Let’s be clear. I love speed. Fast, fiery, and breathless is a specific kind of joy. We’re talking about high-heat, high-drama, high-urgency moments: Noah and Allie’s rain-soaked reunion in The Notebook, Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s literal guns-blazing foreplay, Simon and Daphne’s fabulously fraught first kiss in Bridgerton.
But sometimes, we want to linger, especially when it comes to pleasure. We want to ease into the moment, become intimately aware of every goosebump-raising touch, and stretch each sensation to its luxurious limit. At the same time, the rest of the world falls gently away.
Now we’re thinking of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s sunrise reconciliation in Pride and Prejudice, Dirty Dancing’s swaying, slow-dance love scene, or Simon and Daphne’s “I-burn-for-you” wedding night.
This vibe is all about stretching out the romantic tension. Mr. Darcy’s walk across the field takes an eternity. Simon and Daphne’s clothes have an endless array of laces and buttons. Johnny and Baby are dancing to the blues for, well, just a little over two minutes, but it feels like the sweetest, most tenuous forever.
Like the click-clicking of a roller-coaster’s ascent, half the ride is the suspense. The anticipation of sex puts the sex in the scene long before the lovers kiss, sometimes before they even touch.
Well, it doesn’t take a wedding night or even the threat of love lost to dial up the romance. All it takes is a little time, attention, and willingness to let that romantic tension build. You can create this steamy, slo-mo atmosphere in your own sex life. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Give your partner (or yourself) your undivided attention
Not always an easy first step! Offering your full attention to anyone—even to your S.O.—is a vulnerable experience, but this is the stuff epic romance is made of. So, turn on a great playlist if you like, then turn off all the screens (seriously, hide your phones in the Tupperware drawer or something), so you can give yourselves the same sizzling intimacy as your favorite on-screen couple.
2. Make sure you’re actually comfortable
Nothing ruins foreplay like being stuck in a weird position right from the jump. Set yourself up somewhere that feels good. Maybe it’s the bedroom or the couch, or you push some furniture to the side and get extra cozy on the floor with blankets and pillows. Maybe foreplay is a flirty drink in the kitchen or soaping each other up in the shower. Perhaps the house is a mess, and you’re deciding it doesn’t matter because your focus is on you and your partner. Wherever you are in your physical surroundings, give yourself a minute to get comfy.
3. Be in your body
From the look on Daphne’s face as Simon unbuttons her skirt on their wedding night, you’d think something way more explicit is happening. And, of course, this is her first time, so she’s super aware, and all her senses are heightened. But, you don’t need to be a virgin bride to bring extra awareness into your body. See if you can feel your hands first, and invite your partner to feel their own. (This is often easier with eyes closed.) Feel any surface, any fabric, any skin your hands are touching. Then see if you can feel the aliveness on the inside. Move your attention up your arms, your shoulders, and down your back. Feel your feet, your legs, and the space between your legs (wink wink).
4. Bring awareness to your breath and to your partner’s breath
Johnny and Baby’s super-loose, falling-into-each-other dance moves—those are some gooey, relaxed, breathing people right there. When we connect to our breath, we let the body know it’s okay to relax, and when we’re relaxed, we’re better able to feel pleasurable sensations. So, take a few moments and feel how your breath moves through all those spaces you just brought awareness to. Though it may happen naturally, there’s no need to focus on syncing up with your partner.
5. Take some time to explore
Maybe you and your partner have logged several million hours in each other’s company. Perhaps you’re just getting to know each other. Regardless of who you are “on paper,” see if you can look and feel each other in new, curious ways. When Elizabeth kisses Mr. Darcy’s fist out in the field, she says, “Your hands are cold.” There’s plenty she could say, but what she’s aware of is what his hands feel like right at this moment. Notice the temperature and the texture of your partner’s skin. Use your fingertips, your hands, or your mouth. Notice how your partner’s body responds and how your own body responds. Where can you be more curious? Where can you be surprised?
6. Look into each other’s eyes
It’s not a steamy romance scene without some serious eye contact. It’s when the talking stops, and we really slow down that all of a sudden there’s plenty of communication happening just with our eyes. What does it feel like being together in this slowed-down space? Notice the color of your partner’s eyes, the quality of the light, and their expression. What emotions arise through this intimate connection? Maybe there’s desire, curiosity, or even a little apprehension. Maybe there’s sweetness, release, or recognition.
7. Make getting undressed its own moment
Maybe the clothes are already long gone. (Understandable.) Perhaps it already feels like you’re having sex. (You are!) If the clothes are still on and they want to come off, keep it slow and create some distance by watching each other undress—no touching. Or take turns undressing each other, feeling the fabric as it moves over your skin, pausing to enjoy each new reveal. This is the last few clicks to the very top of the roller coaster. This is Simon and Daphne finally falling onto the bed, still half-dressed, definitely starting to explore each other further, when she says, “I need you closer.”
8. And finally, action.
You might already be halfway to the moon. Maybe you’re lost in each other’s eyes. Perhaps you’re feeling a bit nervous or exposed. Wherever you are—you made it. You’ve slowed down. You’re in your bodies. You’ve built this delicious tension. Now, it’s time to let go. Maybe keep it slow and sweet, with plenty of facing-each-other positions for maximum eye contact. Perhaps you turn up the heat and let your fiercest animal instincts lead the way. However you choose to express yourselves in the rush of release, this is that cinematic moment. Just you, your partner, and whatever happens next.