What Americans Want The Most In Bed —And How To Get It

by Kristine Fellizar
BDG Media, Inc.

What would you say is your favorite part of sex? In a paper published in the journal PLOS One, researchers conducted a first-of-its-kind study to see what kinds of sexual behaviors Americans are interested in as well as how much they really like them. While obvious some sex acts may come to mind, it might surprise you to know that the most popular sexual behaviors are actually kind of sweet.

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Center for Sexual Health Promotion conducted a survey of 2,000 men and women who've engaged in a variety of sexual behaviors. As they found, an average person will engage in over 30 different types of behaviors. Most of them are fairly common, some are not. But in total, researchers looked into the level of appeal of nearly 50 sexual behaviors, or how much people really desired a specific act or behavior.

According to their findings, both men and women say they desire romantic and affectionate behavior above anything else. So while dirty talk and wild sex positions can certainly have its appeal, people are actually craving the more romantic things like setting the mood with candles or music, kissing often, and whispering sweet and romantic things during sex.

"Finally, more and more people are expanding their definition of sex!" Karolina Pasko, registered sex and divorce therapist tells Bustle. When sex revolves solely around intercourse and orgasms, you can't help but find yourself bored out of your mind (not to mention that this definition of sex excludes tons of people who don't have PIV sex or can't get off). The passion may or may not be there, but the intimacy will definitely be lacking. Intimacy is what tends to make sex in a long-term, committed relationship much better than a one night stand.

"I work with a lot of men who don't know how to ask their wives for a hug because they don't want to look weak."

Although people want romance and affection, the study also found that few people actually engaged in them within the past month or year. As the authors wrote, it definitely highlights the need for more open communication between couples. "People need to become more comfortable with asking for affection and love," Pasko says. "I work with a lot of men who don't know how to ask their wives for a hug because they don't want to look weak. So they go for sex instead even when they don't want it."

So if romance and affection are what you're craving, here are some ways to bring more of it into your relationship:


Make It Part Of Your Lifestyle

"You can't expect your relationship to be passionate and adventurous by occasionally having a quickie," Pasko says. "It takes every day rituals to create this lifestyle of love." That includes kissing for more than 30 seconds before you leave for work to sharing what your partner did to you that turned you on the last time you had sex. If you want more of something in your relationship, you need to be able to create it and make it part of your every day routine.


Focus On Touching And Kissing

"Affection is best experienced through sensuality," Chelsea Leigh Trescott, relationship expert and breakup coach tells Bustle. Maybe you spend time kissing each other passionately or choose to simply touch your significant other slowly and deliberately. The point is, to not rush or force the moment to turn into something sexual immediately or at all."

Sensuality is about building momentum internally as a result of touch, she says. So show affection to your partner by creating a moment where you can pause and just be completely present to him or her. Just surrender to the each other’s needs. "Romance, ultimately, has everything to do with slowing down time and devoting yourself to the person in front of you," Trescott says. "Affection is the gift of your attention."


Have Fun With It

If you want to bring more romance and affection into your relationship, play with your partner. Romance doesn't have to be serious. "Play gets lost in relationships, especially long-term relationships, and yet it's so important," Dr. Piper Grant, licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert tells Bustle. "That might mean showing affection isn't just hugging your partner more, but sharing chocolates, or playing with the hair on their neck."


Set Aside One Night A Week For Date Night In To Maintain The Intimacy

You don't need to have a fancy date night where you go out every week in order to stay connected. You could just stay in, set the table, put out some candles and have a delicious meal together. "Maintaining intimacy is very important especially when you have children or a busy work week," Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. "Little gestures you can do here and there for each other can do wonders to improve your relationship."


Understand What Affection Means For Your Partner

"Affection is a key component of a healthy, happy relationship, but In order to be more affectionate, its important to understand what affection means to your partner," Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, Founder and Chief Relationship Strategist tells Bustle. Affection can be a number of things from holding your partner's hand, stroking the back of their neck, or even giving them a massage. It's also important to understand what they don't like. For instance, if they're uncomfortable with doing those things in public, then it's obviously not going to bring you closer together.

While the study didn't specifically mention whether participants were in relationships or not, it's pretty interesting to see that romance and affection are at the top of the most wanted list. It just goes to show that intimacy and feeling connected to your partner can make sex that much better.