No one is perfect, and awkward moments and mistakes will happen to the best of us in bed. But it's important to be open to growing and maturing in your sexuality, because there are real consequences to being a bad sexual partner. The orgasm gap — aka the disparity between how many straight men finish during sex compared to their female partners — is a reminder that a lot of straight dudes either don't know much about female pleasure or don't care to try to please their partners. So what are the qualities that set grown-ass men apart from less mature lovers?
"First and most importantly, a mature man will focus on you in bed," Samantha Burns, couples counselor and dating coach at Love Successfully, tells Bustle. "He’s not fully absorbed in his own pleasure. He’s committed to showing you a good time, and hopefully an orgasm."
Simply put, being selfless is one of the fundamental qualities of a mature lover, because it shows an understanding that sex is an act between two people, and that the pleasure should always be equal. Here are eight other sexual habits that grown-ass, confident men have in common. (And regardless of gender or sexual orientation — trust, communication, and a commitment to mutual satisfaction are the building blocks of all good sex.)
1He's All About Foreplay
I'm honestly so over the idea of foreplay: manual stimulation, oral sex, and all that other fun stuff shouldn't be seen as a totally separate experience — it's all part of sex. A grown-ass man knows that foreplay is underrated, and is more than willing to spend time slowly building up to penetrative sex, or else forgoing penis-in-vagina sex altogether and focusing on other activities. "[A mature man] is all about the give and take, and has no qualms about initiating oral sex," Burns says.
2He Welcomes Sex Toys Into The Mix
One of my biggest sexual pet peeves? When a guy is emasculated by the idea of using toys during partnered sex. Adding a vibrator or dildo into the mix doesn't mean your penis isn't 'good enough' to finish the job — toys are just a fun way to enhance everyone's pleasure. "[Guys] can be intimidated or insecure that you’re able to achieve an orgasm with a toy, but [grown-ass] men get down with the use of this pleasure-enhancing equipment and are open to experimenting," Burns says.
3He's Down To Try New Things
Being open-minded about trying new things in bed is a seriously good quality to have in a sexual partner, because it shows confidence and a desire to keep things feeling new. A good partner is open to learning your kinks and fantasies, and maybe even trying a few with you. "[A grown-ass man] is confident and adventurous," Burns says. "He’s all about trying new positions, especially the ones that feel best for you. He will check in to make sure you’re comfortable and adjust accordingly."
4He's Open To Direction
The mark of a good lover? The ability to communicate effectively about both their and your own needs in bed. "You may have heard that men don’t like to stop and ask for directions, but in the bedroom a grown-ass man is all ears [when it comes] to learning what feels good," Burns says. "He’s turned on when you know what you want and can show or tell him so that he can make it the best experience for you."
5He Paces Himself With You
Although there's nothing to be ashamed of if your partner finishes quickly, a grown-ass man knows all about the orgasm gap, and actively tries to pace himself so he can finish either with or after you. Or, if he finishes before you, he's sure to spend time pleasuring you before calling it quits. "He knows that it typically takes a woman longer to orgasm since it can take our bodies a full twenty minutes to reach peak physical arousal, so he’s in it for the long haul," Burns says.
6He Respects Your Boundaries
PSA: when someone says no, it means no — period. A grown-ass man knows that consent is crucial, and respects your boundaries when you say something is off-limits. With a mature partner, there's no whining, guilt-tripping, or manipulating you into doing something you're uncomfortable with. There should be mutual trust and respect in every sexual relationship, and a mature man knows this.
7He Checks In Before He Climaxes
Obviously, not everyone has complete control over when they orgasm (seriously, that's an actual skill). But a grown-ass man still stops to let you know when he's getting close, and wants to do everything in his power to boost your pleasure so you get close, too. "He will check in with you before he climaxes to see if you’re close," Burns says. "This shows he’s thinking about your needs and not just his own, even in the most intense moments."
8He Knows About 'Aftercare'
One of the most often overlooked parts of sex? Aftercare — a term the kink community uses to describe post-sex check-ins with your partner. Even if you're not personally into BDSM, the idea of aftercare is something that every couple should get behind. A grown-ass man knows that cuddling and chatting after sex is one of the most important, intimate parts of the experience, and has no problem checking in with you (and making sure you're OK if you do engage in something new and/or rough).
Ultimately, anyone who communicates well, listens to your needs, respects your boundaries, and wants to give you pleasure is going to be an amazing sexual partner. Although sex can be weird and messy at times, there's nothing more fun than exploring new things and having awesome orgasms with a grown-ass man who wants to build a healthy, happy sex life — together.