Secrets to a Happy Sex Life? Kiss More and Get Kinky

Is your sex life “normal?” We finally have a way to find out in the forthcoming The Normal Bar book (Harmony, February 2013), which shares the results of the Normal Bar Survey, the groundbreaking international study designed to uncover what “normal” is in relationships and dating. The survey reveals how nearly 100,000 respondents think, feel and operate in their sex lives, among other topics. For our latest Sexy Saturday post, we caught up with the book’s coauthor, Chrisanna Northrup, to find out what the sex lives of happy couples look like and what we can learn from them.

Books for Better Living: What’s one of the most surprising things you learned about couples’ sex lives from doing this survey?

Chrisanna Northrup: One of the biggest surprises was the big disconnect couples have with one another about sex. For example, we found that 78 percent of women and 94 percent of men are interested in kinkier sex. If that many people are so interested, why aren’t they talking about it and trying different things? We also found that variety is a key element for sexually satisfied couples. So my advice is to talk to your partner and see if they want to try some new things. Chances are they want to try something new too.

I was also surprised to see that when we asked men to name their number-one sexual fantasy, it was tamer and a bit more touching than we imagined it might be. The fantasies didn’t seem so farfetched in general, and what most men wanted was a fantasy that included their partner! The thing to think about is that 78 percent of women would like kinkier sex, so men should stop fantasizing about new, edgier ideas and at least throw a few desires out there and see if their partner might want to give it a go.

BBL: What do the sex lives of the couples who reported being the happiest look like?

CN: Our happiest couples describe their most fulfilling sexual experiences with their partner as “making love.” Each time they connect with their partner on a physical and a deeper emotional level, they see it as an especially superior and satisfying experience. Yes, this kind of sexual epiphany still exists 10, 15, 20, 25 years into a relationship!

But it is also true that it’s not just quality; it is also quantity that matters. Making love three to four times a week and adding some variety into a couple’s sex life also describes our happiest couples. Furthermore, our happiest couples communicate well about what they need and want. They talk openly and specifically about what they want sexually. So spouses should ask each other what their sexual fantasies are, and try to be open to considering how to make something exciting come true!

BBL: Why are some couples unhappy with their sex lives?

CN: A lot of it concerns a gap in their respective sex drives. It is a problem when one partner wants a lot more sex than the other. But even though that’s the most common issue, it is also true that partners become bored if there is no variety. Add that to a lack of emotional connection during sex, and you have problems. Our unhappy couples are not having sex often, and it is mechanical with little or no communication.

BBL: How can couples bring their sex drives more in balance with each other?

CN: They have to talk about what they want. And give good directions, not just voice a general discontent. If they don’t want to have sex, then the big question to explore is why. When couples, or even one partner, doesn’t want sex, they have to look at what is missing or problematic with their relationship—and get serious about fixing it. One way to do that is to make an agreement to set aside at least one night a week for romance and lovemaking—and if that’s not happening, it’s time to see a therapist.

BBL: The results about kissing are interesting. Can you explain why kissing is so important to a good sex life?

CN: Kissing can be more intimate than sex. Kissing passionately was definitely a key element in our more sexually satisfied and happiest couples. 85 percent of the couples that said they were the happiest in their sexual life kissed passionately.

Kissing is not an unimportant detail! It is the way people make the most intimate connection. Happy couples make love, they touch, they kiss. They each care about pleasing the other person, and so lovemaking is very reinforcing—people want to do it more because it makes them feel loved and cherished. When we asked how intensely the people who do not enjoy sex with their partners kissed, 86 percent said they didn’t kiss passionately. When we looked at both the frequency and intensity of kissing, it’s clear that low levels of kissing indicate some problems in the relationship. On the other hand, we think some of these behaviors have diminished more by neglect than the outcome of a burned out relationship. If partners would tell each other they need more and kiss more, we think both the communication and the behavior would have a really positive effect.

Learn more and preorder The Normal Bar at thenormalbar.com/thebook.


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The Normal Bar
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