Men's Health Guide to the Best Sex in the World


Use the F-Word: Foreplay

British men take their time, according to our survey results. Maybe it takes longer to penetrate that famous British reserve. Or maybe, as British expert Emily Dubberley suggests, they've been shamed into it. “There was a very popular British television show in the early 1990s that had a woman going around asking men on the street to point to the clitoris on a diagram. It was shocking because practically no one could point it out, and it shamed a whole generation of men into teaching themselves how to touch a woman's body.”

British men also have some stiff competition: 50 percent of their women own a sex toy. “British women are told by women's mags that foreplay is something they should expect, and if a bloke doesn't do it, he's a selfish lover and not worth dating, so it could be down to women demanding it. There's a new breed of feisty and sexually confident women in the United Kingdom who are demanding foreplay, so men have no choice,” Dubberley adds.


Average length of foreplay (in minutes):


United Kingdom  












Czech Republic



United States



World average


But if the reactions of our experts are any indication, even men with the most impressive numbers still have some work to do. “There are still lots of British men out there who try to get away with the bare minimum—and lots of women who put up with it,” says Dubberley.

Their Australian counterparts, second in the survey's foreplay department, display the same dichotomy. At the same time that they claim to have a slow hand, “Aussie men have a very high sexual ego; they expect women will go crazy over them, even when they have daggy shorts, zinc cream on their nose, and have spent all evening drinking with their buddies,” says Jan Hall, PhD, an Australian psychologist and the author of Sex-Life Solutions, who specializes in relationship and sexual issues.

Indeed, many of the steamiest and most creative foreplay stories, games, and tricks we heard were from French women—perhaps not surprisingly, given the French devotion to the art of love.

In this chapter, you'll learn everything you need to drive her wild in anticipation of your lovemaking—and some surprising reasons why foreplay is your best bet for more fulfilling sex as well.

“The Secret”

One Englishman who does speak well for the foreplay prowess of his countrymen is Ian, a Brit who now lives and runs a real-estate company in Bali. He provided probably the most knockout piece of sex advice we heard during the research for this book—and he claims that it came from a now-forgotten cheesy sex paperback he read when he was a kid. “I call it The Secret. I never have sex with a woman unless she is begging me for it. Literally. Never. Not when I know she's ready, not when she's making noise and grinding my leg. She has to beg me, or grab me with her hands and physically put me inside of her. Even then, I make her wait if I can. And whenever a woman tells me I'm the best she's ever had, I know it's because of The Secret.”

Ian says he has received gifts from other men, so grateful were they for this piece of information. (We'll demur from printing his address here—if you're similarly inspired, pay it forward.) But we're not surprised that this technique has worked so well for him and the guys he's shared it with. If there's one single thing, more than any other, that we hear women say about sex, it's that intercourse happens too soon, and too fast. And yet, there's considerable evidence that learning to slow down and enjoy the scenery makes better sex for both parties.

Consider the evidence:

The Argument for Foreplay, Part I (for Her)

“Men are always in too much of a hurry,” says Robert Santo-Paolo, a French sexologist and psychologist who runs the Web site “It's a habit which they must always fight against. They are in a rush to bring a girl home, in a rush to have sex, in a rush to achieve penetration—and sometimes in a rush to leave!”

Women, on the other hand, love foreplay. Certainly, the experts are unanimous: “Don't rush to penetration,” says Mabel Iam, the Argentinian psychotherapist, television host, and author of Sex and the Perfect Lover. “Women really appreciate a bit of time where they feel caressed and loved, and don't feel rushed into sex,” says Christine Wheeler, a British psychotherapist and sex columnist for Netdoctor UK. “Take your time, and really focus on her pleasure,” says Mary Taylor, a former exotic dancer in Toronto and the author of Bedroom Games. “Make it about pleasing her, and you will reap the rewards.”

As it turns out, there are real biological and psychological reasons why all this dinner and dancing is such a necessary ingredient for her in great sex.

1. It's a segue. Real life, tragically, isn't sexy. And yet all too often we expect our partners to make a seamless transition—from harried mom, overworked small-business owner, official worrier-about-the-wasp's-nest-in-the-corner-of-the-garage—to the tantalizing courtesan of our dreams.

But great sex can't happen if she's got one stiletto still firmly planted in the world of snacks for soccer practice. Foreplay allows both of you to make the transition between “real” life and a more magic space.

This is especially important for women. “In my research, I've found that there are literally hundreds of things that can shut down a woman's arousal process, from worrying about work and kids to whether or not their legs are shaven,” says Robin Milhausen, PhD, assistant professor at Canada's University of Guelph and the host of the Canadian sex talk show Sex, Toys, and Chocolate, a no-holds-barred TV show about sex. ”Obviously, that's a really problematic situation for men. So it's very helpful for them to know what they can do to help their partner to stay actively engaged—excited, enthused, and passionate.” And what they can do is make sure that there's lots and lots of time for a woman to get into the groove.

Foreplay allows both of you to make the transition between “real” life and a more magic space.

This is a fundamental part of the ancient Tantric sex experience, which always begins with a ritual. Tantric ritual provides an excuse for playfulness and helps to change the atmosphere, say Stephen and Lokita Carter, experts in the ancient Indian tradition of Tantra and the authors of Tantric Massage for Lovers. “A ritual can transform being with our mate into a sacred experience that is nourishing and heartwarming.”

Before you get all worried, there's no chanting involved; in fact, the ritual can be very simple—as simple as making eye contact. All you need to do is effect that very important break with the outside world, keeping her focus where you want it—on you and what's about to happen between the two of you.

2. Foreplay closes the gap. It's math. Women take longer to become aroused. Without some stimulation before the main event, she'll just be getting warmed up as you're rolling over for some z-z-zs. Bear in mind that most women can't come from intercourse alone. “Since the number of women who reach the climax just by vaginal penetration is limited,” says Spanish sexual therapist Miguel Cuetos, “men need to forget about coitus for a while and concentrate instead on sexual games beforehand, so that she can have one or more orgasms—even without penetration.”

The quality of her orgasm will also be better if you take your time. “For me, a little time spent teasing is the difference between a totally toe-curling orgasm and one that's just okay. Not that I'm complaining, either way!” says Enes, a wine salesperson in Portugal. “You don't take your expensive sports car from zero to 60 in the winter, do you?” asks Japanese-German sex educator Midori, author of Wild Side Sex. “If you want the best performance, you warm it up first.”

3. It syncs her up. Great sex is essentially a battle between two parts of the nervous system, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Her sympathetic nervous system is what kicks into high gear when she's confronted by a bear or Brad Pitt in a G-string. Her pupils dilate, her heart rate speeds up, she breaks out into a light sweat, and heavy breathing begins.

But her parasympathetic system is what calms her down enough to enable her to have an orgasm—and it's really important for women. In fact, a Swedish study discovered that it was totally impossible for a woman to have an orgasm if the part of her brain that processes anxiety was activated. In short, great sex is essentially a combination of stimulation and relaxation—a difficult balance to achieve. That's where foreplay comes in.

4. Communication. Her orgasm, while important, is not the sole point of foreplay, or sex in general.

“Foreplay is more than a collection of techniques designed to arouse your partner; it's a negotiation about the level of intimacy and meaning of what comes next,” says Caroline Hurry, a sex writer in South Africa.

British sex journalist Megan Roberts points out that foreplay is the hands-down best way to get to know your partner's body—what she likes and doesn't like, what makes her crazy, what leaves her cold. “No matter what you might read in magazines, orgasm isn't the sole objective. Concentrate instead on getting to know her, and her body—and tell her equally what she can do to turn you on.”

So that's why foreplay is so important for her. And of course your primary motivation is to make her happy—in sex, and in all things, right? But, as you'll see, foreplay isn't entirely a selfless act: It really does benefit both partners.

The Argument for Foreplay, Part II (for You)

Foreplay is one of those cases where what's good for the goose is indeed good for the gander.

1. What's good for her is good for you. The more foreplay you engage in, the more she's going to enjoy the sex, and the more she enjoys the sex, the more sex she's going to want to have. So you win right off the bat.

And don't forget that the more turned on she is, the more likely she is to agree to more creative positions or fantasy play. “Spend extra time focusing on each other's body and your intercourse will be more action-packed,” says San Francisco–based sexologist Carol Queen, PhD, author of Exhibitionism for the Shy. The skilled knowledge of her body that comes with good exploratory foreplay will surely come in handy during your next quickie, allowing you to rev her engines more quickly.


Worried that too much foreplay is going to make your gun go off as soon as you touch the trigger? It's less of a concern than you think—more relaxed sex actually gives you better control.

Worst-case scenario, you continue the “her pleasure” theme and pull out for a minute to give her a little exclusive attention while you get yourself together. So slow down and enjoy the ride.

2. Better sex for you! You've heard the old saw: “Sex is like pizza; even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.” Foreplay is what makes the difference between the tired slice of cardboard you buy at a train station because there's nothing else, and the world's best Brooklyn pie straight out of the brick oven—when you have a hangover. Why settle for “just-okay” sex when you can have “best-ever” sex every night?

If you've ever been teased, you know that the longer you hold off from direct genital contact, the better it feels when it happens. And staying aroused for a long time before ejaculation is the ticket to a mind-blowing orgasm. You'll never settle for what's under the heat lamps again.

3. Sex is fun again! “What are you talking about? Sex is always fun,” you probably thought after reading that sentence. But is it? If you're being completely honest, you'll readily acknowledge that there's quite a bit of anxiety that goes along with sex in the modern world. Am I big enough? Am I going to stay hard? Am I doing it right? Does she like what I'm doing?

But of course, there's no such thing as “doing it wrong.” As Michelle Grahame, the managing director of, a British company that sells adult games and toys, says, “Sex isn't about bits and pieces—doing this or that to her G-spot for x number of minutes. It's about intimacy, imagination, and two people having a bit of fun!” Foreplay is a chance to increase the pleasure you get out of your sex life without feeling like sex is “work.” By making exploration and discovery the goal—as opposed to how to get one another off in the least amount of time possible—you remove some of the anxiety that's crept into our sex lives—and bring some fun back into it.

4. Who said it had to be all about her? It's worth mentioning that although we sometimes tend to think of foreplay as exclusive attention to her, many women find the idea of pleasuring you an exciting way to begin the lovemaking process. “I must be very oral—I get wet in 30 seconds when I'm down on my lover,” muses Nikita from Corsica. And that's pretty much all the foreplay we'll be needing today.

So think of foreplay as going into extra innings, not a rain delay. And use these tips from around the world to make the preamble to sex as good as it can possibly be—for both of you.

How Long Is Long Enough?

According to a study by the University of New Brunswick in Canada, foreplay lasts an average of 12 minutes, and women would like it to go on for an average of about 18. Emily Dubberley's bare minimum is higher: “Do give her a decent amount of foreplay—at least half an hour—before even thinking about asking for a shag.” In actuality, we suspect that some exaggeration is at work, even at the low end of the spectrum. From what we've heard, 12 minutes is a pretty long time, especially for a couple who have been together a long time.

But perhaps a by-the-minute approach is the wrong way to think about it. Dee McDonald, the founder of The Centre for Sexual Wellbeing in London and Sussex, says that she'd really like “people to forget the concept of ‘fore’ and simply play more throughout their sexual activity. If you remove the concept of foreplay, so that both people present are responsible for their own sexual pleasure as well as that of their partner, a greater variety of sexual experience is possible.”

Press “Play”

A great deal of the advice in this chapter sounds like we're suggesting that you play games with your partner. Guess what? That's absolutely correct.

Games can greatly enrich your desire for one another.

You might think games seem contrived, or unnecessary. After all, you're both adults; if you both want to have sex, what's stopping you? But in fact, games can greatly enrich your desire for one another and the gratification you feel when that desire is finally allowed to come to fruition. And that's true whether you've known each other 2 hours or 20 years.

No, you don't have to play naked charades. But you can—or whatever you want that will bring a sense of play back into your sex life. Which delivers us to the most important piece of advice in the whole book, right here, in this sentence: Have fun with one another.

Tease her during the cab ride home. Flirt with each other at dinner until your kids roll their eyes. And when you take her to bed tonight, make it as good-humored and lively as you can. Play strip poker. Strip Old Maid. (Strip Snap? Okay, maybe not.) Listen to music. Tell her silly jokes, or dirty ones. Mess around with her body because you're curious, not because you're following the pleasure textbook. Hang out in bed afterward because it's fun, and who knows what the rest of the night will bring?

“Enjoy the thrill of your mutual sexual attraction,” says British expert Graham Masterton, former editor of Penthouse and Penthouse Forum and author of The Secrets of Sexual Play. “Find lighthearted ways of arousing each other.” In this chapter, you'll find a lot of ways to do so. You certainly don't need to incorporate all of them—or even a small percentage of them—into one session with your partner. Nor do you need to proceed in the way they are presented. Mix and match them; try one tonight, save another for later. Use them as a launching pad for ever-greater explorations, or return with gratitude to the tried-and-true things that make you feel cozy about one another.

The only rules for the following games?

You Can Touch Her Anywhere You Want—Except for Her Genitals

Ah, there's the rub—or not—and it's a big one. And you know what? This is an experiment you're almost certain to fail. But we're pretty sure that by the time you give in and give up, your failure will have made the rest of your evening a rousing success.

Foreplay Starts LONG Before the Sex Does

Many men think foreplay starts when the two of you are actually beginning to mess around. (Actually, lots of the women we interviewed think too many men think foreplay means asking, “Are you awake?”—but never mind.)

Realize that the more work you do outside of the bedroom, the less you'll have to do when you're in it. “It's really the thoughtful things you do at nonsexual times that make a woman want you,” says Paul Joannides, author of Guide to Getting It On! And Mabel Iam reminds us that “a caress actually commences before any physical contact takes place, with a smoldering glance, a whispered sweet-nothing. The hands come later.”

“There is a very sweet section in the Kama Sutra about all the things that couples can do to ‘cultivate your love,’ but what Vatsyayana is really talking about is increasing the intimacy that makes sex great,” says Julianne Balmain, San Francisco–based coauthor of The Kama Sutra Deck: 50 Ways to Love Your Lover. What's surprising is how contemporary these ideas sound, even thousands of years later: admiring the new spring flowers, drinking fermented beverages at your friends’ homes, going horseback riding in the country—all pretty good date ideas, aren't they?

One of the most effective forms of foreplay is “just to have a nice time!” points out Christine Webber, a British psychotherapist and sex columnist for Netdoctor UK. “If you surround the sex with things the two of you enjoy together, by the time you get to bed, the intimacy's already going to be there, and the two of you are really going to be in the mood.” Whether that's going for a walk or to the movies, having fun together outside of the bedroom is one of the best foreplay tips we know.

Women—and you, by extension—really benefit from a long lead time, because they get off on anticipation. In a recent survey, women admitted fantasizing about sex up to twice as often as men do. If you're like most of us, this comes as quite a surprise. The key is understanding that men and women's fantasy lives are different, says Karen Donahey, PhD, director of the sex- and marital-therapy program at Northwestern University. Unlike your wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am numbers, hers are long, interactive scenarios. “The best thing my boyfriend can do to make my shift short at work is to tell me how we're going to do it when I get home,” says Kyoto, a Japanese waitress.

Here are some strategies to keep her at a slow simmer all day, making it very easy for you to bring her to a rolling boil when you're finally in the same room.

Not the spreadsheet from marketing after all. First, begin the seduction when she's unattainable—you're both at work, she's stuck in traffic. “It could be a sexy e-mail or a voice-mail,” says Birgit Ehrenberg, a sex columnist in Germany.

Sending her a dirty e-mail during the day can indeed be a very effective strategy. First of all, you've got the thrill of the unexpected on your side, especially if you usually use your Blackberries to communicate about the less erotic details of life, like daycare drop-off schedules and who's going to pick up the rotisserie chicken for dinner. This time, when she hears the familiar bing to tell her she's got mail, let it be something that will make her cheeks burn and her panties wet.

“I texted the man I'm seeing to tell him that I'd meet him at 7:00 p.m., and he texted back, ‘Perfect. I should be deep inside you by 7:30 p.m. then. Can't wait.’ The anticipation of what was going to happen later that evening had me throbbing with desire all day,” says Emma, a British publicist.

And if you're sending it to her at work, instead of worrying about what that creep in IT is thinking about, use the restrictions to your advantage by speaking in a code that only she'll understand. You spent last night licking every inch of her? “I think I missed a spot.” You enjoyed an early-morning quickie before catching the train? “I can still smell you.” It's been a while? “There's no escape; you're going to be begging me for mercy tonight.”

One couple we know both work at home; they regularly IM each other wicked suggestions from their respective home offices until they can't stand the tension any longer and meet up in the bedroom. Is their electronic lead-up a corner that they could cut? Sure—but where's the fun in that?

Don't be surprised if you find that she's considerably more forward in her e-communications than she is in person. It's easier to say what you really want, and in the naughtiest way possible, when you aren't face to face. In fact, if she's a little self-conscious during face-to-face conversations about sex, then e-mail—and written communications in general—can be a way to talk about fantasies or for her to make a special request that she might not otherwise feel comfortable enough to ask for.

“You're so inappropriate!” And that's what makes it great. Yes, you'll get points for whispering sweet, nasty nothings into her ear as you're taking her clothes off in the privacy of your bedroom—but it's even better if you catch her just before you head off to play golf with her father.

“At my office drinks party, my husband found me alone and began talking dirty to me in a completely conversational tone of voice,” says Paula, a social worker in Ireland. “These were some of the filthiest things I'd ever heard come out of his mouth, but his body language and tone were totally normal; you would have thought we were talking about whether it would cost more to have the cooker fixed than to replace it. It took my breath away. I couldn't even wait until we got home.”

What do you want her thinking about as she sets off down the aisle at her best friend's wedding: the flowers, or what you're going to do with her later? And truthfully, isn't it just a little hot to know that you're the reason the bridesmaid keeps fidgeting under the huppah?

Delay your gratification. Sometimes the best thing in the world is wanting something you can't have. So get both of you all sexed up—and then leave it there. “Women love to be surprised,” says Mabel Iam. “When she's dressed up, ready to leave, hug her from behind, and turn her on.” She'll be thinking about you all day.

“I strongly recommend that couples use ‘start-stop’ techniques—turn each other on, then walk away, picking it up again later,” writes the Australian-British expert Tracey Cox in her book Quickies: Sizzling Spontaneous Sex. “You could effectively have 10 foreplay ‘sessions’ in a day, without ever following through.”

Drop her off at her door after a wonderful evening, leaving her with a deep, passionate kiss and nothing else. Make out like crazy teenagers right before your guests arrive for brunch. Shower together before you go out for dinner—and no matter how convincing she is, keep your pump primed for later.

A little something to remember you by. Don't get caught thinking short-term on this delayed gratification thing. You may not like the idea of being apart for that business trip, but you can take the sting out of the separation by using it to your advantage. After all, lovemaking delayed a day is delicious—lovemaking delayed a week or two will make her too explosive for carry-on.

Let's say she's leaving for a week. Pack her a snack for the plane, with a sexy note inside. Stick a pair of your boxer shorts into her suitcase, with a card telling her that they're a little something to remember you by.

Is that a pool cue in your pocket? Meeting at the corner bar for a burger and quick game of pool like you do every Wednesday? Fine—but tonight, tell her that the winner gets to come first. Or gets tied to the bed. Or gets to tie the loser to the bed. Or whatever—the details of the wager are between the two of you, and limited only by your imaginations.

This is, incidentally, a very good way to find out what she really wants. And don't be surprised if you spend the rest of the night a little uncomfortable, especially when she leans over to take aim at the corner pocket.

Give her something to plan. This one is especially good if you're looking for insight into what makes her purr.

Christine Webber recommends that you ask her to set the menu for love. Say: “I'd like to take you to bed later today, and I want you to decide everything we're going to do. If you'd like a half-hour of kissing or oral sex or to be tied up or to tie me up—you tell me what you want, and I'll make it happen.”

This is precisely the kind of gentle domination that can work very well in your favor—not to mention that she's going to be fairly well-heated by virtue of the time she's spent thinking about the possible permutations and combinations before settling on her order.

“This show was brought to you by . . .” There's nothing more relaxing than watching television together, but it can be a damper on the sex life. Unless you turn those regularly sponsored commercial breaks into mini-make-out sessions, instead of hitting the fridge for another beer during the commercials.

Here's one of our favorite strategies for getting through one of the shows she loves: Hit mute as soon as the ad starts, and spend 2 minutes on a different part of her body each time, getting progressively naughtier with each one. Start at the back of her neck, move to the small of her back, the inside of her thigh, her breasts. Be scrupulous about sitting up and stopping when the show comes back on, no matter what she offers you to continue. Don't let her touch you at all.

Turn those regularly sponsored commercial breaks into mini-make-out sessions.

She'll be totally primed to go by the time the credits roll. Note: It's not our fault if you start getting into Ugly Betty.

Do something; expect nothing. If there's one thing that's guaranteed to pay dividends in the future, it's doing something really, really nice for her, with absolutely no expectation that you'll get anything in return.

You'll find lots of things in this chapter that she'd really enjoy if they weren't the prelude to more. So, one day, when you know she's in need of a little TLC, take sex off the table. Run her a bath. Give her a foot rub. Give her a whole-body rub with the scented unguent of her choice. Wrap her up in her cuddliest pajamas, kiss her on the cheek, and put her to bed. Then go take the coldest shower of your life.

“It's really important to me that my wife doesn't think that every time I do something nice for her, it's just because I want to have sex,” says Jorge, a doctor in Spain. “Yes, of course I want to have sex with her. But I can wait, too.” It's delayed gratification to the nth degree—and we guarantee you'll thank us for it tomorrow.

Appeal to ALL Her Senses

The Kama Sutra recommends that a lover prepare his room with incense, soft pillows, gentle lighting, and fresh flowers. Sound familiar? Yes, it's true: Soft lighting, mood music, and scented candles are hackneyed old clichés. Except, like most clichés, they're clichés for a reason. “It takes time and lots of ingredients—smells, tastes, sounds—to heat us up,” says Marta, a lawyer from Greece.

We're agreed that great foreplay is the art of striking the right balance between relaxation and stimulation. By appealing to each one of her five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch—you can have a dramatic effect on the state she's in by the time the two of you hit the bedroom.

Here are our suggestions for the five.


“It's age-old advice, and might seem corny, but you can never underestimate the positive impact of making the room look nice before a date,” says Patricia Taylor, PhD, founder of “When you set up the space, you're putting her in a relaxed state of mind.” She particularly recommends tidying the room and making the bed. “It sets the tone and shows that you're sensitive to what she cares about. A pile of laundry in the corner is an unwelcome distraction, and you want her to concentrate.”

Once you've removed the eyesores, dim the lights. She doesn't want every crevice and bump illuminated like you were going to perform surgery. She wants to look pretty. If you assure her that she is, and if the lighting is sufficiently gentle, you can have your cake and watch it too.

How to achieve the desired effect? Don't throw a T-shirt over the lamp, like your roommate used to in college. The smell of scorched cotton is not an aphrodisiac, and there are better ways to act out your girlfriend's fireman fantasy. A candle—scented or not, depending on your preference—brings some of the feral heat of the wilderness into the bedroom. “We let the wick get really long so that the flames really flicker—it's like having sex in a cave,” says Jessica, a Brit who lives in Cairo.

(By the way, the National Fire Protection Foundation would like to remind you that 40 percent of US home candle fires begin in the bedroom, causing 30 percent of the deaths resulting from these fires. So if you light them, make sure that someone stays awake long enough to blow them out, okay?)


Having a woman strip for you was one of the most cited fantasies across the board in our survey. But it might surprise some of you to learn how many women wish (a) that a man would strip for them, (b) that men would understand that undressing is not only an important milestone on the road to getting some, but a very sexy end in itself.

This was certainly true for the geisha, according to Jina Bacarr, author of The Japanese Art of Sex. A geisha isn't just wrapped up in mystery and tradition—she's wrapped up in about 27 feet of fabric. And yet, she is the ultimate sex symbol. “The excitement is in the undressing,” Bacarr says. “It's what they can't see under a geisha's elegant refinement that fascinates men, like finding a hidden treasure.” It can take hours to unwrap all those layers.

So here's everything you need to know about taking off her clothes—and your own.

Leave it on. The first thing to know is that you might do well to keep some of her clothes on—for a while, anyway. As you've probably noticed, a lot of the clothes that women wear are made of fabrics that feel really good: a cashmere sweater, silk panties, a satin blouse. Use that knowledge for good. For instance, remove her bra—but not her sweater. Her nipples and cashmere will soon be getting along famously. Let her grind up against you, using those cotton panties for friction. Run your hands up and down those slippery silk or nylon stockings. You may have to buy her a new pair if you snag them, as you inevitably will. Look on the bright side—how many things can you think to do to her with a pair of ripped stockings?

Slow down. When it's time to take things off, don't be in a big hurry. Stephanie Wadell, MA, who has been a sex surrogate partner for 10 years, says it's important to slow the process. “Undressing is a lost art,” she explains. “Most people start making out on the couch, go into the bedroom, undress themselves, and get into bed. But if you do everything slowly and respectfully, even going so far as to ask permission to take things off, it'll increase your passion and desire.”

Talk to her. Heighten her anticipation by telling her how much you've been looking forward to it. “You looked so incredibly hot tonight; I can't believe I'm the guy who gets to take you home.”

Compliment each part lavishly and specifically as it is revealed, and spend a good amount of time in wordless worship. “My lover and I play a game where he inspects me for a ‘perfect part’—some part of my body that looks or feels ‘perfect’ to him on a given day,” says Isabelle from Paris. “He explores my whole body with his fingers or with his mouth, ‘rejecting’ my hipbone, the inside of my elbow, the part where my breast is heaviest. Of course, he has to feel and lick and kiss all of them for the sake of the evaluation. It's very scientific.” Parfait!

Hold steady. When you finally get to disrobing, do it slowly, and maintain eye contact with your partner. The best way to make sure that your expression says, “I am going to show you the best time of your entire life,” and not, “I wonder what I won on the Giants tonight”? Think about sex. Not in the abstract, either, but in the very juicy, hard, throbbing particulars.

Pink lightbulbs are widely available at drug- and hardware stores, and the light they cast is much more flattering than the typical flat-white bulb. Consider outfitting a small by-the-bed lamp with a pink lightbulb in a low wattage. When you do, set it on the floor; light from below is more flattering.


The sounds of sensuality can be as stimulating as touch, as memorable as visual recall. A catch of the breath, a shocking phrase, or a growl is one of the greatest in-the-act aphrodisiacs of all. Here are some of the ways that you can build her arousal with this rich sense.

Erotic Sounds

“Hearing my girlfriend sucking when she's down on me is an incredible turn-on,” says Lorenzo, a filmmaker from Italy. “The louder and sloppier the better.”

Erotic sounds can be a way to dip your toe into the vast and wonderful pool of dirty talk, says Lynne Stanton, the author of Dirty Talk. “Start by ramping up your repertoire of erotic sounds. Try making new noises at different volumes and see how it turns on your partner—and yourself! Your new deep moan or whispered ‘m-m-m-m-m-m-m’ might just inspire your partner to bring out some new words and sounds, too . . . and may be just the thing to get you talking really dirty next time.”

Almost everyone who makes a lot of noise in bed agrees that making noise makes sex feel better.

And if you're too shy to even moan and groan, engage in a practice round or two. “If you're feeling shy making new sounds with your partner, try testing them out by yourself first, when you're (you know) ‘flying solo.’ You can experiment on your own, seeing which sounds get you hot and making them part of your own erotic repertoire—all from the privacy of your own bed. Then, bring them into the action the next time you're with your partner. They'll already be sexy to you!”

Which raises a good point: Sexy noises are sexy for your partner, but almost everyone who makes a lot of noise in bed agrees that making noise makes sex feel better too. “I've had several men tell me they were embarrassed to make sounds during lovemaking, believing only women make them. But after they've experienced the qualitative and quantitative differences of erotic excitement that the orgasmic sounds can produce, they accept the idea with more enthusiasm,” says Carla Tara, a Tantric educator who was raised in Italy and who teaches in New York, California, and Hawaii.

Dirty Talk

Scores of women enjoy some dirty talk—it allows them to get outside themselves and become uninhibited. “When he asks whether I want him inside me, while teasing me there with his fingers, I melt inside,” says Mary, an Australian nurse.

“Sketching out a sexually explicit fantasy in tremendous, juicy, explicit detail to my girl is worth about 20 minutes of oral—even on my cellular on the way home!” says Camerino from Mexico. “She's ready to come as soon as I am.”

You can also use dirty talk to introduce new concepts into your love-making. What as-yet-unexplored erotic areas appeal to you? This is a sexy, unthreatening way to let her know that you want something you haven't done together before, like a threesome or anal sex, and to test whether or not your partner is willing to join you in making those dreams a reality.

Or you can use dirty talk to explore taboo subjects—those things like sex with a slutty teenager or with someone else watching—that you would not necessarily like to do, but very much like thinking about. The same thing goes for attitudes toward your partner. Your wife may be a distinguished jurist and mother of two by day, but by night she can be a dirty little girl who's left home without her panties again—if you say so.

Remember, the erotic use of words in the bedroom doesn't have to sound like a running list of the words you can't say on network television. With the right intonation, even hearing something as simple as her name can send thrills down your lover's spine. And for some women, just hearing their partner vocalize during lovemaking can be an enormous turn-on. “My husband says ‘Oh God, Oh God, Oh God’ in our language whenever he's about to come,” says Marina from Brazil. “Now when I masturbate, I think about the way he says it, and it pushes me over the edge.”

Check out the “Dirty Talk” section in Chapter 13 for lots more information about using your voice to best advantage, as well as “Naughty Berlitz” on page 266, where you'll learn to say all those four-letter words to her and still sound like you're ordering a bottle of the finest champagne.

Love Talk

Neither does all talk in the bedroom have to all be nasty. “Whisper in her ear, whether the words are wild or sweet,” says Mabel Iam.

If the spirit moves you, it can greatly increase the level of intimacy and the emotional connection to tell her exactly how you feel about her. Tell her how much you love her, what you like best about her, how happy you are that she is in your life, how proud you are of her accomplishments, how glad you are to be her man.

“I'm not good at love talk, but it's much easier for me to say a lot of the things I feel when we're in bed together,” says Miguel, a hotel worker in Puerto Vallarta. “I know she really loves hearing the things I say.”

Mood Music

The connection between music and sexual arousal is as old as the hills—and as new as whatever's slamming out of the car speakers passing your house right now. Music integrates your brain's emotional, rational, and movement systems in a way that nothing else does.

And indeed, most of us intuitively know that music can affect our sex lives in a positive way. But all too often, we rely on the same old discs we've been screwing to since high school. “I can literally—literally—time my orgasm to the last song on Al Green's Let's Stay Together. I don't ever listen to it, except when I've brought someone home,” says Dan, an Australian real estate lawyer.

We asked John Kale, the founder of Blush Records and the author of Sex between the Beats: The Ultimate Guide to Sex Music, to explain music's powerful sway over our sexual brains. Kale first understood music's impact when he was working as a DJ at an underground Los Angeles sex club where couples and single women could find other couples for sex. “What would it take to get you extremely sexual with strangers?” he asks. “Music was the only tool I had, and I found that what I played made a tremendous difference on the floor.”

What Kale turned into a book: “I came to the realization that intelligently programmed music is the most effective aphrodisiac on the planet, bar none. It's also cheap, harmless, and legal. What more could you ask?” Although the correlation between music and sex seems clear, what is it that makes music so effective as a sex aid?

Kale cites two factors: rhythm and ambiance.

Rhythm: Everyone has, at one time or another, found themselves humming along to the elevator music, or tapping a foot to the repetitive sound of the printer. Kale says that's because when there's a dominant pulse in the environment, every other pulse in the room moves toward matching it. Music, obviously, has a pulse—and so does sex. “When you have a sexual partner who is feeling your natural rhythmic pulse and responding to it, the chances for mind-melting, finger-in-the-socket, exploding orgasmic ecstasy go up a thousandfold. You are literally grooving together.”

But men and women have different arousal cycles. How can you make sure you're marching to the same drummer? By giving yourselves a musical pulse that you can both tune in to—one that slows you down and speeds her up. “You can absolutely manipulate the pulse and tempo of sexual coupling through music,” says Kale. “This is an extraordinarily powerful energy that you can control.”

Ambiance: Music also contributes to ambiance, the mood or feeling of the room—something Kale manipulated through music time and time again in his 20 years as a professional DJ. The mood of a piece of music can create a similar mood in you and your partner.

“Music can mask unpleasant feelings or pump great ones up to even higher levels,” Kale says. “With a considered choice of musical selections, you can literally orchestrate an erotic experience like a conductor conducts an orchestra.” Sounds good to us.

His advice for putting together the sex playlist of all time? “Treat sex as a three-act play, instead of a one-shot deal, and program accordingly.” The three acts? Romance and Seduction, Bedroom Play, and Afterglow. You can find playlists for each of the three phases in Sex between the Beats. But he's also put together an exclusive playlist of songs for us from all around the world that are guaranteed to get your pulses racing in unison: the “Sexy World Music Mix” on page 46.

Keep it going. When you hit the bedroom, set the CD player to repeat; a sudden silence can be deflating. If everything is going well, you won't mind listening to those songs again—and again, and again.

Hook it up. The iBuzz is a music-activated vibrating sex toy that you can plug into any MP3 player. The louder the music, the stronger the vibrations, and it comes with “his” and “hers” attachments. Gives new meaning to what was going on in those iPod commercials, doesn't it?


Aromatherapy has been around, in one form or another, for 5,000 years. “The natural nourishing art of aromatherapy can certainly stir passion,” says Australian aromatherapist Judith White, author of Homespa Aromatherapy.

Modern aromatherapy is largely believed to have developed in Germany, where the medicinal use of herbs and plants is much more mainstream and widespread than it is in the United States. Aromatherapy is much more widely used in Europe as a result, but we believe that this is a tradition well worth bringing stateside. “With just a few drops of essential oil and a little imagination, you can give your love life a wonderful new dimension,” says White.

After working with essential oils for more than 40 years, Dr. Daniel Denoel, a French researcher and the author of Natural Home Healthcare Using Essential Oils, absolutely believes that scent can add a whole different layer to lovemaking. “We have neglected our sense of smell. Using essential oils allows us to regain the lost power of this sense, and its capacity to stimulate all the other senses.”

So add scent to your seduction repertoire. It's the kind of detail many women don't expect men to have a handle on, as Rolf, an architect originally from Frankfurt, Germany, points out: “American women go crazy when they find out I know something about scent. In my country, it is not a big deal, and even doctors use oils all the time.” And you may be a little surprised at how much changing the smell of a room can change the ambiance—and her mood.


John Kale, author of Sex between the Beats, put together a Men's Health Guide to the Best Sex in the World exclusive: a playlist of music from all over the world, designed to bring a slightly exotic flavor to your lovemaking.

A few words before the list: We are creations of our culture, and music is a big part of our cultural awareness. That can sometimes make it difficult for us to cross out of our musical comfort zone. “Americans happen to groove to a four-beat-to-the-measure pulse; a Greek or Indian person does not,” says Kale. “Unfortunately, if music is too culturally different, it can become a distraction instead of an erotic facilitator—not what you want at all!” Of course, you can get used to other beat structures, and they can even become highly eroticized for you if you begin to associate them with fantastic sex. But if having better foreplay and sex tonight is your goal, then a musical style wildly different than your own is probably not the best place to start.

This list was put together with that in mind. Courtesy of Kale, here are some songs and entire albums that have the flavors of foreign cultures, but enough familiar elements that you can enjoy them tonight.

Collection of world electronic grooves suitable for sex: Le Groove Eclectique, mixed by Mark Gorbulew (Max Music)

African: Princesses Nubiennes by Les Nubians (EMI/Virgin)

American: Six Erotic Journeys by Mystic Ocean (Blush Records); Objects of Desire/The Best of Blush Records by various artists

Brazilian: Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim (A&M)

British: Love Deluxe by Sade (Sony)

Caribbean: Wild Orchid soundtrack (Sire/London/Rhino)

Chinese: “Energy Awakens” from the album Prayers of the Flesh by Mystic Ocean (Blush Records); Oriental Sunrise by Riley Lee (Narada)

French: French Kiss by various artists (Intent City)

Indian: Kamasutra: Shah Featuring Al Gromer Khan (Eversongs)

Latin: Sensual Sensual by B-Tribe (Atlantic/Wea)

Middle Eastern: “Sensuous Rendezvous” from the album Under a Lover's Moon (Blush Records); The Best of Natacha Atlas (Beggars UK–Ada)

Spanish: Nouveau Flamenco by Ottmar Liebert (Higher Octave)

Blush titles are available at

The following are some of the scents most strongly associated with love, sex, and intimacy:

image Ylang-ylang flowers are spread on the beds of newlyweds in Indonesia. This scent is a powerful aphrodisiac, used across many cultures.

image Vanilla is derived from orchids, and although the name is a synonym for boring, straight sex, it shares a root with the word vagina.

image Jasmine is the most important flower in Indonesian wedding ceremonies, perhaps because of its deliciously heady scent.

image Sandalwood is considered to be a sexual stimulant in Nepal and China, and in the Ayurvedic tradition of India.

image Roses are what you're holding a bouquet of when you show up for a first date. For centuries, the essences of this flower and its wood have been the perfumes worn by goddesses, literal and figurative.


As with music, there is a strong connection between sex and food that crosses time and cultures. In fact, food and sex are appetites so intrinsically linked that we often use the same words to describe both: “tantalizing,” “juicy,” “sizzling,” “caliente,” and “hot, hot, hot.” Even the stereotypes we have about certain cultures are connected to their foods—a Latin lover is as dangerous as a habanero, while the sophisticated French lover draws out foreplay like one of the classical sauces it takes him 3 days to prepare.

Food can be sexy, but there may be a simpler, more biological explanation for the mental connection we make between the two things: We need calories and nutrients to energize us for what can be quite an athletic expenditure!

Feed her. Eating is a fundamentally sensual act, and done properly, it can be a very sensuous one: anything bite-size will do for feeding one another—just make sure your fingers are clean, and that they linger long enough in her mouth to give you an idea of how she'll put that tongue to good use later.

The European men we talked to made explicit the connection between the way a woman enjoys food and the way she'll be in bed.

Americans have a great deal to learn from the Europeans on this count, according to Ava Cadell, PhD, a Hungarian-born, British-raised expert who has traveled and taught widely throughout the world: “Bonding with food means taking your time and savoring each bite of a meal. Turn it into a sensual ritual. Enjoy the aroma and the taste of the wine as part of the whole experience.”

Preview her appetites. Tune in to the right signals during a dinner date and you'll satisfy more than just your palate. Certainly many of the European men we talked to made explicit the connection between the way a woman enjoys food and the way she'll be in bed. “A woman who enjoys food and good wine, who has a discerning palate, who is experimental in her tastes? This is a good lover,” says Alejandro from Madrid. “When she took a bite of my dessert, stopped, and closed her eyes for a minute, I knew she was going to be a tiger in bed,” says Lorenzo, an Italian filmmaker.

Candida Royalle, a producer of femme-friendly adult films and a veteran adult-film star, agrees that her appetite at the dinner table can be a barometer of her appetites elsewhere. “Watch how she uses her fork. Does she enjoy things? Is she sensuous? Is she poky and grabby?” she says. “If someone eats slowly, it's likely that they like to make love for a long time. I'm one of the slowest eaters I know.”

Dessert is the big tell. Does she snack stoically on her chocolate mousse, or does she close her eyes and moan softly, savoring the velvety texture? “This means she appreciates the sensual, hedonistic side of life,” says Sandor Gardos, PhD, a sex therapist and the founder of “She's just had an orgasm on her tongue,” agrees Laura Corn, author of 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex. “Piggyback off that.”

Be moderate. Just don't eat too much, as British expert Sarah Hedley sensibly warns in her book Sex by the Numbers. Order wisely—foods that are overly rich or decadent will leave you feeling bloated and listless. And bear in mind Shakespeare's wise counsel that alcohol dramatically provokes desire—and just as dramatically reduces performance. You probably already know what it does to you, but did you know that it has similar results on your lady friend? Women who have been drinking report less sensation, less lubrication, and (unsurprisingly, with all that) fewer orgasms. So quaff moderately. And if you need a libation for the side of the bed, try mixing a small amount of juice with an effervescent soda water—you'll get all the bubbles of champagne, with none of the disappointment.

Kiss her. Pass an ice cube back and forth until it melts away to nothing at all. Try this same trick with a piece of candy, a strawberry or almost-overripe mango, or expensive chocolate. The Israeli company Max Brenner Chocolate by the Bald Man ( features a chocolate egg called Magnet, designed specifically for this purpose—as you pass it back and forth between your lips, it slowly melts, revealing a secret filling. Or pass wine, sake, or champagne from mouth to mouth until you have to lick the insides of her cheeks for the last drop.

Try the fruit of her loins. Strawberries and raspberries have been known as “fruit nipples” for centuries—use a few to show what you're going to do to hers. Make a decorative line of blueberries down into the cleft of her bottom and use your tongue to retrieve them. Freeze a bunch of grapes, and run them lightly down her back, over her tender inner thighs, or dangle them so they touch just the very tips of her nipples.

Serve breakfast in bed. There's nothing more decadent than morning lovemaking—but it can sometimes be difficult to stoke the fires of passion. The Argentinian sex expert Mabel Iam suggests breakfast in bed. “The aphrodisiac that is perfect for both sexes is bananas or plantains,” says Dr. Iam. “Since ancient times, the banana has been lauded as an important fruit for a healthy body and mind, and has even been believed to stimulate erotic energy. German studies have highlighted their high levels of protein, calcium, phosphate, vitamins, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and glucose, which are essential to regulate brain functioning, and they have a positive effect on serotonin levels like no other fruit or vegetable.” Treat her to warmed banana-nut bread, which has an aroma that, according to one study, increases bloodflow to the vagina. Instead of coffee, serve her hot chocolate (a sexual stimulant). And bring a bowl of raspberries and strawberries for yourself, to replenish the zinc you lose when you ejaculate—5 milligrams, or a third of your daily requirement.


Settle in—we're going to spend some time here. After all, this is what it's all about, isn't it? Everyone is affected by touch, especially when the body interprets the sensation as being sexual in nature. And, strangely enough, erotic touch not only stimulates the desire to be touched again but makes you view the person who's touching you in a more pleasurable light.

It's all due to a hormone called oxytocin that researchers sometimes refer to as “the love hormone.” Oxytocin is released when the body is touched. Its effects are significantly enhanced by estrogen, a hormone that women have in greater quantities than men; this heightened sensitivity may be why women seem to be so much more sensitive to touch than men are, says Marianne Legato, MD, New York–based author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget.

As foreplay progresses, oxytocin levels continue to rise, making nipples, genitals, and all the other erogenous zones more sensitive. By the time orgasm approaches, the amount of the hormone in the blood is three to five times the normal level. And afterward—guess what? It's oxytocin that's responsible for the feel-good afterglow you bask in after orgasm.

So oxytocin, the greatest aphrodisiac of all, can't be bottled—only unleashed. Touching—and lots of it—inspires the desire for more of the same.

Whatever the reason, it certainly seems to be true that touch is the way to her heart. This opens up a whole world of sexual play, because there are as many different ways to touch as there are people to touch. We'll “touch” on some of them here.

Hold steady. “Women are soothed and relaxed by a constant, smooth continuous touch,” says Patricia Taylor, PhD. And that's true no matter how you're touching her—whether you're stroking her body, performing cunnilingus, stimulating her manually, or anything else. “If touch is jerky or discontinuous, a woman has a hard time dropping in to the experience,” Dr. Taylor says. “Continuous touch puts her into a relaxed, open, receptive frame of mind and allows her to surrender to the sensations she's feeling.”

Master the foreplay of the periphery. Imagine a dartboard. Now imagine that your partner's genitals are the bull's-eye at the very center of the dartboard. That's a male point of view. You probably wouldn't mind if a woman walked up to you and grabbed your crotch; in fact, you'd probably find it quite exciting. But you're a guy. Perhaps the biggest difference between the sexes is in the way women wish to be approached.

“Women want to be touched in ever-smaller circles,” says Taoist sex expert Rachel Carlton Abrams, coauthor of the Multi-Orgasmic Couple. French sexologist Robert Santo-Paolo agrees: “Most women hate it when a man starts out by caressing their breasts or their sex.”

Midori coined the phrase “the foreplay of the periphery” for the best way to approach the physical seduction of a woman, and we think it's perfect. “Start around the edges, and work your way in,” she says. “I teach a workshop in sensual foot massage, and men invariably have one of two reactions. They're either like ‘What does this have to do with sex?’ or they really get that it's the scenic route of the path to seduction. Those are the ones that are having great sex, and having it all the time.”

The key, then, is to focus on the erogenous zones: the non-genital areas of her body that experience heightened sensitivity and result in sexual arousal when stimulated. Her ears. The small of her back. The backs of her knees. Her ankle bones. Her arms. Her armpits. A man should know at least 10 hot spots that drive her wild, says Dr. Ava Cadell—think of these as the colors that you'll blend together to create your sexual masterpiece.

Here's the thing: These erogenous spots are different for every woman. For one woman, the feeling of her toes in her lover's mouth is enough to make her come—even with no genital stimulation at all. Another recoils in horror, and it leaves yet another completely cold. So you're going to have to do a little trial-and-error experimentation on your own model. Simple exploratory techniques—a kiss around the earlobe, a stroke between her toes—will help you find them. To give you a head start, here are some of the more common erogenous zones.

image Her ears: Some women can take or leave this—others will do anything you want if you do it right. Try this: Stiffen your tongue and run it very lightly around the rim of her ear. Then suck her earlobes, alternating a firm pressure with a feathery-light one. If the firmer pressure is working for her, try a nibble or two. Remember to take the occasional detour over to that incredibly sensitive area behind her ear where her neck turns into her head. Brushing your nose over this area is a great way to drink in what the French call her cassolette, her unique odor, released particularly when she is aroused. One of the things that makes this so sexy is the feeling of your breath on her neck and the sound of your heavy breathing in her ear. Please note: Women in general prefer not to receive a wet willy.

image Her neck: The neck is home to some very important blood vessels, so it's in our best interest for it to respond quickly when touched. This, of course, is an undeniable asset in the bedroom. Start with a feather-light touch, so gentle you're barely making contact. Brush your lips all over it. See if you can locate her pulse, then gently hold your lips against it. As she gets more excited, your kisses can become more aggressive, even progressing to gentle nibbles and bites if she seems enthusiastic. But the love-bite, or hickey, is something probably best left in high school. Don't forget the nape of her neck: The area between her shoulders and where her hairline begins is one of the most deliciously erotic spots on her body, for both of you. Try brushing your lips a quarter of an inch away from the surface of her skin, so that you're only touching the fine hairs at the back of her neck. Do this while reaching around to gently fondle her nipples, and we guarantee you'll drive her wild.

image Her hair: There's nothing like long, flowing hair to get your motor revved—and women love to have theirs played with. You can tell, because they're always playing with it. “My boyfriend will sometimes lean across the table and gently brush my hair out of my eyes. I would never make him self-conscious by telling him, but I think it is so sensual!” says Marie-Chantal in Lyons, France. Brushing a woman's hair for her can be a very erotic experience for both of you: “I grew up brushing my hair 100 strokes every single night. I have no idea whether it does anything for my hair, but it feels spectacular—especially when my husband is working the brush!” says Anja, a holistic health practitioner in Germany. “Needless to say, sometimes we don't get all hundred strokes in. . . . “

In a poll of 3,200 men, 76 percent said they have shampooed their woman's hair.

It's worth noting that in a poll of 3,200 men, 76 percent said they have shampooed their woman's hair. And damned if they're not on to something. “Choose a fragrant shampoo and swirl your fingertips around her scalp with the warm, sudsy water,” says British psychologist and sex advisor Dr. Pam Spurr, author of Naughty Tricks and Sexy Tips. “The massage and smells will help her relax, unleashing oxytocin.” Rake your hands through her hair using the very tips of your fingers (a truly insane amount of conditioner will facilitate this; do make sure long hair doesn't become entangled), increasing the pressure every time. It might feel like you're scalping her, but her groans of pleasure will surely convince you otherwise. Make large and small circles on either side of her head. You can even pull the hair slightly—and very gently—right at the root to intensify the sensation.

So go ahead, do what you want to do anyway: Pet her. Smooth her hair while you're driving, run your hands through it while you're kissing her, or grab a hank of it and wrap it around your wrist while you're having sex, so she feels like she's really yours.

image Her tummy: In Taoist sexuality, the line between her pubis and her belly button is rife with all kinds of sexual power spots. Many women are self-conscious about this area, so you can win major points simply by paying some fond erotic attention to it.

image Her perineum: Guiche. Grundle. Landing strip. Taint. You probably spent a good amount of time on the playground blowing chocolate milk through your nose about this one, but it's time to grow up. That little patch of skin between the things “it ain't” is a virtual wonderland of sensation, for both of you. Don't leave it out of a massage, whether with your hands or tongue, and experiment with different types of pressure to see what she likes. If she's uncomfortable about the idea of anal play in general, leave this until after a shower, when she'll be less self-conscious about hygiene. And reassure her ahead of time that you're not going to do anything penetrative without a discussion first. That gives her the luxury of relaxing into the sensations instead of wondering every second if you're going to roger her, as our British friends say. Speaking of British friends, Sarah Hedley, author of Sex by the Numbers, advises that “men and women who find their rears are responsive to stimulation but don't like the idea of anal penetration will find this is the next best thing, as pressure applied here can be felt within the anus.”

image Her lips: Is there a more suggestive or erotic part of the body? There is a high concentration of nerve endings in the lips, and the skin there is exquisitely thin—the result is one of the most sensitive body parts. Perhaps because of their similarity to her other lips, which are not usually quite so accessible, they are also one of the most alluring, and are often decorated as such; in ancient Babylon, semiprecious jewels were smashed and used as lipstick; Cleopatra covered her lips with carmine made from crushed beetles. (According to Don Voorhees, author of Quickies: Fascinating Facts about the Facts of Life, it is believed that lipstick was first worn by Egyptian prostitutes who specialized in fellatio and wanted to “advertise” their talents.)

The Art of Erotic Massage

Massage has been used therapeutically for centuries to relieve tense muscles, to alleviate stress, to speed the elimination of waste products, to improve bloodflow, and—yes, simply because it feels good. Every culture in the world has a rich tradition of massage: Anma and Shiatsu in Japan, Tui Na in China, Lomilomi in Hawaii, Shantala in India, bodywork in Thailand, and Swedish massage from Sweden (although it may have been a Dutch masseur who popularized the techniques). Ancient Greek and Roman doctors prescribed massage; Egyptian tomb paintings show people receiving them.


Sex flush, a pinkish look to the skin of her chest, occurs during foreplay. It stems from changes in blood pressure and circulation, along with pulse and respiration rates. Think of it as her coy way of telling you that if you keep doing what you're doing, you just might get lucky.

Another sign that things are working: A woman's breasts grow by as much as 25 percent as things turn hot and heavy. And Mabel Iam, Argentinian author of Sex and the Perfect Lover,suggests that you pay close attention to her breathing. “If the pace increases, you're on the right track. Otherwise, keep trying.”

With your partner, massage can be an astonishingly intimate and sensual experience. It's certainly one of the best forms of foreplay out there, for the following reasons. The best foreplay combines a deep state of relaxationwith a high level of stimulation—not an easy balance to discover and maintain, but one that can be very precisely achieved through erotic massage.

The best foreplay combines a deep state of relaxation with a high level of stimulation.

“You need to know only three things to give a great massage,” says Barbara Carellas, sex educator and author of Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century. “How to breathe, how to touch, and how to ask for feedback.” But a little knowledge (and a little practice) can elevate your game. Before we begin with a discussion of technique, we'd like to share two pieces of slightly counterintuitive advice that came to us courtesy of our experts.

1. Don't try to do two things at once. “The messiest, least satisfying sexual situations for me have been when I was trying to give to my partner who was simultaneously trying to give to me,” says Carellas. “When I was trying really hard to give, I felt that I wasn't a very good lover if I couldn't get my partner to lie back and enjoy what I was offering. Then when I was trying really hard to receive, I felt guilty—guilty about taking too long to come, guilty about receiving more than I was giving, guilty about receiving too much pleasure.” After facilitating more Erotic Awakening workshops than she can count, Carellas has come to an interesting conclusion: “I can safely and surely say that most people find it much easier to give than to receive.” Ironically, most people love giving to a receptive, willing partner who's truly enjoying herself or himself—something we unwittingly cheat them out of in our haste to give them pleasure as well. Her advice? “When you're receiving, go totally into receiving. Receive it all. When giving, go totally into giving. Give everything.” She makes the important distinction that neither is an entirely passive position. “As the receiver, you are participating; it is not something someone is doing to you. When it is your turn to receive, it is the giver's job to ask what you would like and how you'd like it, but it is your responsibility to say, ‘A little harder,’ or ‘A little softer,’ or ‘I would like something completely different. . . .’”

2. Focus on your own pleasure. “Concentrate not on how what you're doing feels to her but on your own sensations,” says Charla, a Tantric practitioner who specializes in the art of erotic massage and the author of Erotic Massage: Sensual Touch for Deep Pleasure and Extended Arousal. “Focus on the way her skin feels under your fingers, the way her body looks when you touch it. Touch for your own pleasure, not for hers. In this way, you'll really get something from the experience—besides a very hot partner, of course. And by being ‘selfish’ in this way, you let her off the hook, so she can concentrate on her own erotic sensations.” French sexologist Robert Santo-Paolo agrees: “Think of your own pleasure, since if you are not turned on, a woman will sense this and you risk lessening her excitement.”

Like everything important, giving a good massage requires a little preparation on your part. Here's what you need to know.

Keep it warm. Heat means sweat-soaked bayou sex (neon sign and saxophone music optional), while deep winter equals—well, the dreaded cuddle. It's impossible to relax if you feel even the slightest bit cold. So keep the room warm—around 77°F, warmer than you think is comfortable when you're fully dressed. You'll just have to find another way to get her nipples perky.

If you live in a chilly climate and have an electric blanket, this is the perfect time to use it: Set it on “low,” and cover it with a towel so she can lie down on it.

And watch those hands! If you have a warm heart but chilly extremities, blow on them or rub them together before touching her.

Get naked. Most people feel that there's a disruption in the power balance if one of you is clothed and one of you is naked. If you're naked, you won't get oil on your clothes. And you won't hesitate to use other parts of your body—your chest, your whole arm, your legs—to help out your hands. If you sense that she's not comfortable—because she's either cold or insecure about her body, do as a professional would: Move a towel or folded sheet to cover the places you're not focusing on.

Blindfold her. Eliminating one of her senses heightens the rest even further. Humans focus on the information they have. So if you remove the visual information she has, she's going to be forced to concentrate much more closely on the stimulation her other senses are receiving. A blindfold might sound kinky, but it doesn't need to be—in fact, Japanese-German sex educator Midori says that the best starter blindfold is in the seat pocket in front of you: an airline sleep mask. (She swears by the black one you get if you fly Virgin First-Class. Just so you know.)

If you don't have a sleep mask, use anything soft—a silk scarf or a rag ripped from a soft old T-shirt. Make sure she's not lying on the knot, and don't tie it too tightly—her comfort, the suggestion of sightlessness, and the feeling of the fabric against her skin are all considerably more important than a total black-out effect.

This is important: Being blindfolded can be disorienting. Don't leave her alone for any period of time. (In fact, many erotic massage experts suggest that you maintain contact with her by touching at least one part of her body at all times.) Don't do anything to surprise or alarm her while she is blindfolded—for instance, although a variety of sensations is the point, dripping ice-cold water if she's not expecting it can be more than she bargained for. And no tickling!

Tell her to be selfish. Many women find it difficult to fully relax and take their time; let her know that this is her time to embrace selfishness with both hands. Tell her that you will get the most pleasure from seeing her relaxed and aroused under your hands, and that you expect nothing in return—not even her orgasm. Charla suggests making this explicit by saying something like: “Your job is to drink in every good feeling I give you. I'll check in with you; don't worry about a thing. Just lap it up shamelessly and we'll switch turns later.”

Additionally, let her know that you welcome her feedback and want to know if there's anything you can do to make the experience more pleasurable for her. “This new guy I was seeing gave me this amazingly sexy massage, but I had to pee the whole time!” says Lola from Berlin. “It completely ruined it for me; instead of relaxing, I spent the whole time trying not to wet the bed. He had this whole thing set up, and I just couldn't bring myself to interrupt him.”

Reassure her that it's okay for her to talk about what she likes and doesn't like—and to tell you if she needs a bathroom break! But in general, keep talking to a minimum: Speaking brings the pedestrian into what should be a very special experience. Try to rely on nonverbal cues instead.

Grease her up. A small bottle of real massage oil is a good investment. If you're caught short, raid the kitchen: The oil you use for cooking is a good substitute. Warm it either by microwaving it for a couple of seconds or by holding it in a warm water bath. Shake the bottle and pour the oil into your own hands before putting it on her body. Bear in mind that oil can be messy. Many couples who regularly give one another erotic massages reserve a sheet and a set of towels for precisely this purpose. “Just seeing them in the laundry basket makes me juicy,” says Marta, a professor in Guatemala.

Warm your hands. Tantic experts believe that the warmth you create when you rub your hands together is actually energy that you will then transfer to your lover's skin when you touch her. Rub your hands together vigorously until you create heat.

Keep her awake. “Keep her focused on the erotic nature of the massage, not the relaxing, sleep-inducing side of it,” says Dr. Queen. One way to do that: Straddle her so that she can feel that you're hard. Have her open her legs so that she's spread-eagled—the position itself can be very erotic, especially if you take a break from that fantastic backrub to nuzzle gently between her legs.

Hit the hot spots. You don't really need us to bring your attention to these special spots—but she'll be glad you know where they are.

image Rear end: Professional masseurs know that while tense back and shoulders get all the press, the gluteal muscles (otherwise known as her ass) store just as much tension, and they're a little more fun to rub. Get lots of oil, and start with long, slow strokes. Although it will be tempting to stay right on her ass, it will feel better if you follow through to her lower back and down to her upper thighs. Glide your hands up and down her back, moving your thumbs closer toward the center of her back. Rub your hands up and down the cheeks of her butt, making big circles that go out to the large muscles that run down the sides of her hips. Repeat these strokes—she's enjoying them! Because the butt is covered by a layer of muscle and fat (you'll want to omit this detail when you're explaining this technique to her), this area responds to a much firmer touch. In other words, this might be the time for a playful, gentle slap or two as well, if that's something you both feel comfortable with—the blood rushing to the surface will heighten her sensitivity to touch. If you've experimented with anal play before, glide your thumbs down between her cheeks. Using lots of oil, massage the outside of her anus very gently. If she's enjoying these ministrations, you may want to insert the tip of your finger—again, very, very gently. After a little while, return to rubbing the large muscles of her ass, hips, and thighs.

image Feet: “Some women can have orgasms just from having their feet rubbed,” says Bob Schwartz, PhD, author of The One-Hour Orgasm. “When my lover rubs my feet, it makes me feel like he's my slave,” says Maria from Argentina. Midori thinks this is such an important technique for relaxing a lover that she teaches a whole workshop on the subject.

In some people the middle toe has a direct nerve connection to the genitals.

Obviously, the art of a great foot rub is one worth learning. There are 26 bones in the foot, and they are protected by very little in the way of fat or muscle, so a touch that is too aggressive can be very painful. At the same time, the feet are intensely ticklish if the touch is too light (a sign of how rich in nerve endings this area is). So, it's essential to strike the right balance. The most important thing to remember is to gradually build pressure. No grinding allowed—especially on the arch or any other bony area, probably the most common mistake. But you do want to keep the pressure firm. Cover the whole foot and ankle with oil or lotion, massaging fairly gently. Don't hesitate to go up her leg a little farther, toward the calf.

When one foot is thoroughly greased up, do the other. Go slowly. Return to the first foot. You're going to increase the pressure slightly now. Put both hands around the foot, fingers on the sole and thumbs along the top. Starting at the ankle, squeeze your hands, drawing them down in long strokes toward the toes. Keep your thumbs between the tendons (the ribs at the top of her feet); too much pressure directly on them can be painful. Repeat this action a number of times, moving your hands so that your thumbs and fingers are touching a different area on her foot with each stroke. Now use your thumbs to make small, firm circles on the bottom of her foot. You can use more pressure on the heel than on the ball. Again, be very careful about the arch. If she's lying on her front, bend her knee gently (don't wiggle it side to side). Using lots of oil, weave your fingers in between her toes so that the heel of her foot rests in your palm and your fingers reach through her toes. Close your hand, giving the area right between her toes a thorough massage. Grasp each toe individually within your closed fist, and squeeze as your hand moves the whole length of the toe. Pay special attention to the middle toe—in some people this digit has a direct nerve connection to the genitals. Return your fingers to the earlier position, where they were between her toes. Then—gently!—straighten your fingers and squeeze her toes, and giving them a soft pull away from her body, stretch the individual toes. Done properly, this feels amazing. Then use your fingers between her toes to rotate the whole foot at the ankle. Go a few times in one direction, then in another. Finish the foot by repeating the slow, gentle massage you gave the whole foot at the very beginning.


Many women dearly love the sensation of having their toes sucked. It's called “shrimping,” and it's not just for foot fetishists; toes, by virtue of their size, shape, and general prettiness practically beg to be put in your mouth.

Obviously, you can do whatever moves you, but here are some things that we've heard the ladies like: Kiss her feet gently. Then start to use your tongue, tracing small circles underneath the toes, and moving into the areas between them before putting each individual toe into your mouth and sucking on it gently. Because the skin on the toes is relatively tough, you can even use your teeth a little, nibbling gently.

image Hands: Massaging the hands is very similar to massaging the feet. It feels wonderful, and makes for a great “quickie” if you want to show her a little affection but don't have time for the whole shebang. If it's winter and her hands seem dry, using a thick moisturizing cream, such as cocoa or shea butter, can be a welcome gesture. Start by facing her and sandwiching one of her hands between yours, gliding back and forth over the skin. Then, with your thumbs on top of her hand and your fingers on the palm, begin a kneading-type massage stroke, with your thumbs moving outward and your fingers pressing in to the palm of her hand. Continue this motion all the way up her wrist to her forearm—heaven if she's a heavy computer user! Holding her hand in one of yours, use the nonsupporting hand to run your fingers down her arm and hand, in between the tendons you can see on the back of her hand, running off the ends of her fingers. For a final move, you can interlace your own fingers with hers and squeeze, finally running your fingers through hers.

image Breasts: Not only one of the most erogenous zones for her, but one of the most erotic for you too. However, there's an art to touching them so that both of you derive the maximal amount of pleasure possible. Dr. Ava Cadell suggests that when you roll her over after massaging her back, you place your hands lightly over the top of her belly button. Then slowly slide them up the center of her stomach and around her breasts, then back to the belly button. This is a highly effective way of moving the energy around the body—and it feels really good! Do this at least five times. When you get to her breasts, let your hands move around them in ever-smaller circles, letting your palms cover more of her breasts with every revolution. Gently brush the tops, bottoms, and sides of her breasts; these areas are actually more sensitive than an unaroused areola and nipple. Austrian researchers have found that an oft-neglected region of the breast, the northern part from roughly 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock, is the most sensitive. Stimulate the outer sides of her breasts, just below the armpits, with your tongue or fingertips. Investigate with light kissing and a gentle massage using the heel of your hand, not the fingers. The palm gives even sensation without causing pain. The areola—the dark-colored circle that surrounds the nipple—is actually more sensitive than the nipple itself. Spend lots of luxurious time here, and don't be shy: Her nipples and areolas may not be as sensitive as you think. In fact, they're two to three times less sensitive than her index finger, say researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine. When you finally do get to the nipple, use a light touch at first, so that you graze over it a few times, says sex therapist Laura Berman, PhD, director of the Berman Center in Chicago. Dr. Ava Cadell suggests that you use your thumb and index finger to gently massage the nipple in a rotating motion, moving clockwise and then counterclockwise. Ask for feedback so that you get the pressure just right. Then place your hand gently over the nipple and roll it in the palm of your hand. Finally, using your thumb and third finger, gently pull up on the nipple so that you are elongating it. Do one nipple at a time in slow motion.


In a study conducted at the University of Vienna, researchers found that large breasts were about 24 percent less sensitive than small ones. “This is probably because the nerve that transmits sensation from the nipple is stretched,” says Alan Matarasso, MD, a plastic surgeon in New York City.

Those are the hands-down best touchy-feely techniques we could find. Keep in mind that you should never stop using your hands, even once you're inside her. Think of it as the really deep type of massage that's not available at her friendly neighborhood spa.

That Extra Special Touch

Skin-to-skin massage is just one of the ways you can engage this most erotic of the five senses. Here are some others.

Look, Ma, no hands! British expert Kesta Desmond, author of Pure Kama Sutra and Pure Erotic Massage, suggests banning your hands. “Explore each other's bodies with your nose, tongue, lips, hair, knees, toes,” she says. “You'll be amazed at how sensational it feels.” For an added bump, tell her to tie your hands loosely behind your back. Talk about making something difficult just to make it fun! It might be hard to get her to roll over using only your tongue, but we have faith that you're the right man for the job.

Look, Ma, mittens! Gloves that fit over the hand are a nice addition to a massage, especially for someone who likes additional stimulation. We've seen them in rabbit fur, raw silk, a jelly-type plastic with hundreds of little bumps, a microwaveable pair—even a pair with vibrators built into the fingers. Not to mention the standard terry cloth variety—or the medical-grade latex ones easily found in drugstores.

“My husband had a bad cut on his hand a few years ago, which led us to discover the wonders of massage with latex gloves,” says Alessandra, a real estate broker from Peru. “His hands glide over me; it's a completely different sensation than with the calluses on his bare hands. I love the feeling, and he does too.”

Keep her guessing. Collect a variety of household objects that you think will result in pleasant sensations on her skin. Some ideas: steal a pair of her softest silk panties, one of her tiny, round-headed makeup brushes, a feather, a piece of soft, fragrant suede or leather or velvet, even a blunt-tined fork. Then blindfold her, lay her down, and touch her softly with each of the implements. Go slowly, zig-zagging across her body unpredictably. Pay close attention to those ultra-sensitive spots: the inside of her thighs, the undersides of her breasts, the base of her throat, the inside of the hollow of her hip bone. Make her guess what's causing each sensation. Pay special attention to which ones she particularly likes—and enjoy the sight of her arching up to meet your next touch.

Float like a butterfly. Cover her naked body with tiny, light, feathery kisses. The pattern should be completely unpredictable—except that they land where she least expects them!

Give her a tongue bath. Plant the most erotic, soulful tongue kisses you can muster—everywhere but her mouth and the place she most wants you, between her legs. Perform the best cunnilingus she's ever gotten—on the bone on the inside of her ankle. Drive her wild with your tongue, but only behind her knee. Suck, lick, nibble—savor every single inch of her with your tongue and lips and mouth and teeth. And don't give in, no matter what she bribes or threatens you with!

Be a greased pig. Bring back the ‘70s-era Mazola parties, where everyone got greased up and slid up against one another. The French call this frottage. We call it good, greasy fun. If you think she'll stress about the mess, split open a couple of trash bags first, or purchase a special pair of rubber sheets for the occasion. The Hustler Slippery Sex Sheets & Black Light Paint are $48 at

Use a vibrator. After all, massage is what it's supposed to be for—or didn't you read the package? Experiment with different spots on her body—especially those that will indirectly stimulate her G-spot or clit. “I love to lie on my front while my lover works the vibrator between my inner thighs and the cheeks of my ass. If he leaves it there, I can come just from the vibrations and the feel of the towel underneath me,” says Lizzie from London. Use all the attachments as well!


Remember, this is foreplay, so even though your plan is to eventually give her some all-in loving—whether with your hands, your mouth, or your penis—take your time getting there. If you want to progress to genital massage, whether with your hands (wash them first!) or your mouth, you'll find a wealth of information on those topics in the next two chapters.

Hopefully, by this point, you're sufficiently convinced that foreplay that arouses all her senses is a subject worth tackling, if not mastering. Our best advice? Slow down. Take your time. Hang out. Get to know her body—and your own. Try something you haven't tried before, and see if you can't take one another to places you've never been before. And hey—send us a postcard, will ya?