How can I try new things in bed with my partner?

How can I try new things in bed with my partner? | Soho House

This week, our resident sexpert Olivia Petter is on hand to help you explore your sexually adventurous side

Friday 28 October 2022  By Olivia Petter  Illustration by Edoardo Massa

When you tell people that you write a sex column, they usually respond by asking one of three questions. The first is if my life is just like Carrie Bradshaw’s. The second is if I’m really good at sex, and the third is how to spice things up with a partner. 

My response to the first two is always the same: no, but I too love shoes, and my god I hope so. My answer to the third very much depends on who is asking me. The last person was a 25-year-old friend of my cousin who had been in a long-term relationship since university. We were on holiday together at the time and I was a little preoccupied with a scary email from my accountant – so I think the best I could offer was shouting ‘sex toys’ from the other side of the pool.

But I can do better than that – so thank you for giving me the opportunity. How long have you been with this person? I only ask because asking someone to try something new in bed after two years is vastly different from asking them after two weeks. If you’re going to step out of your sexual comfort zones, you need to feel safe with each other. That can take time – boring, I know. But it’s true. 

To illustrate this point, I asked my Instagram followers to share some of the most unexpected things people they’d just started seeing had suggested to them in bed. The answers were varied and included: to burn them with a cigarette, if they could consume them like an energy ball, and that their fantasy was being miniature. 

I once slept with someone who suggested using a sex toy on the second date. I asked him if it was new – reader, it wasn’t. Used vibrators and Borrowers fantasies aside, though, there are plenty of fun, safe and hygienic ways to bring a little more excitement into the bedroom. And I’ll bet you all of your friends in long-term relationships are familiar with them. 

The trouble is, like with almost everything to do with sex, no one really talks about what they’re doing, particularly when they’ve been with the same person for a long time. The assumption is that the longer you’re with someone, the less interesting your sex life becomes. If anything, surely the opposite is true. Because the trust and intimacy you share between you will only deepen over time, meaning you’ll feel more sexually liberated – and possibly also more sexually curious – with your partner.

One of my married friends has an app on her phone that chooses different sex positions at random. Another regularly watches porn with her partner. Other common practices include sending sexy selfies, having sex in different areas of your house, and talking more during sex (about what you want to do to each other and how it feels, not, like, the weather).

Personally, I think lingerie is overpriced and overrated. But if that works for you, go forth. Don’t underestimate the power of sexting, either. It can be a great way of tantalising one another and reigniting your mutual desire. Finally, you could obviously also try a sex toy – just make sure it’s brand spanking new.

The quick-fire round

Why do I still fantasise about my teenage crush?

I envy you. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but as regular readers of this column may know, I am a sucker for those dizzying first love feelings. The kind that completely take hold of your body and your brain. If you have someone who gives that sensation to you as an adult, I wouldn’t underestimate it. Ask around and find out if your crush is single. You never know what might happen.

How do I bounce back after having my reality shattered by a gas lighter and cheater?
First off, let me assure you that whatever your ex did, it was not your fault. And you will heal from it. But allow yourself the time and space to do that. If you can, I’d highly recommend getting a therapist to help you work through what happened. There are also plenty of books out there that will help you to heal and feel a little less alone. Some of my favourites include: Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith, The Power Of Letting Go by John Purkiss, and Why Did You Stay? by Rebecca Humphries. You got this.

If you want to get in touch, please email me at All submissions will remain anonymous. 

Olivia Petter is the relationships writer at The Independent and author of Millennial Love, which is out now in paperback with 4th Estate

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