In a time where sex education isn’t mandated in many parts of the country (and the world), it’s no surprise that we don’t know where to turn for sex advice. Sex educators are often pushed off social media platforms, letting online misinformation fester.
Thankfully, here at Mashable, we pride ourselves in providing evidence-based, inclusive advice that you won’t get in school — or by watching porn, for that matter.
Here are 11 pieces of the best sex advice of 2023.
Set your boundaries
Whether you’re with a new or longtime partner, setting sexual boundaries is a must. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though; communicating about sex can be difficult when we’re not used to it. You don’t have to rush into it, though. In fact, the first step is to figure out what your boundaries are, and only you alone can do that.
Once you know what you do and don’t want in bed, set the scene for the sensitive conversation. Set a time and private place for it. Then, use “I” statements, like “I don’t like to be touched there.” Check out our guide to setting sexual boundaries for more in-depth tips.
Why can I orgasm from masturbation, but not sex?
If you can cum on your own but not with your partner, you’re not alone. As experts told us, it’s understandable to orgasm freely by yourself; you’re not thinking about your performance, how you look, or focusing on your partner’s pleasure instead of your own. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to orgasm in partnered sex, though! Some tips are to try mutual masturbation, incorporate sex toys, and focus on exploring your own body.
Top orgasm tip
If the above tips aren’t working, maybe consider the most important ingredient to achieve orgasm: emotional safety. As sex and relationship therapist Lena Elkhatib said, “Having an orgasm requires us to be able to [be] present with the sensation of pleasure in our body and relaxed enough to allow ourselves the release at climax.” This can’t happen if we feel unsafe, which can be caused by a variety of issues, from trauma to a judgmental partner. Our brains are the biggest sex organ, so whatever’s going on “up here” will impact “down there.”
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How can I last longer in bed?
Our society is obsessed with lasting longer in bed — when the reality is the average time between getting an erection and orgasming is 5-7 minutes. Still, there are expert-approved ways to take your time, including edging, and taking penetration out of the equation entirely. But remember that lasting longer doesn’t necessarily mean your partner wants to be penetrated the entire time! There are other ways both partners can pleasure each other, penetration or not.
I want to try kink…
Want to dive into Dom/sub dynamics but don’t know where to start? Look no further than our guide, which goes over the basics of what Dom/sub dynamics actually are, different ways it could play out, how to establish boundaries, and the importance of aftercare. If your knowledge of BDSM comes from TV or movies, know that there’s a lot more to explore and a lot of knowledge to learn. In fact, don’t dive into a D/s dynamic before reading up about it. And, as always: the key word is “consent.”
How to have sober sex
For anyone who has mostly done it under the influence, sober sex can feel daunting — and that’s okay. Sex is a vulnerable act, and you may be used to dulling your senses with substances. We asked the experts for tips on how to go to into sex clear-headed, and you might even find the benefits of stone-cold sober sex — like feeling more sensations.
What if I get an STI?
Testing positive for an STI may be a scary prospect, but sometimes it’s our reality. We asked sex and relationship expert Zachary Zane for the lowdown on how often we should get tested and what to expect if we do, in fact, have an STI. With the stigma surrounding these infections, it can be easy to panic or shame yourself. Ultimately, there’s no need to feel ashamed — but you do need to get tested and treated, and be honest with your partners.
Porn with your partner
Adult content gets a bad reputation, but watching porn as a couple actually has benefits. For one, it can help with communicating and expressing what you want to your partner. Doing this can also help you both learn more about what you find hot and may want to explore in the bedroom. Whether it’s a once-in-a-while treat or more frequent, see if watching adult content can expand you and your partner’s horizons.
Talk to someone you trust
If you struggle with talking about sex with your partner(s), consider finding a sex therapist. While, unfortunately, therapy isn’t accessible to everyone, it can do a great deal of help in untangling shame and trauma. A good sex therapist — meaning, someone certified and willing to speak on their credentials — can dig into issues that a general therapist may not be qualified to (or may not feel comfortable doing). Mashable laid out other resources like books and podcasts that could assist you, too.
Down with OPP? Not really
No, we’re not talking about Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.”, but rather the “one penis policy,” a rule that might come up within heterosexual non-monogamous couples. As experts shared with Mashable, an OPP is rooted in patriarchal control of women, and men may want to instate it because they’re insecure. If you’re cool with an OPP, that’s okay, but we encourage you to interrogate why that might be. We shared tips on how to talk to your partner about this so-called policy — and whether it warrants a breakup.
Sex is good for your body and mind
If you’re not interested in sex, don’t have it. But if you are, know that sex is good for your mental and physical health. Sex can be exercise that improves hormone levels and lowers the risk for heart disease. Orgasms, even simply intimate touching, can also reduce stress. As we round out 2023, think about making more sex a priority in 2024.
Be sure to keep up with our Come Again? series to see your sex questions answered any time of year.