How To Be A More Mindful Partner In Bed

by Lindsay Tigar
Andrew Zaeh for Bustle;

Some people get a bad rep for being selfish in bed, but if you’re not careful, you might venture away from being a stellar, all-star in bed to someone who is just there for the action, without giving anything in return. To make sex not only an enjoyable experience for both you and your partner, but a successful one (aka you're both satisfied) — it’s important to be more than just sexy — you have to be mindful.

“A great lover of any gender is enthusiastic, curious and fascinated by their partner’s responses," co-authors of Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships, Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels tell Bustle. "Great lovers are willing to experiment and try things that may be a turn-on; they’re able to listen to feedback, and have healthy sense of humor. When all partners approach sex with these attitudes, the results are exponential. Rather that a give and take, lovemaking can become a great adventure of mutually taking each other into higher states of ecstasy.”

But being mindful in bed isn’t quite like being mindful at work, in your friendships or in your yoga class. Instead, being a mindful partner means you start with an attitude of putting your partner first and working together to not only make your sex life better, but to honestly, truly, understand what works for them, for you and for your sex life. Here’s how to be more mindful in bed, straight from the experts who know best:

1. It’s Not Good Sex If Your Partner Isn’t Happy

Psychologist and sex expert, Nikki Martinez tells Bustle that while we all want to have an orgasm (who doesn’t?) — a really mindful lover won’t see great sex as great sex unless they hear their partner finish or know they were happy with the romp.“You should be just as concerned with your partner’s needs and climax, as you are with your own. It is not enough that you simply have a satisfying sexual experience, but that your partner does as well,” she says.

2. Feel the Energy

Before you roll your eyes and skip ahead, try this practice that Johnson and Michaels recommend: “Fully extend your arms in front of you, or bend your elbows and bring your upper arms to your sides, while keeping your forearms and hands outstretched, whichever is more comfortable. Close your eyes, and open your palms; turn your left palm up and your right palm down. Squeeze your hands tightly and open them again, 24 times. Reverse the positions of your palms, right palm up and left palm down and repeat the process. Once you have finished, pay close attention to the sensations in your palms. Chances are you feel some tingling or some heat. That’s all we mean by energy.”

Why is this important in sex? Understanding not only your own energy — what makes you warm and excited, full of life and ready to live — but also your partner’s energy will help guide you while you’re having sex. If you can tune in to how you’re meshing together, you can become more mindful with your movements.

3. Don’t Make It All About the Finish Line

Johnson and Michaels say that too often, people are thinking about getting to the end game, instead of being present in the moment. It’s a tough thing to do if you’re trying to focusing in finishing or wondering if your partner is close to the grand finale.

“Orgasms are great, but sex is about a lot more than just coming," they say. "Savor the journey to your climax. Take it slow, especially if you are used to friction sex. You’re likely to discover new, subtle sensations and nurture a deeper intimacy in the process. There’s an old saying, ‘The path is the goal.’ If you can apply this principle to your sexual life, you’re likely to enjoy it a lot more, and if you can focus on what’s happening in the moment, instead of on the outcome, you’re sure to encounter some new and interesting possibilities. You might even find you’ve crossed over into new territory — a realm of more satisfying experiences and more gratifying orgasms — whether the sex you’re having is fast or slow.”

4. Be Unafraid To Be Still

Just like when conversation lulls, if you can get comfortable when taking a break mid-sex, you might find value and strength in the quietness. Maybe you’re making eye contact. Or you’re pausing to kiss. Or just holding each other to catch your breath. Whatever it is, Johnson and Michael say it’s important to use those moments to reconnect mentally, too. “Incorporating periods of stillness into your lovemaking can put you into a meditative state, produce a powerful feeling of connection, and provide you with an opportunity to be together in a new way,” they say. “You are likely to enjoy subtle textures of experience that are generally unavailable in more intense and fevered encounters.”

5. Get Rid Of Your Ego

Sex is intimate and personal — of course — but it’s also a learning experience. Dating and sex expert on E!’s Famously Single, Laurel House, tells Bustle that if you can let go of your pride and truly take constructive criticism, it’ll make you a better, happier lover. “Take notes! Once you’re done with the act, remove your ego and ask [them] what [they] liked, what [they] want more of, what [they] want differently. You aren’t asking in an insecure way, but instead a totally confident way,” she says.