“‘I feel bad about my body’ is a sentence I’ve heard more and more often in the past five years,” says Lebowitz. “A combination of male objectification – think of Zac Efron’s abs in the Baywatch trailer – and porn has played a part in men feeling like they don’t measure up and doubting their abilities in bed. Women have been feeling body-image pressure for years, so they’re able to identify it and speak up about it. But for many men, there’s a sense of isolation.” Lebowitz works to remind men that porn isn’t reality. “It can make them feel like their own sex life isn’t good enough.”
The blurring of roles in modern relationships can also lead to a tentativeness that spills over into the bedroom, says Lebowitz. “Men and women both pull their weight financially and are equally likely to make dinner on a given night. But sexually, there’s still an expectation for men to be in charge. Many guys don’t know how to blend those roles and feel they have to be ‘on’ all the time in bed, that they can’t relax and let down their guard.” What do men really want? Sexperts say their male clients wish their partners would, on occasion, do the things below—and before you protest that puts the onus on you, reflect on this: When his satisfaction goes up, so does yours.
1. INITIATE SEX
You don’t have to jump him when he walks in the door, but casually putting his hand high up on your thigh while you’re watching TV or making the first move when you’re undressing for bed are gestures that level the playing field sexually and take some of the pressure off, says Lebowitz. After all, who doesn’t like feeling desired?
2. WEAR THAT DRESS
It frustrates guys that you’ll primp for your girls but kick back in sweats with him, says Lawrence Siegel, clinical sexologist with the Sage Institute for Family Development in Boca Raton, Florida. Dressing up occasionally shows you still want to impress him – which reassures him and makes him feel more masculine (read: sexual).
3. TELL HIM WHAT YOU LIKE
Here’s a paradox: The more settled you feel in a relationship, the harder it can be to talk about sex, notes Lebowitz. That’s because the stakes are higher. You don’t want to hurt your guy’s feelings or make him feel inadequate. So spin it positively – tell him what felt good, what move you want to try next. It’s all kindling for more sparks in bed.
This article was originally published on WomensHealthMag.com