Dear Lovehacker, I’m young and career-minded. I don’t want a relationship right now, or even friends with benefits. I do want my sexual needs met, and I’m OK with accomplishing that through casual sex. That said, hookups just kind of happen and you don’t really get to talk about what you like and don’t like. Is there a good way to do that and make sure the casual sex I have is satisfying? Thanks, Troubled Trusts
You can never guarantee perfect sex. Sometimes you have an awesome experience with a stranger who knows practically nothing about you and you both just sync up really well. Other times you can have sex with a long-term partner and feel more unsatisfied than you ever have.
When sex happens, a lot of factors come into play that involve more than just your and your partner’s likes and dislikes. People engage in sex, both casual and committed, for a lot of reasons. You might feel incredibly horny, need to blow off some stress, have experienced a bad day and want to do something (and someone) you enjoy, be angry at your partner and want to sleep with someone else out of revenge, and so on. People choose to have sex for many reasons and — especially during a one-time hookup — you don’t know what reason you’re going to get. In a lot of ways, you cannot control for a positive or negative outcome.
That said, under most circumstances casual sex will take place, at the very least, because someone wants to have sex with and you want to have sex with him or her. Knowing of that likely attraction, you can use it to your advantage to make your one-time hookup more pleasurable for both parties.
Pick Partners That Suit You
Obviously you don’t want to sleep with someone you’re not really into, but under the right circumstances a lot of people can be convinced to change their mind. Enough compliments, persistence, alcohol, or a combination of the three might make you feel more inclined to sleep with someone you wouldn’t normally choose. While that may not become a disaster in every situation — some people will surprise you — you need to have a basic understanding of what works for you so you don’t pick people who will make a positive experience an extreme challenge.
When two people collide sexually, they may sync up really well. Those of us who are intuitive and decent judges of body language can often figure out if a potential sexual partner has the right number of characteristics. We all have some idea of what turns us on, consciously or subconsciously, so you should be able to figure out what works for you. If you don’t know, pay attention to what arouses you both physically and psychologically. While a hot guy or girl can start the ignition, more of what you find attractive in the throes of passion occurs in your brain.
If you really struggle with knowing what turns your crank, try a masturbation exercise over the course of a week. Set at least four times aside when you can have a sexual experience with yourself. Masturbate without pornography the first couple of times and with it the remaining two. This will allow you to see where your mind goes on its own when you’re engaging in sexual pleasure as well as what you enjoy in terms of visual stimuli. You may also learn a lot about what you don’t like, as some pornography will disgust even a lover of the medium.
Once you have this information stuck in your brain, you can apply it to who you hook up with. You don’t have to sleep with everyone who asks. Wait for the right guy or girl who turns you on both physically and psychologically. If you can clear that bar, you’ll greatly improve your chances of having a good time.
Communicate The Positives Above All Else
Once you’ve found a hookup partner, they may engage in various sexual techniques that you like or don’t like. When you like them, give positive feedback. General moaning might help, but words are much more clear. You don’t have to talk particularly dirty if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. You only need to give simple indicators like the following:
- I like it when you do that.
- That feels great.
- Keep doing what you’re doing.
None of those phrases are inherently sexual because all you’re doing is communicating with your partner about what works. If you want to talk dirty, along the lines of “your [insert genital] feels so good on/in my [insert body part],” you can. Regardless, keep it simple. You don’t want to talk forever. Your mouth is often better off doing something other than talking during sex.
Approach Problems Flirtatiously
I cannot stress the importance of positive communication enough. Not only do you get more of what you like, but it also reduces the need for you to say anything negative. If you tell your hookup partner what you like, they’re likelier to determine that no verbal feedback means “I shouldn’t do this anymore, he or she doesn’t like it.” That said, sometimes you have to tell people they’re doing it wrong. There’s a good way and a bad way to handle this kind of awkward moment.
First, you have to understand that someone who kisses you poorly or isn’t good in bed simply sucks at meeting your sexual needs. You may not like their approach, but there’s likely someone out there who would. Instead of telling them they’re doing sex wrong, guide them towards what actions would make sex more pleasurable for you:
- “Let’s slow things down a bit and take our time.” Sometimes the act isn’t the problem so much as the speed, so ask your partner to slow down a bit. You can say this flirtatiously so the point is that you want to really enjoy and savour the moment, not rush it away.
- Can I show you how I really like to be kissed? Everyone learned how to kiss a certain way, or just didn’t learn at all and guessed. If you want to be kissed the way you like to be kissed, offer to demonstrate. If you tell someone you don’t like what they’re doing or that you’d prefer something else, it may throw them out of the mood. You should still say what needs to be said, but if you propose a suggestion in the form of a question it gives them a chance to think about the option. They will ask themselves, “Do I want to learn this thing that turns my partner on?” Any sane person would say yes.
- I really like it when you do this. If they’re doing something you don’t like but it’s not causing you any pain or significant discomfort, you don’t have to call it out. Instead, show them what they can do that you really like instead. Replace the initial behaviour with one you prefer. As your hookup continues, they will remember that’s what you like and most likely choose it over the thing you stopped them from doing.
In most cases, some gentle instruction can go a long way to making your hookup a heck of a lot better.
Don’t Hesitate To Stop A Bad Thing
Of course, not all participants in casual sex handle these situations with grace and kindness. Sometimes you’re going to run into a person who’s selfish and doesn’t care about your sexual needs. Alternatively, you may just not enjoy what you’re doing and want it to end. If you feel this way, don’t hesitate to stop a bad thing. You gave your consent for casual sex, but you’re entitled to withdraw that consent if thing sour at any point during the process.
When you stop sex, don’t be a jerk about it regardless of how the other person behaves. You only have to say something like this:
I’m sorry, but I need to stop. This isn’t working for me anymore and I’d feel better if we just called it a night.
In some cases, this will be enough to give your partner the proverbial kick in the head they needed to ask you the obvious question: “what can I do to make this a better experience for you?” If they offer to make it better and you’re willing to give it another try, go for it. If not, or if they treat you poorly as a result, leave (or make them leave).
As I said in the beginning, you can’t guarantee perfection with sex because there are so many factors that are completely out of your control. That said, if you approach your hookups thoughtfully and communicate effectively, you’ll find that you can increase your odds of having a great time.
Lovehacker is a weekly relationship and sex column where our resident Agony Aunt answers your questions. Need help? Drop a comment below or email [email protected].