Men’s Health
October 2003

Baggage Check
A woman brings more than lingerie into the bedroom. She brings her exes, her hangups, and other stuff that can get in your way
By Ted Spiker

When a guy packs for a long weekend, he shoves some boxers and Right Guard in a gym bag. A woman? She packs a cosmetics case, a small suitcase, a garment bag, her favorite pillow, a purse, and a shopping bag or two.

Same thing with sexual baggage. The stuff women lug around—from how her ex treated her to how she feels about her body—could put a skycap on disability. Trouble is, men aren’t X-ray machines: We can’t see every emotional burden a woman brings to bed. That translates into infrequent sex, stagnant sex, or no sex. To help, we’ve examined her shipping manifest and come up with a plan to lighten the load, so both of you can enjoy the trip.

Problem: She’s not reaching orgasm

Her ex. “Trust is the number one issue,” says Ava Cadell, Ph.D., Ed.D., author of 12 Days to Everlasting Love. “If a previous partner has been unfaithful, lied to her or been deceitful, that’s a biggie. A woman cannot have an orgasm if she cannot surrender to her partner.”

Stop talking about it. Saying the words “orgasm” and . “are you finished?” is like asking her to have sex in front of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden—too much pressure. Tell her you just want to enjoy the experience—your curiosity and enthusiasm will help more than any technique, says Cadell. Some emotion and appreciation (“You know exactly what to do” … “I want this to last all night”) will relax her and excite her. When all else fails, tell her how she nice she smells. Draw it out. With oral sex—a reliable route—think of her body as a treasure map. Don’t just dig, explore first. Kiss her cheek, her neck, her arms, and so on, until you reach the spot. Even then, take a detour to her thighs and her knees. “You want to drive her nuts, so she’s begging you to lick her,” Cadell says. Then start by gently kissing, gradually adding circular motions with a little bit of pressure.

Problem: She’s inhibited

Play naked Boggle. Make sure nudity isn’t always associated with sex. “Nothing reduces inhibitions like laughing and sharing a joke when you’re naked,” Brame says. She’ll get comfortable and more creative. Cadell suggests this trick: Take a shower together, but put powdered Jell-O in the showerhead. When you turn it on, flavored slime comes out. It’s fun, it’s sticky, and it’s sexy without the sex.

Compromise. Indulge your fantasies without making her uncomfortable. Cadell remembers one client who took his wife to a strip club, and a dancer gave them a lap dance together. “His wife loved it,” Cadell says. . “It was a way to make a threesome without the sex and then they went home and had the best sex they ever had.” Too racy? Try adjoining massages—woman touching you, guy touching her.

Problem: She’s a rule-maker

Focus on trigger spots. If she’s self-conscious about her butt, take extra time there. Ignoring it actually reinforces her feelings, says Cadell. “That’s going to make her feel so loved and sexually empowered,” she says. “It gives her a sense of femininity without any rejection.” Tell her how much you love her butt, or her breasts, and persist. She needs to hear it a lot before she buys it, Schwarz says.

Show her off. She’s heard your compliments. Now call in reinforcements—other men. Nothing kinky. Just go to a bar, lean in, tell her she’s sexy and then mention how that guy by the wall has been checking her out since you walked in. Sometimes a boost in body confidence (and sexual arousal) comes when the nonverbal compliments are come from someone else.