NEVER settle for anything less.
By Zahra Barnes
A guy once told me that for men, sex is like pizza—pretty good even when it’s bad. Must be nice. After writing about sex for years, talking about it with friends, and having it myself—strictly for research purposes—I know it isn’t the same for women.
Here, a quick sampling of the topics my friends and I have discussed recently—cervical pain brought on by too-rough pounding, the man who bit my friend’s nipple so hard a little of it actually came off, feeling “fat” and nervous about having sex with the lights on, and the guy who promptly left after a blow job even though he’d promised to return the favor.
This is all lunacy and it needs to end.
I got into writing about love and sex in large part because I was frustrated by how the women I knew—including myself at the time—were fine dealing with the sexual equivalent of almost-stale pizza crusts you eat when you’re ravenous, but that doesn’t really satiate you.
In reality, anyone who has sex should expect the following 13 basic things. It’s pretty much impossible to have good sex without them.
1. Have as much foreplay as you need.
Sometimes you might want to skip foreplay while other times you may wish “woman whose nipples get tweaked every second of every day for the rest of her life” were an actual job description. In any case, you and your partner should both feel happy with how much foreplay you engage in.
2. You need to be with someone who knows that your clitoris exists.
And also where your clitoris is and some basics about how to touch it.
3. Feel comfortable with your pubic hair situation.
Pubic hair is natural and there are about a hundred ways you can style it—or remove it if that’s your thing. Anyone who criticizes what you decide to do gets a side-eye—especially if some dude whose penis is shrouded in a forest of hair is upset because you don’t have a Brazilian.
4. Someone who doesn’t just tolerate going down on you.
To paraphrase John Mayer, your vagina is a wonderland and anyone who comes into contact with it should treat it as such.
5. Have the freedom to deal with semen however you prefer.
Spitting is cool. Swallowing is cool. Saving it to use in an art piece is … creative, but still cool with permission. Basically whatever you do with it is fine.
6. A person who makes you feel like you come from a planet of elite sex-havers and are here to show humans how it’s done.
This can involve things like noticing your pretty lingerie, telling you how hot you are, saying how they can’t believe they’re in bed with you, and generally making you feel wanted.
7. A partner who doesn’t treat you like a walking sex toy.
Anyone you’re with should recognize that you’re a human being and act accordingly. If you want something emotional and they don’t, they should talk to you about it instead of continuing to have sex with you but treating you like garbage in the hopes that you’ll get the hint.
8. You need someone who’s down to experiment.
Especially if you’ve decided they’re the only person whose privates you’ll play with for the rest of your life. Novelty is a key part of wanting to have sex even after years together.
9. It seems pretty obvious, but—you should be with a person who showers more than once a week.
And brushes their teeth, flosses, wears deodorant, and does whatever other upkeep is necessary so they don’t smell heinous when you get up close and personal.
10. Someone who has better communication skills than a Neanderthal.
Stellar communication is usually part and parcel of good sex. You might luck out and have movie-worthy sex without either of you having to express your needs, but it’s much more likely that you’ll each have to speak up about what works for you and what doesn’t.
11. You shouldn't have to wonder if this person learned all their sex tips from porn.
Clues that they might have—jackhammering until you’re concussed, spitting on your privates, wondering why you didn’t orgasm the second penetration started, and expecting to finger you even though their acrylic talons make your vagina want to close up shop.
12. Not having to fake an orgasm.
Faking orgasms is understandable, but in an ideal world—you’d never have to offer this form of positive reinforcement when someone has no idea what they’re doing with your body.
13. And ultimately, you deserve satisfaction.
Maybe that involves an orgasm, but it doesn’t have to. All in all—after great sex—you should feel like both your physical and emotional needs have been met. If you don’t, I guarantee there’s someone out there who will pick up the slack in a pretty magnificent way.
This article was originally published at SELF. Reprinted with permission from the author.