The Art of Sex and Being an Attentive Lover

naked Man and woman in love are kissing in shower

Sex is an intimate dance between the physical and emotional realms of experience. Many sex tips and techniques focus on the physicality of sex such as how to last longer during sex, how to orgasm during sex, or how to get or maintain an erection during sex. Although orgasms, erections and learning to last longer are influenced by both mind and body, we often focus on the body to the exclusion of the mind and the emotions.

In fact, being a good lover is about more than coming at the right time or having a hard enough erect penis. Unless you’re having sex for a quick release or a momentary experience of fun or enjoyment, you no doubt have a craving for connection, sensuality, eroticism or mutual pleasure.

The courtesan Kamala, in Herman Hesse’s book Siddhartha, taught Siddhartha that lovers should honor each other at the beginning and end of the act. Some tantric traditions stress the importance of making sex an honored “event”. The idea is that rather than retreating into the bedroom for a pants down/skirt up (or whatever your gender/clothing combo) quickie, you spend time together making sex matter.

If you’ve never or only rarely made sex linger and matter in meaningful ways, consider how you might do so. Why not:

- Go to bed early with your clothes on still, talk about each of your days, kiss and snuggle and, as it feels right, take off your clothes and truly pay attention to each other’s bodies, sexual response and pleasure. You might try sensually touching or massaging each other’s bodies before proceeding to sex. If you do, notice how your partner’s body changes as you touch it. Does it rise or fall in response to your touch? As you kiss him, does he become erect? As you kiss her, does she become more warm or wet? More flushed?

- Bathe together, making sure to tenderly wash each other’s breasts/chest, back, arms, legs, genitals, etc. Try to go about it slowly and with care, noticing how it feels on your finger tips and on your hands to caress your partner and how it feels on your body to be so tenderly touched.

- Read love sonnets to each other on the sofa, in bed or in the bath. Or email them to each other. I’m a long time fan of those written by Pablo Neruda but there are many good ones. Take turns choosing poems that speak to you and that feel as if they have something so salient and true that you absolutely must share them with the person you desire.

- Play music for each other. Again, sitting on the sofa or in bed, or – while in the bath – using your remote control for your laptop (for safety reasons, laptops shouldn’t get close to the bath), select songs for your partner that you want to share with them. If there’s a line or two of the song that speaks to you, say it, lest they misinterpret why you chose the song.

- In the middle of sex, if you’d like to inject feelings of passion or love or intimacy, change the way you are kissing your partner. Try kissing with more excitement or energy. Or try kissing slowly and with tenderness. If this is difficult for you, try to focus on the emotion that you would like to convey and hold that feeling in your mind as you change the way that you kiss.

Becoming a sensual, artful, entirely committed lover often takes time, practice and even more practice (which can be fun if you enjoy sex!). It also takes intention and a desire to please your partner to their core; not just to get off. It’s not that quickies are bad; in fact, they can enhance many people’s sex lives and be fun. But if you’re looking for something deeper or with more passion, consider how you might engage your emotions and your sensuality in sex.

Learn more in Dr. Herbenick’s book, Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Satisfaction, and follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor

Related MSP Posts:
- Can you masturbate too much?
- Why is it difficult for some women to orgasm during sex?
- Bleeding during sex: Common Causes and Solutions

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at