A man's bedroom hang-ups are a lot like his embarrassing relatives: Just because he never talks about them doesn't mean they don't exist. "The idea that men don't have any feelings about sex beyond wanting it is nuts," says Lisa Firestone, PhD, co-author of Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships. "Just like women can be as sexual as men, men can be as self-critical and worried as women."
The problem is, if guys aren't always forthcoming about their emotions in general, they're even less so where matters of the mattress are concerned. That's where we come in. We've gone to leading experts and guys themselves to uncover some common—and surprising—between-the-sheets fears men have and to offer advice for dealing. These strategies are designed to help keep his stress level low...and send his libido sky-high.
- His secret sex fear: "I don't know how to tell her that one of her moves doesn't do anything for me."
No man wants to risk alienating his sex partner, so if you have a turn-on tactic that falls flat, your guy would rather stay quiet than risk hurting your feelings. Even if you ask him straight out if he likes something or not, there's a good chance he still won't 'fess up because many men tell women what they think they want to hear.
Pave the way for him to show you what he likes by turning it into a game where the winner gets to be the boss of the booty session. One sneaky idea: "Make him a bet that you're sure to lose," suggests Ian Kerner, PhD, author of He Comes Next. (It can be as simple as proposing a thumb-wrestling match.) "When he wins, playfully tell him that you will be at his disposal for the remainder of the night."
When you couch it this way, he won't feel uncomfortable giving you orders. "It's a pressure-free way to get him to talk about what he really wants," adds Kerner. As you continue the evening's action, remind him at each step—kissing, oral sex, etc.—that he should direct your every move, so he knows he really is free to give feedback.
- His secret sex fear: "She doesn't like my oral technique."
Believe it or not, most dudes enjoy going down on women—they just worry that they're not doing it right. "Men don't have ESP, but if you respond positively to something they're doing well, they'll keep doing it," says Cynthia Gentry, author of What Men Really Want in Bed. So when your guy's downtown, don't be afraid to let him know you appreciate his efforts. Moan, groan, or lift your pelvis toward his mouth. The more you express how turned on you are as he pilots you to O town, the better he'll remember the route next time he visits.
If your guy needs a little extra guidance, show him what you like by kissing and licking his fingers the same way you want him to kiss and lick you down there. You can just say "this is what I want you to do," as you demonstrate the pace and pressure you crave. Once he's pleasured you, show him how ecstasy-inducing his mouth moves were by returning the favor. He'll be especially inspired to give you an encore if he knows you'll reciprocate.
- His secret sex fear: "I want to talk dirty, but I'm afraid I'll freak her out if I do."
The most obvious way to let your guy know it's okay to whisper smutty nothings into your ear is to initiate the dirty dialogue yourself. That doesn't mean you have to sound like you're auditioning for a porn flick. Simply saying you like what he's doing to you or what you have in mind for him (in your softest, sexiest voice, of course) is enough to ease his dirty-talking trepidation...and turn him on like crazy.
A less revealing way to let him know your lusty limits is to kick off a little carnal conversation. You can do this during foreplay or even before you hit the sheets, if you're more comfortable bringing it up casually. Simply ask him about a sexual fantasy or have him describe his all-time favorite sexy movie scene (trust us, he has one), and then tell him yours in return. Make sure to mention why you think it's so hot.
"The words you use and the explanation of what turns you on will tell your partner what you like and set boundaries for what you don't," says Gentry. And all that stimulating conversation may just inspire new amorous adventures to add to your dirty to-do list.
- His secret sex fear: "I think she's faking it."
The pride your dude takes in his supersize flat-screen TV is nothing compared to how much his sack skills mean to him. So it's especially important to let him know when he makes your toes curl—with sighs or by telling him how unbelievable something felt. But it's just as important to clue him in when it's not happening. Whatever you do, don't fake it!
"If what he's doing isn't working, he'll want to know so he can try something different," says Gentry. You can also help him out by putting your hand on his and showing him how you want him to touch your hot spots. First of all, touching yourself like that is a turn-on for him in itself. And seeing you take charge of your climax like that builds his confidence in your willingness to tell him what you need. If you're straight with him when he misses the mark, he'll be more apt to believe that you're not putting on an act when he does give you a shred-the-sheets orgasm.
Still, there are times when you just know that no matter how hard you both try, you're not going to hit your peak. In that case, take control of the encounter so your guy doesn't exhaust you both trying to make sure you climax. "If you physically get on top of him and pull out your best him-focused tricks, any anxieties he has about your pleasure will go right out of his head," says LaDawn Black, author of Let's Get It On. "He'll know he's free to let the night be all about him."
- His secret sex fear: "I sense she wants romance after sex, but I just want to sleep."
During orgasm, the brain releases a flood of hormones that make both men and women crave close contact. Guys, however, also ejaculate, which makes them sleepier than watching a Grey's Anatomy marathon would. "Ejaculation involves a lot of blood rushing to the genitals and then subsequently rushing out," explains Kerner. "The blood flow away from the genitals is what makes men feel exhausted."
So post-play, your guy may not be up for a heart-to-heart—or even another round of nooky—but you can still meet both of your needs. Even though he's drowsy, he wants to know you're happy, while you desire that close body contact. Solution? Just wrap your arms around him and chill.
"Snuggling just after sex is as appealing to most men as it is to you," says Ava Cadell, PhD, author of Dr. Ava's Tantra Workbook. "If you nestle into his arms and don't push for conversation, he won't feel pressured." Give him a soulful kiss to let him know you're satisfied and you can both drift off to sleep blissfully.
- His secret sex fear: "I worry she'll get pregnant."
As much as men love sex, "every guy who's not ready to be a father is hard-wired to worry just a little about mistakes," says Firestone. Wipe out that fear by showing him you're serious about protection. If you're on the Pill, make sure he knows it. If condoms are your birth control of choice, be adamant about using them every single time. Make a point of putting the condom on him—guys find that gesture very sexy, says certified sex educator Lou Paget, author of The Great Lover Playbook.
Here's how to do that: Hold the receptacle end of the condom between your thumb and forefinger, and place a dollop of lubricant in the reservoir. Lightly squeeze that tip, and place the opening of the condom over the head of his penis. Hold it there with one hand, while you use your other hand to unroll it down the shaft to the base. The goal is to be able to unravel the whole thing in one uninterrupted motion, ideally while you're still kissing him. It takes a little practice, but the end result is well worth it.
"Men love this because usually to get the condom on, they have to stop all the sexual action to apply it," says Paget. "This technique lets them use protection without diminishing one iota of intensity." What guy wouldn't be impressed (not to mention extremely excited) with that move?
- His secret sex fear: "Should I pull away before I climax when she's giving me oral?"
Okay, so worrying about what to do has probably never ruined a guy's enthusiasm for oral, but it can distract him. "Guys really do want to be courteous," says Kerner. If you let him know where you expect him to end things, it helps him relax and get even more into the experience. If you want to finish him off orally, tell him, and then let him lie back and enjoy the ride.
If you'd rather he have his finale land somewhere else, try this technique: As you're going down on him, wrap one hand around his shaft, and move it up and down in tandem with your mouth. Then when he's about to climax (ask him to clue you in or watch for tensing and twitching in his abs and groin), move your mouth away and keep stimulating him manually. As you do, guide him to wherever you want him to orgasm, for example, somewhere else on your body (like your chest) or the bed.
- His secret sex fear: "She'll get dry if I take too long."
Most women start to become dry after a lengthy sex session, even if they're still turned on, especially when a condom is involved. That's why some genius invented water-based lubricant. And incorporating this slippery stuff into your routine doesn't just ease dryness, it increases sensation. So if wearing protection turns your guy into a marathon man, try this: Before you even get to intercourse, have him put a quarter-size dollop in his hand, rub his palms together to warm it up, and stimulate you manually.
You can also return the favor and give him an often-overlooked treat: some hands-on man pleasure. Doing so will ramp up his excitement so that even with a condom on, he won't take long. Just make sure you pay attention to his whole package. "Women often become so focused on massaging the shaft, they forget about the scrotum," reminds Black. "You can also enhance his arousal by rubbing his perineum—the area between his anus and scrotum—just as he's about to peak."
Or try this inventive move: Put a textured condom on him—inside out—and then stroke him manually. "This is especially enticing because it's new and unexpected, plus it creates a lot of friction," says Black. When you're turned on enough for him to enter you, put on a new condom (once it's been on him inside out, it's not safe to use during intercourse anymore) and add a few more drops of lube to the rubber to help you stay moist.
If you start to feel dry during the deed, take a break and use the lube for "outercourse" ecstasy. "Have him put a few drops on your inner thighs or lower back and then rub his penis against your slippery skin as you continue kissing and grinding against each other," suggests Black. "It'll create a totally new sensation for both of you."