The Lover’s Guide to Sexual Etiquette

Aesthetic female portraits in the shower with textures blurring the face and the body

It’s so hot when a lover knows all the right moves for sex. But I’m not talking about technique – I’m talking manners. Sexual etiquette, if you will. 

There’s a natural swagger in lovers who just know what to do. How to prep, how to ensure you’re both having a great time, how to make the setting a whole vibe. 

Having good sex etiquette implies confidence and maturity, whether it’s a new partner or a long-term relationship. It’s also considerate! When you care about all aspects of your partner’s pleasure, from fresh breath to foreplay, they’re going to be more enthusiastic about the sex itself. That leads to a stronger sexual connection and increased intimacy, so here are 12 sex etiquette tips to consider.   

Wash up.

Shower or bathe, groom your genitals to your preference, brush your teeth (and don’t forget to floss). If you’re making preparations with a brand new partner, I also recommend fresh STI testing for all parties a few days in advance, so everyone can have all the info. 

Prepare your space. 

If you’re hosting, clean your bedroom and bathroom at a minimum, by tidying up, making the bed, wiping down surfaces and lighting candles. Now is a great time to throw down a soft covering specifically made for sex, like a playdrop mat*. This makes you look like a pro: it absorbs sexual fluids (think ejaculation, squirting and sweat) as well as lube, so when you’re all done, just throw it in the wash! It covers a nice amount of the bed too, looking intentional and not utilitarian. Love mine and recommend it all the time. 

Give advanced notice.

Booty calls, hookups, casual sex: all fair game, if everyone is down. But don’t show up on their doorstep out of nowhere, or expect them to be available at the drop of a hat. Reach out with plenty of time to let them consider and prepare, and be gracious if they can’t make it this time. 

Have nearby supplies.

Have the following items neatly stored and ideally, within arm’s reach:

And of course condoms, especially if it’s a brand new partner.

Make foreplay a whole journey.

Everyone loves a generous lover. Make out for a long time, master the art of hand play, lick and tease all over their body, ask what they’re into, and if you’re both feeling it, bring in the sex toys. (I give tons of tips on partner toy play in this episode.)

Be consensual. 

Maybe it goes without saying, but do check in along the way. Yes, even if you’re having sex with your long-term SO! Phrases like–

“How’s this?” 

“Can we __?”

“Can you ___?”

Asking for consent does a few cool things. First, it shows your partner that you care about them and their experience. Second, it helps each of you attune to your desires. Third, it prompts an enthusiastic YES if they’re into it! So while there’s nuance depending on your relationship, avoid the temptation to assume. Consent questions are both ethical and sexy. 

Be reciprocal.

If they’ve given you lots of oral, return the favor. If they’ve given you lots of hand play, return the favor. Sex doesn’t have to be completely symmetrical, but you get the idea. Be generous and greedy in equal measure. 

Have grace for unpredictable genitals. 

If they lose their erection, be kind. A gracious response sounds like: “I’ve got all kinds of things I want to do to you…and vice versa.” Similarly, if they aren’t wet yet, reach for the lube! And if sounds occur (queefing – it happens), roll with it. Sex is messy, embrace the animal nature of it all. 

Give compliments, be expressive. 

Having sex with someone who’s completely silent can be an awkward experience. So be communicative! Phrases like “that feels amazing” go a long way, as do moans of pleasure. Bonus points for complimenting specific aspects of your partner, such as: “your ass looks so hot right now” or “I can’t wait to get between your legs.” For tips on dirty talk, swing over here.

Clean up.

After your sex sesh is finished, offer wipes or a washcloth, and place them in the waste basket or hamper. Easy peasy. 

Do aftercare. 

What do you need after sex, to come back down to earth? What do they need? Pillow talk? Cuddling? You just got vulnerable back there! Take this down time to connect as two humans who care about each other. 

Follow up. 

There’s nothing like getting a well-timed, post-sex text. “You’re so hot in bed, and I had an amazing time.” Send one of these, even if you live with each other! Whether it’s the next morning or a few hours after the fact, don’t skip this step. It puts a bow on the sexual encounter, letting your partner know that you appreciate them. 

Stay classy, friends. Now that you know the basics of sex etiquette, put them to use…and see how your sex life elevates in return.  

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