Sex - The New Rules

Think you should share everything about your past or never do the deed on date #1? Check out what single people really want now.

By Lisa Lombardi

hen it comes to having great sex, certain things never change—like the fact that you should use protection against STDs and turn down your answering machine to ward off unsexy distractions like your mom leaving a message. Even so, there are many maxims that may have made perfect sense years ago but need a little updating for today’s dating scene. To make sure your own approach to hitting the sheets is keeping current, see what single people like you are saying they really want in bed.

Old rule: Never have sex on the first few dates.
New rule: Have sex when it feels right, whether it's date 3 or 33.
Think a relationship is doomed if you hop into bed too soon? Hardly—these days, the only timetable you should obey are your own instincts. “If it feels right, you should go for
Think the relationship is doomed if you hop into bed too soon? Hardly.
it. Life is too short,” says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve. Indeed, having sex early on can be a sign there’s a real connection between you and that neither of you feels compelled to play the waiting game. “The only time I slept with a guy on our first date, I married him,” admits Katie, 33, from Brooklyn, NY. “In the back of my head I thought, ‘This isn’t what you’re supposed to do,’ but it felt natural, so I followed my gut.”

Old rule: Guys prefer to fast-forward to the main event.
New rule: Men dig foreplay more than you think.
“Men get a bad rap when it comes to foreplay, but a lot of guys love it and want to relish it,” says Ian Kerner, author of He Comes Next. In other words, the assumption that men are itching to jump into intercourse is a myth; in fact, one recent study by the University of New Brunswick found that men actually want more foreplay than they’re getting. So ladies, feel free to take your sweet time. “Remember that you don’t have to just focus on the pelvic area,” Kerner says. You can even backtrack to just kissing and hugging. You’ll be torturing him—in the best possible way.

Old rule: Don't talk about contraception too early—it may scare your date away.
New rule: Have “the talk” waaay before you get horizontal.
Of course you know to bring up the contraception and STD topic before you start having intercourse. But what you may not realize is you’re better off broaching the subject long before you even start to steam things up. Otherwise, Hutcherson warns, “you may be too sexually charged, and it will be too easy to say, ‘What the hell, just this one time.’" Begin the discussion while snuggling in the car or living room and, to keep the conversation complimentary rather than accusatory, say something like, “I really like you and think we might have sex at some point. If so, I’d like to use condoms/get tested for STDs.” If your date’s as conscientious as you are, he or she will be glad to oblige.

Old rule: Be 100-percent honest about your sexual past.
New rule: Tell each other relevant highlights—but not that your ex was bigger or better.
Swapping certain details is critical (see above rule). But no one wants to hear about your past escapades—especially if your former flames were better or more adventurous in bed, says Hutcherson. As a general rule, “never spill more than you'd want to hear back from
A recent study found that men actually want more foreplay than they’re getting.
your date,” says Julie Taylor, co-author of How Go Be A Dominant Diva. “If you set a tell-all tone, your date will just give you the same level of detail back—and do you really want to hear how his or her ex was a moaner or liked getting spanked?” All together now: No.

Old rule: Bad or boring sex means your relationship is doomed.
New rule: A little communication can help make so-so sex sizzling.
So you’ve finally bedded down together…and the experience was less than spectacular. Is it a sign that you two aren’t meant for each other? Not necessarily. People tend to be nervous the first few times, so don’t assume a lackluster experience spells more of the same in the future. Plus it can take time for two people to figure out each other’s likes/dislikes—and if you’d like to speed up that process, the best way to do so is to start talking. “The way to guarantee that sex will be good is to ask for what you want,” says Hutcherson. “Or, when your partner does stumble across something that you absolutely love, make sure you let them know it right away and with lots of enthusiasm!”

Old rule: Guys prefer to initiate sex.
New rule: Men love when women make the moves on them.
“It's a myth that guys want to be in charge all the time,” says Taylor. “Life and work are so stressful, it's a treat for him—and a turn-on—to just lie back and let his partner make the moves once in a while.” Just ask Tom, 32, of Tampa, FL. “When my girlfriend takes charge, it makes me feel wanted, not just like she’s going along,” he says. “Plus, because she’s in control, it takes the pressure off me.”

Old rule: The more experience someone has, the better in bed they’ll be.
New rule: Being good in bed all boils down to effort and enthusiasm.
“Someone can have a lot of experience and be the world’s worst lover,” points out Kerner. On the other hand, people with very few notches in their bedpost can be total tomcats in bed, provided they’re genuinely into their partner and gung-ho to please them. After all, everyone’s tastes in the boudoir are different, so the same technique that worked wonders on one person doesn’t guarantee it’ll satisfy someone else. Keep an open mind, simply ask, “What do you like?” and you’re well on your way to an incredible night.

Lisa Lombardi is a writer and editor based in New York. She's contributed to Redbook, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.
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