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29 April 2011

Royal sexpectations

Today is definitely a day to remember for the newly appointed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but will Wills be able to give Kate a night to remember after all the excitement?

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Today is definitely a day to remember for the newly appointed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but will Wills be able to give Kate a night to remember after all the excitement and build-up? Oftentimes sex on special occasions – like your wedding night, especially when the lenses of the world media are fixed on your bedroom widow hoping for a peek - don't live up to expectations.

BY ELIZABETH BRANDT

Sometimes you just know it's going to be fireworks and red-hot lurve between the sheets. But you can never be absolutely sure. Explosive sex has the potential to become a damp squib in no time, especially during those first times.

First time with a new partner, first time after a long period of expectation or abstinence, first dirty weekend away from the kids for ages.

Everything might be perfect: music, candles, champagne, flutters of anticipation. But none of it guarantees Eros will put in an appearance or raise your love to new heights. Instead of lifting you to the pinnacle of ecstasy, that rascal might just as easily, and unceremoniously, dump you in the doldrums.

Special occasion sex

Unrealistic expectations don't make good bedfellows, two sex therapists explain. Especially not when it comes to special occasion sex. Whether it's your wedding night or a romantic weekend intended to stoke those cooling fires, if you expect too much you'll probably have to settle for too little.

That doesn't mean you should stop expecting though, says Jonti Searll, who calls himself South Africa's foremost sexuality and sensuality instructor. On the contrary, you should have the highest possible expectations of your sex life. But reaching those dizzy heights takes understanding and strategy, not just a date in your diary.

Sex therapist Dr Elna McIntosh agrees. She's 50 and newly married and reveals that on their wedding night, she and her husband fell into bed – and slept. Nothing else.

Sex isn't a tap you can turn on whenever you like. Those times you feel you have to put on the best-ever performance are precisely those times when uncertainty and ignorance will rein in spontaneous abandonment.

Practise, practise

Pleasurable, orgasmic sex is something you have to learn and practise, the sex gurus say. It doesn't happen by itself. And let's be honest: parents and teachers don't exactly set out to cultivate great lovers. In fact they don't want any sexual experimentation at all!

No wonder a bride, who was barely able to gather the courage to talk openly about the art of seduction, finds it impossible to shed her inhibitions on her wedding night the way she does her nightgown. And how would she have mastered any of the secret skills that unlock the portals of pleasure?

Wedding nights aren't the only time when there's no coming together of promise, desire and satisfaction. There are periods in all marriages when being happy to see one another doesn't necessarily lead to happiness in bed.

Perfect planning
Perfect sex requires perfect planning: not just where and when but also (and especially) how – which isn't nearly as unromantic as it sounds. Spontaneous sex can be fabulous, but during planning Expectation's seductive sister – Anticipation – also gets a turn.

The more detailed the planning, the greater and more delightful the anticipation. Sex without anticipation is just sex, writes sex therapist Dr Belisa Vranich on www.huffingtonpost.com. And what you have in mind is usually a lot more than that.

Expectation can make a cold bedfellow and also be the reason you feel so alone afterwards if things fall flat. You've kept your secret expectations all to yourself, thinking your partner would anticipate them. Which leaves you both disappointed and upset. Planning and anticipation, on the other hand, are shared pleasures. Sex is like dancing – much better when two people do it together.

Trust

Take a deep breath and trust your partner. Turn off the lights if that helps. Send an SMS in the dark if you have to. Or you could send each other subtly provocative SMSes or downright naughty MMSes during the day. Not sure Kate and Wills are up for that, though, given the trouble his dad got into on the SMS front when he was sneaking around with Camilla.

Sadly, sex is a foreign language for many – just as the vagina is a foreign country for many women and the penis a kind of love thermometer for many men, Dr McIntosh says. She encourages her patients to get to know that foreign country and to travel together frequently over the rest of the 2 m² of skin covering the body. And to be patient with the thermometer.

Despite the impression condom advertisements create, more than half of all men over 50 have erectile problems. According to Dr McIntosh there are only two causes: either it's medical (which means off to the doctor with you) or he has a hurtful wife or partner who puts him down so often the thermometer can’t forgive her, not even when she lights candles and dons hot lingerie.

But if you can trust each other with your deepest feelings you'll be able to journey together to the peaks of Tantric sex – the opposite of the lie-back-and-think-of-England kind – in which your pleasure is that much greater because it's consciously and purposefully shared. Mutual trust is absolutely essential for a good sex life. Unfortunately men often underestimate just how vital emotional safety is to women, Searll says. Time, talking and touching are just as important.

[This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in the Spring 2008 edition of YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS. The current edition is on sale now.]

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