12 Common Sex Mistakes You Need To Stop (If You Want More Intimate Sex)

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Have you ever found yourself wanting something more from your sex life?

A deeper feeling of intimacy?

A more profound sense of connection?

If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

It’s one of the most common desires we hear from couples. And one of those things that can be difficult to create. Especially when some of our most common habits, beliefs, and misconceptions about sex are getting in the way.

common sex mistakes

If you’ve ever wanted a more connected and fulfilling sex life, there’s 12 common sex mistakes you’re probably making. Here’s how to turn them around so you can start having more intimate sex.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #1:

Your Definition of Sex is Limited

Most people think of sex as the penetration part – and that everything else is a sideshow to the main event.

But this limited view reduces your options.

It creates unnecessary pressure, and it excludes a whole variety of other fun-filled activities.

When you include other sexual acts under the umbrella term of ‘sex’ – oral, hand jobs, fingering, ‘heavy petting’ – you diversify your sexual experience, and spice up your sex life.

Even including things like erotic dance, sexting, dirty talk, and sensual kissing can have huge benefits for your sex life.

Because it’s not the technical act that’s important – it’s the connection. The sensual pleasure and all the other yummy things that sexual connection gives you.

Sex isn’t the destination – it’s the whole pleasurable journey.

To turn this around, set yourselves a sex date and take penetrative sex off the agenda.

If penetration is no longer the ‘goal’, how else can you connect sexually? What other ways can you pleasure each other?

By expanding your definition of sex you invite a whole lot more intimacy and connection into your relationship.

(Which is imperative if you have a dead bedroom or are trying to revive a sexless marriage).

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #2:

You’re Going Too Fast

Speaking of penetration – if you’re rushing into it, you’re selling yourself short.

Our bodies need a lot more time to warm up for penetration than most people allow.

For a woman to be fully aroused and ready, her vagina needs time to lengthen, open, and lubricate. All her body’s pleasure spots need to engorge and ‘switch on’.

Jumping straight to penetration means less pleasure, and it can also cause a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort. Not to mention the anxiety caused by rushing the body’s natural responses.

Men need more time too:

Although an erection can happen quickly, arousal is a different story. Rushing to penetration before you’re physically and emotionally warmed up causes a lot of unspoken anxiety for men. Not to mention the embarrassment and frustration of ejaculating before you want to.

So here’s the fix: Before moving to penetration, take a moment to check in with yourself.

Sure, there’s the obvious physical signs – are you wet enough? Are you hard enough?

But more than that:

  • Do you feel ready?
  • Are you excited, yet relaxed?
  • Does your whole body feel turned on?
  • Do you actually want to?

Or are you feeling anxious and going faster than you might like?

If you’re feeling pressure or expectation, it’s OK to slow down. Communicate with your partner and give yourself permission to be wherever you’re at.

Prioritize what you need, and give yourself time to savour the experience.

(Want more ideas about how to improve the connection in your relationship? Check out these tips on how to increase intimacy.)

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #3:

You’re Only Having it With Your Partner

Want a more fulfilling sex life? Maintain a solo practice.

Yes, we’re talking about masturbation here. That thing we all know everyone does, but no one talks about.

Self-pleasuring isn’t ‘masturbation’ as we normally think of it though. We’re not talking about the furtive ‘race to orgasm’, or the secretive, shameful getting-the-job-done as quickly as possible.

Instead, make guilt-free time to understand your arousal, desire, and eroticism.

In doing so, you’re seducing yourself:

  • Exploring your body.
  • Building your sexual confidence.
  • Turning yourself on and discovering all the different ways you like to feel pleasure.

By prioritising quality sex with yourself, you remain connected to your sexuality. And you’re not dependent on your partner for your sexual fulfilment.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #4:

You’re Only Doing It When You’re In The Mood

Chances are, the way you think about desire is incorrect:

You’re probably sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike. Then wondering what’s wrong with your libido because you’re not spontaneously in the mood. (Or thinking something similar about your partner’s libido).

Here’s the thing though: desire doesn’t work that way.

Arousal takes conscious effort. You need to actively tend to it. Especially in a long-term relationship.

Which means that sometimes, before you get started, and even during ‘foreplay’, you won’t be in the mood.


So the question is, are you open to wanting to want to?

We live in a time where we’re busier, more stressed, and more anxious than ever before. And if you’re only having sex when you feel like it, it’s probably not happening as much as you’d like.

Let’s be clear here – this doesn’t mean forcing yourself. Instead, it’s an invitation to take the power back. Learn to stoke your desire – and your partner’s – instead of passively waiting to get in the mood.

And if you need a little help with this, check out our online course to reignite desire in a long-term relationship.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #5:

You’re Too Focused on Technique

It’s not what you’re doing.

It’s who you’re being.

How are you showing up? How present are you? With yourself, with your partner, and the connection unfolding between you?

Techniques don’t create intimacy. Being real, raw, and authentic does.

To create depth and intimacy during sex, you have to be present with one another. To show up in the moment – without expectation, without masks – and embrace each other. Exactly as you are.

This can be incredibly vulnerable. And that vulnerability is how intimacy happens.

Focusing on technique distracts you and takes you further away from each other.

When you stop worrying about what you’re doing, and focus on being, you open the door to greater depth and connection.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #6:

Your Way of Initiating Sucks

It’s one of the biggest mistakes couples in long-term relationships make:

The leg grab. The neck kiss. The breast grope. The not-so-subtle attempts to turn them on and say “Hey, I want to have sex.”

Or it’s the sulking. The silent treatment. Acting out in the hope your partner will read your mind and figure out that you want sex.


But we get it:

It feels less vulnerable. Safer, somehow. As if you’re more protected against rejection or hearing a ‘no’. And it may’ve worked well when you first got together.

But it’s not the Honeymoon Phase anymore. The way you initiate sex in a long-term relationship needs to be different. Those tried-and-tested moves now feel like pressure and expectation. And they’re actively sabotaging your sex life.

Re-inventing the way you initiate sex requires a conversation. It involves finding out what actually works for one another, and what doesn’t. And it’ll probably bring up some uncomfortable truths about the current state of your sex life.

But it’s essential to creating a sex life that thrives in the long-term.

If sex (or the lack of it) is a source of conflict in your relationship, our complete, step-by-step guide has everything you need to turn it all around.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #7:

You’re Too Focused On Orgasm

Focusing on orgasm creates tremendous expectation to perform:

It puts pressure on one person to deliver the goods, and pressure on the other to achieve an outcome.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, pressure to perform doesn’t make for good sex.

And it doesn’t make for good orgasms either.

Pushing yourself to orgasm rarely helps you have orgasms. Pressure inhibits your experience of pleasure. It prevents you from being present in the moment and enjoying yourself.

Yes, orgasms are great. We’re BIG fans. But they needn’t be the goal.

The next time you have sex, try not orgasming. Make it about enjoying the experience and being present to all your pleasure – regardless of the ‘outcome’.

➜ RELATED: Self-Conscious About Receiving Oral? 9 Proven Ways to Relax & Enjoy Oral Sex
couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #8:

You’re Taking It Too Seriously

Sometimes sex is awkward. Sometimes it’s clumsy. Sometimes it’s spectacularly average.

And that’s totally OK.

Sex isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be real.

And awkward is often where the learning is.

If you’re only doing the things you feel confident and comfortable with, your sex life is likely to get stale and predictable.

Instead, adopt an attitude of play:

We call them ‘play dates’, or ‘sandbox dates’. It’s a sex session where the goal is not to have earth-shattering sex or multiple orgasms. The ‘goal’ is to experiment and play:

  • Try new techniques, positions, toys, or ideas.
  • Experiment with some kink or role play you’re curious about.
  • Allow yourselves to say no to things, and allow yourself to say yes.

Be curious, and see where it takes you.

Don’t be scared of making mistakes. You don’t have to always get it ‘right’. Embrace the learning, keep communicating, and your sex life will remain fresh.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #9:

You’re Too Focused On Your Partner

If you’re worried about their pleasure, and they’re worried about yours, who’s actually enjoying themselves?

Worries such as:

  • “Am I doing this right?”
  • “Are they enjoying themselves?”
  • “Am I attractive enough?”
  • “Do I sound weird?”

Are huge barriers to intimacy and pleasure.

Focusing instead on your pleasure will completely revolutionise your sex life.

Take note: this isn’t about being a selfish jerk or ignoring your partner’s needs.

Of course their experience matters and you want them to feel good. And as always, consent is mandatory.

But by focusing on your own pleasure, you increase the enjoyment for both of you.

This is true even during ‘giving’ sexual play like oral sex. The more you enjoy it, the more likely they’ll enjoy it too.

When you each take responsibility for your own pleasure, you let go of the worry. If they want something, trust that they’ll ask for it. This means you can both get on with actually enjoying yourselves, instead of trying to read minds.

Be a little bit selfish. Do what feels good. Ask for what you want. Prioritise your pleasure, and you’ll find you both end up enjoying yourselves a lot more.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #10:

You’re Leaving it in the Bedroom

Nope, this is not the ‘do it on the kitchen table’ point.

But there is a problem with thinking that sex only happens between the sheets. That it’s somehow separate from the rest of your relationship.

Because for a more intimate sex life and a stronger relationship, you’ll want to keep the sexual simmer going outside the bedroom.

Yes, we’re talking about flirting:

  • A cheeky butt grab while they’re washing the dishes.
  • A sexy text message during your lunch break.
  • A hot, passionate kiss as you leave for work in the morning.

You’re not trying to turn your partner on or get them in the mood.

Or attempting to initiating sex. (In fact, you’ll want to keep your ‘simmer’ and your ‘initiating’ completely separate).

It is about keeping the passion and desire alive. And actively communicating your attraction. Reminding each other that you’re not just housemates – you’re lovers.

Not only does this enhance your sex life, it makes your everyday relationship that much more enjoyable too.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #11:

You’re Using Their Pleasure as an Ego Boost

Few things are hotter than seeing your partner writhe around in ecstasy. Especially when you’re the one giving them that ecstasy. And sure, it can make you feel pretty great about yourself too.

But if you’re basing your sense of self-worth on how much pleasure they’re feeling, you’re on dangerous ground.

If you’re not careful, sex can become all about validating your ego. And being on the receiving end of that sucks. 

It’s also a massive barrier to having more deeply connected sex.

It’s OK if sex boosts your confidence – but don’t make that the goal, and don’t make your partner’s pleasure all about proving your ‘mad skillz’.

Remember that sex isn’t a performance. Let yourself be in the experience. Without expectation or agenda.

Let your partner’s pleasure be for them – however that happens.

couple in relationship holding hands

Common Sex Mistake #12:

You’re Having Superficial Sex

Sex can be so much more than pleasure and orgasms. It has the potential to be a soul-enriching and life-affirming experience.

Fulfilling sex isn’t only what happens between you physically. It’s what happens emotionally, mentally, and spiritually too. It doesn’t just feel good – it nourishes you on every level.

Your sex life has the potential for incredible depth. It can bring you closer together, nourish your relationship, and grow the love between you.

It can boost your sense of self and leave you feeling alive. Powerful. Beautiful. Worthy. Connected.

And the longer you’re together, the deeper you can go.

It takes courage and practice, but it starts with a simple intention:

An intention to connect. An intention to go deeper. An intention to come together with curiosity and love.

If you want it, there’s so much more to sex than what meets the eye.

Jodie Milton & Reece Stockhausen, Relationship & Intimacy Coaches @ practicalintimacy.com

Reece Stockhausen & Jodie Milton have made improving people’s lives and relationships both their passion, and their career. With over 25 years experience in the Personal Development industry, and a decade coaching singles and couples, their no-BS advice has been featured in Today, The New York Times, Yahoo!, Insider, Cosmopolitan, and Men's Health.

Book in for a complimentary online video call to discover how their men's, women's, and couple's coaching programs can support you.

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