What do people want to know about sex?
At the invitation of YourTango.com, I just spent the day on a panel with four other sexuality professionals. Our mission? List some of the most common questions about sex — and answer them.
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We pretty much agreed on the sexual topics people want to know more about: desire, pornography, cheating, male-female differences, and how to make sex more enjoyable. We didn't always agree on the answers, but a few themes kept recurring:
- It's important to communicate your needs to your partner; and yes, men want to know what women like in bed (and vice versa).
- To enjoy sex, you need to accept your body and feel it's attractive; and yes, that's especially true if your body is imperfect.
- Novelty is critical to keeping desire alive — and so is playfulness, closeness, and committing time to your sex life.
- Stereotypes about men and women can get in the way of relating to our own unique partner; rather than wondering how men like their penis touched, ask your partner how he likes his penis touched.
All our panelists agreed that the key to better sex lies not in technique, but rather in connection. That is, sexual enjoyment doesn't so much result from what the bodies do, but from how the people feel. And how most people want to feel during sex is relaxed, confident, comfortable, friendly, desired, graceful, and close to their partner.
"Close" doesn't have to mean "in love" or even "intimate." It does mean that you see the person you're in bed with as your partner, not your adversary; as someone who's planning to give you the benefit of the doubt, rather than to criticize you; and as someone who's going to share an experience with you, not borrow your body for a while, check off a few boxes, and think that they've done their job.
So the next time you wonder, "What can we do to make the sex better?" Don't think about activities or body parts first. Think about the kind of experience you want to have — and share that desire with your partner. And if they react with, "Okay, so what do you want me to do?" say “During sex, look at me, relate to me, smile, tell me how you're enjoying it, pay attention to my breathing, smell and taste me, and think of me as your partner, not as someone you have to do stuff to.”
And if they say "um, that stuff mostly doesn't sound like sex," say "that's why we're talking about it. This is the stuff that makes me interested in what your penis, hands, and mouth do.”
You can learn more about how closeness, communication, and relaxation add up to more enjoyable sex in my book Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex, and How to Get It.
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My thanks to YourTango experts Stephanie Buehler, Lori Limacher, Dawn Michael, and moderator Lou Paget for an excellent panel. These professionals know sex!
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