This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.
How do you get in the mood if you’re not in the mood?
I’ve written before, many times, in lavish praise of scheduling sex. I’ve written about how scheduling sex can be one of the best ways to keep sex alive and lively for people who are getting older, people who have been together a long time, people who are just plain busy and overscheduled. I’ve written about the myth that being swept away by passion (as opposed to consciously making room for sex in your life) is inherently the best kind of sex… and how this myth reinforces the idea that sex is dirty and bad and the only valid excuse for it is that you were overcome by passion. And I’ve written about how you don’t need to be in the mood to have sex when you start having it: you just need to be willing to get into the mood.
All very well and good.
But how do you get there?
How do you get from A to B? If you’ve made a plan to have sex on Sunday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon rolls around and neither of you is feeling it… how do you get yourself feeling it?
How — specifically, practically, strategically — do you get in the mood?
This is a big topic with a lot of different possible answers, and I can’t hope to cover it in one little blog post. But today, I want to at least get a start on the subject. Today, instead of advocating for the broad principle of scheduling sex, I want to talk about some specific, practical strategies for making it work. I want to talk about some specific, practical strategies for making the transition from A to B: strategies for shifting mental gears, away from work or worries or errands or whatever, and towards the more intoxicating topic of the small of your lover’s back.
1: Dressing up. I don’t necessarily mean putting on elaborate costumes. (Although I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from that!) But getting out of your work clothes, your dress clothes, your errand- running clothes, and slipping into something more comfortable — or less comfortable, as the case may be — can be a great way to shift how you think about your body, and how you think about yourself. And seeing your lover in something naughty and revealing and specifically designed for sex can definitely be a great way to shift how you think about their body, and about them. The look of a sexy outfit, the feel of it on your skin, the meaning and unspoken language of it — all of that can shift your gears in a hurry. The same way dressing for a party can get you in a party mood, the same way dressing for a ball game can get you revved up to watch or play… dressing for sex can make you feel sexy, look sexy, get in the mood for sex.
2: Using sexier language to describe your mood. Sometimes you can change a mood just by reframing it. If you’re tired, say instead that you’re relaxed, or languid. If you’re stressed, say that you’re keyed-up or excited. Say it to your partner; say it to yourself. A bad or disinterested mood can be shifted to a sexy one, not by trying to change your physical and emotional feelings, but by viewing those same feelings through a different frame. And the language you use is part of what sets that frame.
3: Reading, watching, or looking at porn. A classic, for a reason. It can help get you in the mood… and it can give you ideas of things to do once you’re there.
4: Picking out sex toys. Just looking at toys you’ve had fun with in the past can put you in the mood for sex, simply by reminding you of those good times. And if there are toys in your collection that you haven’t tried yet, looking them over and considering whether to give them a whirl can get you into an adventurous spirit. Plus, the blunt, garishly sexual, often somewhat silly look of so many sex toys can help ease that awkward transitional stage from not-sex into sex. Or rather, it can remind us that awkwardness and sexiness aren’t necessarily contradictory. It reminds us that sex doesn’t have to be a magnificent, brilliantly choreographed, many-splendored production: it has a goofy, silly, “What would the space aliens think of they saw us doing that?” aspect to it… which doesn’t have to get in the way of the sex being intensely hot, and can even amplify its hotness.
What’s more, when you go through your sex toys and decide which ones you might want to use today, it gets you talking about sex: specific sexual options, as well as the delightful topic of sex generally. Which leads us to the all- important final item on today’s list:
5: Talking about things you might like to do. This can help get you in the mood in at least two ways. It gets you thinking about the topic of sex generally. And, of course, it gets you communicating and making plans, so once you do get in the mood and get things going, you have a clearer idea of what to do once you’re there. It doesn’t have to sound like it was written by Henry Miller, or even by Rocco Siffredi. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be classic dirty talk at all. It just has to be honest.
So for the sweet love of Loki and all the gods in Valhalla, when you’re sitting down for your evening’s scheduled entertainment and your lover asks, “What would you like to do?”, do not answer, “Oh, I don’t know, honey. What would you like to do?” That is the kiss of death for sex, as much as it is for dinner and movie plans. When your lover asks, “What would you like to do?”, do both of you a favor, and tell them already.
None of this is a magic bullet. The transition from not-sex to sex can feel awkward and silly no matter what you do, and to some extent you have to just accept that. In order to schedule sex and have it work, you have to let go of the idea that sex should always be a graceful and perfect erotic ballet; that lightning should always strike both partners at the exact same time, with the exact same set of filthy ideas, without ever having to talk or even think about it.
And now and then, you’ll have to be flexible about your plans: to let them go and re-schedule, even if you’d been looking forward to it. If one or both of you is deeply exhausted or in a truly lousy mood, if the day wound up being much longer and harder than you’d anticipated and one or both of you just doesn’t have it in you… then you might need to call it off, and do it another day. (Or else do a quickie instead of a marathon.) You do want to take your sex dates seriously and not blow them off just because you don’t happen to be in the mood right at the moment — but at the same time, you don’t want sex to be like showing up for a dentist’s appointment or getting to work on time, something you have to go through with even if it’s the last thing in the world you feel like doing.
But assuming you have good sexual chemistry together, these preliminaries can be a good way to shift your mental gears, away from the daily routine, and into erotic awareness and excitement. And they have the added benefit of moving the awkward transitional stage back a bit in the proceedings. You may feel a bit silly during the preliminaries… but by the time you’ve gotten into full swing, you’re in the mood and raring to go.
So those are a few starter ideas. What works for you? If you’re someone who schedules sex in advance, how do you shift gears? How do you get your mind off of work dramas and shopping lists, and into the gutter where it belongs? Inquiring minds want to know.