Everyone has individual preferences when it comes to sex and dating, which can sometimes make it difficult to find the right ways to please your partner. Perhaps you’re used to doing certain things that your partner isn’t really into, or maybe your partner wants to try something you’ve never done before. How do you navigate sex with a person you don’t have a lot of experience with?
Whether you’re getting together with a new partner or want to learn how to up your game with your current partner(s), here are 5 ways you can learn how to be a more attentive lover.
1) Ask for limits
An important first step to any sexual relationship is finding out what your partner’s limits are. This discussion is necessary to establish boundaries and comfort levels for you and your partner(s). Going over kinks and limits is a very common exchange within the BDSM community, but this is a practice that everyone should adopt because plenty of “vanilla” sex acts can be limits for some people, too.
Setting aside a time to actually sit down with your partner(s) and discuss boundaries is really helpful early on to avoid accidentally making someone uncomfortable or triggering them due to past trauma. Unfortunately, this seems to happen a lot to people and could be easily avoided if people have this kind of conversation before making a bold move by describing sexual acts to someone as a means to flirt with them.
Writing a physical list might be useful to refer back to, as well. There are lots of compatibility tools that can help guide this conversation, so take advantage of those to make sure you cover all your bases. Sometimes your partner will know exactly what their boundaries are and sometimes they haven’t experienced enough to be sure of every single limit. That’s okay! This conversation is useful to get as much information as possible to avoid unnecessary harm. Bringing it up in the first place is going to show your partner that you care about their health and safety, which is going to make your partner feel so much more comfortable.
2) Watch for what turns them on
A really useful tool for being the best partner you can be to someone is actively paying attention to what turns them on. Again, this is something that can be discussed directly if your partner knows their body well enough. However, if they’re unsure or too shy to come out and say what turns them on, use your observational skills to find out.
Lots of times during sex with a new partner, you’ll find that you’ve discovered a “button” for them–something that you notice a strong reaction to. Of course, every partner is different and some may not be as vocal or expressive in bed than others. Try to look for verbal cues, body language, and physiological reactions such as their breathing or pulse.
Almost everyone has sensitive spots (good and bad) or specific phrases they like to hear in bed. Picking up on these is a great way to constantly press all their buttons. Start with some basics: Are they a sloppy open-mouth kisser or do they prefer closed-mouth kissing? Listen for the little gasps and moans when you touch certain parts of their body or say certain things. What positions do they naturally get into for penetrative sex? Using teasing language to clarify these things is a fun trick, too. Asking, “Do you like when I do XYZ?” or “How do you want me to fuck you?” can be really arousing for some people and it’s a great way to clarify consent.
Another great trick is to have your partner masturbate in front of you. Really watch what they’re doing and try to focus on stimulating them in the same ways when you’re with them. Does your partner prefer using a lot of lube when they touch themselves? Do they prefer penetration or clitoral stimulation? Do they have a certain technique for stroking their penis? Do they always grab the super powerful wand vibrator or do they prefer a pressure wave toy?
Observation really does allow you to pick up on personalized tricks for your partner’s pleasure, but you have to focus on making this an active process during your time together. It’s easy to get caught up with the idea of your own pleasure during sex, but taking the time to truly focus on your partner is going to make you a much better lover, which will lead to more pleasure for you down the road, as well.
3) Incorporate their fantasies in your play
This one is more natural to kinky folks, but there are plenty of things to explore that might not be considered kink. The fact is, vanilla and kinky people alike may have sexual fantasies that turn them on. These may be obvious things that they tell you about, or you might just find out by chance.
Once you pick up on a fantasy of theirs, try to incorporate it into your sex life. This can include any forms of roleplay they’ve expressed interest in, dirty talk, or exploring new activities together.
Sometimes adding a sex toy that touches on their sexual fantasies can be a really easy way to spice up a scene. If your partner has a wild imagination, try something like a tentacle or alien-themed dildo. You can also pick up a kink toy to introduce in the bedroom. Whether it’s a pair of basic handcuffs or a simple paddle to try out some spanking, a little light kink can be enjoyable to people who don’t necessarily identify within the BDSM community.
If toys don’t seem right for your speed, you can focus on using verbal imagery to set up a fantasy scene for your partner. It doesn’t have to be anything too intense. Sometimes just exploring some dirty talk is a good idea (after you’ve established those limits!) to see what kinds of themes perk up your partner.
Try switching up the ideas you play with during sex once you’ve pinpointed some of your partner’s sexual fantasies. You don’t have to do the same thing every time, nor do you have to focus on the same specific fantasy. Part of what makes kink such a broad area to explore is the ability to blur one fantasy into another by connecting the ideas in a scene. That’s how kinks grow and evolve!
4) Know their insecurities
This one counts double for all the anxious folks out there! If your partner has anxiety during sex (as many folks do), it’s important to pick up on that so you’re not stressing out your partner unintentionally. This, again, goes back to the first tip about discussing limits. Your partner may say certain things are off limits but others may be fine so long as they’re handled a certain way.
For example, someone may have a lot of anxiety about getting off during sex because they need to stimulate themselves in some way to have an orgasm. You can encourage them that it’s okay to do so during sex or even tell them that it turns you on to watch them. This added commentary can make your partner a lot more comfortable in knowing that it’s acceptable for them to self-stimulate during sex and that there’s no shame in doing that.
Use some creativity to figure out how to appropriately reassure your partner during sex and doing so in a way they might even find really hot. Take this example from sex journalist Kate Sloan. Kate’s partner found a way to deal with a common anxiety of hers during oral sex scenes and framed it in a way that subtly let Kate know that her concern wasn’t an issue of theirs. This relieves her of the anxiety and even aroused her in the process.
5) Make sure they’re satisfied
Too many times during sex, I find that partners mentally declare the sex over before I’ve had my fill. Sometimes they stop because they’ve had an orgasm and thought I did, too. Sometimes they stop because I’ve had multiple and they assume I’m finished. The issue here is a lack of communication and it can be really frustrating if it isn’t addressed.
The easiest way to deal with this frustration is by asking someone what their goal for the encounter is. Do they want to have an orgasm? Do they want to just focus on a specific sex act regardless? Do they want to orgasm until they say stop? You won’t know unless you ask and although it sounds awkward at first, making it a habit is actually really easy. Once you start asking your partner if they want to continue or stop, they’ll feel more confident in their ability to say, “Actually, I’d like to have one more orgasm,” or “I don’t think an orgasm going to happen today for me but I’d love for you to finger me.”
I want to be perfectly clear that “satisfaction” does not always mean “an orgasm.” Some folks have a lot of anxiety about their ability or inability to orgasm. Whether they think they orgasm too much or can’t seem to orgasm at all, the idea that sex “ends with an orgasm” can put a lot of pressure on someone. Having your partner’s intentions made clear about their orgasm helps you plan out how long you’re going to be stimulating them and when it’s good to stop.
Also, if you or your partner has a penis, understand that toxic heteronormativity has dictated that sex ends when the person with the penis has had an orgasm. This is harmful because a) maybe the other person wasn’t finished, b) maybe the person with the penis can’t complete sex to orgasm, and c) maybe both or neither partner has a penis. Besides, there’s no reason an erect penis is required for sex when fingers, mouths, and toys are usually readily available to continue. Instead of going off the idea that ejaculation ends sex, consider the sex is over when both people have had their fill or if anyone revokes their consent.
Using these tips, you can learn a lot about your partner’s body that you wouldn’t normally pick up on. Hopefully you’ve taken something away from this piece to better your performance in the bedroom. Is there anything not addressed in this article that you think people should learn about their partners? Let me know in the comments below!
This article was sponsored by SheVibe.
As always, all writing and opinions are my own.