(Men’s Health) Let’s get one thing straight: Missionary sex is awesome. There’s something satisfying and comforting about relying on a position that you’ve done a thousand times before. But for many of us out there, there are a million things we want to do in bed that we just haven’t yet. Maybe you want to do it on the kitchen counter, or maybe you have a secret spanking fetish that you’re just itching to try out. But if your girlfriend’s sexual tastes tend to skew more vanilla than Chunky Monkey, it might be hard to approach this topic, lest you insult her or, even worse, scare her away.
If you’re looking to up the ante between the sheets, here are a few tips on how to spice it up to suit your tastes, while at the same time making sure she feels safe and comfortable.
1) Make her feel sexy.
It might go without saying, but let’s say it anyway. If you want your lady to do sexy things, you have to make her feel sexy. Chances are you already feel like she’s incredibly sexy, but a little compliment goes a long way. The sexier and more empowered she feels, the more likely she’ll be confident enough to try new things. (And for tips on what you actually should be trying, check out 7 things women wish you knew about sex.)
“Compliment her butt, her breasts, her hair, her eyes — all of the specific areas of her body you love. Of course she is so much more than her glorious body parts, but if you want more adventurous sex, keep the talk unabashedly sexy,” says Holly Richmond, somatic psychologist.
2) Pace yourself.
Jumping right in and telling your girlfriend you’re super interested in trying butt stuff will almost certainly scare her off. If your girlfriend is used to vanilla sex, or has expressed shyness in trying new things, you can’t push her into the deep end without a life jacket. The more confident she feels at each level, the more likely it is that you’ll get to whatever glorious new sex tip or couples’ sex toy you’d like to try.
“Go slow and communicate with your partner about what you both are thinking, feeling, and doing. It is essential that you both have open dialogue as any new sexual activity is put on the table,” says Daniel Lebowitz, a sex therapist with The Intimacy Institute. “I oftentimes recommend that a couple talk about a fantasy of theirs, playing it out verbally before trying to make it happen in real life. That way, you can find any roadblocks or topics of discomfort before they actually happen. Concern for your partner and the relationship are indispensable to building trust and safety when exploring sexually.”
3) Tell her what you already like (emphatically).
There’s a chance that if you suggest new moves in the bedroom, your girlfriend might take it to mean that you aren’t satisfied with what you are already doing. Even if that is true, you don’t want to insult her or give her more reasons to be insecure. Complimenting the things about your sex life that you do enjoy will help to open the door for suggestions on how to improve or introduce new ideas, which you can also get from our course on how to have better sex.
“For men who want to be more adventurous, I’d encourage them to open a conversation with their partner about their sex lives. Tell their partner what they like about sex together, for example, starting with something like ‘I can’t stop thinking about that thing you did with your tongue the other night!’, and then lead into a conversation about something they’d like to try,” says Debby Herbenick, professor at Indiana University School of Public Health. “Or they could simply say to their partner how much they like or love them (whichever is true), how much they enjoy sex together, and that they’ve been thinking about new things they’d like to try.”
4) Be specific.
It’s noble to speak up about what you want. But telling your girlfriend that you’d like to be more adventurous in the bedroom is a tad vague, especially for someone who is shy about trying new things. Telling her you like dirty talk is great, but if she’s never done it before she might not know where to begin. Give her specific keywords, for example, that you like to hear to help get her talking. Ask her questions to help guide her. Suggest watching porn together. Ask her if she wants to try introducing sex toys. And when she takes the lead, let her run with it. This should be a give and take.
“Leave open-ended ideas she can explore on her own. There are dozens of books on how to spice things up,” says Emily DeAyala, an AASECT (The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) certified sex therapist. “One of my personal favorites is 101 Nights of Great Sex. The pages are sealed ‘for her’ and ‘for him’ so that each partner can take turns surprising each other with something new. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Encourage her to get ideas from books like this. This will help her feel more in control.”
5) Enter her Fantasyland
Granted upping the level of adventure in the bedroom is probably about your own personal desires, but if you allow your girlfriend to share her desires, it ups the level of intimacy, trust, and comfort. It’s quite literally tit for tat. Encourage your girlfriend to share what turns her on. Coming through for her on her wishes and desires will fill her with confidence and desire to return the favor.
“He might begin the conversation with fantasies. When she masturbates, what does she think about? What turns her on? If she likes porn, what type of porn interests her. Here, he needs to be secure enough in himself that he might learn that what she likes isn’t what he can provide,” says Tom Murray, a certified sex therapist and family/marriage therapist. “Nevertheless, fantasies are just that, fantasies. Fantasies may never be realized, nor should they, necessarily. This just begins the conversation and lays the groundwork for exploration.”
6) Talk about your insecurities.
In other words, level the playing field. Being naked, showing your bits, having your bits touch someone else’s bits…it’s fraught with anxiety and insecurity. If your girlfriend is shy in the bedroom, it would greatly help her to know what you feel shy about as well. We all have our insecurities (yes, even you, you sexual stallion, you), and if she knew a few of yours, it might help her to see you as someone she can easily relate to in the sexual realm.
“Although men oftentimes act like they are fine with their body image, the long line of men walking in the door to my office speaking about their struggles with feeling feeling unattractive and unable to measure up in some way would indicate otherwise,” says Lebowitz. “When you share your insecurities, they no longer hold the same power over you and it models how your partner can speak about them to you and mutual support and reassurance can be part of the relationship.”
7) No always means no.
Just because you ask, doesn’t mean she has to say yes. And if she says no, you either have to be OK with that, or you might have to reconsider if this is the right relationship for you. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable in a relationship, especially in the bedroom. Your happiness is just as important as hers, and if neither of you is getting what you want, it might be time to move on. But typically where there is communication, openness, honesty, and trust, mind-blowing sex tends to follow. So don’t be shy about asking. You both might be surprised at all the doors that open.