There's a lot to be said for trying out new ways to excite your partner in bed.
Don't worry — this involves not a single trapeze or pulley. In fact, some of the more delicious places we forget to touch are downright prosaic. But that doesn't mean they're unresponsive: For each third of the body, I'll recommend three areas you almost certainly haven't eroticized lately. See if you don't get a charge from visiting these — or having them visited on you.
Naturally we think of kissing when we consider the upper third. But don't skip to the hips when you're done with the lips!
Fall in lobe all over again. Once I had a massage that culminated with the masseuse tugging on my ears. Talk about happy endings — it was unexpected, but felt great! Why not do likewise to your partner. Your ears are home to some highly sensitive tissue, but it gets overlooked when all we do is stick earrings in it. So remove that hardware for an evening — even if the last time you took it out was 1979 — and add a little "ear play" to your repertoire. (You may also find, as I have, that nothing sounds dirtier than "Let me give you a lobe tug tonight.")
My neck aches — for your touch! The Japanese know the seductive qualities of the back of the neck: The classic kimono deliberately exposes that tender and beautiful area of a woman. It's a sexy area on men, too. So why do we ignore it? A light touch — your fingertips gently tracing the lower neck, or perhaps massaging it sensually — is a thing of beauty. Start at the hairline and slo-o-owly work your way down, but stay above the collarbone.
Put your head on her shoulders. They receive their fair share of attention during a massage, but rarely do shoulders get sensually stroked. To correct this imbalance, gently round your hands over their slope and touch them down the middle of the back, stopping before you reach the middle third of the body. Likewise, trace the top of the chest — another area that's frequently but unfairly neglected.
This area typically gets all the action. But is it possible you've missed a few key spots?
Why "thigh" rhymes with "sigh." Everyone knows the inner thigh is an erogenous zone, but few give it its due. Whether it's the dense concentration of nerve endings there or merely the fact that you're nearing the "main event," gentle touches and light stroking of the inner thigh are incredibly arousing to most mortals.
Baby, I've got your back. The lower back, where a number of muscles attach to the buttocks, is another area rich in nerve endings. No wonder it feels so gratifying to knead the area that tapers from the waist to the upper butt. It feels even better, natch, to be on the receiving end of this move.
Butt you said I could! For some lovers, this is well-traveled territory. For many others, however, it's merely a resting place. And that's too bad, for treated with a light stroking hand, the nerves in the buttocks never fail to respond. And a heavier kneading motion feels undeniably erotic.
When you get to the legs and below, you'll be visiting neighborhoods of the body that suffer serious neglect.
Get a leg up on the action. Using a massage cream, stroke the entire leg from hip to ankle in long, fluid strokes. It will feel amazingly sensual, and different from any other kind of touch you've experienced.
Come to this joint often? We ask a lot of the ankles, but do we ever pause to give them the TLC they deserve? Grasp your partner's ankle with both hands and rub the bones on either side gently but firmly. Then hold tight and pull downward a bit. Ahhh — doesn't that feel good?
The ecstasy of de feet. 21st-Century Woman — and Man — appears to have rediscovered the foot, but regrettably that discovery typically happens in a paid massage. But giving your partner a thorough foot rub — complete with washing and drying the feet, then applying massage cream — is a very loving, giving and (yes) sexy thing to do. For a graduate-level foot massage, squeeze the toes without tickling them. Never underestimate foot foreplay!
You may be disappointed not to find undiscovered body parts here. For me, however, the real shocker is how rarely we include these known parts of the body in slow, intentional lovemaking. By venturing off the beaten path to take in the points of interest suggested above, who knows what unexpected finds await the intrepid traveler?
Pepper Schwartz is AARP's love, sex and relationship ambassador.