Magnificent Sex (2020) is a guide to having outstanding sex, time after time. Rather than focusing on specific sexual techniques, it draws on interviews with extraordinary lovers to dive into the qualities and characteristics that make magnificent sex possible.
Learn the secrets of extraordinary lovers.
When it comes to improving our sex lives, the advice we’re given often falls into two equally unhelpful categories. The first offers adventurous advice for exciting sex – with all kinds of gadgets, equipment, and dizzying sexual positions. The second pictures sex as either functional or dysfunctional – and tells us that any type of sex is fine so long as everything’s working well down below.
These blinks take a different approach. Based on in-depth interviews with a diverse group of extraordinary lovers, they lay out the qualities that make magnificent sex possible. From the importance of maturity to the value of vulnerability, they point the way to richer, more fulfilling sexual experiences.
In these summary, you’ll learn
- why you shouldn’t stress about spontaneity;
- why getting older might make you a better lover; and
- what low sexual desire might be telling you about your sex life.
Increase your desire by having better sex.
One of the most common reasons people visit sex therapists is to deal with low levels of sexual desire. That’s no surprise: whether it comes as a sudden change, has gradually declined over the years, or has always been an issue, low sexual desire is a thorny problem – especially when it comes to maintaining long-term relationships.
But low desire isn’t always baffling. Sometimes not wanting much sex can actually make sense. Think about it this way: if you lived someplace where the weather was always cold and dreary, you probably wouldn’t fancy going to the beach very often.
In the same way, if the only sex you’re having is boring or unpleasant, having low sexual desire makes a lot of sense.
The key message here is: Increase your desire by having better sex.
It stands to reason that if bad sex can lower sexual desire, then better sex might just raise it.
On the face of it, this seems pretty obvious – but it often strikes people as a revelation. What if a person’s lack of desire isn’t some kind of internal, psychological issue after all? What if the thing that needs attention is the kind of sex that’s on offer?
That’s what the authors discovered. And this new approach means that therapists and patients need to change their focus. Instead of fixating on how often sex occurs, they need to pay attention to how it feels when it happens. In other words, instead of focusing on quantity, they need to look at sexual quality.
This change in focus is liberating. Rather than making lovers feel like there’s something wrong with them, it empowers them to feel like they have solid judgment. After all, what sane person wants undesirable sex?
From here, the path forward is clear. To boost desire, the sex itself needs to improve – and who better to help with that than extraordinary lovers?
In the blinks to come, we’ll draw on the insights of people who have remarkable sex – and learn in detail how to cultivate a sex life worth desiring.
During magnificent sex, lovers are focused, connected, and vulnerable.
So, you know that you want to improve your sex life, and you’re not just aiming for decent or even satisfactory sex – you want it to be magnificent. But how do you know when you’re approaching sex that is truly remarkable? Let’s talk about what extraordinary sex actually feels like, as well as its defining characteristics.
The authors’ research finds a few common threads. These elements don’t all have to be present for the sex to be considered extraordinary – but, in interviews with stand-out lovers, there were a few themes that came up time after time.
Let’s look at three.
The key message here is: During magnificent sex, lovers are focused, connected, and vulnerable.
During conversations with extraordinary lovers, magnificent sex was described time and again as 100 percent engrossing. When the sex is this good, they say, there isn’t any room for distractions – all other thoughts are muted, and the lovers are completely engaged in the matter at hand.
For many, this is a skill that was learned over time. But it’s a skill worth cultivating. Overwhelmingly, the lovers interviewed said their ability to leave worries, concerns, and irrelevant thoughts outside the bedroom was a prerequisite for mind-blowing sex.
Another key aspect of magnificent sex is a sense of profound connection with your partner. Beyond bodily pleasure, lovers describe feeling like they’re “bridging a gap” or “merging” during extraordinary sex.
In other words, instead of feeling like two separate people making love, magnificent sex can make lovers feel like they’ve momentarily fused into a single person.
But for this to happen sexual partners first need to take an important but often daunting step: they need to allow themselves to be vulnerable.
To do this, the authors tell aspiring lovers to shed their inhibitions and reveal their true selves and private desires. Adopting this kind of vulnerable position can be scary – but it’s precisely the sense of risk involved, and the unique feeling of freedom that results, which makes magnificent sex possible.
Age isn’t an obstacle – it’s an advantage.
In the movies, it can seem as though extraordinary sex is something that only the young and beautiful get to experience. In film after film, it’s the muscular, young Adonis and the supple, sexy twentysomething who fall into bed in a feverish and impassioned embrace.
But what about in real life? Is magnificent sex really reserved for the young and unwrinkled? Are crow’s feet and gray hair some kind of barrier to hot, passionate sex?
Perhaps, instead, there are unique advantages to maturity. As the authors found out, being older might actually make you more likely to enjoy magnificent sex.
The key message here is: Age isn’t an obstacle – it’s an advantage.
During the authors’ interviews with extraordinary lovers, it quickly became apparent that the media has it all wrong. Getting older doesn’t necessarily harm your sex life; in fact, it’s more likely to improve it. Most interviewees said that although they’d enjoyed sex when they were young, their sex lives improved as they aged.
One reason for this is that the nature of the sex they were having changed for the better. When they were younger, sex had seemd “goal-oriented.” The aim, they’d thought, was orgasm – so they’d focused on that, keeping technique and performance at the forefront of their minds.
But, as they got older, things changed. Sex started to seem like more of an exploration and less of a race to get from A to B. Things like intimacy and connection became more important.
Maturity plays a key role in this development. As lovers age, they become more sure of themselves and less worried about being embarrassed. And having a stable sense of self means older partners are more willing to take risks, make mistakes, and explore their sexualities in depth.
For these reasons, extraordinary lovers say that their sexual development has never really ended. As they change and evolve throughout their lives, the sex they’re having does too – many report still discovering things about themselves and their partners well into their sixties and seventies.
Extraordinary lovers tend to be open, curious, and self-accepting.
So far, we’ve examined sexual desire, the characteristics of magnificent sex, and the advantages of age when it comes to making love.
But what about the characteristics of extraordinary lovers themselves? Is there anything that unites them – or is searching for common qualities little more than a wild goose chase?
The authors’ interviews reveal that extraordinary lovers do differ a lot – in their personalities, their preferences, and in their private fantasies. But these differences don’t tell the whole story, and focusing on them can hide some important similarities.
In fact, outstanding lovers share some distinct characteristics that we can all emulate.
The key message here is: Extraordinary lovers tend to be open, curious, and self-accepting.
Becoming an extraordinary lover takes guts. As we’ve seen, magnificent sex depends on making yourself vulnerable – which means that becoming an extraordinary lover involves making yourself vulnerable over and over again, as you experiment sexually and get to know what you and your partner like.
Outstanding lovers are open, curious people. Instead of being averse to taking risks and trying new things, they’re eager to explore – and that doesn’t just mean new techniques in the bedroom. It means being open emotionally, and willing to learn from bad experiences as well as pleasant ones.
Extraordinary lovers also tend to accept themselves as they are. Worry and self-criticism draw your mind away from sexual pleasure and an intimate connection with your partner. For that reason, the best lovers are usually comfortable in their own skin – not because their bodies, skills, or sexual preferences are “perfect” but because they’ve learned that imperfection is OK.
That doesn’t mean you need to fix all your issues before you can have great sex. But it does mean that extraordinary lovers are kind to themselves. Over the years, they’ve managed to tone down their harshest self-criticisms – making magnificent sex possible along the way.
The greatest sexual “skills” are empathy and communication.
When you think about improving your sexual skills, you probably imagine yourself practicing the kinds of advice and techniques that you’d find on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine – raunchy tips about foreplay, contorted sex positions, and exotic but mind-blowing sexual maneuvers.
This advice can be of use – and trying new things in the bedroom isn’t a bad idea in general. But the most important techniques are of a different kind altogether. When it comes to cultivating magnificent sex, the key skills are pretty basic.
The key message here is: The greatest sexual “skills” are empathy and communication.
For now, forget the extravagant techniques you’ve read about in magazines, and focus on these two fundamental skills: empathy and communication. These involve understanding your partner – and making yourself understood in turn.
Empathy refers to the ability to metaphorically “enter into” someone else – to understand how they’re feeling, both physically and mentally. Earlier, we described the importance of creating a sense of connectedness or “merging” during sex – it’s the kind of connection that’s only possible when lovers exercise a strong and well-developed sense of empathy.
Do you know what it means when your lover tenses both arms in a certain way? Or if your partner’s in the mood for something relaxed or more up-tempo? These kinds of intuitions are usually based on empathy; without them, magnificent sex is impossible.
The ability to empathize goes hand in hand with the ability to communicate. It takes guts to tell your lover exactly what you want – what feels good, what you’re in the mood for, and what your most private fantasies are. But extraordinary sex depends on precisely this kind of communication.
Too often, partners spend the early part of a relationship figuring out each other’s sexual preferences, and then they just repeat the same few steps every time they have sex! Even if this results in orgasm, it’s far from magnificent.
Forget this mechanical sex by numbers. Empathy and communication are what will help you stay tuned to your lover’s desires – enabling you to adapt what you do as both the mood and situation change.
Magnificent sex doesn’t happen randomly – it requires effort.
We’ve already dispatched the myth that magnificent sex is reserved for the young. But this isn’t the only harmful stereotype that causes trouble for those of us who want better sex.
Just as destructive as this notion is the idea that magnificent sex should be effortless – that lovers should fall into bed, full of desire, without a moment’s forethought or preparation. As we’ll see, nothing could be less accurate.
In fact, the extraordinary lovers that the authors interviewed reiterated one thing again and again: magnificent sex takes planning, practice, and intentionality.
The key message here is: Magnificent sex doesn’t happen randomly – it requires effort.
Couples who visit sex therapists often say that they want great sex to happen “naturally” and “spontaneously,” like it did at the start of their relationship. Understandable, right? But, on reflection, just how unplanned was that allegedly spontaneous, early sex?
Think about it like this. Before their date, each person probably spent a while choosing an outfit, perhaps cleaning their homes, preening themselves, and, when they finally met, making witty and engaging conversation for a few hours. Their so-called spontaneous sex at the end of the night? It was all day in the making!
Later in a relationship, magnificent sex also takes preparation – but it’s often preparation of a different sort. Rather than the kind of effort that went into planning dates in the early days, the authors suggest lovers direct their energy and attention to the types of skills and characteristics covered in these blinks.
That means striving to be curious and open; learning to communicate and empathize with your partner; taking risks by being vulnerable; and learning to accept yourself as you are.
All of these things require work, but don’t let that daunt you! Instead, let it console you. After all, extraordinary lovers are made, not born. And the fact that these things require time and effort is proof that, with patience, they can be learned.
The key message in these summary:
If you want to have extraordinary sex, forget the gimmicks and focus on cultivating the right qualities. Becoming a magnificent lover means learning to be open and curious, taking risks and being vulnerable, and communicating your deepest fantasies and desires.
Forget the date-night rose petals.
Although having magnificent sex requires effort, don’t think that means you need to indulge every Hollywood cliché to stoke the fire of passion. If you actually like strawberries and candles in the bedroom, then go for it – but if not, preparing the environment for great sex might involve no more than tidying up the room and putting your kids to bed. Don’t get distracted by frivolities!
About the Author
Peggy Joy Kleinplatz is a Canadian clinical psychologist and sexologist whose work often concerns optimal sexuality, opposition to the medicalization of human sexuality, and outreach to marginalized groups. She is a full professor of medicine and clinical professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa.
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