Dr. Zhana Q&A: Spicing Things Up
For our November Q&A with Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, we’re talking about Spicing Things Up.
How would you define sex? What can sex include to be more interesting?
I define sex quite broadly. It can include anything – masturbation, partnered sex of different kinds (oral, anal, mutual masturbation, using toys on each other), different kinds of kinky activities, voyeurism, exhibitionism, group play, any of it.
What are ways to “spice things up” even if you’re satisfied with the sex and adventurous?
I’m so glad you asked! Too many people wait until things are no longer really working to try and spice things up. But it’s actually much harder to get things running again after they haven’t been running for a while than it is to keep them running from the get-go. So think about all the different ways you and your partner can bring in some novelty, something new, and some mystery and distance between you two so it can be different – new positions, sex acts, toys, role-play scenarios, places, people, you name it.
My partner is checked out. LELO is really my only outlet. How do I reconnect those two?
It’s hard when a partner leaves the sexual aspect of a relationship. You have to talk to them and make them understand the importance sexual connection has for you. You cannot be expected to be in a relationship where your basic sexual needs aren’t being met. Your partner has to either re-engage with you sexually, or let you meet those needs with other partners, if you’re both open to that.
As a single person, how do you diversify your pleasure practices?
Switch up everything – the locations where you have sex, the positions in which you do it, which body parts you play with, the types of strokes you use to play with said body parts, the length of play (from quickies to hours-long sessions), what you masturbate to (porn, fantasies, memories, written erotica, audio erotica, your own sexy videos…), do it in front of a mirror, use different kinds of toys, use CBD lube. Get creative.
Thoughts on scheduling/planning sex with a partner?
Scheduling sex doesn’t sound sexy to a lot of people but I think it’s an amazing tool for couples who live together and have busy schedules. If you think about it, that’s basically what couples who don’t live together do – they “schedule” sex by scheduling dates. Make the lead-up to that day kind of sexy with sexting, prepping, getting new lingerie, getting new toys, etc.
What are methods to discuss this with a partner without them thinking it’s a slight on their sexual ability?
By approaching it as something that’s going to add to your already amazing sex life, as opposed to a place of lack or dissatisfaction. So, saying something like “I love all these different things that we’ve done sexually and I’ve been curious about all these other things. What do you think about trying some of those next time?”
How can I become more comfortable with dirty talk? My boyfriend asks me to and I can’t.
Dirty talk is such a hot, fun way to spice things up. It can definitely be a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, but you get used to it and get better at it. The easiest way to get into it is to simply describe what is going on in the moment. You can also talk about what you like or love when your partner does it, what you would like your partner to do to you, and what you would like to do to them. Find phrases online that would work for you, memorize them, and then come prepared. You can practice them in front of a mirror. You can also start by sexting, as a practice round.
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Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, is a NYC-based sex researcher who studies casual sex, nonmonogamy, and sexual orientation. She holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, teaches Human Sexuality at New York University, shares new sex research on social media, and runs the Casual Sex Project, a place for people to share their true hookup stories. She provides daily sex education using the live video streaming app Periscope, and is currently writing a book
about the science of healthy hookups.