What Women Want In Bed

Gloria G. Brame,PhD,ACS



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 experiences.

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 to supply.

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" more often?

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.

Nadia: I 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 intercourse.

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.

Anais: Sometimes, 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 no affection.

Donna: Getting 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.

Amy: Affection 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.

Alanna: 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!

Jan: For 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 fingers. Mmmmmm!

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.

Drew: He 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 grocery store.

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 over.

Jan: Lightly touch my body, everywhere. Run his fingers up and down. Drives me mad!

Alexandra: The single most important thing a man can do for me in bed is to allow me to express myself without any fear of awkwardness.

Bonnee: I like to feel beautiful, as if I'm the only woman he ever wants to make love to.

Anais: Nothing 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!

Drew: Tease 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 afterwards.

Julia: Compare me to another lover.

Nadia: Wear a bra and makeup! (No kidding.)

Bonnee: The 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.

Tawny: The biggest turn-off is when he doesn't understand, or really believe, that NO means NO.

Molly: When 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 man!

Alexandra: What 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!

Taylor: I 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?

Alanna: I 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!

Molly: I 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.

Tawny: I 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.

Grace: Light 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.

Lucy: My 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.

Julia: Ok...ready 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?

Donna: 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.

Grace: It 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.

Taylor: We 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.

MB: I 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?

Aviva: 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.

Anjelica: I 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.

Chrissy: I 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.

Alanna: When 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.

Taylor: Sex 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.

Nadia: I 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 on you?

Beth: Oh God, YES!!!

Nadia: YES. I especially love having oral sex simultaneously-- giving it while getting it.

Ronnie: Sometimes. 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 as well.

Lynn: YES! Something on the matter of the earth moving!

Amy: Sure! 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 session.

Jan: 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 now!!

Alexandra: Yes--if it is indeed oral lovemaking, and not a rough, uncertain exploration by a man's tongue in a feeble, less than sincere attempt to arouse me!

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?

Chrissy: Touching my throat, neck, and ears absolutely sends shivers through my body.

Bonnee: 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!

Anais: I 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.

Ronnie: The 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.

Tawny: 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?

Lynn: Orgasms are wonderful but not required. The shared experience is more important.

Lucy: I'd 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.

Julia: Orgasms are the Superbowl of life! They are a gift. But I don't expect to make it to the superbowl every season!

Chrissy: I think it is the culmination of a long journey, and I will masturbate if my lover cannot bring me to climax.

Norma: 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.

Grace: 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.

Bonnee: 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?

Lynn: I have to give the number one vote as orally. Seems to be the best and most intense way for me.

Norma: Yes, 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.

Sandy: I 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.

Aviva: I enjoy telling my husband what I want in bed and it turns him on too.

Alanna: My 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.

Molly: I 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 idea is.

Beth: Favorite 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 me.

Grace: Favorite 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?

Sandy: When 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.

Norma: One 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.

Anjelica: I 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.

Jan: Yes, 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 face.

Sophie: I 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!

Lucy: I 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.

MB: The 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.

Drew: I 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!

Chrissy: I 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.

Tawny: I'm 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.


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