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As soon as you start having sex consistently, you begin developing your repertoire of sexual techniques—your go-to ways of making a woman moan, and keeping her coming back for more. But what if your signature moves just turn her off? “We do a terrible job of teaching men about sexuality,” says Monica Lieser, a licensed marriage and family therapist and co-author of 14 Days of Foreplay. “They feel like they have to be in charge—they better know what to do. So they just kind of fill in the blanks.”
You leave your socks on
Sometimes, that kind of sexual improvising works. But other times, it just leaves her feeling irritated. How many bedroom offenses are you guilty of committing? Read on to find out—and learn alternative moves that she’ll be begging for next time.
Maybe you just like keeping your feet warm—or perhaps you think leaving your knee-highs on is as erotic as her wearing heels to bed. Wrong. It’s actually a major mood-killer for women: “It’s just not visually attractive,” says Lieser. “You look like a toddler—and clearly, we don’t associate that with sexuality in any way.” Another not-so-innocent implication: Sporting socks during sex may suggest you’re so agenda-driven—get in, get off!—that you’re unwilling to even fully undress. If you like the idea of staying partially clothed, leave your pants around your ankles instead of stripping down to your socks, Lieser suggests.
You repeatedly touch her in no-fly zones
Every woman has a few places on her body—often her stomach or her thighs—she feels self-conscious about having touched. And consistently trying to bring that sensitive spot into sex play won’t ease her discomfort. “If you’re trying to put your hands on this body part, even if you say you’re admiring it, it’s a quick way to shut us down,” says DeAnna Lorraine, a dating and relationships coach in Los Angeles. It can also suggest a lack of imagination: “Clearly the guy thinks he no other moves—he has nothing else left,” Lieser says.
If you really can’t keep your hands off, tell her why you love that certain spot. Your line: “I was thinking about [insert some activity involving the body part]. Can we try it? We can stop anytime.” “There’s something really sexy about that, because it includes her in the process,” says Lieser. “It’s a collaborative decision.”
You let her do all the work when she’s on top.
Woman on top is a position of sexual power for females—but that doesn’t mean she wants to have sex with a dead fish. Even when she’s in control, she’s looking for an engaged bedmate: “We don’t always know what we’re doing up there, because we’re more used to the man being on top,” says Lorraine. Which means just lying still can leave her feeling a little directionless. “It makes a woman self-conscious—like, what is he expecting me to do right now?” she says. If you like the idea of her leading, you don’t have to thrust, but you should make some physical contact: Touch her breasts, caress her backside, or even just grab her butt.
You keep calling her “baby.”
The occasional “baby” or “honey” can make your partner feel connected. But overdo it on the generic pet names, and you’ll just sound like a seductive sweet talker, a la Robin Thicke. “It makes it impersonal—like it’s not really her that you’re with,” say Lieser. You can always stick to her first name—she’ll love hearing you scream her name in the throes of pleasure—or for more intimate moments, use her nickname that you’d never want your friends to know about. “It’s better to have a specific pet name for a girl, like Dimples or Sugar Pants—something that’s just between the two of you, instead of ‘baby’ or ‘babe,'” says Lorraine.
You gaze at her vagina
Look, all those intricate folds are fascinating. But staring down her lady parts during oral doesn’t make her feel appreciated—it’s just kind of creepy. “A little bit of looking and admiring is fine,” says Lorraine. “But don’t fully focus on it.” Read: It’s okay to compliment her vagina—that’s an easy way to help her relax during oral—or even to say you love watching as you enter her. Just don’t gawk.
You’ve overly commanding in bed
Yes, it can be totally erotic to be told exactly what to do between the sheets—but, remember, there’s a difference between taking the reins and being controlling. “It’s nice when a man is in charge and he has a sense of confidence about him,” says Lieser. “That’s very different from just running over somebody.” How can you tell if you’re crossing the line? One clear signal: You direct her into a position that you’ve never tried before. “It’s just assumed that the partner will do it,” says Lieser. If you want to be a little dominating, only command her to do things you’ve experimented with in the past—and mutually enjoyed.
Manual stimulation is your first move
To you, it’s an awesome appetizer to the main event—but to her, starting with clitoral stimulation just feels a little invasive. “Men think that a woman must be manually stimulated in order to become turned on,” says Lieser. “But there’s nothing arousing [to her] about putting your finger in a vagina that is not lubricated. In fact, you’ve just gone back by about 5 feet.” The most reliable way to make her wet: Touch her everywhere but her genitals. That will rev up her desire and help lube her up—and only then will she be ready for you to head down south.
You spring dirty talk on her unexpectedly
We’re not talking about spewing your go-to phrases in a moment of passion—that’s fine. We mean randomly upping the dirty-talk ante—spouting off a string of expletives she didn’t see coming. “You were already there in your head, but your partner wasn’t there yet,” says Lieser. “So there is this catch-up game.” In other words, you mentally built up the necessary arousal for your dirty talk to seem appropriate, but your girl is just caught off guard. “There needs to be some kind of segue,” says Lieser. “Start your normal dirty talk, then say, ‘I have a new idea. Do you want to hear it?’ That invites her into your head, rather than forcing her to catch up.”
You attack her clitoris
Orgasm doesn’t happen via clitoral obliteration. “Men think ‘clitoris, clitoris, clitoris’—they think it’s all about the clitoris, so they focus on it,” Lorraine says. “But they don’t realize it’s incredibly sensitive. It doesn’t need to be jackhammered or be the sole focus.” Instead of going straight to high-speed stimulation, start by very slowly stroking her clitoris—and let her body tell you when it’s time to try a new move. “Sometimes women will shift their partner’s fingers aside or shift a little bit because it’s getting too sensitive,” says Lorraine.
You try to last as long as possible
Believe it or not, marathon sex probably won’t boost her satisfaction. But it will encourage her to mentally do her grocery shopping or plan tomorrow’s outfit. “Men hear all this stuff about stamina, so they think the longer they last, the better,” says Lorraine. “But when you keep going and going, it’s kind of like chopping wood after a while.” (She compares it to being massaged in the same spot for 45 minutes. Not fun, right?) How can you tell if she’s disconnecting? “She will stop making noises, or she’ll just kind of stop trying—you can feel a limpness in her,” says Lorraine. Take that as your cue to wrap things up.