The weather’s good, the mood is right, and she’s waiting for you to make the first move. But have you thought of everything? We spoke to 578 women, studied up on the latest research, consulted the Men’s Health Girl Next Door and got the low-down on what you’ll need to make the most of the hottest nights of the year.
1 The best partner
When it comes to sex, for “Best”, read “Safest”. In a past Men’s Health/Women’s Health Sex Survey, 72.5% of the men and 70.4% of the women said they always use a condom with a new sexual partner. On the whole that’s good news, very grown-up and responsible, but if ever you’re going to break your own rules, it’s when you’re on a summer holiday. In a survey conducted by the UK’s Co-Operative Pharmacy this year, about a third of respondents said that they’d had unprotected sex with a new partner while they were travelling abroad. (And that’s not just young people: one in six people in their fifties confessed to a holiday fling or one-night stand.) The result is pretty predictable, and not very sexy at all: the UK’s Health Protection Agency reported a 22% increase in the number of Brits visiting sexual health clinics between their summer months of May and September in recent years.
Your move: “Holiday romances are undeniably liberating, memorable and just plain pleasurable,” says Men’s Health’s Girl Next Door. “You get to spend time with someone in a relaxed space that’s removed from all your daily duties and distractions. If you’re in a relationship, leave reminders of home there and be utterly present as you would be if you were getting to know someone new. Ask questions at the dinner table, even if you think you know the answers; touch more; laugh often; and do something adventurous together that takes you out of your comfort zone.” For a new holiday fling, let protection be your approach, right from the start, not just so that you don’t come home with a nasty infection, but with your heart intact, too. “If you both go into the liaison with all the cards on the table, knowing that, realistically, this isn’t going anywhere long-term, you can really relax and enjoy the connection. Yes, it may be hard to say goodbye, but you always knew it was coming.”
2 The best drink
If you want her to be more attractive, grab a beer. A study by researchers from the University of Bristol confirmed what you probably already knew to be true: other people appear more attractive after you’ve been drinking alcohol. The researchers randomly assigned 84 heterosexual students to drink either an alcoholic beverage or a similarly flavoured non-alcoholic beverage, then showed the students pictures of young adults of both sexes and asked them to rate their attractiveness. Both men and women who drank alcohol rated the faces as more attractive than those who drank the non-alcoholic beverage. No surprises there… but then the study found that the students also rated same-sex faces as more attractive as well.
Your move: If you want to make yourself more attractive to her, don’t drink ultra feminine cocktails. “The martini glass was not meant for a manly grip. Go for short cocktails, served in a lowball or old-fashioned tumbler glass (think Negroni, God-father, Black/White Russian, Tom Collins…). “And if in doubt as to the hue (men don’t drink pink drinks, remember), garnish (cocktail umbrella) or serving glass, ask the barmen. Just bear in mind, these shorter cocktails are often not diluted, so slow down – drunk is never a sexy look.”
3 The best clothes
The best clothes for sex tend to be no clothes… but what you’re wearing before you get lucky could determine whether or not you get lucky at all. “Your sense of style – or what you’re wearing – says a lot about you,” says Men’s Health fashion editor Azeez Jacobs. If you’re scruffy and untidy in your dress, you can’t blame her for thinking that you’re similarly sloppy when you’re out of your clothes. “Your clothing should flatter you, and make you look good and feel confident. Go for more form-fitting silhouettes, like a slim-fit shirt with an open-neck collar,” says Jacobs
Bonus tip: Wear red. In an international study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, women were found to be more attracted to men who were either wearing red or surrounded by red. The reasons for this could be cultural (across societies, red is associated with power and status), or simply biological: in non-human primates, alpha males have the largest and most intense displays of red.
Your move: Upgrade your wardrobe by introducing bolder colour elements – and display the kind of confidence she’s looking for in a man.
Related: 5 Summer Style Essentials
4 The best place
What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom… but that doesn’t mean it has to start there too. Research published in Australia this year showed that 44% of people admit to sharing “intimate moments” with their partners in the kitchen – and one in 10 say it happens at least once a week. But that’s not all that’s cooking: in the same survey, 53% of respondents said that the best way to get in the mood for romance is to share a home-cooked meal. Compare that to the 32% who said a foot massage would get them in the mood, and you have a pretty clear idea of what you need to do.
Your move: Learn to cook. “Master a few basics for your repertoire. Finish off some of the preparation in front of her in the kitchen, while she sips a glass of wine – it’s very sexy to watch you work! Also, being perched up on the kitchen counter is usually the perfect height for you to come over, stand between her legs, give her a swoon-worthy kiss and a taste of what’s to come!” she adds. “When planning the menu, awaken her mouth by focusing on the textures and flavours – smooth, crunchy, salty, tangy, sweet – but keep the meal on the light side, so that you’re both not too full for any action later.”
5 The best position
Want the best sex of your summer? Then – if you’re anything like the 78.9% of the men who answered our annual survey, you’ll be more than satisfied with plain, old missionary. (It’s uncomplicated, but reliable, so we’re told.) But if you’re into the seasonal spirit of giving, you may also want to provide her with the best sex of her summer. And that’s where things can get complicated. When it comes to the move that’s most likely to bring her to orgasm, our Sex Survey revealed pretty much a three-way tie between oral sex at 35.6%, clitoral stimulation (by you, good sir) at 42% and vaginal sex at 36%. Bottom line: women are more likely to reach orgasm when they engage in variety of acts. So get creative good man.
Your move: Go online, consult the Men’s Health Sex Position Finder to mix things up a bit.
Related: The Sex Position Finder
6 The best little helpers
Here’s another little stat that’ll help heat up your summer: in our annual Sex Survey, more than half (53.1%) of the women surveyed said they’d be open to experimenting with toys. In the same survey, 46.4% of women said they hadn’t tried toys yet. You do the maths…
Your move: “Approach any addition with the focus on her pleasure. Many women orgasm through clitoral stimulation alone, and a small bullet vibrator is a subtle way of introducing a prop. “Remember, vibrators and toys are accessories that add fun, pleasure and an element of naughtiness – there’s no need to be intimidated, specially when it’s the size of her lipstick, right?”
7 The best length
And by length, we mean duration – another issue that threatens men. You’re probably thinking that the best sex is all-night, Sting-like marathon sex that lasts longer than the extended cut of the original Star Wars trilogy… but you’re wrong. The most desirable length of time for sex is somewhere between seven and 13 minutes. Researchers at Penn State University interviewed 50 members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, and found that while one to two minutes was “too short” and three to seven minutes was “adequate”, 10 to 30 minutes was “too long”. “Many men and women seem to believe the fantasy model of large penises and all-night-long intercourse,” said study author Professor Eric Corty. “This seems a situation ripe for disappointment and dissatisfaction.”There’s a difference, though, between “sex” and “intercourse” – and 35.8% of the women in our survey said that the worst mistake their partner makes in bed is rushing through foreplay. (Oh, and 58.5% said they wish you would seduce them more.)
Your move: “Build intimacy through connection with a message to say you’re thinking about her during the day, meaningful eye contact, caressing her in public, opening her car door… and the foreplay has already began!”
Related: 7 Secrets of Female Masturbation
8 The best weather
Summer is the hottest season – and it’s also the sexiest. A study conducted last year by US condom manufacturers Trojan found that 83% of Americans rate rain as the best weather conditions for sex, while respondents in the hotter US cities like Miami (102 times a year) and Atlanta (88 times a year) reported the highest rates of sexual activity. After running the numbers, the researchers determined that while a combination of hot and wet weather isn’t good for Test match cricket, it’s the perfect conditions for sex.
Your move: Pray for rain. (Especially if you are in Cape Town!) “Memorable sex is all about engaging with the senses, and every women loves the sound of falling rain, the scent of it through an open window, but being cold is a distraction that won’t enable relaxation and orgasm.” So the combination of balmy weather and rain creates an atmosphere perfect for steaming up the windows! It’s no surprise summer sees a rise in the bedroom’s heat index, either. “We tend to be more active, playing outdoors more, lapping up the sunshine, wearing fewer clothes. And that connection to our physical bodies means we’re less into hibernating and more into copulating!”