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If you're looking forward to a good night's sleep and your partner's looking forward to a good night's sex, you need to get in sync!
It's 11 pm. You're tired and looking forward to curling up with a good book; meanwhile your partner is revved up and eager to curl up with you.
"I think this is a very recognisable situation for many women," says psychologist Ellen Laan. Women ask, "Where did he get that desire from so suddenly. Where can you buy that?"
Don't just tolerate sex
The reality is you can't buy it. But according to Laan, there are ways to synchronise your desire and arousal. Her number one piece of advice? Don't just put up with sex. Do it because you enjoy it.
"A lot of women think 'I don't feel desire but it's important for my partner to have sex, so let's just do it'. If you approach sex in that way, over time you actually teach your brain that sex is not pleasurable."
Pleasure in sex is not just a perk -- for women it's a necessity. "If you don't get aroused before sex, you don't produce lubrication and sex becomes uncomfortable, if not painful for many women."
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Men seek pleasure -- so should women
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"A lot of women feel guilty that they don't enjoy sex. But maybe it's not that they don't enjoy sex-- it's that they don't enjoy the sex they're getting. I tell women to turn the situation around. Don't think of what you don't want. Think about what you do want."
"That's the way most men approach sex. They want the pleasure. Women should be more like men and think of pleasure as something normal, not a bonus."
Don't touch unless invited
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Laan has a few tips: "Be more active and adventurous. Imagine you're an explorer in an unknown land. Be curious and aware of what your body tells you. Tell your partner what works and what doesn't. All too often women focus on pleasing their man -- but we should also be pleasing ourselves."
Make sure you're feeling relaxed. "If you're stressed, or not really looking forward to sex, it's hard to feel pleasure. For example, if you're touched on your breasts, unless you're relaxed, it doesn't feel very good -- it can even be painful. A lot of women complain to me that their boyfriends treat their breasts as if they own them. I had to teach my partner that it's okay to touch my breasts -- but only by invitation."
Getting in the mood
Photographs: Still from Ragini MMS
Men have a clear advantage in this department. Many things turn them on. "Often men will say 'just looking at you in your everyday bra and underwear turns me on'. I hardly ever hear women say that about their partners."
"Despite that, studies show that visual cues are very important to arouse women in a lab situation. So tell your man to wash and shave and look his best for you. Feel you're worthy enough to ask that."
Sex is not a trick
Photographs: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr on Wikimedia Commons
Finally, it's important for a woman to feel her partner is listening to her. "Relationship issues are much more entwined with sex for women than men. What goes on during the day will follow you into the bedroom. For women, sex is not a trick you perform instantly. Desire needs to be worked on 24/7."
Working on desire 24/7 may seem daunting, but the perks will be apparent on those nights when you both climb into bed at 11 pm looking forward to giving each other pleasure.