What ingredients make for great sex for you, women? Honest questioner seeks honest answers
August 27, 2011 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Women, what makes a sexual experience rank high for YOU? I'm not just asking about technique, but the whole ball of wax. What makes it the best for you?

I want women's perspectives.....on what makes a sexual experience rank high in your book. Men, if you answer, please share what your woman/partner really thinks/says/responds to, not what you think they think. (!) There are lots of me-fi post about good sex, but they don't address what I'm looking for.

In the last year or so at the ripe young age of 45-46, my sex life has dramatically changed. I think it's a combo of hormonal changes (increased libido and confidence/energy), major physical/self-care changes, and at the root, philosophical/psychological/personal/spiritual changes.

Freeing or detaching myself from negative, critical, 'superior,' contemptuous people in the key relationships in my life (manfriend, boss, roommate, best friends) also fits into the equation.

The resulting increase in my self-worth and my interest in sex, along with a deep-settled confidence in my own sexuality (even with my various 'limitations') -- is remarkably freeing. Honestly, it's surprised me. I used to wonder if I was just asexual or something.

For years, I thought I was experiencing great sex, and in some instances, I was. However, my recent internet research and present 'liberated' experiences have been more than enlightening. There is SO much more to be had than I ever imagined!

Being in condemning relationships trains you to be happy with whatever little crumbs you get. You expect so little. Withholding, controlling partners mess up your reality.

So now, I'd like to know what is possible! What can be experienced? What feelings are possible? What makes wonderful, beautiful, amazing, pleasurable, "rock your world," even ecstatic sex? And, (where) does "love" fit in the recipe?

I would so appreciate your answers in REAL PEOPLE experience...in the context of real life. honest, please (not tv or internet fantasies or memories from short-lived relationships with people you didn't really know in real time. been there, done that).

Please keep in mind, I am 46, not 22, and those imaginary, "perfect" romances I once had don't happen now that years of reality have set in. People and romances can still be amazing to me, but the imperfect and "daily" unfolds much sooner now, (as some of you know! ; )

I'm in search of realistic and attainable.

Thanks, y'all, for your kindness and generosity in sharing honestly.
Sleeping (well, waking now) Beauty
posted by sleeping beauty to Human Relations (48 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

Focusing on your partner's pleasure is for me, the difference between meh and great sex. Nothing is a bigger turn-off than a partner who is more concerned about his/her own orgasm.
posted by raintree at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

There is SO much more to be had than I ever imagined!

It might help to tell the crowd what you have experienced, at least generally. For example if you say "I've done X at Y" someone who's done similar can add in "That's good, yeah, but have you tried doing X at Y, while doing Z and afterwards a little A and B?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2011

posted by sarling at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2011

posted by whalebreath at 10:55 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

FORGET THE ORGASM. Yours and hers. Not to say that it shouldn't happen, but for me at least, the orgasm is very much NOT the point of sex. Don't make it a race to the finish, make it a pleasant amble about in the countryside, if ya know what I mean.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:55 AM on August 27, 2011 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Can "all y'all" one-word-answerers be a bit more specific?
posted by sleeping beauty at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Came on to say 'being in love'. But it's already been said. That's the answer.
posted by bquarters at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2011

Response by poster: Brandon, let me think on that and answer later.
posted by sleeping beauty at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2011

Best answer: This is Deej's wife posting on his account. #1 most important thing to remember when attempting to blow a woman's mind in bed; 90% of the work takes place in her mind! She has to feel sexy, feel as if you think she is the sexiest woman alive, and most importantly she needs to feel as if you are a safe person to throw out all inhabitions with!
posted by The Deej at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2011 [32 favorites]

Best answer: I think one of the ingredients that makes for great sex for me, as a woman, is a partner who is someone who really listens to what I tell him I want/need. He picks up on the cues I give him but he plays with those cues. Combines them, pushes the envelope with them and/or dials them down. So listening, some creativity, some throwing in of his own preferences and honestly, making me feel as though he is drinking in the experience of my body like he is drawing a draught of the most delicious ambrosia.
posted by hecho de la basura at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

One word answer explained: I like knowing that I'm not goin to freak a partner out with bringing up kinky things that I like. If I can tell q partner is as kinky or more than me then I get all excited about all the potential consensual fun we're going to have. Oh and time. Things seem to just get better with time.
posted by whalebreath at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Honestly, as a 42 year old woman, I'd say freedom from distraction. Not having to worry about pregnancy, disease, the environment, time, obligations, my body, or performing as opposed to enjoyment - that is pretty great. That, and making sure the dog isn't watching.
posted by peagood at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2011 [8 favorites]

yes, a partner that makes me feel gorgeous and desirable and almost compulsively wants to please me. I guess this echoes the 'enthusiasm' answer from the other similar but gender reversed thread here on askme.

Also an element of playfulness keeps things fun and free form.
posted by abirdinthehand at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Whatever you're doing to your partner, regardless of your gender or theirs, you should do with complete enjoyment and not by rote or by obligation. Otherwise you might as well be at the dentist.

(I apologize for potentially marginalizing those with dentist kinks.)
posted by elizardbits at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

A woman just told me that in her experience a lot of guys are pretty bad, I asked her what made them bad, she told me "some guys just have no rhythm"
posted by Ad hominem at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cannot agree harder with The Deej's wife: when a guy makes it clear he wants you, specifically you, more than anybody in the world and it just blows his mind he gets to touch you and be near you, that is pretty damn awesome and helps A LOT. For me anyway, feeling like I'm sexy and desirable goes a HUGE way toward being in the mindset/mood that physically turns me on enough to orgasm easily.

I also love the deal where just when you think your body can't take anymore it's so intense and good, your partner pushes you even further than you knew you could go (whether through the right surprising words or a flipped position or going even harder yet being tender about it, whatever) because he's so in tune and sensitive to your responses, everything. This takes an extremely attentive/sensitive partner who knows you well enough, intimately enough to know how to push the boundaries without actually alarming you or whatever. It's brain meltingly wonderful to realize someone cares so hard they in some ways know you better than you know yourself, after a fashion.

Connected to that is guys who genuinely, no BS-ego-porny-fake-style are in awe of female orgasm, in that eyes-wide whoa reverent way. I still remember clearly the near-shock level of awe my husband had the first time he saw me have an orgasm. I felt like a goddess, something superhuman, it was wonderful.

And I won't lie, a guy who can do the marathon thing because it's early on in your relationship, where you go at it, both come, hold each other and nuzzle, and then go at it again, rinse wash repeat many times is...uh, pretty mindblowing.
posted by ifjuly at 12:33 PM on August 27, 2011 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Playfulness is absolutely key for me, in my experience. Seeing sex as fun is central -- it gives you the license to try new things without being too results-oriented, which is liberating and comforting at the same time. If you can laugh together in bed, it's a pretty sure bet that you're in sync in a lot of crucial ways.
posted by scody at 12:45 PM on August 27, 2011 [9 favorites]

My partner making me feel attractive. I know I'm 42 and bits sag and wobble in ways they didn't used to but when my husband looks at me a certain way as if he thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world or touches me just because he says he can't help himself it makes me feel attractive which makes me feel relaxed and confident in bed. That makes sex good for me.

When a guy is so overcome with need you can hear it in his voice and his breathing, but still what he cares about most is making you feel good. That's sexy.

When sex just feels like a guy is going through the motions to get his rocks off like he's thinking OK if I do 5 minutes of oral sex, then play with her nipples for 2 minutes I'll be all set to finally get "tab b into slot a" that is the least sexy thing ever.
posted by wwax at 1:20 PM on August 27, 2011 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Like scody, I think sex should be FUN. If it's all about getting to the orgasm or trying to "please" your partner, then it's just blah IMHO. Actually, some of the worst sex I've ever has was with a partner who thought he was doing everything to "please" me, and I was trying to "please" him. It was a disaster. For me, the best sex is when my partner and I explore possibilities and just have fun. Then it's mind blowing.
posted by patheral at 1:23 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The difference between "good" and "great" sex, is:

GOOD: The guy is following some Sexual Techniques Playbook that he maybe read years ago that has told him what "women" tend to like.

GREAT: The guy is paying attention to ME, and how I am reacting to different things, and is endeavoring to do what I like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Playing off each other - having one get aroused by something, which gets the other more aroused, which gets the first revved up even more, is awesome. It's taking pleasure in each other's pleasure, but also taking pleasure in what the two of you are doing Together, rather than To each other.
posted by ldthomps at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ooh, for me, laughing and play and fun are not so sexy. They may be pleasurable, and what I'm sometimes in the mood for, but really intense wowser sexy sex always has something a little dark and serious about it. Also, again, me ... I get very turned on when my partner is very turned on. His desire fuels mine!
posted by thinkpiece at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Real people, hunh? Sex is at its most awesome when I am (1) well rested before hand (2) interested to begin with (3) in a position to relax afterwards [eg not having to race off to work, completely emancipated from childcare duties for the next forseeable hour, and don't have to listen to other people snoring when it should be ME sleeping it off]. If you have blown my mind by cleaning the house beforehand/taking the child out all day, 1, 2 & 3 are more likely to apply. Seriously. Sex is WAY better when both parties are equally interested, and rest is part of that equation.
posted by Ys at 1:48 PM on August 27, 2011

Best answer: Look at the responses. What you get are different ideas of what constitures great sex. So: what will it be for YOU.
posted by Postroad at 1:58 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Intimacy. Hard to define, but it has something to do with emotional depth and unconditional comfort with your partner.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:03 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

(1) The sex that rocks my world is the sex that makes me forget my world. It is the sex that blows the grocery list and the reading list and the to-do list and the unanswered emails list out of mind completely. It is the sex that pulls me out of my brain and into my body, and then pulls me out of my body and into the core of my sexuality, which just might be the closest thing to a soul that I believe in.

(2) For me, this kind of sex is what happens when I feel completely vulnerable, completely helpless, tiny and breakable, when my partner uses my body like a toy and I don't know whether I'll get intense pleasure or intense pain in return. Sex that feels dangerous and edgy and asymmetrical, sex that leaves me exhausted and tearful and euphoric.

But (2) is just because my sexuality is wired like that, and I seek out partners who want the complement. Postroad hit the nail on the head. I couldn't attain (1) until I figured out (2), and before that I always felt like I was missing something because I'd never experienced (1) and wasn't sure it existed. I think (1) probably applies much more widely as an ultimate goal than (2) does as the path to get there, but in my experience I had to figure out my own particulars before I could reach the more universal goal of being brought close to the essence of my sexuality.

Where does love fit into this? Well, love is the only framework within which I can be trusting enough to give myself up to (2).

And yes, I am a woman, and although I'm a young woman this is sex that I have experienced very much in the context of real life. If it didn't have the dishes and term papers and stomach bugs of daily life to form a contrast with, I don't think it would hold the power it does for me.
posted by ootandaboot at 3:13 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Fun and playful. Lots of giggling, closeness, fun, the ability to completely lose yourself in the moment and not really care, mutual benefits.
posted by mleigh at 4:28 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

A smile from someone you're in love with is worth more than all the kinky stuff in the world with someone you're not.
posted by joannemullen at 4:30 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Every woman is different, I do agree that a lot of it has to do with the woman herself. She has to be opened to being pleasured, opened to enjoying the pleasure.

I am your age and completely in love with a really great man. He is all about making me feel good (and I am all about making him feel good.) We are both busy keeping unusual work schedules. When we have treasured time together, it is really amazing. It's the way he kisses me, the way he touches my skin, the way he holds me, the way he looks at me. I love everything about what he does. I love the way he takes his breath and how it feels against my neck when he exhales. I happen to love him like crazy, but he really makes me feel like I am the only person on earth that matters.

Sure, you can add all sorts of interesting things in there, toys, lingerie, fancy sheets, a romantic setting, but the most important thing is how you express your feelings toward your partner. If that person feels that you are dedicated to making him or her feel incredible, chances are, the slightest thing you do WILL feel incredible!
posted by Yellow at 6:02 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first time I had sex with someone who loved me, I remember - we were having a good ol' time, rolling around and making out on the floor. He stopped things, and reached over and got a pillow for my head and then, then he was ready to start up again. Such a small thing, but decades later, a few partners after him, and I still think of that. A pillow for my head. That's what I look for. someone who thinks of what I need. (And of course, trusts me to do that for them.)
posted by lemniskate at 7:01 PM on August 27, 2011 [6 favorites]

Foreplay that you might not think of as part of sex - hair ruffling; cuddles and caresses and gentle stroking.

Really good kissing.

Oral sex: giving and receiving. Men should wash their penis gently but thoroughly before sex, because that stale-urine smell that can happen between a 7am shower and a 10pm bedtime is really off-putting for oral sex; whereas a really clean, fresh-smelling penis is sexy.

Plenty of (silicone) lube during penis-in-vagina sex. Seriously, there is no such thing as too much lube. (Avoid glycerin-based lube as it irritates many women's vulvas and vaginas, and can cause thrush.)

Not being orgasm-focussed. Women can genuinely really enjoy sex even if they didn't have an orgasm.

Post-sex cuddles that are relaxed and enjoyable.

Feeling that the other person likes you as a person and treats you with respect.

Not taking things too seriously - fun and laughter.

Fondness and affection.

You might find reading The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans interesting/helpful.
posted by Year of meteors at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

If I'm going to go down on you, you better be ready to reciprocate.

And please don't try to tease women first with "well, I -could- be convinced" followed by "Oh, too bad; I was going to give you that next time." Because I was in a thing with a guy who did that and it made me feel cheap, especially when he told me he liked fellatio....but when I told him I like cunnilingus, he balked and avoided the topic. Asshole.

(yeah I've got some anger about that)
posted by DisreputableDog at 7:46 PM on August 27, 2011

Hopefully this doesn't apply to you, but I thought I'd throw in something basic here:

When she moans, it could be because it hurts. When she keeps moving away from you, THAT IS BECAUSE YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING THAT HURTS, DOOFUS. (Whether it's grabbing her too hard, being super klutzy, running out of lube, whatever.) She's just not saying anything yet because:

a. you ought to be able to get the hint,
b. she doesn't want to spoil things for you, and
c. she may feel bad about herself because she thinks it shouldn't hurt.

If she actually TELLS you it hurts, that means it REALLY hurts, and she better only have to tell you once. If she has to keep REMINDING you that something hurts, ESPECIALLY if it's more than one thing, she will eventually get fed up and your sex life will be doomed.
posted by serena15221 at 11:22 PM on August 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

When sex is great, my partner and I are fully present in the moment. Orgasm isn't important as a goal, though it usually happens along the way. There isn't a bean-counting reciprocity but there is a mutual awareness that there are two people fucking together so we move and change in response to ourselves and each other. Smell is key for us: it's hard to have mutually enjoyable sex unless each partner's natural odour makes the other go MMMM. Sometimes it starts with "let's fuck" and sometimes it starts with a touch or a cuddle. There's never an abrupt ending: the touching goes on until there's a non-sexual need to be met (like a bladder to empty).

Turn-offs for me: complete break from physical contact, following a script or expectations that don't meet the needs or desires of all, pain, insufficient lubrication, lack of communication.
posted by thatdawnperson at 7:31 AM on August 28, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, so much for these amazing, generous, intimate comments. I knew you'd come through!

Now for the fine tuning....

The overriding theme here is that stuff that only happens when there is gentle, honest, willing, brave, vulnerable, generous, trusting/trustworthy, respectful, honoring thing you all keep referring to as love.

I'm unmarried, not in a committed, exclusive relationship, and presently, my 'partner' is pretty much a FWB...friend with benefits. He's never married either, (both can't seem to get love right). Both of us are complicated, intelligent, intuitive, creative, march to the beat of our own unusual drum types. Both of us have lots of relationship scars and histories of dysfunctional romances. We each seem to tread into liaisons very carefully, reluctant to trust, open up, share....but both of us are sensitive, loving, mostly kind humans who, clearly, desperately need intimacy, too, and this "love" thing you all reference.

Love is what you married, committed, exclusively dating, living together people are talking about, right?

What does love re. sex look like without all the framework referenced in that last sentence??????? is it even possible? From some of the answers, I would deduce "no," but I hope there's more hope than that for me.

Yeah, now it gets real.
posted by sleeping beauty at 10:51 AM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: The kind of deep intimacy that permits super-great sex can be as much a function of really, really liking each other as of being in love. There is a marvelous feedback loop when "your pleasure" and "my pleasure" become intertwined, but IME I haven't needed to be IN LOVE to get that; I've needed to really like and trust my partner.
posted by endless_forms at 11:32 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: So... let me get this straight... you are not in a monogamous relationship, but you want to have mind blowing sex with your FWB? Possible? Hell yeah! You said "Friend" that is the other 90% of the equation! With a true "friend" you get trust, intimacy, respect, and honor... now all you need is passion! So my suggestion is "man up" and yes I realize I am talking to a woman, but you may need to do some self exploration to determine what it is that turns you on, then by all means, TELL HIM! And who knows, perhaps this friends with benefits person may become a hell of a lot more important to you!
posted by Jayed at 12:12 PM on August 28, 2011

The overriding theme here is that stuff that only happens when there is gentle, honest, willing, brave, vulnerable, generous, trusting/trustworthy, respectful, honoring thing you all keep referring to as love.

....who says that "love" is an emotion exclusive to marriage, or even committed relationships? And who says there's only one kind of love?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:22 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

The best sex I ever had was with a friend with benefits -- now just a good friend. We love each other to death, but we have no romantic feelings toward each other at all. As a matter of fact, the thought of spending the rest of our lives together as a couple sent both of us into hysterical laughter. He's in a committed relationship now, so no more sex, but was fantastic while it lasted.
posted by patheral at 3:36 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: Connectedness - looking into the other person's eyes and he or she is really present with me.

Everything else is secondary.
posted by desjardins at 4:36 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I didn't preview and saw your follow-up. My answer stands - you don't need to have a committed relationship to feel connected to someone. I have felt that connected to someone I met at a party a few hours before. We probably would have driven each other crazy long-term, but the sex was pretty mind-blowing.

It seems like the key to creating this connectedness is anticipation, which you can foster in any sort of relationship. In fact it's a lot easier to create anticipation when you're not committed, when you don't live together.
posted by desjardins at 4:42 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by odeon at 6:26 PM on August 28, 2011

You don't have to "love" a person to get those feelings you do have to care for them and respect them. You have to actually like them. You can do that with a one night stand.

Some men when I was single felt to me that sex was a prize or it was all some sort of competition and were really excited they were getting sex, it felt like I could have been replaced with any other woman they'd met that night. While they weren't misogynistic or anything and the sex was good it's hard to get that feeling of intimacy with someone that doesn't actually see you.

"See" the woman you are with, find the things about her that make her unique and attract you too her, make a connection with her. For a ficticious example Don Draper from Mad Men is great at this. Yes he sleeps around, but you get the feeling he likes all the woman he sleeps with that he's seen something special in them, and he lets them know it. That's sexy.
posted by wwax at 6:17 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

random something not mentioned yet - i'm a guy but i was complimented on my post-sex demeanor yesterday - "it was so nice how you touched me/paid attention/didn't withdraw after sex earlier"

i think lots of guys just grunt, roll over, and go to sleep, but keep in mind how important the whole post-coital thing is to many women - i think it's something that is often noticed and appreciated.

btw friends with benefits can be "connected", take the time to get to know her before and after the sex. just *actually being a friend to her* is a big step towards that "intimacy"/"fondness"/"love" that people are talking about above
posted by messiahwannabe at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: it was fun while it lasted, but alas, this chapter in the story seems to be closing.

I do think that without a mutual respect and good friendship, with a real appreciation for each other, even fun sex becomes not fun.

i'm sad to say the necessary respect is not consistently there.
posted by sleeping beauty at 7:33 PM on October 5, 2011

I know it's cold comfort, but good for you for making respect a priority and a condition for your relationships.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:14 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks. It's tough saying no when the sex is good, but it doesn't feel healthy.
posted by sleeping beauty at 9:56 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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