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What Makes a Superb Lover?

10 ways you can improve your sex life

En español | We all like to think of ourselves as having some degree of bedroom talents — and I'm sure we do. But with all our years of experience between the sheets, are we at the top of our game?

See also: Brand new sex with the same old spouse.

Let's face it, there are things we could all do to be better in bed. Maybe you're not as great a lover as you'd like to be — or are gifted in one area but can grow in another. The good news is that all of us can improve. Here are the top 10 qualities I think a person needs to be a superb lover. Of course, they all take practice — but that's a chore I'm sure you won't mind taking on.

pepper column what makes a lover superb happy mature couple

Tell your partner what you want in bed and then practice, practice, practice! — Marina Jefferson/Getty Images

Be Emotive

Great lovers let you know what a fantastic time they are having. It's exciting to know that you are causing all those great noises you hear, and disconcerting if your best efforts produce only the tiniest grunts or whispers. Yell and let it all out to show your appreciation!

Listen to Your Partner

Don't just do your thing — do your partner's thing. How do you know what your partner likes? You ask and you listen. You listen to their noises, their words, and you observe what increases their breath, pulse rate and body tension. You become a master observer of your beloved.

Ask — and Tell!

Don't just guess what your partner likes — ask. And don't expect your partner to be a mind reader. Just because you've been making love for a long time doesn't mean you really know what he or she would prefer. And if you are gay, don't think you will know everything your partner wants because you are the same sex. You only know what you've been doing — but you might tell your partner something you'd like to try or have more of. Give directions at the precise moment, so you can show your partner what you need.

Dare to Be Different

Surprises are sexy, as long as they aren't frightening or a turn-off to your partner. Do something out of character and fun. Does she think he will never come to bed in anything but boxers? Wear European underwear that will shock her and make her giggle, but also get aroused. Does he think she would never wear a slinky teddy or a blood-red nightgown? Do it. If you want to be daring, come home with a bunch of sex toys and ask him or her to pick one — maybe two. Knock their socks off.

Slow Down

There's a classic love song by the Pointer Sisters with these longing lyrics: "I want a man with a slow hand. I want a lover with an easy touch." Mmmm. That means a man who takes his time pleasing his woman, who explores her gently and makes her excited with anticipation. It works for men, too. Let your fingers do the walking and talking — slowly and carefully, exploring areas gently and purposefully. Let your partner tell you what pressure and places would be good to visit.

Next: More tips on how to make your fantasies come true. »

Think Outside the Bedroom

Fabulous lovemaking doesn't only happen between the sheets. Are you on the beach, in the shallows after most of the resort has gone to bed? Are you on a plane and your partner's hand slowly reaches for you under the cover? Would you pull off the road for a quickie? You might not want to follow all of these suggestions, but you get turned on by some of them, and are flattered that your partner wants to do these things with you.

Indulge Your Fantasies

Imagine, as you lay down in bed, your lover taps into one of your fantasies and whispers in your ear, "You are the sultan's daughter and I am but a lowly carpet salesman who has seen you in the market. Our eyes meet and we know. You imperiously call your guards and tell me I must come to the palace. I am afraid of course, but also excited. … When I get there you dismiss the guards and turn toward me. You say, "You must do what I say." … Well you get the gist. Who could not crave a person who makes your fantasies come true?

Use Your Eyes

I know eye contact sounds easy, but it isn't. Sex therapist David Schnarch says maintaining eye contact can create "wall-socket sex." If you never look away, but hold each other with your eyes, the intimacy increases exponentially. Electricity builds up between you and the world fades away. This is a major way to have transcendent sex.

Explore All Kinds of Kisses

Great lovers don't always kiss the same way. There are deep kisses, light kisses, delicate kisses and passionate lip-scrunching kisses. Furthermore, there should also be kisses in new places … surprising ones.

Be in the Moment

Great lovers do not have their Blackberry next to their bed. Great lovers have no one in their mind but the person they are with and they are 100 percent focused on their partner. They show by word and deed that they are interested solely in your pleasure. They are focused from the time you decide to make love to the time you both drift off to sleep. What could be more flattering and satisfying?

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