Unfortunately, we've been conditioned to think sex has to be shout-the-house-down fantastic every single time (and that it should always end in an orgasm...or three). This is one of the weirdest and potentially harmful myths surrounding sex. First of all, an orgasm doesn't denote success—plenty of people have perfectly enjoyable sex sans climax, thank you very much. Secondly, it's just not realistic to think sex has to be amazing all the time. Sometimes it's less orgasmic and more...silly. Sometimes you're just not feeling it, and that's fine.
"The truth is, we all have so-so sex, even with partners who are incredibly special to us," says Lovehoney's sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight. "The way to make sure that your sexual happiness improves for you and your partner is to be constantly developing your techniques."
Here, Annabelle shares her 7 most underrated but essential sex tips which may seem obvious, but are the key to getting the basics right.
Your most important sex organ is your brain.
"It sounds obvious, but the best sex happens when you have a deep connection with your partner," Annabelle says. "48% of men and 39% of women reckon that love is the most important factor in achieving sexual happiness, according to research by Lovehoney." Whether you're actually in love with the person you're having sex with or it's just a casual fling, a good connection undoubtedly makes sex wayyyy better because you'll be comfortable, relaxed and trusting.
Communication is super important.
"So, you've met that special person and are madly in love, but the sex isn't that great. The only solution to this is to tell them," she explains. "It's vital you keep the channels of communication open to enjoy good sex. Don't be afraid to say, 'That really doesn't work for me.' Talk about what really DOES turn you on, and allow them to do the same."
If you do this in a positive way, highlighting what your partner does that you really enjoy, it can be a constructive conversation rather than one in which someone gets hurt.
Variety is fun AF.
Annabelle says "Too many couples get stuck in a sex rut where they do the same things at the same time with the same results. Sex becomes routine rather than something special to look forward to."
The solution is to "Mix it up in whatever way works for you: Pick a different room in the house to have sex each time; drive to the countryside and find a secluded spot; try having sex in the morning instead of the evening, or treat yourselves to a new sex toy," she suggests. As long as you're breaking the routine every now and then, you're golden.
Don't expect it to be amazing every time.
"Very few couples have consistently great sex every single time. Most of us experience a mixture of fantastically great sessions, 'ordinary' ones, and the odd funny incident throughout our sexual relationships," Annabelle explains. "Even couples who rate their sex life as fantastic admit only two to three sessions out of every 10 are sheet-grabbing material, so yes, enjoy the phenomenal sessions, but appreciate the good ones just as much."
The idea that all women can orgasm through penetration alone is the biggest and most damaging myths surrounding sex. "Most women don't orgasm solely through vaginal penetration, with 7 out of 10 women requiring additional clitoral stimulation to reach climax. The result is that men have at least three times as many orgasms with a partner than (heterosexual) women do. The rates for casual sex are even more abysmal: Only 4% of women have reported having orgasms through casual penetration," Annabelle says.
Kissing is key.
"A lot of couples underestimate the importance of kissing, which is a shame because it's the perfect way to establish intimacy, and is arguably the most important pre-sex act," she says. "Because kissing usually kicks off any sexual activity, knowing how to kiss well can set the tone for the whole evening. Whether it's lots of tongue, no tongue, nibbling, light pecks or deep, romantic kisses, knowing what your partner enjoys is key to kicking things off right."
Wetter is always better.
Lube makes sex SO much better. "For as long as humans have been getting down and dirty (or at least documenting it), we have known that we needed lubricant. There seems to be an incorrect assumption that younger women do not need to use lubrication, and if they do, they have a problem," she explains.
Annabelle adds, "Lube just makes sex more fun, comfortable, and safe for everyone. It can decrease painful friction, it can help offset some issues that affect your natural lubrication, and it can introduce delightful new feelings during sex. Using lube frees up your mind to focus on the sex at hand."
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.