Many adults continue to enjoy active sexual lives well into their 70s and beyond. However, it's common for couples to fall into ruts. One way to spice things up — and perhaps strengthen your relationship in the process — is to read erotica together.
"Reading and listening stimulates your largest sexual organ: your brain," says Dr. Sharon Bober, director of the Sexual Health Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Reading erotica as a couple creates a safe environment to communicate desires and explore fantasies together. You are allowing yourself to go to an exciting place that feels outside your comfort zone, and it can be a wonderful way to break up your bedroom routine."
What's in a name?
Erotica is not the same as pornography. Whereas pornography is primarily visual and not very creative, erotica can be more evocative and verbal and allow you to participate mentally and emotionally.
"Erotica is about stimulating sexual desire through storytelling, imagery, fantasy, and language," says Dr. Bober. "It's about setting a mood and slowly building a response. Ultimately erotica is focused on building arousal and anticipation."
How should couples begin to explore erotica? Dr. Bober says the first step is to broach the topic with your partner. "It's rarely a good idea to suddenly surprise your partner with something that might feel a little uncomfortable or outside of one's regular comfort zone," she says. "Phrase it in terms of how it's something you want to try together and ask your partner whether this is something they would be interested in. And ask your partner to share their thoughts about it."
For instance, say, "I want to find ways to reconnect that feel good for both of us, and here is something that might be fun to explore together. Is it okay to talk about it?" You can slowly approach the topic without intimidating your partner by asking for permission. "In this way, erotica can feel less taboo and something more normal, fun, and healthy to try," says Dr. Bober.
Checking out a reading list
Next, choose erotica to sample together. Erotica is more popular than ever, and older adults have become a growing demographic. Nowadays there now are many erotic novels, erotica-focused websites, and short story anthologies available that cater specifically to older adults. (You can find a wide editorial selection with a general Internet search and via websites for publishing houses and booksellers.)
"One aspect of the erotica experience can be discovering different types and styles together to see what you both enjoy or find interesting to explore," says Dr. Bober.
She suggests beginning by reading a short story together. "Have one person read aloud, or take turns, or just read to yourselves and then share your response," says Dr. Bober. "Short stories are ideal because if it's something you or your partner don't find stimulating or interesting, you can go to the next one." Another option is to listen to an erotic audiobook or podcast together.
Keep in mind that it may take time to find something you both enjoy. "Be patient and don't get discouraged if nothing clicks right away," says Dr. Bober.
As you become more comfortable, sharing erotica can carry over to your sexual relationship, but don't force it. "Erotica can be used as foreplay or just something enjoyable you share together without any expectations," says Dr. Bober. "Have fun with it and see where it takes you."
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