Being a better lover comes down to more than just technique. Attraction, chemistry, and compatibility all contribute to the mix of a positive sexual experience, but there are other things you can do to increase your skill set. Anyone can learn to become a better lover — even if you already think you have superior abilities.
How to Be a Better Lover: 13 Expert Tips
As a former clinical mental health therapist, I’ve seen relationships break down from neglect, avoidance, failure to communicate, and even basic misunderstandings of each partner’s preferred love language. Becoming a better partner doesn’t have to be hard — at least, that’s what she said.
But in all seriousness, the following tips can improve any sexual experience. Want to become a better lover? Try this!
1. Always Get Enthusiastic Consent
Consent is non-optional. All sexual relationships should take place between consenting adults. If someone is in a position of authority over their partner, the relationship isn’t consensual. If one person is inebriated, it isn’t consensual. Consent should be obtained throughout the experience — not just at the start of a sexual encounter.
Does that seem to take the romance out of the equation? There’s nothing romantic about one person feeling uncomfortable or being taken advantage of during physical intimacy. Consent is romantic even if it feels awkward at first to communicate about it.
Check with your partner before trying new things or ask along the way if they like what’s happening. Good lovers make sure that their partner is fully on board with what’s happening and not just phoning it in.
2. Cultivate Emotional Intimacy First
Physical intimacy is inextricably linked to emotional intimacy in relationships. Read the room before initiating sex to see if your partner seems like they’re in the mood for it. If there’s been conflict in your relationship, sex might be the last thing they want.
Addressing problems respectfully is one surprising way you can become a better lover. When your partner feels listened to, seen, understood, and appreciated, that will translate into the physical relationship. They’ll likely feel closer to you physically as the emotional intimacy gets stronger.
While romance novels and romcoms show us that angry sex and makeup sex exist, the reality is more complicated. Sometimes, you need to clear the air and talk things out before you bring physical intimacy back to the table — or another available surface. If you feel constantly rejected by your partner, it’s possible that there are deeper issues in play than differing sex drives.
3. Pay Attention to Your Partner
To truly be a better lover, it’s important to pay attention to your partner’s experience. Finding out what they like (and what they don’t) involves tuning into them. Ever since When Harry Met Sally, we’ve all seen the perfect example of faking it. A good sexual experience is more than just moans and the verbal reassurance that they’re into it. Pay attention to the nonverbal cues, too.
If you are only tuned into your own experience, you might as well be masturbating. It’s important to pay attention to the other person present in the room to see if what’s happening is working for them.
Some people will speak up and tell you if it’s not but others may feel uncomfortable or fear hurting your feelings if they admit they just aren’t getting anything from the encounter. When this happens, making the effort to touch base and establish more affection and emotional intimacy can help.
4. Schedule Intimacy
Regular physical intimacy is an important part of romantic relationships, and neglecting this area of your life could damage the overall relationship. You might both be slammed with commitments, but it’s important to make time for physical connection.
From regular date nights to clearing some one-on-one time at a scheduled time, you just might find that scheduling intimacy gives you both something to anticipate.
Make it even more exciting by adding a little titillation along the way. Texting and its counterpart sexting could let the other person know that you’re looking forward to the time you can be alone together. Having a clear idea of when you’ll be able to be physically intimate can build excitement.
5. Know Your Boundaries — and Theirs
Good lovers know their own boundaries. Better lovers discover their partners as well. Talking about boundaries is important. Know what you like and what you don’t, and be willing to speak up and say that there are things you don’t want to do.
Respecting each other’s boundaries is an important part of intimacy.
This means that neither person can pressure the other into an act they’ve already said they are uncomfortable doing or having done to them. Boundaries are a key part of consent. No means no. It doesn’t mean “convince me”.
6. Be Open to Exploring Fantasies
The counterpart to good boundaries is the open exploration of fantasies. What is something you’d love to try but never have? What’s your kink? If your relationship is safe and healthy, you should be able to tell your partner what you’d be interested in trying.
Want to truly be a better lover? Never shame someone for their fantasy. You can say that you’re not interested in that and draw a boundary, but never make someone feel bad for whatever kink they express. It’s a vulnerable position to speak up about a potential sexual fantasy and risk rejection.
Apps like We Should Try It allow partners to complete a questionnaire about their interests and fantasies. Both people will complete it, and then the app will only show you fantasies you both share. This can help remove awkwardness, embarrassment, and feelings of shame that some people may associate with discussing a taboo sexual fantasy with a partner. Some of the questions include the following. Would you like to try …
- Taking pictures during sex or filming a sexual encounter?
- Showing your partner preferred pornography?
- Roleplaying in costumes?
- Adding another partner in the bedroom?
- Using restraints?
- Being spanked or spanking your partner?
The list is long, but it is thorough. While it could be time-consuming to answer the questionnaire, it could clarify fantasies and create an open space to discuss common interests you’d like to try.
7. Mix It Up
If you want to improve your sex life, consider mixing it up. If your sexual encounters feel like Groundhog Day, it might be time to make some changes. Have a quickie. Try out a fantasy. Change positions. Figure out a new way of connecting physically with your partner.
Having the same sex over and over will absolutely get boring. Even if it’s quality sex, you might want to add a little variety in to keep it that way. Stay in the moment rather than falling into routines. Have fun exploring something new and seeing if you find any new favorite positions, techniques, or experiences.
8. Slow It Down
Are you fucking your partner or making love to your partner? Do you see those things as being the same? They’re not. Want to be a better lover? Slow down. Tune in. Add romance.
Turn sex into worship. Show your appreciation. Don’t rush to get to the endgame. Instead, take your time and appreciate all the little moments along the way. Orgasm is not the goal. Connection is the goal. Appreciation is the goal. Slow down what you’re doing and see if you can make it last.
9. Be Generous
Are you a selfish lover or a generous one? Do you even know? Selfish partners consistently have orgasms while their partners rarely do. Selfish partners regularly receive — but skimp on giving. If you have to ask if your partner had an orgasm, the answer likely isn’t one you want to hear.
Being a generous lover will make you a better one. Focusing on your partner’s pleasure can bring you pleasure, too. Watching them come apart with your careful attention can be incredible, and you miss out on that when you’re so focused on your own experience and enjoyment that you neglect theirs. Give generously, and you’ll certainly improve as a lover.
10. Remove Expectations
In a book or movie, both people orgasm at the same time like clockwork. In real-life, people having an orgasm at the exact same moment every single time isn’t realistic. In fact, for women, multiple orgasms are entirely possible — and preferable. A single orgasm at the end of a sexual encounter could be a polite if disingenuous gesture also known as faking it.
Instead of racing to achieve orgasm for you or your partner, remove the expectations. Get lost in exploring one another. Don’t worry about reaching that final destination just yet. Spend time seeing what they like and what you do, connecting at a deeper level, and appreciating each other.
Remove the expectation that sex is one-size-fits-all. It isn’t. What worked for one partner might not work for another, and that’s normal. Don’t keep pulling out the same old moves. Remove all expectations, and get to know your partner at a deeper level. Even if you’ve known them for ages, they may have grown and changed over time.
11. Practice Healthy Habits Outside the Bedroom
Being a better lover also involves practicing healthier habits outside the bedroom. As clinical psychologist Monica Vermani explains on Psychology Today, good self-care is linked to increased self-esteem and self-worth. This means that it can also contribute to your confidence in the bedroom, which can positively impact your performance. Regular exercise, healthy nutrition, and even alleviating stress when possible can help you go from a good lover to a great one.
You don’t have to get a six-pack of abs to be a better lover, but you might want to put down the six-pack of beer if it impacts your performance. Consider healthier habits, and think about the healthy habits you like to see in your partner. Do you have an expectation that they exercise religiously while your only fitness involves fitting that pizza in your mouth while binging a streaming series?
Healthy habits from both partners can improve your relationship, but you are only responsible for what you do. How’s your self-care practice?
12. Be Silly
You don’t always have to take sex so seriously. Be willing to have fun with it. Of course, you’ll want to read the room, but don’t forget that sex can be playful and joyous.
It doesn’t have to be intense eye contact with Marvin Gaye crooning in the background as candles burn low, and it doesn’t have to be hard, fast, and up against the wall while Drake’s playing at full volume — or insert whatever country/western, alternative, or another preferred playlist here.
Seriously — don’t be so serious. Learn to laugh at yourself, to be open to mishaps, and to just have fun. Did you fall off the bed during a particularly interesting attempt to hold a position? Did your sexy move seem more like a comic fail? Did you sustain a sex injury that will make a great story later or a cramp at an inopportune but hilarious moment? Be willing to laugh, and you’ll become a better lover.
13. Be Affectionate
Someone once told me that I do casual sexual relationships wrong because I’m affectionate. Maybe I do. But I know that any sexual relationship can be intimate and affectionate if you bring the right attitude to the table. Treating someone like a human being worthy of affection is a whole different level than treating them like an object to be used and discarded.
Whether you’re having a casual one-night stand or are long-time lovers, it’s important to add in some affection. Forehead kisses can be as impactful as whipping out, so to speak, a particularly impressive move.
Playing with hair, doing those little thumb strokes while holding hands, or even nuzzling in can add an element of caring to your interaction. It can improve the emotional intimacy and provide a boost to the physical aspect as well.
Maybe you’re already an excellent lover, everyone says so, and you have no reason to believe any of them were faking it no matter what Sally Albright said or did. That’s fine. But I can tell you this: if you aren’t willing to do anything to get better, you’re probably not as good of a lover as you think.
Good lovers don’t just hit their A-game and stop trying. They keep improving. They tune in to their partners and try new things. They keep learning and exploring their partners and themselves.
Being a better lover isn’t a one-time skill set you can learn and discard. You can keep improving as you connect with your partner — whether it’s someone new or someone you’ve been with for a lifetime.
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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash