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8 Qualities of Great Sex

I had one particular young couple that I worked with last year that came to couples counseling due to the wife not wanting to have sex any longer. The wife, in her early 20’s, reported that she had lost her sex drive and didn’t think that she ever wanted to have sex again with anyone let alone her husband. You can see how this would be a huge problem for the young couple. This was causing her obvious mental distress and causing possible irreparable damage to the marriage.

When I inquired about their sex and had her explain to me what it looked like I quickly identified that this young couple had no clue what great sex was resulting in her just not wanting to have sex at all. She described a missionary style where he rhythmically thrust himself into her until he had an orgasm. I wouldn’t want to have sex either if that was the only sex I was having. They had never been properly educated about how to have sex, let alone, great sex. The young husband shyly looked at me and asked: What does great sex look like?

Sex Researcher and psychologist Peggy Kleinplatz and her talented team of colleagues have conducted research aimed at exploring what elements contribute to great sexual experiences and how clinicians can use that information to help others struggling with decreased sexual pleasure. Together the team identified 8 prevailing themes for what it takes to have great sex and to further solidify the research the team had 25 sexologists review the data and provide insight.

Quality #1: Being Present & Embodied

This quality requires the participants to be fully present in the moment. Many times, during sex we allow the outside world to sneak in and distract us from being completely immersed at the moment with our partners.


Questions to ask yourself

  1. Am I anxious about something at this time?

  2. What am I feeling at this moment?

  3. Is my attention directed elsewhere at this time?

Pro Tip: tune in to how your partner's mouth feels on your body as they kiss you, feel the sensation as their breath whisps over your intimate parts, and bring your attention to the warmth of their body pressed against yours. Stay in the moment.

Quality #2: Connection with a Lover

Another key factor for great sex is the connection between you and your partner. Those who experience a deep sense of being “in sync” with their lover report having mind-blowing sex packed with strong sexual energy.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Is there anything that is keeping me from fully connecting with my partner?

  2. Is there anything that is keeping me from fully connecting with myself at this moment?

  3. Am I being honest about my ability to fully connect with this person?

Quality #3: Erotic Intimacy

Participants in the research study indicated that feeling a deep sense of intimate trust was essential for a great sexual experience. One of the participants in the study indicated that throughout great sex, she felt “loved and wanted, accepted and cherished” by her lover.


Questions to ask yourself

  1. How am I allowing my partner to see me?

  2. Do I feel safe with my partner at this moment?

  3. In what ways do I feel respected by my partner?

Quality #4: Communication & Empathy

This includes both verbal and non-verbal communication along with the ability and desire to listen to your partner. Fostering empathy allows couples to create a common language that does not disrupt feelings of safety.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Do I have the ability to read my partner’s body language?

  2. What is my body language saying to my partner?

  3. Am I comfortable allowing my partner in my space during sexy times?

Pro-Tip: many clients are hesitant to express their desires verbally and prefer a non-verbal communication style. Trying new things, kinks or fetishes can seem scary at times; therefore, incorporating touch with erotic talk can push your sexcapade into a new direction while maintaining a sense of safety.

Quality #5: Being Genuine & Authentic

Having the ability to be genuine and unfiltered during sexual experiences is a quality of great sex. When you feel accepted and uninhibited by your lover you can true to yourself and your desires without fear of judgment.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Am I encouraged to be selfish during sex?

  2. What is keeping me from being emotionally naked with my partner?

  3. Do I feel judged by my partner?

Quality #6: Taking Interpersonal Risks & Being Adventurous

Couples who have fun, who laugh, and who are playful tend to have better sex. Sex should be a discovery zone for each participant where you are expanding your sexual boundaries. There are times when you try things and they don’t work or they are funny and you have to be able to laugh and move on. After all, the sexual space is a playground for adults.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Do I feel comfortable trying things with my partner?

  2. Am I afraid that I will mess up during sexy time and be looked down upon?

  3. How can I communicate my need to be more playful with my partner during sexy time?

Pro-Tip: you are going to make funny noises, laugh about them, not everything you try will work and that is perfectly acceptable, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to try new things. If you are unsure as to where to start you can create a sex menu with your partner to help get the ideas flowing. To get your free sex menu sign up for our newsletter on our Homepage

Quality #7: Being Vulnerable & Exploration

Another key factor in great sex is being able to surrender completely to your partner by allowing them to know your desires, see who you are, and trusting that they will respond well to your pleasurable requests. Being vulnerable can be compared to letting go, jumping off the cliff, and trusting that your partner will catch you.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. What do I find pleasurable, and what elements are you willing to explore?

  2. Is there anything holding me back from exploring my desires?

  3. Do I feel safe to be my authentic self with my partner?

Quality #8: Transcendence & Transformation

This element is described as allowing yourself to be transformed by sex and growing and/or healing from the experience. This is having an openness to understanding that this sexual experience could be bigger than yourself; a feeling of bliss if you will.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Do I have any unresolved past or trauma that is hindering me from fully present in this sexual experience?

  2. Will I allow myself to be present in this moment even when I don’t have the words to express the experience?

  3. Is there anything keeping me from transcending (moving forward) in the moment of sheer bliss?


If you and your partner are searching for the lost connection or discovering what great sex is for the first time in your relationship try bringing more of these qualities into your sexual experience. Not all of these list qualities are easily achievable but they are a great starting point for opening up a healthy conversation about what realistic vs unrealistic expectations are for your relationship at this time. I encourage you to move away from the performance-oriented mindset and explore what true sexual pleasure means to you and your partner.

Want to discover more about your relationship, intimacy, or sex? Check out the free resources on our website HERE,  or make an appointment for a free 30-minute consultation with one of our licensed or board-certified professionals to find out how you can achieve great communication, intimacy, and sex in your relationship.


Dramatically yours,

Stephanie Sigler, MS, NCC, LPC, Sex Therapist





Kleinplatz, P. J., Ménard, A. D., Paquet, M. P., Paradis, N., Campbell, M., Zuccarino, D., & Mehak, L. (2009). The components of optimal sexuality: A portrait of” great sex.”. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.


Kleinplatz, P. J. (2010). Lessons from great lovers. Handbook of clinical sexuality for mental health professionals, 2, 57-72.

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