We’re giving Debby a vacation for our first week back after our double issue. I’ve been co-anchoring this section of the paper for nigh on a year now; in that time, some patterns have emerged from our intrepid readers’ questions, and I’d like to unpack those into some tips that will help you improve your sex life over the next year. So come sit by the fire with your cool aunt Sarah, and let me give you some less-than-clinical, not-doctor-approved ways of making your sex better in 2015.
1. Know your own parts
It still amazes me how few people know the anatomical structure of their own genitals. Do you know how many men and women think there is only one opening in the female body through which both urination and sex happen?! Or the number of women who have a complete misunderstanding of their own reproductive cycles. Just like you wouldn’t throw open the hood of a strange car and start going to town on the pipes and bolts without consulting a manual, you shouldn’t try to improve your sex life without getting good and familiar with your own body’s basic mechanics.
2. Know your partner’s parts.
You and your partner have the same genitals, more or less? Lucky you! You only have to study once! But if you’re trying to get down in that heterosexual way, you should take some time to read up on the finer points of your partner’s genitals. For instance, most men know that the clitoris is sensitive, but most don’t know that the attached nerves actually extend much farther than the visible clitoris. And most women know that kicking a dude in his balls will make him keel over in pain, though many of those same women have no idea what to do to/with the testicles during a pleasurable experience. That’s, well, nuts, especially when we have more information at our disposal than ever before.
3. Talk about sex. Say the words.
Find whatever language you’re comfortable talking about sex with and then use it. Either way, you have to hear yourself say words like “penis” or “vagina” or “clit” or “cock” a few times before you are no longer embarrassed to have frank discussions about sex, naming the parts as you go. Why? Because here’s a very un-helpful phrase: “I love it when you put your thingy inside my no-no.” On the other hand, here’s a phrase that will improve your sex life: “I get goosebumps all over when you touch my clit lightly with your fingers during foreplay.” If you’re not ready to get specific with your language, you’re not ready to raise your sex game.
4. Be present during sex
Not like physically present—I hope that’s a given. Our sex drives and orgasmic potential are both hugely influenced by what’s on our minds. One thing that will definitely improve your sex life is if you make a promise to yourself to keep work, school, money and everything else that kills boners out of the bedroom in word and deed. Make a promise to your partner that you’re going to be in the moment with them—that doesn’t mean staring intently into their eyes for the duration, but freeing up your mind to notice every sensation and feel your body. It means you’ll be paying attention to what their body is telling you, and you will give and take in the moment. Being a mentally-present observer also means that you’ll be better at remember what they like, making you a better partner every time you get down.
5. Get comfortable being naked
You don’t have to go whole-hog, as it were, and just start strutting around your house in your birthday suit. But you should stand naked in front of a mirror and learn to do so without immediately letting your brain (by which I mean the media) tell you how you should feel about the shape of your body. Here’s a hot tip for all you ladies and gentlemen out there: if you have made it to the stage where you’re removing your clothes, neither party should worry about how their body looks at that point. Plus any person worth their salt in bed knows that all different bodies can have all different kinds of sex, and appearances are rarely correlative to performance. Start by sleeping naked more often and see how it goes.
6. Sex is kinda gross. Get over it.
Whether or not anyone wants to admit it, there are occasional moments of ick when you’re really getting down like you mean it, at some point in your life. Being cum-glued to your sheets, clothes, or, God forbid, the tanning deck on a cruise ship is not the cleanest you’ll ever feel, but you get over it. Whether it’s sweaty, sticky midsummer sex or midwinter sex where you’re just trying to avoid each other’s frozen toes, there will always be lots of sticky fluids and a variety of smells, and they’re all fine. If you don’t eat pussy because you’ve always thought vaginas were “gross,” shame on you. If you don’t give head because cum is “gross,” shame on you. Frankly, good sex requires loving sex, moles and all.
7. Give yourself a reason to laugh
Did you accidentally fart really loud during sex? Did you try edible underwear only to have it melt into a weird sticky merkin? Did you experiment with that kama sutra book and end up screaming “MY KNEE DOESN’T BEND LIKE THAT!” These are hilarious moments in sex, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a lot of them. Sex can often be funny, and experimenting with sex means you’ll encounter things you haven’t before. I encourage you to laugh about this, because sex is often taken so damn seriously that we forget that it should be fun. Frankly, they should toss in the occasional fart in TV and movie sex scenes, or show the Natalie Portmans of the world waking up with hump hair and mascara raccoon eyes. Being able to laugh at sex’s many follies will ensure that your exploration will always be with a good attitude.