Amy Cuddy describes how your body language can affect your hormones, thoughts, and behaviors. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.
The specifics of her experiment apply to feelings of power and confidence, so they’re at least indirectly applicable to sexuality. Here’s an excerpt that describes some of her results. The 20-minute video is worth watching in full.
So this is what we did. We decided to bring people into the lab and run a little experiment, and these people adopted, for two minutes, either high-power poses or low-power poses, and I’m just going to show you five of the poses, although they took on only two. So here’s one. A couple more. This one has been dubbed the “Wonder Woman” by the media. Here are a couple more. So you can be standing or you can be sitting. And here are the low-power poses. So you’re folding up, you’re making yourself small.This one is very low-power. When you’re touching your neck, you’re really protecting yourself. So this is what happens. They come in, they spit into a vial, for two minutes, we say, “You need to do this or this.”They don’t look at pictures of the poses. We don’t want to prime them with a concept of power. We want them to be feeling power. So two minutes they do this. We then ask them, “How powerful do you feel?” on a series of items, and then we give them an opportunity to gamble, and then we take another saliva sample. That’s it. That’s the whole experiment.
So this is what we find. Risk tolerance, which is the gambling, we find that when you are in the high-power pose condition, 86 percent of you will gamble. When you’re in the low-power pose condition, only 60 percent, and that’s a whopping significant difference. Here’s what we find on testosterone. From their baseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a 20-percent increase, and low-power people experience about a 10-percent decrease. So again, two minutes, and you get these changes.Here’s what you get on cortisol. High-power people experience about a 25-percent decrease, and the low-power people experience about a 15-percent increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and feeling sort of shut down. And we’ve all had the feeling, right? So it seems that our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it’s not just others, but it’s also ourselves. Also, our bodies change our minds.
Take-away: try some power poses before sex and see how it affects you and your spouse. Bonus points for posing together!
I’ve been promising to write about enthusiasm for a while, but I’ve been having trouble wrapping my head completely around it. Basically, my opinion is that enthusiasm is more important than any other single behavior when it comes to having great sex. [Tweet this] I know, that’s a bold claim, but let’s see if I can convince you.
So what is enthusiasm? My favorite definition is “lively interest”. Both of those words are important. I should be interested in sex with my spouse. I should think about it, plan for it, pursue it. Sex with my spouse should be one of my favorite hobbies. And my interest should be lively. Active. Self-motivated. Dynamic.
So what does this look like? Enthusiasm for sex with your spouse isn’t just important while you’re having sex — it encompasses a lot of behaviors.
- Saying yes. Pretty basic, but it’s a lot better than when your spouse tells you no! As we’ve written before, yes should be the default answer when it comes to sex with your spouse. [Tweet this] There may be a reason to say no for a moment, but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the answer should be yes at least 90% of the time. Just like with your other hobbies, you find a way to say yes when you’re invited.
- Communication. Enthusiastic spouses tell each other what they like, what they want, what they need. You can’t wait to talk to your friends about your other hobbies, right? Don’t make your spouse drag it out of you — offer your opinion. Be eager to listen to your spouse’s desires. Be as explicit and specific as necessary! Tell your spouse exactly what you want. These conversations can take place any time, but they seem ideal when they aren’t during sex or immediately before or after. Make some time to talk during the day. (Which may lead to sex.)
- Improvement. Enthusiasm means you want to be the best sex your spouse has ever had. This is the part where you follow-through on the communication. If your wife wants you to tickle her g-spot more before penetration, you can’t wait to please her. If your husband wants a quickie, shut the door and drop your panties. Your spouse has told you what they want, so hop to it! And not just the once, but be a student of your spouse and incorporate your new knowledge into your permanent expertise. When you’re invested in a hobby you work at it to improve, right? You read about it, study it, test out new ideas, and learn from experience. Sex with your spouse should be the same way.
- Responsiveness. Now we’re getting to what enthusiasm looks like during sex. When you’re having sex, be there, in the moment. Be fully engaged. Look your husband in the eyes and moan when he enters you. Tell your wife how amazing she looks when she rides you. Responsiveness at any given moment is mostly the responsibility of the submissive, receiving partner. This role may stay the same throughout a sexual encounter, or it may change several times before you’re done. The point of responsiveness is that the receiver needs to demonstrate their pleasure to the dominant, giving partner. Don’t just lay there like a rug while your spouse goes to town. If you want your spouse to improve, give them the feedback they need! It’s especially important to clearly communicate to your partner when you’re close, and when you’re orgasming. The topic probably deserves its own post, but here are a few ways to be responsive: talking (“more!”, “yes!”, “almost there!”); kissing; moaning; using your spouse’s name; clutching with your hands or legs; connecting with your eyes; writhing with your hips; deepening penetration; changing speed.
- Experimentation. This goes for before and during sex: be open to new ideas, and don’t get frustrated if something doesn’t work. Sure, every couple has a repertoire of reliable positions that are guaranteed to please both spouses, and that’s great. You don’t have to try something new every time; most of the time your basic method is just fine. But when your spouse suggests something new, say yes! Maybe it won’t work, but don’t pre-judge it; chances are, your spouse has been working up the nerve to ask you for a while. When you say yes, don’t wince or roll your eyes, even if you’re skeptical. Don’t use the dreaded, “eh, if you want to” line either. That’s resignation, not enthusiasm. When your spouse wants to try something new with you, consider it a gift. This is an experience they’ve planned just for you and no one else in the world. Later (but not immediately afterwards), the two of you can talk about it and decide if its something you want to do sometimes/always/never. Just remember: unlike other hobbies, you’re the only legitimate sexual partner for your spouse; if you say no, that closes a door on your spouse’s desire forever.
- Fun. Why so glum, chum? Sex is serious business, but it should also be seriously fun. Sex with your spouse is your own private amusement park! Ride all the rides. Eat everything in sight. Laugh, joke, tickle, wrestle, tease, snuggle, play! Sex isn’t just about having babies and orgasms. What do you like best about your other hobbies? Find ways to incorporate those qualities into your sex life. For example, Sexy Corte and I like playing games, so we created Sexy Adult Jenga and Naked Marco Polo. No matter what you enjoy, you will likely be able to bring some aspects of your hobby-personality into your sex life. When your spouse begins to bring these interests into your sexual encounters, remember to say yes!
- Orgasm. Right, so sex isn’t only about orgasms, but let’s face it: orgasms are awesome. You don’t need to have an orgasm every time you have sex, but you should have an orgasm as often as you want to — and so should your spouse. Enthusiasm is hungering for an orgasm from your spouse, and craving an orgasm for your spouse. [Tweet this] Men can get very goal-oriented and focus excessively on the orgasm, so husband, make sure to listen to what your wife wants in the moment. Wife, your husband can’t read your mind, so make sure you are as responsive as possible.
Whew! That’s a long post; I hope it makes sense. If you want to kick your love life up a notch, foster some enthusiasm for sex. Please leave a comment and tell us your perspective on enthusiasm!