In this post, I discuss what women generally want in a romantic relationship. It is great as a discussion starter within your relationship, and also provides valuable information for men who want to understand their wives better.
It can also help women clarify and express their feelings even if they have previously been unable to verbalize or articulate to their husbands why they feel misunderstood or unhappy.
However, that post was a general overview, and I often get asked by male clients for a more specific version of what women want as it applies to sex. In this post, I cover what I have learned from both my 38 years on this planet as a woman and from talking to hundreds of female clients about their sexuality, desires, and preferences.
Here are 6 unsexy things that women want in bed:
1. Take charge behavior
Many women are too shy to suggest it, but really want a man who takes charge in bed. In that post, I wrote:
“Most women who feel like they are the CEO of their house do not also want to be the CEO of the bedroom. (Of course, if your wife is more dominant in bed, you’ll already know, because by definition she will be acting more that way.)
Dominance can mean anything from a man who directly expresses his desire (women like men who are open about how much they desire them) to full-on BDSM-style dominant behavior.” (My rule of thumb for male clients is to continue increasing the level that you act dominant in bed until there is any complaint. Often this gets quite a bit more extreme than the man ever would have predicted that his wife would enjoy.)
Women are trained by society not to express any disapproval of their male partner’s sexual techniques, and also that women who enjoy being dominated consensually in the bedroom are somehow traitors to the feminist cause (and of course, the irony is that not being able to express your opinions in bed is much closer to being anti-feminism than getting tied up because you like it).
This can lead to many men saying they are sure that their wives wouldn’t be into even moderately rough sex play, and it turns out that their wives are not only into it but are very interested and excited, as well as appreciative that it was introduced without they themselves having to initiate a request for it. Of course, if a woman is averse to this idea, let it go. Consent and mutual enjoyment of your sex life are paramount.
2. Morning or afternoon sex
Many women are so exhausted by the end of the day that sex is the last thing on their minds. In fact, many women are even disgusted by sex at this time, since their testosterone is at its lowest level of the day. Testosterone peaks in the morning for both men and women, so that is an ideal time to have sex.
If a woman is worried about the kids coming in in the morning, install and use a lock on your door, and start training your kids early so that when the door is closed or locked, Mom and Dad are busy or want to spend time alone and give them a concrete alternative for what to do, like go downstairs and watch TV until we come down to you.
Afternoon sex is another great option for women who are too tired at night. If you have a flexible schedule and can both arrange to work from home, this is a wonderful way to be close without either exhaustion or child interruptions sabotaging you. If you are concerned about the light, draw the blinds, wear lingerie, and/or recognize that most men are so excited by a naked woman that it doesn’t dawn on them to catalog your ostensible physical flaws.
Most women cannot have sex when they are stressed out, unlike men who frequently have sex in order to feel less stressed.
For most women, a back rub or a foot rub is the best way to relax. This will only work if the man is actually good at giving a massage and does it for longer than 10 minutes. (If a man is so good at this that it puts his wife to sleep, she is often in the mood the following morning because she feels so warm toward him for being physically generous with her.)
Many women will not ask for a massage because their husband complains about it, and also, they associate a massage with a 5-minute cursory back rub that leads to a sexual request. The irony is that after a good massage, many women would initiate sex themselves, but the man never knows about this because they stop after 5 minutes and their wife is so frustrated that she just turns off to him completely.
Note: use massage oil or lotion so that your hands don’t hurt and so it feels better for your wife. She may also give you more massages if you use lotion because it’s easier on the hands.
4. More talking or less talking
There are many women that are turned on by talking in bed, but their husband thinks they feel the opposite because they aren’t saying the things that turn their wife on. Also, some women like talking as part of foreplay but find it distracting when they are closer to orgasm.
If you want to know what your wife likes, you can ask her, but this may get you nowhere fast. A better approach is to ask her to find an erotic story that turns her on and share it with you. If your wife is highly verbal, intelligent, and loves to read and talk, then it is likely that there is some type of talking in bed that would arouse her and enhance her experience.
In general, as with everything in bed, as women become more aroused, they are less inhibited, so the same woman that is disgusted by you saying something sexual in the kitchen when she is cooking dinner may be responsive to the same comment after 20 minutes of foreplay.
On the other hand, there are many women that need an elaborate fantasy, or at least a montage of erotic images, in their minds in order to get aroused or orgasm, and when you talk it disrupts this slideshow in their minds and irritates them.
5. Better and more varied sexual techniques
Again, most women have unfortunately been trained by society not to criticize men. If you are a man and just fell out of your chair from laughing so hard, let me note that I am no fool and I know your wife criticizes you incessantly about your parenting and housework, but for some reason, the same woman that will outright tell their husbands that they are crap at parenting will not ask these same men to touch them differently in bed.
Many women just find this too awkward and fear it will be too hurtful toward the man. Therefore, many women have really specific things that they want more of or less of, or that they hate (even how the man kisses!), but the man is not given this invaluable feedback, and, instead, the woman just becomes more and more disappointed and eventually entirely detached during sex.
If you are a man, whether you have been with your partner for 20 days or 20 years, ask her in bed, to show you how to give her an orgasm, to show you how to touch her body during foreplay, and to show you how to kiss her. Don’t ask her what you’re doing wrong, because she will say, “Nothing.” If you tell her, with openmindedness, genuine curiosity, and sexual interest, “Show me what to do,” then many women will in fact give you the Rosetta Stone to unlock them.
Along these same lines, many women are bored to tears by a man doing the same things to make them orgasm that he has been doing for 10 years ever since he learned how to please her. Try other things, touch other body parts, or ask her to do new things for you.
If you are focused on her, confident in your suggestions or attempts at new activities, and if you make her feel good physically and emotionally, your wife may well be responsive to a wider range of ideas and activities than you’d have guessed.
6. Sex as an escape from life
The common theme in the lives of most married women ages 30–60 is that they feel stressed out.
Sex can be an escape from the banalities and frustrations of life, and your bedroom can be a respite from everything that makes your wife unhappy or irritated. In order for this to happen, there needs to be a lot of emotional foreplay during the day, which continues through the first few minutes (at least) that you are in bed together in the evening. If you want your wife to see you, and sex with you, as an escape from life, you need to build positive associations with yourself, sex, and your bedroom in general.
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A good first step is to have a rule of no phones in bed, or if you can’t get there immediately, no phones after a certain time.
You need to look at her with love and speak to her in a loving tone. During the day, you can email or text her loving and sweet things, and you can add in sexual things once it has been established that you have fun and loving back-and-forth daily correspondence.
If you focus on your wife and making her feel loved and secure, and you outright broach the idea of your bedroom as a haven and respite from stress, which is for both sexual and emotional connection, you may be surprised at how receptive she is to this idea, since most women yearn for nothing as much as relief from the constant demands of life.
If you’re a woman, and any points in this post resonate with you, use the piece to spark a conversation about sex with your intimate partner.
Most men love to get information about what they want in bed; Often, men who seem completely incurious about their wives’ thoughts and feelings in other areas are extremely and openly curious about their wives’ sexual desires.
And if you are a man reading this, send it to your wife with a request for her to tell you which of these numbered points apply to her. (That’s why I numbered the points, for ease of response even for shy people.) If she writes back with any numbers at all, or even a smiley face, or even that eye-rolling face, follow up later in bed and ask if any of it applies to her at all.
dr Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of Dr. Psych Mom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.