Anybody can teach you how to make love, but I, Dr. Ruth, want you how to become a great lover. I want you to have terrrrific sex, and to do that you have to find out how to roll your Rs and heed the following tips. Start by learning how to be a good kisser.

Be a good kisser

The sensations caused by kissing can feel so good, so intense, that some people can kiss each other for hours. Many people have a pleasure zone—centered on oral activity. Kissing, by the way, is a gentle art. Oh, you have moments when passions run high, and you may even feel like nibbling on each other, but for the most part, being too rough with your kisses can spoil the moment rather than enhance it. Also, although many people enjoy French kissing (that is, deep-mouth kissing), some do not. You shouldn’t try to force your way into these people’s mouths because doing so only breaks the mood.

Kissing is an important part of sex and one that you shouldn’t neglect, especially because you can do it almost anytime and anywhere. So go for it!

Don’t make love on your first date

Sex feels great, doesn’t it? But sex isn’t a toy. Sex is a serious act to be shared by responsible adults. A great lover integrates sex into an overall relationship and never has sex with someone he or she barely knows.

Giving into the temptation of having sex before you really know each other can only lead to problems, such as catching a sexually transmitted disease. But even if you do escape with your health intact, you won’t be having great sex.

If you wait until you’ve developed a relationship with someone, if you devote your energies to finding out enough about that someone so you grow to admire, respect, and love the person, then — and only then — can you have great sex.

Set the mood as far in advance as possible

A common myth says that great sex has to be spontaneous sex, but in most cases, the reverse of that is true. Now, I’m not saying that spontaneous sex can’t be great, but rarely do two people hit their peak sexual mood at just the same time without some planning.

One reason is that women require a longer time to get aroused. (Guys, this is a proven medical fact, not a whim.) So the sooner you set the mood for lovemaking, the more aroused she can become. Don’t be in such a rush. The more planning and preparation you invest in making the evening (or morning or afternoon) as romantic as possible, the better the sex will be.

Give your full attention to your partner the moment you walk through the door, not just before you get into bed. Spend time caressing and massaging the rest of her body before reaching for her clitoris. And afterward, don’t feel as if you have to go right to sleep or head back to your apartment as soon as you’ve had your orgasm.

Ladies, if you know that you want to have sex with him, don’t be coy about it. Let him know that the answer will be yes as soon as you know it yourself. That way he can feel free to give you the best foreplay he can without worrying about whether he’s going to have his advances rejected.

Find out what your partner needs

Sex isn’t a selfish act. Just because no one else can feel your orgasm doesn’t mean that they can’t share in your pleasure, or you in theirs. If you want to have the strongest orgasms — the kind that make your heart beat wildly, your breath grow short, and your toes curl — then you have to work together and give as much of yourselves to each other as you can.

To be more giving, you have to know what the other person needs: more foreplay, a certain touch around the anus, the sensations of oral sex, maybe a thousand little kisses. Find out how to please your partner by asking directly, trying out variations, and seeing how they are received; and if your partner does the same, your team can score great sex every time.

To be the best lover you can be, do ask and do tell each other what you want. You’ve taken your clothes off, so what’s the big deal about stripping away some of that shell still covering your psyche? Sex isn’t a private act; it’s an act of sharing — and the more you share, the more there will be to share.

Protect yourself and your partner

Sex has never been risk free. Having an unintended pregnancy carries serious consequences. And in this era of HIV and widespread other STDs, the risks have multiplied tremendously.

If you have the misguided notion that protecting yourself takes away from the pleasure of sex, then you’ve been missing out on truly great sex.

The most important sex organ isn’t below your belt, but between your ears. I’m talking about your brain. If you’re worried about an unintended pregnancy or whether you’ll catch some disease, you won’t fully enjoy yourself. These types of worries can keep some men from having an erection and some women from having an orgasm, and they can lessen the pleasure for anyone.

Safer sex isn’t only less dangerous, it’s also more enjoyable. So if you want to be the best lover you can be, always practice safer sex.

Don’t fall into a rut

The first 10, 20, or maybe even 100 times you have sex with someone, you’ll experience a certain excitement that comes from the newness of it all. But after a time, that newness begins to wear off.

For some people, familiarity may be comforting, but for others, the sameness makes sex begin to wear thin. Instead of anticipating a certain caress, they begin to dread it. And so, instead of wanting to have sex, they start avoiding it, which can spell not only the end of a couple’s sex life, but the end of their entire relationship.

Even if you find yourself going back to your old ways, because they do bring you a lot of pleasure, force yourself to try something new once in a while: a different sexual position, making love at a different time of day, having sex someplace you’ve never done it before, doing it fast when you usually take your time, making a point of prolonging the act as long as you can possibly stand it. If you try some new things, you may appreciate the old ways even more. And perhaps you’ll find some new ways of having sex that will make sex better than ever.

Make a point of initiating these changes together. Sometimes surprises are nice, and sometimes they can shock the other person into losing the desire for sex altogether. Talk ahead of time about the different ideas that you may want to try, and have those discussions outside of the bedroom. If you need help coming up with new ideas, look at a book together, or watch a movie, and then talk over which of the new positions that you just discovered may be fun to try. Never put pressure on each other to do something that the other person really doesn’t want to do, but also don’t be so quick to say no.

Fix the potholes of love

Nobody is born a perfect lover. Everybody needs to practice and work at being the best lover they can become ― even you.

Whatever problems you may have, be they major ones that keep you from enjoying sex altogether or minor ones that prevent you from reaching your peak sexual performance, don’t ignore them, don’t expect them to go away by themselves, and don’t spend your whole life suffering needlessly. In most cases, help is available.

For some problems, you can find the answer in a book and work it out by yourself or with your partner’s help. If that approach doesn’t solve the problem, make an appointment to see a specialist. And don’t dillydally. Do it today.

When it comes to most physical problems, be it a toothache or the need for new eyeglasses, you don’t hesitate to go for help. But if the issue is sexual, you become too embarrassed to talk about it. But take it from me, we sex therapists have heard it all. Sex is what we talk about all day long, and we won’t think you’re strange because you have a sexual problem.

And if you’re worried that going to a sex therapist will bleed you dry, the techniques we use are short term. Sometimes even only one or two sessions can work wonders and would be well worth the investment.

Use your sense of touch

Researchers have done experiments in which they’ve left baby monkeys alone in a cage without any other monkeys, and the baby monkeys soon went crazy. Just giving those monkeys a soft cloth doll that they could cuddle up to was sometimes enough to get them through this solitary confinement. You’re not a monkey, but you and your partner do have the same need to be touched.

Part of that touching should take place while you’re having sex. Remember, though, that the art of arousing your partner through foreplay doesn’t mean just touching the genitals. You should pay attention to every square inch of your lover. Touch her hair, stroke his back, caress her legs, rub his feet. You can both enjoy the tactile sensations.

But this touching has to be a continuous process. You have to touch each other every day, several times a day, without any thought to having sex. You have to hug each other. Hold each other’s hands. Rub each other’s shoulders. Wash each other. All of that touching will bring you closer, so when the time comes to actually engage in sex, the experience will be heightened for both of you.

Don’t limit this touching to your hands. Play footsie and feel how sensitive your feet can be. Lie on top of one another and feel your lover with your whole body. Put your cheeks together — both sets! Don’t be afraid to explore.

Satisfy your partner even if you don’t feel like sex

Each person has a different sexual appetite, so no couple is perfectly matched. One person always wants more sex than the other. And as the years go by, those roles may even switch, and then switch back again.

What can you do about this? Help each other out, that’s what. You’re supposed to be lovers, so just because you aren’t in the mood for an orgasm doesn’t mean that you can’t help your partner reach sexual satisfaction. No law says that both of you have to have an orgasm every time.

Now, some women “fake it.” But you don’t need to fake it. You can very simply, out of love for your partner, help him or her have an orgasm in whichever way suits you best. If you’re a woman, and you want to just lie back, that’s fine. If you’re a man, you can use your finger, or your tongue, or a vibrator.

The point is, don’t force your partner to be sexually frustrated on a regular basis just because your sexual appetites are different. Remember, the Golden Rule applies to sex just as much as to every other aspect of life.

Adjust to changes caused by aging

If you put on some weight, do you go around with your pants unbuttoned or do you buy a new pair? If you’ve reached the limit of how far your arms can hold the newspaper, do you stop reading or get reading glasses?

As the years go by, your body changes, and some of those changes can affect the way you have sex. You can refuse to adapt; you may say, “If I can’t have sex the way I used to, I won’t have it at all.” But that’s just as ridiculous as wearing your pants around your knees. You can continue to have good sex, even great sex, up into your 90s, but you’ll have to make some changes in your sex life.

As they grow older, men lose their ability to have psychogenic erections, which means you’ll no longer have erections just by thinking about something sexy, and instead will need physical stimulation. But is asking your wife to fondle your penis really that bad? Instead of being ashamed, let yourself get carried away by it, learn to enjoy it, and work it into being a pleasant part of foreplay.

Post-menopausal women no longer lubricate the way they used to, and this problem can cause intercourse to become painful for them. This lack of lubrication is no calamity, however, because every drugstore sells very good products that can take the place of your natural lubricants and make sex just as enjoyable as it was before menopause.

No matter how well the years treat you, your body will undergo changes. But instead of letting those changes negatively impact your sex life, find out how to adapt to them and make sure that you continue to enjoy great sex your whole life through.

About This Article

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Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer is America's favorite sex therapist. Author of over 40 books and host of several TV shows on human sexual- ity, she frequently lectures around the world. Pierre A. Lehu has worked with Dr. Ruth for decades as publicist, writer, and friend.

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