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Most of us feel more awkward talking about sex than we do actually having it. In fact, many couples avoid the subject, says Kristen Mark, Ph.D., a sex researcher at the University of Kentucky. And as a result, you may have no idea what the person you’re sleeping with really wants—or doesn’t want—in the sack.
To help you both out, we asked 20 women what they secretly crave in bed. Keep these requests in mind—you may find it’s what your partner desires, too.
Don’t be so polite
Spank her. Tie her up. Pin her against the wall. Several of the women we polled privately wish for rougher sex.
“I want my husband to be more aggressive!” says one wife. “I’m not talking whips, chains, and 50 Shades, but a little rougher and more domineering.”
Some women fantasize about relinquishing control because they’re in charge all day long, says Arlene Goldman, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and sex therapist in Philadelphia and author of The Secrets of Sexual Ecstasy. “Letting go and not making the decisions can be a turn-on,” she says.
Plus, the anticipation of not knowing what’s going to happen next is hot. “Sex is about the rush, and when you have the same partner for a long time, the giddiness and nervousness fade,” Goldman says. “It’s great to take risks and bring back the passion.”
Don’t spring porn-style domination out of nowhere, though. It’s not every woman’s thing. Start by finding out what turns her on—then pay close attention to her reactions during the deed.
Take it outside
“I love it when my boyfriend gets things started in places outside of the bedroom,” one woman confesses. “Those are some of the times I’ve been most turned on.”
Making a move in an unexpected location shows you’re attracted to her—not that you just want sex, says Goldman. Plus, if you’re in public and can’t immediately do the deed, it builds massive tension for later on.
Your move: Kiss her in the kitchen, hold her tight at a party, or tell her exactly what you want to do to her while you’re in the elevator en route to your room.
Do not fear the dildo
Some women secretly want to incorporate more toys in the bedroom, according to our poll. “I love things like a powerful clitoris stimulator, or a string of beads that can gently find their way into my back door,” says one respondent.
Toys can be a quick route to climax for her, says Ian Kerner, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York and author of She Comes First. “Many sexual positions only hit the clitoris intermittently, or miss it altogether,” he says. “A vibrator can provide persistent, controlled, direct stimulation.”
Plus, it never hurts to try something new: Research shows that women who mix things up in the bedroom are more likely to climax.
Don’t race to the finish line
You already know women love foreplay—but several ladies tell us they want more of what comes before that. One even coined a term for it: Pre-foreplay.
“I’d happily let my boyfriend kiss my neck, shoulders, and stomach for hours, but he’s prone to moving to my lower erogenous zones within minutes,” says one woman.
Another respondent explains: “Instead of being like an instant on/off switch, sex for me ideally involves some ‘pre-foreplay’ like cuddling to refocus, then lots of foreplay, then intercourse. I need more time to have an orgasm.”
There’s no set timeframe for how long you should spend in each stage of sex—just try to avoid making a beeline below the belt. Linger on her body parts you may sometimes neglect—her neck, earlobes, shoulders, and back—on your way downtown, says Kerner.