How NOT to Spice Up Your Relationship

We’ve been in the magazine business for more than fifteen years, and we are still suckers for those stupid headlines like “537 Ways to Improve Your Sex Life TONIGHT!” We just can’t help flipping to that article while we’re stuck in the check-out line. What if just one of those “guaranteed” 537 tips is neither ridiculous nor something we’ve read a hundred times before? In an effort to turn our bad habit into something worthwhile, we thought we’d break it down for you, and list ten things that are supposed to improve your sex life, and definitely don’t. And then, so we don’t depress you completely, we’ll throw in five things that do, actually, work. As with any sex tips, your mileage may vary — think of this simply as a map to point you in the right direction.

10 Things That Suck

  1. Chocolate body paint. We know that it’s “creative,” but OMG the mess! What’s so hot about sex that has to be followed immediately by some quality time with a stain remover and a load of laundry? Plus, the taste is way overrated. If we feel like eating chocolate, we’re going to buy the real stuff, not some chemical-tasting chocolate impersonator. But be careful, because the real stuff gets super sticky and borderline painful if you try to use it anywhere besides in your own mouth.
  2. Shower intercourse. Good luck finding — and maintaining — a position in the shower without getting a cramp, wiping out, or knocking the soap dispenser off the wall. As for finding a position that’s actually satisfying, for both of you? No chance. We say, enjoy some manual or oral sex in the shower and then move to the bed (or other sturdy object) for actual intercourse.
  3. Food for oral. Stuff like whipped cream, jelly, etc., — anything containing sugar, basically — near a woman’s sensitive parts can lead to infection.
  4. Licking your partner from head to toe. That’s a lot of acreage to cover with a tongue, and by the time you’re done you’ll feel like you just walked through the desert with no water. And your partner will start to feel chilly as all that saliva starts to evaporate. It’s even worse if your breath isn’t totally, perfectly fresh!
  5. Humming during oral sex, a.k.a. a hummer. If you can pull this off — both giver and receiver — without cracking up or getting weirded out, then you’re stronger specimens than we are.
  6. Accessorizing blowjobs and handjobs with anything besides lube. Magazines will tell you to put everything from a scrunchie to a donut to a pearl necklace to ice on his johnson. These magazine articles are never written by men. We even read one tip that a woman should put frozen grapes in her mouth before giving a blowjob. Just in case, you know, a guy gets turned on by chipmunks.
  7. Real handcuffs. The metal, police-style handcuffs are painful and can actually cause nerve damage. Plus, good luck if you lose the key. Better to use purpose-made cuffs that are more adjustable, more comfortable, easier to undo quickly, and all around safer.
  8. Tracing the alphabet on her clitoris with your tongue. Sure, it’s good to try different strokes and speeds and pressures. But concentrating on your ABC’s will take you out of the moment so that you’re not paying attention to what actually works for her. Remember, all clitorises are different, and even the same clitoris in your life can have mood swings.
  9. DIY sex toys. Go ahead and use your ping-pong paddle as a spanking device. But anything vibrating or insertable should be custom-made for the job. Put down the electric toothbrush and walk away. (Yes, we’re talking to you, Cosmo.)
  10. Novelty intercourse positions. We’re talking the “Wheelbarrow,” the “Little Dipper,” the “Pile Driver,” etc. Intercourse positions that a) make you feel like rejects from a Cirque du Soleil audition, b) can cause serious injury, and/or c) have zero chance in resulting in orgasm? Um, no thanks!

And 5 Things That Don’t Suck

  1. Ripping off each other’s clothes. We don’t care that it’s a Hollywood cliche; it’s still totally hot. If you don’t want to spoil your fancy underwear or nice shirt, buy some cheap second-hand duds and wear them to bed. (Just wash them first, please. Otherwise it’s the bad kind of dirty.)
  2. Embracing the dating cliches. Spend three hours at dinner and share a chocolate dessert. Hold hands in the rain. Sit in the back row at the movie theatre. Go for long walks on the beach. You don’t have to tell any of your friends what a cheeseball you’ve become, though when you see what it does for your sex life, you might just be tempted to fess up.
  3. Faking a sense of urgency. When you’ve been together for years, you don’t necessarily feel urgent about sleeping together. It’s on tap, after all — it has been for years, and you assume it will be for years to come. This can make you nostalgic for the kind of frenzied coupling that takes place early in a relationship. But you can fake your way to this feeling. For example, instead of getting undressed before sex, make the first move while you’re fully dressed and leave some clothes on during the act.
  4. Fabricating delayed gratification. In the same way, you can force yourselves to wait for sex, like you had to as a teen or in the early days of dating. Make out at the movies or in the car on your way to dinner. (And we mean really make out, like you never do in public anymore.) Grope each other under the table at a dinner party.
  5. Reading sex advice manuals. Glossy magazines aren’t necessarily terrible places to learn about sex, but there’s a lot missing. For example, we were once assigned to write an article for a woman’s magazine about “the one thing men wished women did more in bed.” We interviewed a ton of guys, and the overwhelming majority mentioned a well-lubed pinkie in the backdoor. We submitted the piece, and our editor said, “Um, could you ask the men what else they’d like women to do?” Books, on the other hand, tend to be less squeamish about the details, because they’re not dependent on prudish advertisers.

Want more ways to really spice things up?:
10 Simple Steps to Fifty-ize Your Love Life


  1. i’m with you on these (food n sex? gross!) but from the comments below it just goes to show you never can account for people’s sexual preferences or tastes.

  2. I read about the hummer, and thought it would freak my boyfriend out. Imagine my surprise when he asked for it, and then returned the favor…awesome for both of us!

  3. I kind of love the Pile Driver. I like really hard, deep anal, and it’s a position tailor- made for delivering same. Plus, the lad seems to enjoy the view. (There’s an easier modification where the lady–or bloke for that matter I s’pose) crouches with ass high in air rather than doing the yoga plough, which requires a bit of flexibility. It’s quite entertaining.

  4. I don’t like using handcuffs (too easy to lose a key and gets uncomfortable quickly), so my boyfriend bought some velcro strips and sewed them together to make bracelets for me. They are easily attached to a bedframe, a rope, or anything solid.

    They’re great because they have enough give to make them comfortable, but they are very strong and, even with all my squirming, I haven’t been able to slide out of them. And if I ever needed to escape, all I have to do is lean over and rip them off with my teeth (which can also be pretty sexy…).

  5. shower sex is easy! but might not work in every shower…especially those without nonstick surfaces!

    lady stands in front of man perpendicular to edge of tub. lady bends over, holding the wall for support, man inserts penis into lady/

  6. Speaking of things that don’t suck #1, the other day Cumingirl of the dead-serious, they-blog-about-what-it-sounds-like “Christian Nymphos” blog did a great post about prepping clothes to make them easier to tear off. (Pre-stressing seams being a very good idea for anyone who’s tried to recreate that classic that Marlon Brando/Maria Schneider under the skirt panty-ripping trick in real life.)


  7. I guess I’m just weird, but I love the humming.
    As for delayed gratification and a sense of urgency–I’m totally there. Added to that, having the kind of daring that one used to have as a teen is also fun. I’ve noticed too, that urgent sex in the morning while trying not be late for work makes the whole day so much nicer and leaves us wanting for more when we come home.

  8. I’ve gotta disagree on a couple of these, too. I had an ex that loved when I put nylon stockings or panties over my hand to give an HJ, and I taught another the ABCs trick so he wouldn’t feel like he was down there without a plan.

  9. Sorry, I have to disagree with you about the chocolate – it’s been a staple in my boudoir for decades. I would *never* buy chocolate body paint, when whipping up a bowl of homemade chocolate frosting is 1-2-3 easy, tastes divine and stays in place. (of course, never near my sex parts, but totally all over his.) Plus, super-sticky applied to nipples means extra time spent on nipples. What could be wrong with that? 🙂

    Same with the hummer–with a splash of room temp sparkling cider–no one I’ve ever done it to even cracked a smile (too busy moaning). One guy did get a little weirded out the first time. He got over it…quickly. 😉

    To each their own of course…btw, have you looked at the ingredients list on the majority of commercially made candy bars? Chemicals up the ying-yang: gross! DIY is the only way to go with chocolate!

  10. I can certainly attest to nerve damage from real handcuffs. An ex thought he’d make the night special by blindfolding me, then putting handcuffs on me and tracing a feather around my body.

    Lovely idea, except the blindfold was a silk tie that was subsequently ruined, the feather was actually a CAT TOY, and the handcuffs? Totally real — and totally left my right thumb without feeling for two weeks. (I’m a piano player; even after the feeling started coming back, it was so painful that I couldn’t play for almost a month.)

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