Is sex inherently romantic? For some folks, perhaps. But sex and love aren’t exclusive to each other – and sex and romance aren’t, either.
Romantic sex is a specific genre of sex (and it’s okay if it’s the only kind of sex you have – to each their own.) It’s a mood, a flavor, a category we get to define for ourselves. But while we can all give a different answer of what makes sex more romantic, there’s a couple of “moves” I’ve found helpful when I want to make my next roll in the sheets a little extra lovey dovey.
If you’re looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day (or any day) by makin’ love, here’s a salacious outline:
Check in with your partner(s) beforehand.
Consent can never be assumed, it has to be communicated – and that communication can be incredibly hot! Even if you’re in a long-term relationship, you should check-in with your partner(s) before you start setting up for a wildly romantic night together. Otherwise you might inadvertently pressure your partner(s) with ‘all the trouble you went to.’ And pressure isn’t romantic – it’s coercive.
A sexy way to do this is to share a specific desire of yours. This communicates interest, but it also gives them something hot to think about for the rest of the day:
- “I want to make you feel loved tonight… I’d love to take a bath together and have slow sex afterwards.. does that sound good?”
- “I keep thinking about how good you feel in my mouth, will you give me a taste for desert?”
- “Do you remember when we first moved into this apartment, how I wanted you so bad we banged on the couch? Do you wanna maybe…?”
This can (and should) be done throughout sex itself, too. “Can I __?” and “do you like when I __?” are great check-ins that double as dirty talk.
Set the right mood.
Oftentimes, what makes dinner special isn’t the meal – it’s where you eat it. It’s the experience in its entirety that makes it memorable. So if you’re in search of shmoopy sex, start with the setting.
Not everyone can sweep their partner(s) off to a nice hotel. So look to the space you’re already working with: your home. Is it in serious need of some dusting? Is there dirty laundry on your bedroom floor and clean laundry piled on your bed? Hotels are nice because they’re clean, the bedding is comfy and wrinkle-free, and you don’t have to stare at 6 abandoned water bottles on your beside table. Replicate that peace by cleaning up at home.
Once you’re working with a (literally) clean slate, you can build a romantic atmosphere. Lean into the cliches: dim the overheads and light a few candles, scatter some rose petals, put on a moody playlist, plate up some aphrodisiac snacks. Maybe it’s corny, but these gestures communicate the desired mood pretty effectively.
Pick intimacy-oriented positions.
Just as important as the where: the how.
Some sex positions, for example, just feel more intimate. Spooning (where someone lays on their side and a partner tucks up behind them) is essentially full-body cuddling but with fucking. It’s cozy, warm, and frankly underrated. Snag a strap-on harness, a palm-sized vibe for the reach-around, and get ready to whisper something filthy in their ear.
A less conventional favorite is having someone sit up against the headboard (or the back of the couch) and having their partner sit on or between their thighs, reclining back-to-chest. This position encourages hugging, groping, and even more neck kissing and ear whispering. It also leaves plenty room to use a powerful wand vibrator on the partner in the front.
Overall, romantic sex positions are the ones that make you feel closer together. What do you each value most? Being able to kiss? Having a hand free so you can hold their leash? Being close enough to hear them, or unencumbered enough to sign? If eye contact enhances intimacy for you (it definitely doesn’t for everyone), positions that counter height differences and keep you face-to-face might be preferred. Sex swings and positioning wedges can help!
Pick sex toys that can be mutually enjoyed.
Any sex toy can be used during partnered sex, but some sex toy were specifically designed with partnered use in mind. These kinds of designs can help keep the focus on each other – which is exactly where you want it to be tonight.
A few examples:
- Toys that create pleasure for both partners simultaneously, like the We-Vibe Chorus, Rock-Her Mini Scissoring Vibe, or Hot Octopuss Duo.
- Remote- and app-controlled sex toys that allow for playful power exchange.
- Toys that enhance partnered penetrative sex, like wearable strap-on dildos, vibrating cockrings, dildo buffers, and penis sheaths.
- Versatile toys that can be shared and used on different anatomies, like the We-Vibe Wand, Inya Kiss, or Fun Factory Volta.
Maintain the sappiness with romantic gestures.
Romance is not a crock pot meal. You can’t set it up and leave it to simmer on its own. If you want sex to feel romantic, that’s something you have to keep stirring in throughout.
What makes a gesture “romantic”? Opinions vary, but in general it’s something that offers emotional vulnerability, reminds the participants of their feelings, and inspires closeness. That could be something as small as making eye contact or as big as proposing (although either gesture is only romantic if the other person wants it to happen too.)
Perhaps the most straight-forward method would be using “sappy” language during sex. Compliments (“your skin is so soft”), confessions of love and adoration (“I can’t believe I’m so lucky”), mentioning romantically nostalgic moments (“remember when I did this to you on our wedding night?”), and dirty talk framed in sweeter phrasing (“I want to make love to you until we can’t come anymore”) are all potential avenues.
Romance can be offered physically as well. Taking your time with foreplay (which shows your affection/appreciation), eye contact, slow and sensual kissing, asking for a sex act you enjoy but rarely indulge in (“I would love if you topped tonight…”), trading sensual massages where you worship the parts of their body you love most.
Take things slowly.
Pacing can be key in ensuring sex feels romantic. As hot as a quickie can be, it doesn’t always leave the participants feeling closer and adored. Taking your time shows your partner(s) that they’re worth your time. That you feel so strongly about them that you want to slow down and shower them in attention, affection, and pleasure.
Slow sex oftentimes is more satisfactory. Going slow means taking your time with foreplay, which helps build arousal and makes painful sex (such as rushing into anal) fair less likely. Slow sex gives you more time to enjoy favorite sex acts (perhaps your partner is most likely to orgasm from a lengthy session of oral?) and appreciate the shared sensory experience. It ensures you have time to make sure everyone’s needs are met. And what’s more romantic than sex where everyone is valued and has a good time?
Betty Butch (they/she) is a queer sex and relationships writer. By blogging about their experiences as a fat, trans, autistic person, they hope to help change the narrative of who has sex and what sex "should" be. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.