Novelty stimulates dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in love
Sex on the beach or in a swimming pool may not be as sexy in real life
Don't be afraid to share your fantasies out loud with your partner
Editor’s Note: Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, writes about sex and relationships for CNN Health. Read more from him on his website, Good In Bed.
The weather doesn’t have to be the only thing heating up this month. Summer is an excellent time to recharge and rejuvenate – and your love life should be no exception.
Approximately 50% of people admit to being bored in their relationships, according to a Good in Bed survey. Take advantage of the season to add some spice to your sex life, but do it wisely: Not every summertime rendezvous is a smart idea (sex on the beach, I’m looking at you!).
Here are some do’s and don’ts for putting the sizzle back into your summer sex life:
Do inject some novelty. Summer presents a great opportunity to try new things with your partner that you may not be able to do during the winter.
I’m not necessarily referring to sex here: Experimenting outside of bed can help heat things up between the sheets, too. That’s because novelty stimulates dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in romantic love. So think about dates that are different, exciting and thrilling. From amusement parks to hiking to exploring new neighborhoods, summer is an ideal season to get the dopamine flowing and put you in a sexy state of mind.
Do use common sense. “Sex on the beach may look hot in the movies and in music videos, but it may not be quite as exciting in real life, when you wind up with sand in your mouth and other places,” social psychologist Justin Lehmiller said.
The same goes for swimming pool sex, which can be challenging and risky in reality.
“For one thing, the water will wash away both natural and artificial lubrication, which can make sex less comfortable,” Lehmiller explained. “Additionally, the chemicals in the pool can lead to genital irritation.”
And unless you own a pool – or a private beach – you’re risking violating public indecency laws. Consider whether fulfilling this fantasy is worth the risk of being arrested.
Don’t limit yourself to “date nights.” I’m a big fan of scheduled dates to keep the fires burning, but you don’t have to limit yourself to the dark. Summer is a perfect time to play hooky and go on a day date with your partner, especially if the kids are in camp.
And if summer is feeling a like a long day’s journey into night with the kids home from school, remember to let them play hard during the day and get them to bed early.
Daytime has another benefit: Sunlight stimulates the brain’s pineal gland, which regulates body rhythms and elevates mood. So get out there; just don’t forget the sunscreen.
Don’t be afraid to make a sexy suggestion. In our survey, more than 70% of people were open to trying something new in the bedroom that their partner suggested. So go for it. Many of us are shy about voicing our fantasies out loud, but data show that our partners will be receptive.
Tell us your story!
One way to do this: Get your partner’s attention by saying that you had a sexy dream about him or her and then add some details from your favorite fantasy. Chances are, they’ll want to hear more.
Do get back in the habit. Many couples see their sex lives go into hibernation during winter, so it should come as no surprise that an estimated 40 million Americans find themselves in self-described sex ruts. Break out of yours this summer by making a better effort to connect with your partner.
If you’re having trouble finding the time, bend a few of your rules: Send your kids out with a babysitter to go see a summer movie so that you can spend time home with your partner, or let them sleep over at a friend’s house.
Don’t discount the power of touch: Hug your partner for 20 seconds or more, which stimulates oxytocin, a hormone that plays a big role in feeling connected to each other, in and out of bed.
Just do it. Sometimes, you have to put your body through the motions of intimacy and trust that your mind will follow. Just as ruts beget ruts, sex begets more sex – and once you’re back in the swing of things, you’ll notice that things naturally start heating up in the bedroom, too.