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Hi, I’m Dr. Lindsey Doe. Welcome to Sexplanations.

In a past episode of this show, I talked about what the research has to say about great sex. Today we’re going to talk about my version of great sex -- what makes sex great for me! This episode is sponsored by, an online sex toy store where you can get all sorts of things for great sex.

Stick around until the end of the video for a special discount. Onto the great sex!


The research by Kleinplatz and colleagues identified these eight major components to “great sex” : being present, connection, intimacy, communication, authenticity, transcendence, exploration, and vulnerability. I like these, but I want to share my own checklist for great sex.

1. Give it six tries. Unless the sex is no good, very bad, must stop and never ever do it again, I recommend having sex six times with a person before concluding that it won’t be great. This takes the pressure off the first try and reminds everyone playing that it’s a new behavior -- of course it’s going to have some kinks to work out... or work in!

When my partner and I were first talking about sleeping together, he asked that I give him more than one shot at sex, so he could learn more about my body and how to please me. I offered six tries. Sex was great on the first, but my guess is that this is because we were in the mindset of learning and playing, not one-and-done, succeed-or-fail. Having flexibility to decide if we liked it and how to improve it made the sex better.

2. Phone sex first. Before taking off your clothes, try flirting on the phone. I know this is a big ask, especially for people who aren’t comfortable talking about sex, but you’re going for great sex here! If you really want it, you’ll have to be willing to say what you like and hear from others what they are or aren’t into. Doing this on the phone does two things: one, it builds sexual tension because you’re not right there cutting to the chase, and two, it cushions the vulnerability.

You can talk candidly about what you want without anyone feeling judged or rejected by uncontrollable facial expressions. The last time I started a relationship this way, I masturbated on the phone and described what I was doing to myself and how my body was changing. It gave the other person a sense that I know my body and I like pleasure: two very good ways to get great sex.

3. Play with yourself. I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to have intimate knowledge of your body, your unique arousal cycle, and what does and doesn’t turn you on. Partner play can be amazing but it will be more frequently and more consistently great if you figure out YOU and maintain a connection with yourself.

Masturbating is also an excellent way to pre-game. Rubbing one out before hanging out with your partner(s) can often mean that when you do have sex, you’ll be able to go longer, giving more time to explore each other’s bodies, and play around with different levels of arousal.

4. Have at least four options. Great sex, like great anything, includes the ability to improvise when things don’t go the way you’d hoped. For example, if a guest doesn’t show up on a late night show, the great host knows how to compensate. If strawberries aren’t in season, a great chef still knows how to garnish a cheesecake.

For me it’s usually that my hips get tired, or my wrists, so back-up options might include using a vibrator, changing to a position on my side, taking a break to read erotica, or receiving a massage.

5. Schedule sex. Before sex education became popular and people learned to plan sex like other aspects of their lives, the best sex was thought to be spontaneous. You’re hiking in the woods and bam, you decide to give a blowjob behind a tree. Great!

Spontaneous sex can be great, but it’s much more likely to have great sex when it’s on the schedule. It becomes something to look forward to, the vulva becomes wet closer to the time set aside for sex, and because you’ve thought it out, there’s less likely to be disruptions, conflicts, or false starts.

For example, you could decide on Tuesday at 7:30 and have a much higher chance at sex, let alone great sex, than “some time next week if it spontaneously happens.” Write it down, set an alarm on your phone: "great sex!"

6. Have sex more often. Like most physical exercise, the more you do it, the more you improve, with some limits. Yoga. Skiing. Swimming. Pingpong. Your body becomes more familiar with what to expect -- so it’s actually ready to go the next time around.

I try to do dance fitness regularly. When I miss a few weeks, I can still come back and get into it, but it’s SO much more fun and easy when I’ve been doing it consistently and I have control over my muscles and my alignment. Sex is the same: more often, more fun.

7. Aftercare. I speak at universities and conferences. It’s really exhilarating to be on stage in front of hundreds of curious people and I get a lot of energy from it, like sex. When it’s done, though, everyone goes home, and I come down off the high of speaking and get really lonely.

So just like with sex, the experience is greater for me when I have aftercare. At speaking engagements this is people who want to go out for food afterward or friends who can talk on the phone. For sex this is holding my partner for a short bit, getting up to pee, then holding them again as my body goes back to homeostasis. Again, for me, great sex is not party party party, come, off to work. It’s party, party, come, come, come, cuddle, cuddle, cuddle!

8. Compliment. Before, during, and after sex, give compliments. Say what you honestly like, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get it again.

Avoid making comparisons like “the way you touch my nipples is better than anyone I’ve ever been with” because it puts someone else down to put your partner up. And avoid attaching too much criticism onto compliments, like “the up-down strokes with your tongue were divine, but gah, it hurt when you bit me. It hurt so much!” This is a time to praise what you like and build self-esteem. Offer performance reviews but gently. Like, “I love how you hold my arms down above my head because I feel dominated. Maybe next time you can go a little lighter on the grip.”

9. Be honest. Not just in giving compliments, but in the relationship, in how you live. When people aren’t honest with me, my body does things to armor itself and protect me. This isn’t the case for everyone, but it’s also not uncommon. You might not be able to get an erection, or get wet, or relax enough for penetration. You might break out in a yeast infection or skin rash and wonder why? Body and or genital armoring is one explanation.

And certainly when my body is trying to guard me from another person, great sex is nearly impossible. The greater the honesty, the greater the sex. At least for me.

Lastly, number 10: stay curious. Part of what I enjoy most about great sexual experiences is not knowing what’s going to happen next, or what we might try in the future to keep things playful and interesting. It helps to ask myself, "What can make great sex even better? What needs improvement? What could I try next? What’s already worked well that I can include again? How might my partner feel about this?"

I love staying curious!

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