I certainly wish someone had given me this advice when I was younger.
Well, by 30, I thought I knew all about sex. I knew that raking my nails down someone's back was only acceptable in the movies. (Lost that guy).
I learned that I had to be focused and open and receptive in order to have an orgasm, and I learned that a man will follow you almost anywhere if you are talented at oral sex. I tried my best, and humbly, I think I had some real talent.
But it took me a long time to understand some other things that I could have used during those early years when I had the hot bod but not necessarily the self-awareness to use it more wisely.
1. I wasn't picky.
First of all, I wish I had skipped a few guys who I should have known right away would be mostly making love to themselves—or for themselves. I am better now at knowing which men really love and appreciate women, and which men can't get out of their own aura.
How do I know? Men who love women get to know you over the dinner table, and they apply what they have learned about you there in the bedroom.
Rule of thumb: If a man doesn't get to know you above the collarbone, it is unlikely he is going to do any real exploring below.
2. I rushed.
I wished I had learned to take it slower. I was mostly about immediate passion, rather than a slow, explorative build-up.
A psychologist friend of mine once said, "Most women fake orgasm because most men fake foreplay." I wish I had made more opportunities to be whipped up into a fine froth instead of demanding so much passion right at the start.
Quickies and immediate penetration can be sexy as hell, but it usually means that you stay in the foothills instead of reaching the higher peaks.
3. I didn't share my dirty little secrets.
I wish I had used fantasy when I was younger. Sharing fantasies, sometimes out of bed, sometimes in it, can be the most intimate of all sexual acts.
There is something about opening up and sharing your most intricate and unexpected thoughts with one another that creates a unique bond between lovers.
I would have been far too embarrassed to admit to some of my fantasies when I was young. Now I realize how what you're most afraid will drive you apart can actually bring two people together.
4. I took it too seriously.
I would definitely have liked to have been freer about using toys together. Oh sure, I did try a few—but it took me years to be as playful as I am now.
I think laughing in bed is half of the joy of being intimate, and a sense of humor, as well as a sense of adventure, allows you to try some of the more daring sexual devices.
Whether or not you ever use them again is unimportant. On the other hand, try them once, and you may well rank them among your most precious possessions!
I think experimentation nurtures play and passion in long-term relationships, and what could possibly be wrong with that? Looking back, I wouldn't shy away from trying vibrating panties, edible body paint, vibrating penis rings . . .
5. I didn't appreciate my body.
I wish I had appreciated all that my body could do and not wasted time on my ridiculous list of imperfections.
When you get to your prime years you realize that a healthy body is a great body—and I have been blessed with one that still has all its parts, still loves and appreciates sex, and still has the capacity to make me and my partner feel blissful in each other's arms.
So much time wasted over fretting about weight, breast size or butt shape! The guy who wants you, wants you.
I've learned to believe that the most important thing is to let someone adore you and enjoy whatever moment you have together without inhibition. I wish I had given myself that same permission and satisfaction a long time ago.
Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D, is the author of Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years.
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