Originally published @ Cosmopolitan
By Anna Breslaw, Carina Hsieh, and Rachel Varina
We don’t like to brag, but Cosmo basically invented sex tips. Following the legacy of our fearless leader, Helen Gurley Brown, (maybe you’ve heard of her?) we’ve been dropping the hottest—and, okay, yes, sometimes most out there—sex advice for literal decades. (So what we’re saying is, yes, your grandma probably read our sex tips. Sorry, moving on.)
Look, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. And for the past, oh, 57 years or so, (but who’s counting?) we’ve dutifully doled out all the must-know info on sex and how to do it. Suffice to say, that’s a hell of a lot of sex tips. So, for your convenience, we’ve distilled all those years of sexual wisdom into 16 absolutely need-to-know, most important Cosmo sex tips—16 pillars of sex advice, if you will. No need to thank us, just doing our job.
Okay, brag moment over. But before we get into the actual tips, first a little crash course on sex itself—and no, not like the one you got in high school sex ed. Yes, we know you probably have the basics down by now, but part of what makes this *very important* job of ours so exciting is the fact that the way we define, think about and experience sex is constantly evolving. That’s true of society as a whole, but also of each of us as individual sex-having beings. As therapist and sex expert Angela Jones, PhD, puts it, sexual activity is pretty much the essence of human nature. (I mean, it’s kind of the only reason any of us are even here in the first place, if you think about it.)
“Humans are sexual beings, so to not work on your sex life and understand your sexuality is denying yourself full understanding of who you are,” she explains. Not only does knowing what you do (and don’t) like sexually help you find pleasure—whether it’s solo or with a partner—but sex itself is a form of communication and self-care.
BTW, by “sex” we are very much not talking about straight P-in-V intercourse—at least not exclusively. “Sex is not defined as penis in vagina, or penis in anus, or vulva and vulva, or oral or kinky or vanilla, or anything that has to do with specific sexual acts,” says certified sex therapist, Holly Richmond, PhD, a member of Dame’s Clinical Board. Obviously there’s no one set definition for sex, but according to Richmond, it all starts with consent and pleasure. “All sex is good sex as long as it’s consensual and pleasurable,” she says.
“Sex is anything that brings you erotic pleasure,” says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD, a global ambassador for WOW Tech. “This might include snuggling, kissing, sexting, video chatting, flirting, fingering, sucking, grinding, humping, or penetrating, but this list isn’t exhaustive.”
As for what makes sex—however you want to define it—good, that’s obviously something that’s determined on a pretty individual basis. “That said, there are some fundamental elements that researchers have determined make for great sex,” says Richmond. These include “presence, connection, intimacy, empathy, authenticity, vulnerability, exploration, and transcendence,” she explains. “When we look at sex through this lens, it’s about feelings, communication, trust and connection with ourselves or with a partner, and mostly, an overall sense of pleasure.”