If I had to boil sex down to some basic elements, they would be: rhythm, touch, communication, imagination and playfulness. Obviously in sexual encounters the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but I believe it is helpful to pay attention to the parts. There are a few things to look out for that will clue you into whether or not a person has all the pieces to your favorite sexual puzzle:
When conversation is horribly awkward with someone, chances are that the hookup will be jerky and uncomfortable. If you’re not on the same verbal rhythm, I think it generally carries to the realm of touch. That being said, hopefully the person has a rhythm in the first place. The worst kisser I ever tied tongues with seemed to lack understanding that sexual things are dynamic and that kissing involves moving your mouth.
They don’t call it the horizontal tango for nothing.
A good dancer can follow a rhythm, is creative and has good body awareness. Mm-mm-good sex occurs when both people are on the same page, sometimes inherently and maybe sometimes with a nudge in the right direction. Rhythm is an obvious tool for getting and staying on the same page. Music, dancing and sex are huge trainwrecks without it. Someone who can play an instrument well has rhythm, but someone who can incorporate rhythm into body movements takes that to the next level. Partner dancing ups the ante by introducing communication in conjunction with creativity and rhythm between two (or more) people, while managing to stay in sync and not get in each other’s way. These physical and auditory rhythms definitely translate to sex; even some types of tantric sex, which might not involve much movement, still have the rhythm of breath.
There’s the rub.
I don’t know why every student at Cornell doesn’t take massage for one of his or her PE classes. Who doesn’t like massage? Good masseuses can be hard to find, but a person who has good massage skills has a sense of his or her own body and a sense for what feels good to other people. Communication is also a huge part of massage. Checking in and asking you what feels good during a massage probably means the person is going to be checking in, in some way, during sex. On the other end of the deal, if someone is a good massagee, then they’ll let you know what is feeling really good and what feels ho-hum on the massage table as well as on the kitchen table. A massage will quickly establish how good a person is at communicating sensations and learning what types of touch someone else likes.
Are they game to play?
I find I have the most fun in the bedroom with someone who is playful and willing to try new things (please exercise your imagination with “new things”). Flirting, teasing and playfulness certainly go into foreplay, but nothing says they should disappear during sex. Imagination and fantasy can be a huge part of that too. Some special lucky people can make themselves come by fantasy alone — I would hope that whoever you are shagging has at least some acknowledgement and awareness of what his or her fantasies are (or, better yet, is able to employ some of those fabulous communication skills and talk about them).
The best part about these elements of sex that show up in other parts of life is that you can easily observe them on an average night out with your love-making interest. All you’ve got to do is jointly invent some sort of drinking game, then go dancing at one of the, er, numerous bars. At some point in the evening you will ideally figure out if he or she can talk, and if you guys can talk the talk and dance the dance. Then all that’s left is to drop hints about needing a back rub, et voila — you have gathered a lot of info as to whether or not you guys will be making magic moves or lackluster loving.
Lauren C. is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at email@example.com. Below the Bellybutton appears alternate Thursdays this semester.