Print Edition: June 4, 2014
Picture a sex scene from a movie. It’s dimly lit, but romantic. There are flowing curtains and pure white sheets on a giant bed. Our protagonists — we’ll say for the sake of argument it’s a man and a woman — are naked, gleaming, and extremely attractive. They seem to be drawn inextricably together by a sort of magnetism. If either of them speak during this act, chances are it’s some variation of Yes, oh yes, or God, yes.
We can learn an important lesson from these hypothetical attractive movie stars: no matter what sexy configuration of gender, style or position you fancy, communication can make it better.
In this case, the communication is just as idealized as the flowing curtains and their gleaming skin. Everything feels good to our movie stars, and they aren’t afraid to say so. This is pro tip number one when it comes to sexy communicating: emphasize what feels good, because it increases the chances of it happening again.
Sometimes feedback can be communicated through body language alone; think about that movie scene again. His hands grasp her thighs, fingers tense; she throws back her head; they run their hands over each other; she pulls him closer; he pulls one of her arms around his neck; she wraps one of her legs around his waist. Caressing and wordless vocalizing are good starting places for positive reinforcement.
Keep in mind that body language is pretty good at expressing when something is good, and less precise when communicating something is bad. Pro tip number two: be clear about what doesn’t feel good, to minimize the chances of a repeat in the future. It’s better to say that kind of feedback out loud, so your partner has a clear idea of what didn’t work and why — crossed signals might link the response to some other aspect of your horizontal hokey-pokey and link the response to the wrong move / position / action.
For the most part, those two rules of thumb — be clear with what you like, be clear with what you don’t like — can pretty well cover the normal range of bedroom action, and for the most part this kind of feedback can be integrated into the act itself.
The importance of communication prior to hitting the sheets, on the other hand, increases if you want to try a new move or position for the first time. Planning in advance can reduce mood-breaking awkwardness of trying to figure out physical logistics on the fly. On the other end of the scale, if you and your partner have different expectations or assumptions, you run a higher risk of someone getting hurt — either emotionally or physically.
You don’t need to be cautious, but you do need to be considerate. It’s as simple as asking your partner if they’re comfortable with you making a run for the next base (whatever direction that is) before you reach for it.
If neither partner has particular fetishes or desires they want to fulfil, and yet you find yourself curious about what else lies out there, try taking a couple quiz at mojoupgrade.com. Two sexual partners take the quiz separately, either on one computer or two, and fill in their interest in a variety of acts — from foreplay to BDSM. You can note what you want more of, think you might be interested in trying, would be willing to try if your partner wants to, or want to avoid like the plague. At the end of the quiz, the program cross-references the results and prints a list of acts you’re both willing to try and leaves out the rest — meaning you have a chance to bring your fetishes to light, but don’t have to have an awkward conversation if your partner has absolutely no interest in that particular act.
The nice thing about Mojo Upgrade is that it allows you to input any combination of gender, making it versatile for same-sex couples on both sides. Unfortunately, there is no option for polyamorous couples interested in cross-referencing more than two people.
No matter how you get to that point, if you’re trying something for the first time, bring the idea up before you get hot and heavy. That way, the hormonal rush won’t cloud judgement or impede anyone’s ability to talk. Once you get into the down and dirty of a new horizon, continue to ask your partner if they’re comfortable, if they’re enjoying themselves, and if there’s anything that could improve the experience. Good sex is all about finding a common wavelength, and communicating what feels good or would feel better will help you hone in on a rhythm that works for both of you.
Life is too short for bad sex; if you aren’t having a good time, reposition yourself so you will. If that doesn’t work, tell your partner how you could get more into it. A different position? More foreplay? A little oral action? Some dirty dancing? Lighting candles? It’s simple math: if both of you are having a good time, it will be better sex for both of you. Communication is just one of the quickest paths to better sex.
No matter what kind of sexual intercourse is the meal of the day, keep in mind the goal is to make it an enjoyable experience on both sides. After all, good sex tends to lead to more good sex, and the chances of a repeat performance increase if you both have a good time.