The more I talk to people about their experiences with sexuality, the more it becomes clear to me that curiosity plays a big role in having awesome sex.
I'd wager to say that nearly all people experience some sort of roadblock to having their dream sex. This is just part of life. Anytime we're navigating an intimate exchange with another person - whose mind we can't read - it involves a bit of uncertainty. How do they want to be touched? What words would they enjoy hearing? What words would I enjoy hearing?
If it's a new partner, the questions might be about STI status or how the two (or more?) of you are going to navigate safer sex. We might not want to seem inexperienced (or too experienced), and that might make us less likely to ask how someone wants to play.
These conversations can feel difficult. For many of us, talking about sex at all can put us out of our comfort zone, even with (and sometimes especially with) the folks with whom we're actually having sex. (Get some tips on hot talk in Talk Dirty to Me: The Why and How of Hot Aural Sex.)
But fostering a curious approach can make clearing up these uncertainties easier. When you come from a curious place, questions can transform from being awkward and interrogative to being playful invitations.
So how can we nurture more curiosity in our sex lives? Here are my six top tips for getting curious - and having more fun!
Accept That You're Not a Mind Reader
Remember that it's not your job to intuit what your partner wants - it’s your job to ask. Even with a partner you've had for years, what they want may change day to day. Asking fun and inviting questions demonstrates that you value and respect the fact that what someone wants is changeable. Try "What kind of touch would just delight you this morning?" or "Does ____ sound fun?"
Pay Attention to What You Say ... and How You Say It
Pay attention to your vocal tone and word choices. The aim here is to make your questions sound more like requests than demands. Instead of "So, I guess we should find some condoms," try saying "What kinds of safer sex methods do you like to use?" (Get some tips on how to make safer sex sexy in Steamy, Sizzling ... Safe? 6 Ways to Make Condoms Sexy.)
Part of being curious is being genuinely interested in someone else's experience. Sometimes asking sex questions can be so stressful for some folks that they have a hard time staying present for the answer. Being super aroused can also be distracting, even for the best communicators. But remembering the value of this step and practicing it (even, and maybe especially, outside of sexy contexts) can yield some excellent rewards.
Create a "Sex Lab"
I first heard the term "sex lab" from the famously curious Sex Nerd Sandra who described it as a designated time and place to experiment with new sex techniques, with no pressure to achieve a particular outcome (lab coats optional). Often when people want to try something new, they just lunge into it without the preparation and observation that can be necessary for navigating different bodies, desires and moods. Moreover, they want to do it "right!" But by thinking of the interaction as a "sex lab," you can take the pressure off performing and just experiment with what works and what doesn’t. If it’s not happening for you, that’s OK. Failure is a natural part of experimentation - and key part of learning!
Get Curious Together
Shared adventure is a sexy thing, so it's important to find things you can be curious about together outside the bedroom. While an established routine can feel safe and secure, many couples notice that putting a little variety into that routine can zest up your sex life too. It doesn’t have to be vacation sex (although that’s a good one too). Simply exploring a new restaurant or going on a hike that interests you and your partner can ignite curiosity through variety.
By focusing attentively and observing our interactions, we can more easily find the nuances that really pique our attention. We can also establish greater connection with our partners in the process. Most of us know that "being present" can make us happier, that being more observant can help foster that presence. Well, guess what? These things foster curiosity and connection too.
I think that being curious is one of the sexiest traits a person can have, and it's a worthwhile quality to invest in when it comes to your sex life. After all, being interested is what makes you interesting. And being heard? That's one of the hottest things ever.
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