8 Things That Women Actually Want in Bed

woman laying on a bed wearing

Pleasing a woman in bed: it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. We promise. 

“What women want” is a topic that’s spawned lots of lists, and more than a few rom coms—but, here’s our take on it. If you’re reading this article, you’re already curious about women’s pleasure, and that quality is sexy as hell. Regardless of your gender or gender identity, we all want to please our partners…but let’s be real, women’s pleasure hasn’t historically been a priority. Just look at the orgasm gap: 95% of heterosexual men say they usually or always climax during sex, while 65% of heterosexual women say they usually or always orgasm. Compared to gay and lesbian couples, and compared to orgasm from self-stimulation, that’s the lowest orgasm rate of all of the demographics studied. And while this advice is geared toward cishet men wanting to please their female-identifying partners, we suggest this advice for all types of relationship configurations. Regardless of your gender, you can focus on the masculine and feminine energy dynamics and apply these tips as you see fit.  

But before we dive in too deep, let’s unpack this topic a bit.

Women are not homogenous and don’t necessarily want the exact same thing in bed. In fact, let’s define our terms: we’re referring to women as a gender identity, not a set of specific genitals. On top of that, we all have our own unique set of life circumstances that shape how we experience and express attraction. This makes communication so critical (and again, quite sexy). 

That said, our lived experience does inform our experiences in the bedroom. Society shapes our conceptions of pleasure, ourselves, and safety, and trust…it’s complex. But that’s precisely what makes our sexuality so freaking fascinating! We’ve curated a list of “what women want in bed” to engage your partner emotionally, aesthetically, and psychologically. 

1. Flirty Anticipation

You know what’s fun? Flirting. But that doesn’t require pick-up lines, necessarily. A sense of play and an easy back-and-forth in your communication is the ultimate lubricant. Why does verbal banter juice your upcoming sexy time? Anticipation. What you’re doing is establishing a sense of camaraderie, which not only builds trust — it’s building the sense of “what if?” Take some time here, with the simple goal of having fun while you talk. 

2. Eye contact

Now for some technique. Making sustained eye contact is incredibly hot, both in conversation, but also during foreplay and sex. Why? It’s inherently a little vulnerable — and that’s what makes it intimate. Being seen is deep and validating, and communicates to your partner a couple of things. First, it tells your partner: I like what I see. But secondly, it communicates: I feel comfortable showing myself to you. That’s trust! And trust is a precursor to opening up, sexually: both your openness and hers. 

Try making eye contact while kissing, and as things progress – say, when your kisses travel to other parts of her body, such as her breasts or stomach – find opportunities to give her a playful, conspiratorial glance. If you penetrate her (with fingers, a toy or a penis) make eye contact with her again, so that both of you can register how it’s feeling together.

3. Teasing

Let’s engage her imagination. Teasing is an excellent way to flip the script and an incredible way to build tension. Why? Think about it: as women, we’re often socialized to be pursued, to be pounced on. This is why it’s so novel and so hot, to delay our gratification. So how to do it? 

  • Start verbally. Once you’re touching, ask questions. “Do you like this? Do you want more?” 
  • Next, get suggestive. For example: maybe you haven’t progressed to oral sex yet, but you can preview it with other body parts (sucking fingers, using your tongue on her thighs, etc.)
  • Finally, draw out the pleasure. Instead of doing X right away (oral, penetration, etc.) try edging up onto the act, little by little. 

4. Curiosity 

Once you’re in a sustained sexual space, keep communicating. As women, we’re socialized to become emotional laborers, and are used to being the ones to “check-in” and make sure everything’s OK. That’s why it’s a weight off our shoulders to not have this responsibility. It frees us up to sink into our physical pleasure. Try asking questions that range from dirty talk to soliciting real feedback. “How’s this position?” “Is that the spot?” “Do you like this?”

Note: this doesn’t have to be a constant stream of questions. You want to allow us some headspace, to register the sensations! But your genuine interest – in our unique bodies, our turn-ons – is sexy, period, and will give you information about what we’re into. 

5. Oral

One of the big things that many women want in bed? Oral sex. And lots of it. Once upon a time, all porn depicted women screaming with orgasmic glee the very second they were penetrated. Penetration often equals orgasm for penis-owners. Those with vulvas sometimes need a little something extra. 

Penetration isn’t off the table, at all (keep reading!) but most vulva owners need some kind of clitoral stimulation to orgasm. And while not all vulva-owners are women (and vice-versa), it’s always important to find your partner’s unique erogenous zones. 

6. A Variety of Positions

When done well, positional variety is oh-so-delicious for women. Why? It keeps things interesting, on a psychological level. But physically, it also introduces new sensations for our bodies to enjoy. 

The key here is tuning yourself to our feedback. If we’re super into the moment, giving you lots of positive vocals, then by all means stay right where you are. But if it’s been a minute in the same position, and the energy is starting to dip, try something new. How about doggy-style? There’s a fresh guide right here to walk you through it. Want more ideas? Here’s a list of go-to sex positions, and how to make them even better.

7. Toy enthusiasm 

Sex toys can be your wingman, helping women achieve orgasm. Today’s sex toy technology can also open up your vectors of pleasure. The sense of shared adventure here is the sexy piece: you’re discovering little moments together and sharing with each other what feels good. Sex toys also dismantle retrograde stereotypes about what body parts are “supposed” to deliver pleasure, and what body parts are “supposed” to receive it. 

Maybe you’d like to be pegged, or when a penis owner’s prostate is stimulated by their partner using a strap-on dildo. Maybe she’d love doing this for you! Maybe she’d like anal play. Butt plugs can be a great thing for every gender! By welcoming toys into the bedroom, you expand your sense of play with your partner—and after all, play is a huge part of sex.

8. Rhythmic movement

Let’s say she’s close to orgasm. This is not the time to switch it up, with positions or toys. If she’s saying words like, “just like that,” “keep going,” or “don’t stop” then trust me: don’t stop! If you’ve made it to this step, you have done a fantastic job, and now is the time to enjoy her moans, while adding yours too. Rhythmic movement—whether it’s happening via digital stimulation, a toy, a tongue, or a penis—helps facilitate the muscle contractions of orgasm, so your job here is to keep doing exactly what you are doing. 

Regardless of which tips you try, reading this list means you care about your partner’s pleasure, which is arguably one of the most important things in a relationship. The next step is finding out what steps resonate with you and your partner, trying them out, and going from there. You’ve done your homework—now it’s time to play.

Tolly Moseley is a writer and content contributor for Sex With Emily. She is a storyteller and board member for Bedpost Confessions, has written for The Atlantic and Salon, and loves listening to all the sex podcasts. When she’s not writing, she’s doing aerial