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Give yourself 1 point for each "yes" answer. When finished, go back and click on each question for more information; concentrate on the questions you answered "no."

  1. Do you ever tell your partner or show your partner what you like when you make love?

  2. Do you initiate lovemaking when you feel "neutral" instead of waiting to feel passionate before reaching out or waiting for him/her to make the first move?

  3. Do you touch your partner lovingly on a regular basis?

  4. Do you tell your partner what you appreciate about him/her often?

  5. Do you put aside your hurts and anger and nourish your relationship by making love?

  6. Do you practice loving expression using "I statements" when you make love instead of hurtful blaming criticism?

  7. If you had an erotic dream about your partner, would you share it with him/her?

  8. Do you make sure never to fake orgasm with your lover?

  9. Do you feel comfortable, safe, and "known" by your lover?

  10. Do you feel that your lover is your best friend?

How did you do?

(8-10 points) You communicate well with your partner and are probably enjoying satisfying lovemaking. But remember, even the best lovers can learn to have more fun. Select the questions that you missed, and focus on those areas.

(5-7 points) So, you have a few things to learn. You may find it difficult talking about sex or may have begun to feel dissatisfied in the love department. Here's a great chance to build on what you already have and experience the lovemaking you've always dreamed about. Look at the questions that you missed and try some of my suggestions.

(0-4 points) Everyone has to start somewhere. Don't be discouraged. You're probably unhappy with your lovemaking and find that it's really falling short of your expectations. Begin today and follow some of the hints in my LoveProgram. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to bring back the passion.

Question 1: Do you ever tell your partner or show your partner what you like when you make love?

If you have difficulty expressing your needs in bed, start outside of bed. Instead of asking, "What would you like to do tonight," or "What would you like for dinner?" try saying what YOU would like with an I statement. Say, "I'd like to go to the new movie that's playing," or "I'd love to go out for Chinese tonight."

Once you've mastered those areas, move on to something that involves your body. Perhaps you could say, "I'd love a foot massage," or "I'd like it if you'd kiss me softly and brush your tongue across my lips." Practice saying what you'd like alone. It may look weird, but talking to yourself is great rehearsal. Try it when you're alone in the car and don't worry if you get a strange look from the person driving next to you.

Now you're ready for the Show and Tell Love Tool. It's demonstrated in Volume II of Ordinary Couples, Extraordinary Sex (Sinclair Intimacy Institute). Greg and Carey show how they use a flashlight to point to the areas they like to have touched. Another technique of Show and Tell is Hand on Hand communication. Dr. Phil and Lorna Sarrel at Yale University taught me this technique in the late seventies. I've taught it to thousands of couples since then and it still works like a charm! Place your hand on your partner's hand and direct his or her touch. Vary the pressure, tempo, or speed. Move his or her hand to areas you'd like to have caressed. Now reverse roles. Have your partner put his or her hand on yours and guide your touch. The leading and following is like an intimately choreographed dance. Discuss this exercise before you get into the bedroom so both of you are on the same page.

Another fun way to play Show and Tell is to show your partner how you like to be kissed or touched by touching him/her in that way first--then you reverse roles and copy the demonstration.

Question 2: Do you initiate lovemaking when you feel neutral?
Question 3: Do you touch your partner on a regular basis?

Many couples wait for an irresistible urge before they initiate lovemaking. Unfortunately this biologically driven urge fluctuates and is sensitive to a variety of factors including hormonal levels, fatigue, stress, illness, medications, alcohol, aging, to name a few. If you only touch when you feel really "horny" it's like only eating when you're starving! We all know that the body needs to be fueled by eating healthy food on a regular basis. In the same way, our relationship is fueled through regular touch. To take the food metaphor a bit further, if you only eat drive-through fast food, your nutrition will be compromised. In the same way, if you only have "quickie" sex, your emotional connection is at risk.

So, what's the secret? Touch on a regular basis and touch when you feel "neutral." What does this mean? Periodically ask yourself if you feel "neutral" or "positive" about being close to your lover. If the answer is, "I can take it or leave it," that qualifies as a "yes." Don't feel that you have to have intercourse each time you touch. Simply reach out and touch. Touch with your eyes, your lips, your tongue, your fingertips. Touch is crucial to growth and development from intimacy throughout our entire lives. You may be surprised that if you start out feeling neutral, you'll soon feel more positive. Soon you'll be reaching out more often and having much more fun!

Question 4: Do you tell your partner what you appreciate about him or her?

Appreciation statements are the glue that keeps relationships strong. Criticism and neglect weaken the bonds of intimacy. If you're coming up short in this area, use the following Appreciation LoveTool.

Question 5: Do you put aside hurts and anger?

Are you a couple who frequently brings up old hurts and angers? Once you've discussed the hurts completely and expressed your individual feelings, there comes a time to let them go. Holding onto hurt indefinitely not only blocks intimacy, but is a waste of energy. The Put Away Old Hurts and Anger LoveTool has several exercises to help.

Question 6: Do you practice loving expression using "I statements?"

"I statements" are frequently recommended by therapists as an excellent way to express your feelings without blaming or inviting defensiveness from your partner. Although sending "I statements" involves the risk of rejection, they are certain to increase your intimacy.

Imagine this example: You see an old friend and she says, "We really should do lunch some time soon." How do you feel? Do you feel a personal connection? Do you really feel she wants to have lunch with you?

Now imagine this invitation instead, "I'd love to have lunch with you next week, can you make it?" Much more intimate, isn't it?

Couples usually communicate indirectly by saying, "Let's go to the movies" or "what would you like for dinner?" or "would you like to fool around?" They may say, "You never touch my breast right" or "You're always too rough with me." Instead of making "you" statements, try to phrase your statements starting with "I." Say, "I'd like it if you'd brush your lips across my shoulders" or "I'd like it if you'd stroke my hair." It's a much clearer way to communicate.

Over the next week, make an effort to express some "I statements" to your partner and you'll notice an immediate improvement in your intimacy. Use the "I" statements as Intimacy Enhancers LoveTool to get started.

Question 7: If you had an erotic dream about your partner, would you share it with him/her?

This is a little risky. I'm not one of those therapists who feel it's helpful to share every single thought, dream, fantasy, or image. On the other hand, in some cases it can be fun to not only share your fantasy but actually enjoy one together. If you're open to this, try the Magic Carpet LoveTool.

Question 8: Do you make sure never to fake orgasm with your lover?

Too many partners feel its better to fake it than to bruise his ego. This can be disastrous. I know of a woman who during an argument revealed she'd been faking it for 23 years! Her husband was devastated and wondered what else his wife had been lying about. Practice clear communication. Be considerate of your partner's feelings, but recognize that lying is never a way to build intimacy!

Question 9: Do you feel comfortable, safe, and known by your partner?
Question 10: Do you feel your lover is your best friend?

In my first book, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex (Dutton, 1993), Several hundred women were interviewed to identify the keys to pleasure. The most important partner ingredient to enjoying Extraordinary Sex was feeling comfortable and safe with your lover.

So how do we make this happen? Comfort and safety go hand and hand with the feeling that your lover is your best friend. It involves all of the items mentioned above: asserting your needs; being vulnerable and clear with your partner; showing him/her what you like; touching regularly and lovingly; offering appreciative comments; using "I" statements; putting aside hurt and anger; sharing playful images without fear of retribution; and never being intentionally dishonest. If you practice all of these areas, using the LoveTools in my LoveProgram, your comfort and safety will increase and you will be on your way to learning how to become an extraordinary lover!

(Excerpted from Dr. Scantling's Extraordinary Sex Now: A Couple's Guide to Intimacy, Doubleday, 1998)

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