When you write about sex for a living, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we should always be inventing a new position or discovering a new erogenous zone. But sometimes it’s good just to remind ourselves of some basics. These 15 tips never go out of style—and they’re way easier to pull off than the Wheelbarrow, too.
1. Don’t rush. It’s much simpler and sexier for your partner to say, “More, harder, oh god, faster,” than it is to say, “Whoa! Slow down there, cowboy.”
2. Do provide positive reinforcement. Total silence sucks. Your partners will welcome praise and feedback like Jessica Simpson would a good review. Plus, it’s an easy way to dabble in dirty talk. If you can’t find the words, appreciative noises work just as well.
3. Don’t assume that just because you’re in love (or on good behavior), you can’t have it dirty. The idea that marriage, monogamy or even good manners is the end of dirty, throw-me-against-the-wall, taboo-busting sex is a tired, old myth that you should debunk on a regular basis.
4. However, do ask permission before giving your partner a money shot in the face. That’s just good manners.
5. Do have an over-active imagination. Talking and fantasizing together about an orgy with your hottie mail carrier, your local news anchor, and Notre Dame’s co-ed cheerleading team is usually infinitely more exciting than a real orgy with your hairy, alcoholic, depressed neighbors. Include your partner in your fantasies when it’s appropriate. Note: If you’re having sex with your partner while thinking of someone else, it’s probably better not to mention this—unless, of course, they’re dressed up as that someone else.
6. Do practice reciprocity. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Do not do unto to others with the expectation that they must do unto you in return. However, you should assume that when your partner tickles your back, it is not just because they’re being nice, but because they would like you to tickle theirback, too.
7. Don’t assume that what worked on your previous partners will work on your next one. The biggest mistake you can make is arrogantly assuming you know it all.
8. Do tell your partners what you like; don’t expect them to like it, too. There is a difference between having a preference and being a fascist.
9. Don’t pop buttons indiscriminately. Bodice ripping may be sexy in romance paperbacks, but it only works in real life when you’re confident the item of clothing is easily replaceable and not considered a luxury item by your partner.
10. Do remove your socks. Unless your partner specifically requests that you leave them on or it’s freezing in the room. Guys: remove your socks as you remove your pants, in one smooth maneuver, to avoid being caught, even momentarily, in a nothing-but-socks moment.
11. Don’t think about baseball just to prolong the inevitable. Being aware of and attentive to your partner is the cornerstone of good sex. Who wants to fuck someone who’s trying to recall all 70 of Mark McGwire’s record-breaking home runs in 1998? Only Mark McGwire, that’s who.
12. Do wash your hands. Sex is like dining: You should always wash your handsright before. If you have been chopping chili peppers, soap and water will not remove all the oils so do be careful when you go exploring tender parts with your fingers.
13. … but don’t become an obsessive-compulsive cleaner. Natural musky funk is a good thing if your immune systems are compatible (a.k.a. you have chemistry).
14. Do make eye contact…at least every now and then. To avoid it completely screams that you are either afraid of intimacy, that you are thinking of someone else, or that you think your partner is butt ugly.
15. Do have a sense of humor. There’s nothing worse than a serious, sensitive ponytail guy or gal with no sense of irony or the absurd. If you fall off the bed while trying out a new position, do not die of embarrassment—laugh it off and live proudly.