How to Pick a Lover

For a fine performance only two things are absolutely necessary—maximum of virility combined with the maximum of delicacy.
Sir Thomas Beecham, Beecham Stories

When the British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham was talking about “performance,” he presumably was thinking of musical performance, but his observation is equally valid when applied to sexual performance.

When a couple is together, they communicate in many ways other than with words. The way they meet or do not meet each other’s eyes, the way they lean toward each other or away, and the way they touch or fail to touch transmit emotional messages. Body movements, tone of voice, or the inclinations of a person’s head all convey specific emotions, ranging from tenderness to reproof. What is done is always interpreted in terms of how it is done. Even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.

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Nonverbal dialogue conveys many clues as to what a man or a woman do or do not want sexually at a particular time. The lover who is skilled at nonverbal communication is able to read your mind or, more precisely, to read your body so that he knows with a high level of accuracy if you do or do not want to go on to the next level of erotic intimacy, and if so, when.

The skilled lover never offers a proposition unless he is certain that the answer will be yes. This basic skill is very face-saving for everyone. Nobody wants to ask and to be turned down. Nobody wants to have to turn somebody down.

In the same way, the woman who wants to initiate sexual interaction should also be skilled enough to read a man’s nonverbal communication so that before she makes a move, she correctly anticipates that his response will be positive.

Sometimes, it means that sexual interaction, especially among men and women who do not know each other well, will be tentative and indirect; but it is always better to be oblique than to be offensive. If the message is positive, then it will not take long for you—or him—to get that message. Pay attention to how he touches you. Look at how he moves when you touch him. Pay attention to the eye contact or lack of it, the inclination of the head, the accidental and not-so-accidental contact of hands and feet. Seductive men will invite you to come closer to share more, but they will invite you in such a subtle way that if you do not choose to accept, you both can gracefully pretend the invitation never happened.

That way, no one can ever be really insulted, and no one’s feelings can ever really be hurt.

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