the human experience and can be developed, nurtured and enhanced over time. Optimal sexual experiences are closely linked to relationship satisfaction and individual well-being. This has prompted researchers to examine the psychological qualities and practices that could potentially augment them.
Here are three ways to improve sexual satisfaction, according to research.
1. The Sensual Improves The Sexual
A 2020 study highlights the role of sensuality, which involves a heightened awareness of the five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing, in intensifying sexual satisfaction.
Other research suggests that "sexual mindfulness," the practice of being fully engaged in the present moment during a sexual experience, can enhance pleasure, communication and emotional connection with a partner.
According to researcher Chelom Leavitt, sexual mindfulness involves slowing down and taking time to savor the sensations you and your partner are experiencing, instead of rushing the process and focusing solely on the end goal of an orgasm. For instance, focusing on your partner's voice, their scent, the texture of their skin or how it feels to be held by them can help you become more fully immersed in the process.
Additionally, a 2021 study found that experiencing a "flow state" during sex results in greater sexual satisfaction for both partners. The flow state, often referred to as "being in the zone," is a mental state of optimal performance and complete absorption in a meaningful activity.
Partners may be able to achieve flow by discussing ways to make their environment free of distractions. Flow also occurs when individuals have a clear understanding of the goal of an activity (which would be connection and presence during a sexual experience) and receive encouraging feedback through it, which could be facilitated through positive communication about how each partner is feeling in the process.
2. Let Curiosity Drive Sexual Experimentation
Curiosity and the power of imagination have also been linked to heightened sexual satisfaction, specifically for individuals with secure attachment styles. Researchers suggest that getting curious about sexual responses, needs, preferences and fantasies that you and your partner have can enhance your sexual experiences together.
Curiosity leads to experiencing greater intimacy. By asking questions and opening up to each other about sexual desires, partners can indulge their shared or individual erotic fantasies, experiencing both emotional acceptance and physical safety, which creates a more empowering and satisfying sexual experience.
According to a 2015 study, using your imagination even outside of the bedroom, such as simply daydreaming about your partner, contributes to feelings of love and connection, which can heighten sexual intimacy.
3. Come As You Are
A 2018 study published in Sex and Marital Therapy found that displaying authenticity, vulnerability and trust in a relationship has the power to transform sexual intimacy.
Researchers suggest that establishing trust involves partners being reliable, respectful and communicating openly about sexual preferences, boundaries, concerns and desires without facing judgment from either end.
Further, vulnerability lies in shedding pretenses and choosing to show one's true self with a partner. Often, sex becomes an insincere performance, where we may be adhering to societal expectations of how to look and behave, which takes away from being authentically present and connected with oneself and one's partner.
A 2019 study found that the perceived pressure to be perfect is linked to decreased sexual satisfaction. Breaking down mental barriers around sex then involves unlearning internal messages such as sexual desire as being shameful or solely functional and remembering that our needs matter too. This allows for authentic enjoyment and communication, where individuals can learn what their partners need and also allow themselves to receive love and pleasure.
Acceptance of one's own body, desires and a positive self-image also contribute to a sense of confidence and comfort during intimate moments. Encouraging a partner's positive self-perception further enhances the overall sexual experience. An emotionally supportive connection becomes the stepping stone to greater satisfaction in all facets of a relationship.
Sexual satisfaction is not just a physical experience, but an emotional one. Learning to cultivate mindfulness and emotional intimacy through curiosity, vulnerability and authenticity can help individuals let go of societal expectations and focus on enjoyment and genuine connection.