The gender distinction is intriguing. “Women finally feel equal to men in many areas,” says Daniel Lebowitz, codirector and male sexuality specialist at The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “They know they’re not subordinate.” That has freed us up to play with being submissive—now that it’s clearly just play.
Whether we’re just more willing to let our freak flags fly these days or Christian Grey has something to do with it, our survey of 6,700 men and women found that nearly twice as many women as men (19% versus 11%) said “light bondage/kink” is what they want more of in the bedroom.
into such bedroom games yourself? No worries, no judgment. But if this starts you thinking, consider that you may already be incorporating a little BDSM into your routine without realizing it. For instance, bringing a person to the edge of orgasm and stopping briefly to prolong things is a form of “orgasm denial” in BDSM-speak.
To explore more, use this beginner’s guide:
Downloading a podcast that deals with BDSM themes, like “Modern Love” or “Savage Love,” can open the door to talking about your own turn-ons, says Kendra Holliday, blogger at Thebeautifulkind.com. Or watch a lite-kink (mainstream) film, like Secretary, to see the psychological elements involved.
If you both decide you’re interested, visit your neighborhood sex-toy store together. You’ll see tons of BDSM toys that will spark your imagination. Many shops employ sexual educators and also offer workshops that will bring a blush to both your cheeks. (Prefer shopping online? Check out this Form 6 Waterproof Rechargeable Vibrating Massager and other fun toys from shop.prevention.com.)
With kink (and toys!), every situation is different, so use judgment and caution when playing.
Put it in writing.
There are apps that prompt you both to share your desires via fill-in-the-blank quizzes; Holliday recommends MoJo Upgrade or iPassion. “Sometimes, writing things down is a lot easier than saying them.”
9 Easy Ways to Spice Up Your Relationship
Let Your Fingers Do the Talking
Sexting sounds silly, but done right—there are ways to give your guy a glimpse of what’s on your mind without getting overly explicit—it can be a super-seductive tool. Start with a story, by writing something like, “Once upon a time, there was a naughty wife who was bored in her office and…” then let him pick it up and see where it goes. Or use the power of suggestion—just letting him know you’re planning to wear that LBD (you know, the one with the down-to-there plunge in front) when you meet him later for dinner is all he needs to have you on his mind all day long.
Get Wet and Wild
There’s shower sex of the dorm-and-shower-shoes variety, and then there’s shower sex done the grown-up way. If you haven’t partaken, now’s the time. After all, it’s cold outside, and some steamy fun will go a long way in warming you both up. Try surprising him by stepping into the shower with your T-shirt on—seeing the wet fabric cling to your curves will give him a wake-up call like nothing else. And remember, when it comes to shower sex, more is more. We’re talking maximum time, maximum bubbles and maximum skin-on-skin action. Oh and better make that maximum lube too—water can actually make you feel less wet below the belt and lube can ward off any uncomfortable friction.
Going head to head is likely to end up with you and your guy getting cozy under the covers. That’s because studies have shown that competition cranks up testosterone in both men and women, and zaps your libidos into high gear. Want proof? Do a little experimenting of your own and challenge one another to something you’ll both enjoy, whether it’s signing up for a Tough Mudder together or playing Just Dance in your living room. Ready, set, game on!
Set a Sex Goal
You make goals in most other parts of your life, so why not do it for your sex life? Trust us, setting your sights on a goal like have sex every day is far more interesting than aiming to eat more kale or empty out your inbox. Not like you need a reason to spend more quality time together, but putting yourself to the test—think: sex every day for 30 days straight, or attempting one new position every week—guarantees that you’ll both make sure it’s a priority. Plus, just think of the rewards you can give each other when you achieve your goal!
Try a Toy for Two
We’re not talking about that jokey vibe you got as a bachelorette gag-gift. More and more toy companies are coming out with sophisticated couple-friendly options such as the We-Vibe 4. Wear it during the act and it stimulates all of your fun parts, while your guy gets to share in the vibration too. Another buzz-worthy (sorry, we had to!) toy to try? The JimmyJane Hello Touch. Instead of the typical hideous slab of plastic, this modern, wearable vibrator has tiny pads you slide over your fingertips. He can use it on you, or you can slip it on and let your hands wander below his belt.
Go to Sex School
Ready for the best homework assignments ever!? High-end sex boutiques like Babeland in New York and Seattle, Good Vibrations in San Francisco and She Bop the Shop in Portland, Oregon, all run regular events and lectures that focus less on anatomy and more on the anatomy of having an amazing time. Sign up for a class or two and go from an A to an A+ in the sack.
Let your smartphones help keep you connected when you download the latest couple-friendly apps. Here are a few of our favorites: Kahnoodle gives you points when you do something thoughtful for your significant other, which can then be redeemed at real retailers like Best Buy (new video game for him!) or American Apparel (leggings for you!); Couple’s thumbkiss feature allows you to virtually “kiss” when you simultaneously place your thumbs on your screens; and Avocado is perfect for sharing shopping lists, recipes, and calendars so you keep your tasks on track. (It also has a private chat setting that lets you send texts, videos, photos and sketches all in one secure place.)
Schedule an Apartment Swap
New street, new corner coffee place, new bed—everything seems more exciting when you shake up your routine. Not only can you test-drive a new neighborhood, but the novelty mind-set will launch you right into vacation mode—even if you’re only a mile from your place. Ask your couple friends if they’d be down to swap for a weekend, or look for places on AirBnB.com, where you can rent from social media verified folks who are offering up their homes.
Rethink Date Night
Drinks and dinner is your go-to date, but real life is complicated by late nights at the office, post-work boot camp classes, and the hard-to-resist urge to curl up on the couch and live tweet Downton Abbey. Want to make sure you get enough one-on-one couple time this year? Try giving date night a new definition—head out to a restaurant before work for a breakfast rendezvous, try out each other’s favorite workout routine (he comes to CrossFit, you join him on his Saturday morning bike ride) or persuade him to tag along to your biweekly pedicure appointment. We bet he’ll secretly enjoy the pampering just as much as you do.