Survey: WHAT WOMEN
WANT IN BED
by Gloria G. Brame
this survey was first published in Cosmo in 1995
"What does a woman want?"
Sigmund Freud once asked. This month COSMO tells YOU. Once again,
we surfed the Net, traveling to the Human Sexuality Forum of
Compuserve Information Systems to interview some of the smartest,
savviest, and outspoken women in cyberspace. These sexually
sophisticated women revealed their hottest erotic fantasies
and their kinkiest erotic acts to COSMO- -as well as their furstrations
and their joys. We selected 25 women whose outspoken opinions
on female sexual needs--and brutal honesty about men's sexual
inadequacies- -may surprise you...or might just echo your own
COSMO: Within a relationship, are you having
sex as often as you'd like? Do you ever feel as though your
sexual appetite is greater than your lover's or does he want
to have sex more often than you?
Donna, 29, hotel night auditor, Memphis,
TN: I am not having sex
as often as I like. My husband has a very busy schedule and
is often reluctant to initiate sexual activities when we do
have time together.
Alanna, 34, Accountant, Alberta, Canada:
My husband's sexual appetite
is greater than mine. He likes to have sex on a daily basis,
while I prefer it 3 or 4 times a week. I often compromise by
having sex when I'm not in the mood for it.
Nadia, 39, University Professor, Venice,
CA I was not having it
as often as I wanted when my lovers were my age, but since I've
started seeing men in their early/mid 20s, the playing field
has been leveled. My ex-husband, who was 36 to my 30, used to
complain that I "wanted it too much." My 22 year old
lover wants it all the time. So do I. It's a perfect match.
Aviva, 31, Geriatric Nurse, Nurnberg,
Germany: I am. My husband
however often has the urge when I'm not really in the mood.
( The "I have a headache" excuse still works!)
MB, 50, Computer Services, Kentfield,
California: I've always
wanted and needed more sex than lovers were capable of or willing
Anais, 38, PC User Support, Providence,
Rhode Island: My sexual
appetite varies a great deal depending on the time of the month
and what is going on in my life. Stress, rather than decreasing
my desire, actually increases it, and an orgasm is a great stress
reliever. I have at times gone into the ladies room and masturbated.
I go back to work feeling that nice mellow "high"
that I get after an orgasm and I can face my responsibilities
again. I know of men who do this, but I often wonder if other
women do. I have never had the nerve to ask any of my friends.
COSMO: Given the choice, would you prefer less
frequent but long sessions of lovemaking or to have "quickies"
Amy, 37, Commercial Pilot, San Francisco,
CA: Is long AND frequent
a choice here?
Bonnee, 35, writer, Northford, CT:
My biggest complaint is that he's
really into foreplay and likes to extend it as long as possible.
Once in a while, I'd like to just drop everything and "go
for it". With two daughters under the age of 6, he'd prefer
to wait until they're in bed for the night, while I'd just like
to grab what I can.
love quickies--if intercourse goes on too long, I tend to get
friction burns and bladder infections. But when I say "quickie,"
I don't mean 3 minutes or less--I mean maybe 20-45 minutes of
Molly, 21, Student, Columbus, OH:
I like the long sessions because it makes me feel more wanted
than just acting like a sex machine.
Alexandra, 31, Credit Manager, Atlanta,
GA: I would not turn down
a quickie if that's all a schedule would allow. To me, that
is the perfect way to start the day. It is fun to arrive at
work an hour or so later, cheeks flushed, with the secret knowledge
that a little while ago you were screaming, "Yes, yes,
yes," having an earth-shattering orgasm.
especially if something I have seen or heard or something my
lover has done turns me on suddenly, I want to have sex right
away! But if I am already relaxed and there are no time pressures,
I love to take everything slowly.
COSMO: Which is more important to you in bed--sex
or affection? Could you have one without the other?
Drew, 30, Retirement Plan Specialist,
Sacramento, CA: That's
like asking which is better, the cookies or the milk? How can
you have just one? Beds were made for sex, sex is an ideal way
to express affection. I never choose a lover for whom I feel
enough affection gets me through times of no sex better than
sex could get me through times of no affection.
Jan, 44, Owner, computer consulting
company, Toronto, Canada: I
like affection and I rarely get it. 90% of the males I have
slept with (about 20) are more interested in the sex part. I
like just being held but they think they have to keep their
hands busy all the time.
is the most important in and out of bed. I could have sex without
affection, but why bother?
Taylor, 23, Student, San Francisco,
California: It depends
on my mood. If I'm feeling very loving than affection in bed
is what I want. If I'm horny, then it's sex. You definitely
can have one without the other but I think having both is what
make good sex great sex.
COSMO: Describe a perfect lovemaking session--how
would it begin and end?
Sandy, 27, Property Management, Sunnyvale,
CA: Pamper me! Plain and
simple. It isn't any special technique they read about or see
in an adult film. It is just to treat me like a queen. Pedicure,
massage, reading to me, anything, as long as it is totally decadent
and ONLY for me.
A perfect love-making session would begin by setting the mood:
a romantic dinner, candlelight, fireplace. A slow buildup, starting
with kissing in front of the fire, then, as the excitement builds,
moving into the bedroom. Lots of foreplay, slow removal of clothing;
afterwards, lots of talking and cuddling.
Chrissy, 27, Computer Programmer,
Baltimore, MD: It would
start with a quiet romantic dinner, then some cuddling and quiet
time until we both heated up. It would continue for hours, with
many mini-peaks, and culminate in a final monstrous orgasm!
me, the anticipation is sometimes better than the actual penetration.
I would play with my partner's body, kiss and nibble up and
down. I like to drive him nuts. This gets me really excited.
Then slowww intercourse with lots of kissing. Afterwards, lying
there, breathing together, curling his chest hairs around my
Anjelica, 44, Residential appraiser,
Sylvania, OH: It would
begin with him undressing me, slowly, caressingly, and doing
a lot of stroking and touching, very sensuous. We'd take turns
massaging each other with an aromatic light oil and enjoy the
feeling of our bodies sliding against each other. The ending
would be holding each other and kissing and fondling.
would be in control, not necessarily domineering, just in control
of things. If he wants to be rough, he's rough. If he wants
me to be dominant, I am. It's not the actual act or acts, it's
feeling the strength and power of my lover (mental and physical)
that really turns me on! It doesn't require flowers, wine, dinner
or any of those traditional mating rituals, it simply is being
pursued by a confident, assertive hunk! (Yes, he has to be great
looking.....I admit it, looks matter to me!)
Tawny, age 27, graphic artist, Seattle,
WA: It would ignite quickly
and passionately: you can't wait to rip each other's clothes
off. But it would end quietly, contemplative and soul- searchingly
close. Exhausted, you fall asleep, still tangled together.
Julia, 45, Accountant, Grayslake,
Illinois: For me there
is no one perfect lovemaking session. They all have their own
beauty and passion, whether it starts on the sofa or in the
COSMO: What is the single most exciting thing
a man could do for you in bed?
Grace, 38, Manager, Sports Bar, Chicago,
Illinois: Kiss me. All
touch my body, everywhere. Run his fingers up and down. Drives
single most important thing a man can do for me in bed is to
allow me to express myself without any fear of awkwardness.
I like to feel beautiful, as if I'm the only woman he ever wants
to make love to.
turns me on more than hearing a man moan and sigh while we are
making love. And few things turn me on as much as hearing (not
seeing, but hearing) another couple making love, perhaps in
the next room at a hotel.
Lucy, 40, At-home mother/editor, Geneva,
Illinois: Make me feel
as though he's totally concentrating on pleasing me, and has
all the time in the world to spend pleasuring me!
me endlessly! Arouse me, and deny me what I desire most! This
starts with petting, clothes on, touching me everywhere except
the one spot that I want him to touch most! It just makes me
wild with passion, nearly out of control!!
Ronnie, 26, Student/administrative
assistant, DeKalb, IL: My
biggest turn-on is to have my man give me a slow, sensual backrub
and slowly switch over to kissing the small of my back and the
back of my neck, especially around the ears. That attention
makes me feel not only turned-on, but also very special. On
the other hand, it always excites me when my man takes charge
and is forceful and demanding. That passionate, exciting, hungry,
almost animalistic lovemaking is *very* exciting to me.
COSMO: What might a man do in bed that would
turn you off the most?
Lynn 26, Systems Analyst, Germantown,
Maryland: Fall asleep right
me to another lover.
a bra and makeup! (No kidding.)
worst thing a man can do is give a list of commands which I'm
supposed to follow. Lovemaking should be sharing and a willingness
to please, not a drill with him expecting me to obey.
biggest turn-off is when he doesn't understand, or really believe,
that NO means NO.
they are about to have an orgasm and they say, "Are you
almost there, because I am," I lose any excitement that
I had! That's because after men have orgasms they usually don't
take the time to make sure that you're satisfied, so if a woman
is going to have an orgasm, she'd better have it before the
turns me off the most is men who perform oral sex on me as if
they were doing me an incredible favor, but are lousy at doing
it. I remember one infamous night when a would-be lover kept
trying to perform oral sex on me, and I kept inching away, until
I fell off the side of my bed! He still didn't get it and wanted
to do it some more!
dated a man for 4 years who was selfish. I don't think I had
one orgasm that whole time. He also placed too much importance
on sex in the relationship. We HAD to have sex on holidays,
Fridays and Saturdays. To him that is what made a weekend a
weekend, or a holiday special! It just drove me nuts.
COSMO: Is there anything you'd like to try
in bed--light S&M, new positions, sex toys? Have you ever
made suggestions to your lover?
often like to try new things in bed. We frequently use sex toys
and massage oils. A change of place is also exciting. For instance,
making love in a jacuzzi or in a different room...the dining
room table works well!
would like to try a vibrator, but I think that bothers him because
he feels like he can't satisfy me himself.
Beth, 22, Was Admin. Asst., now stay-at-home
mom-to-be, Euless, TX: We
use a vibrator occasionally--we're trying to become more adventurous.
Being pregnant has made us find lots of new positions.
would love to be tied up, relinquish all control, so I am free
to let myself just feel. I doubt I will ever mention it to my
partner, even though I often fantasize about it.
bondage, but me being in control of him. No pain, though. Sex
toys, SURE. There are a few new positions I would like to try.
I managed to talk him into a new one a few weeks ago. He was
in heaven, and now that is the only one he wants.
new partner and I have discussed our fantasies, but I never
shared my needs or my fantasies with my husband. I never felt
I could trust him.
for this? I have this desire to make love doggie style while
eating angel hair pasta with marinara sauce from a large ceramic
bowl! HONEST!!!! I suggested it, but our relationship ended
before we got the chance to explore that.
COSMO: Do you talk to your lover about how
sex could be better for both of you, or does such discussion
make you uneasy? How might he make you feel more comfortable?
I talk to my husband about how sex could be better for both
of us. It makes me uneasy because I feel that I am being demanding,
even though I ask less of him than I do of myself. If he brought
up sexual matters more often, or reassured me that he didn't
feel I was being selfish, I would feel better.
doesn't make me uneasy at all. It makes him uneasy! His parents
never spoke the word "sex" and although he wouldn't
admit to it, he is a lot like them. If sex is talked about in
general terms, or if a sexual joke is made, he is okay. Get
direct and he can't handle it.
are very, very open with each other. For example, I would like
to have a female/ male/female threesome. With any of my past
boyfriends I could have never shared this. My husband and I
talk about it all the time and are trying to find ways to meet
someone. If you can't talk about sex openly, I believe there
are other problems in your relationship.
used to be self-conscious about suggesting things, but I got
over it when I became lovers with a man who, after our first
love-making session, instead of the standard non-question ("It
was great for me. Was it great for you?"), asked: "I
really enjoyed making love to you, but I want you to tell me
what I could have done to make it better." I adopted his
attitude immediately. How can you have a bad time when both
persons have the goal of pleasing the other?
COSMO: How much foreplay do you like? In general,
does it last long enough to make you hot? Is "afterplay"
(such as cuddling), more, less, or equal in importance to foreplay?
In my opinion foreplay is more important than sex itself. Our
foreplay lasts at least 20 minutes. Cuddling up in bed is great,
but I wouldn't rate it as better or equal to foreplay.
like lots of foreplay. Usually it lasts long enough to get me
hot. Afterplay is less important. (I suffer sometimes from what
is supposed to be a male thing of falling immediately asleep
afterward!) Still, afterplay is the time you know it is love
and not lust on his part.
like foreplay as much as intercourse. I LOVE to be brought to
the edge several times. But I also enjoy cuddling and reveling
in the afterglow of sex.
I'm in the mood for sex, I like foreplay to last a long time.
My husband tends to be quicker than I am and sometimes sex ends
because he's unable to control having an orgasm. He tends to
fall asleep after that, so if I don't achieve orgasm first,
I don't at all. Afterplay is wonderful, but it seems that most
men can't stay awake very long.
between us is not just intercourse. We don't have a schedule
of foreplay-intercourse-afterplay. It all mingles into one,
especially since one of us is tied up most of the time. It does
make me feel good to lay against him and fall asleep after sex
though. It is a bonding experience.
love being penetrated, so foreplay gets a little annoying if
it goes on for too long. Since around the time I turned 30,
I've been having these extended, mind-blowing orgasms that last
virtually the entire time I'm being penetrated (45 minutes or
more) by a penis, so it's no wonder!
Sophie, 43, Administrative Assistant,
Napa, CA: Is there ever
enough foreplay?? Yes, I guess there is. I like lots of bosom
action but eventually my body and my mind are ready to move
on. I like spooning as we drift off to sleep, murmuring about
the sex that has just transpired.
COSMO: Do you like when he performs oral sex
I especially love having oral sex simultaneously-- giving it
while getting it.
I have an extremely difficult time reaching orgasm from oral
sex, so if my man tries to bring me to orgasm with it, I feel
pressured. If a man wants to do it just to make me feel good,
I love it, but usually they seem to want to do it just to make
you orgasm. Occasionally, a guy is a little too messy at it
Something on the matter of the earth moving!
But vibrators are better.
Norma, 37, Editor, Nassau County,
NY: My late husband used
to do it but I always had a sense that he did it out of obligation,
since it is the only way that I have an orgasm. But my current
lover loves to do it and will do it several times during a lovemaking
In the past, I was hung up on the "dirtiness" aspect
that my mother instilled in me, and most of my lovers were just
interested in getting themselves hot. They weren't paying attention
to ME. My lover now is very gentle and asks me what feels good,
is concerned about me and makes me feel comfortable. So I like
it is indeed oral lovemaking, and not a rough, uncertain exploration
by a man's tongue in a feeble, less than sincere attempt to
COSMO: What areas of your body, other than
genitals and breasts, respond erotically to stimulation? Do
you feel men pay enough attention to a woman's entire body?
my throat, neck, and ears absolutely sends shivers through my
neck and the insides of my arms are very sensitive, as is my
stomach. He'll pass over these places unless I indicate he should
stay there. I guide him there, hold his hands in place, or moan
louder. He almost always gets the idea!
have encountered men who seem to believe that my breasts and
nipples want to be fondled and squeezed constantly, because
that is what turns THEM on...when in fact that much attention
to one spot can start to get irritating after awhile.
back of my neck is *such* an erotic part of my body, I won't
let a man touch it unless I know I'm going to have sex with
him. One touch of the right spot there and I'm yours. I don't
think most men realize that women need more and different stimulation,
which can be a problem because women sometimes have difficulty
saying what they need.
Men, in general, don't seem to know, or care to know, how sensitive
the back of the knee can be, or the sole of a foot, an inner
arm, the base of the spine. The body is full of erogenous zones
waiting to be found!
COSMO: How important is having an orgasm? Are
you disappointed if you don't have one every time? Does your
lover take enough time with you to ensure you have one?
are wonderful but not required. The shared experience is more
be disappointed if I didn't have one every time. It would mean
that my lover didn't take the time to give me one, since I don't
have any problem coming if I want to.
are the Superbowl of life! They are a gift. But I don't expect
to make it to the superbowl every season!
I think it is the culmination of a long journey, and I will
masturbate if my lover cannot bring me to climax.
I remember well the feeling of dissatisfaction when I'd make
love with my husband and he would climax but I wouldn't. Sometimes
I would wait until he was asleep, then masturbate. My current
lover makes sure I have several orgasms.
I feel disappointed at times if I don't, but I would rather
pretend to have one than have my partner think that I didn't.
If that happens, I have to spend the next few days building
*his* ego back up.
I can receive an incredible amount of pleasure and satisfaction
just from knowing that I've brought him to orgasm. He doesn't
understand it but some nights I just want to concentrate on
him and not have to worry about the big "O".
COSMO: What is your favorite way to reach orgasm?
Do you tell your partner how to please you or expect him to
figure it out? If you tell him your preferences, how does he
react? Is he open to new ideas?
I have to give the number one vote as orally. Seems to be the
best and most intense way for me.
he is open to ideas. We've tried lots of different things--oral
sex, manual manipulation both during intercourse and other means
of clitoral stimulation. Oral sex is the most satisfying for
me, but I'm always willing to experiment.
tell my partner how to please me all the time. He reacts well
and wants to do what I suggest and he REMEMBERS for next time.
He also tests new things out on me (but not too often) and asks
if I like them. I react well to this, although we have ended
up in fits of laughter sometimes.
I enjoy telling my husband what I want in bed and it turns him
partner knows what works best for me. I told him! At first he
didn't react well. He seemed to think it was a criticism. But
he's since come around to the idea that he can't possibly know
what pleases me if I don't tell him.
tell him everything. He's always willing to try something new
and he makes it a lot of fun. He never thinks that I'm crazy
for wanting to try something, no matter how far-fetched the
way is when I'm on top. Sometimes I tell him how to please me,
sometimes I just let him do what he wants to do. If I tell him
what to do he's ecstatic because he knows for sure he's pleasing
way? Penetration, with a lot of stimulation. Do I tell him?
Yes. Does he listen? Sometimes, but not often. Open to new ideas?
I don't think so, but he would probably disagree.
COSMO: Do you ever feel anxious about making
love--about performance, or body image, for instance? How might
your lover make you feel less self-conscious?
I am with someone for the first time or am just getting to know
them in bed, I am very self-conscious. I am sure that he is
going to bolt out of bed when he sees cellulite.
factor that makes me less self-conscious is that my lover can
also stand to lose a few pounds. If he doesn't mind my cellulite,
then I don't mind his love handles.
have a poor body image. My lover continually tells me how gorgeous
I am, but he decided to pay for liposuction and a couple of
weeks at Canyon Ranch because I felt the need. He insists that
I am perfect, but he wants me to FEEL like I am.
about performance. I have not mastered the fine art of fellatio
yet and I would like to. I have read tons of books but I guess
all you can do is practice, practice, practice! He doesn't feel
comfortable telling me if I am doing right or wrong, he just
says, "You're doing fine!" with a stupid grin on his
used to feel anxious about my body image but my lovers made
it quite clear that it was not a concern. One of my favorites
spoke mostly German so he had no idea about my demurrals about
my body. He gave me the best sex I ever had!
feel self-conscious about my body. The only thing that helps
is constant reassurance that he really loves me and wants me!
It means a lot to me that he's willing to do this, even though
he must get really tired of having to say it.
sands of time shift ever downward, and although there isn't
much to shift, I am self-conscious about my aging skin. Last
year my very young lover made me feel beautiful by insisting
that I be naked around him when we were alone together and stroking
me often. He even took pictures. His obvious enjoyment of my
body helped me to overcome my discomfort.
think I'm too thin. It helps when I hear him say things like,
"Oh God, you turn me on" or "I've got to have
you." Things like that make me feel like the sexiest woman
in the world!
was a little chunky for a while and I didn't like the way I
looked. I love my body now and like to flirt and draw attention.
I have worked very hard at it, after all.
not in the shape I want to be in, but just starting to GET into
shape made all the difference in the world. I can't see a difference
yet, but I can feel it! I feel sexy, and as we all know, it's
all in the mind.