Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice!
How should I spice up my relationship with my S.O.?
Back in the early 2000s, I discovered Cosmopolitan. The sex articles were out of this world – nothing like what comes out in women’s mags nowadays, since the focus seems to be more on Hermes ads and faux-wokeness. “Spicing up” relationships was the name of the game, and some of the suggestions genuinely made me want to find a partner to try these things out with.
Then I realized I was asexual and that I needed to be vulnerable and use my words. Drat!
As far as spicing up your relationship, C.H., the question is: how long is a piece of string? Or rather, what haven’t you done that you want to do? How far do you want to go?
For all I know, you and your partner are experienced kinksters and you’re bored because the only thing you have not tried already is being vanilla. Or, maybe sex with your partner is as boring as Wonderbread and you have no idea how to use your words. Maybe the sex is fine, but everything else feels stagnant. I can’t make a definite recommendation with only a sentence to go on and a lack of information about you.
So instead, I’ll borrow a page from Captain Awkward and give you advice in the form of questions:
1. What are you and your partner talking about when you discuss your relationship?
Do they share your concern that things lack “spice,” or do they want everything to stay the same? Have they shared any particular thoughts, dreams, or fantasies with you? How did you respond? How did they respond when you shared some fantasies, dreams, and thoughts of your own?
2. Are you both comfortable sharing your thoughts, dreams, and fantasies with each other?
What happened the last time you told each other what you thought was sexy, what turned you on, what made you happy, and what put you off? Did you do what they didn’t like? What did they do when you told them what you wanted?
3. Do you feel safe using your words with each other?
Do you struggle to tell them “I don’t want that,” or “I really want to try that?” Maybe they’re the ones that are reticent about expressing their own needs?
4. Are you trying to read each others’ minds?
Perhaps you’re dropping more hints than actual requests? Are you annoyed when your hints don’t get picked up?
5. Do you ever feel like you’re auditioning for their attention?
Are you feeling that you have to advertise yourself to your partner? Do you feel neglected either emotionally or physically?
I’m not suggesting any of these are easy to answer, but I don’t trade in quick fixes. I don’t believe there are relationships that lack any sort of spice because human beings are vibrant, interesting, and diverse. I do however believe there are relationships where the partners are not listening to each other (alongside a bunch of outdated bullshit about what constitutes true masculinity, femininity, and whose job it is to make sure things are never dull).
Bottom line, if you and your partner like and respect each other, spicing up your relationship is a matter of saying: “I would really like to do [y] the next time we [z], what do you think about that?” They key is to have an open line of communication.
If not… well, I suppose that’s a matter for another letter.