Ditch the impossible sex moves, lose the love swing and try to forget every messed up video you've ever seen. When it comes to good sex and the art of romance, it's all about the fundamentals.
We asked romantic woman Stevie Martin to get with comedian Naz Osmanoglu and relationship expert James Preece to devise a guide to the fundamentals of romance. The stuff that we, as a civilization, are in danger of forgetting.
We're going to be giving you a back-to-basics guide, even for seasoned pros, starting with the most basic of basics.
1. How To Kiss
Not too hard, thank you. “Don’t just go in for the kill unexpectedly,” says James. “Take it very slowly and let her moans, hands and reactions guide you.” Also, don’t stick your tongue down her throat, for Christ's sake.
We asked all the girls we know what their biggest gripes are when it comes to kissing man. These are their top five:
5. Not using hands at all
4. Keeping eyes open (creepy)
3. Stubble Rash
2. Too Tight-Lipped
1. Excessively Forceful Tongue
2. How To Give A Massage
This strikes fear into most humans, but all you need to do is watch a YouTube tutorial and maybe practice on a dog or something.
“Get them to relax, light a candle and play some relaxing music to get them in the mood,” suggests James Preece. “Move your hands slowly and gently, easing away any tension. The best place to start is the shoulders, neck and back, moving your way down.”
3. How To Surprise Her
If you organize a surprise weekend away, a meal, picnic, trip to a petting zoo, or literally anything, then you get roughly 40,000 romance points.
"Basically, pick something you’ve seen in a typically romantic film and emulate it. Get one of her friends to see if she’s free, figure out her movements and, it sounds a bit creepy, but no girl ever said: “He surprised me with a romantic gesture this weekend, what an absolute prick.”
4. How To Get Along With Her Friends
If you don’t make the effort with her besties, you’re not making an effort with her, and she’ll think you're a dick.
“You need to get them on your side as they'll be the ones she talks to when you have problems,” says James, sagely. “Make them laugh, buy them drinks and above all, show them you like her. Ask your girlfriend about them every now and again and accept invitations when you know they will be there, even if you don't want to.”
And most of the time, you won't want to. Because other people’s friends are crap.
The ‘Fun’ One
Her friend from college that appears to be the source of every anecdote involving tequila, frat boys and vomiting in cabs. In spite of yourself, you’ll actually be jealous of her.
How To Win Her Over: Show her you can party, but also hold your own and be a responsible man.
The Tragic One
For whatever reason, ladies tend to have one girlfriend who is perpetually unlucky in love and always in need of a two-hour FaceTime pep talk.
How To Win Her Over: You need to become her gay best friend, without being gay. Unless you want. Whatever.
The Childhood Bestie
They’ve been friends since preschool and appear on each other’s Facebook feeds in every other photo.
How To Win Her Over: Do everything in your power to endear yourself to her, short of transferring $10,000 into her bank account.
5. How To Undo A Bra
Girls can effortlessly do it one-handed, behind our backs, so how hard can it be? Apparently, quite hard.
“They are too niche for their own good – like hipsters,” says Naz Osmanoglu. “Very difficult to open in one fluid hand motion. Why not buttons? Or a toggle? Even a sandwich bag zip would be easier. Or cufflinks. It’s basically alien technology that requires a thumb scan and a lot of trial and error.”
More helpful is James’s advice for nailing it in one go: “Just put your thumb and forefinger either side of the clasp and squeeze. Use both of your hands, as she won’t be able to see what you’re up to anyway.”
6. How To Ask A Girl For Her Number
Both of you know that the underlying message is "I want to bone you big time," but there’s no way around it.
“This is difficult,” says Naz. “Which is weird because in life we get asked to fill out our contact details all the time. Maybe it would feel more natural if you gave her a form to fill out.”
Do: Ask for it in a casual way, like it’s no big deal.
Don't: Immediately call the number she’s just given you while she’s standing there, ‘just to make sure.’
Do: Joke that you are saving her into your contacts under "enigmatic brunette."
Don't: Tell her she’s going into your phone under the name Richard because of your "psycho girlfriend."
Do: Send her a funny text message a few hours later.
Don't: Ask her out over text and, when you don’t get an immediate reply, tell her she’s "stuck-up" and has "blown it forever."
7. How To Stay Romantic After An Argument
All couples fight, but it’s what you do afterwards that really makes or breaks your romance credentials. If you’ve been a dick, say sorry. If she’s been a dick, say you’re sorry you argued and hopefully that will encourage her to say sorry. Immediately suggest something nice to do in the near future like going to dinner. Or camping. Done.
8. How To Spoon
What happens when the sex is over, you’re spooning and you realize your drummer wants to do another solo?
Presuming that’s a metaphor, boners are fine during spooning provided you reference them (there is nothing worse than unreferenced wood), otherwise neither of you will sleep because you’re both wondering if you’re about to have sex again. If you want it, say it. If you don’t, then make a joke about your boner. Then have a spoony sleep.
“Girls love spooning,” says James. “Spoon them while they fall asleep and you’ll come across as protective and deepen your bond.”
9. How To Write A Love Letter
Or, indeed, this could be a love email, extended WhatsApp, or particularly intimate text.
“It’s tough without it sounding like a silly joke, or worse, a piece of evidence to be used in court,” says Naz.
“If you say, ‘Your eyes are so beautiful, give them to me’, things can get dark quickly,” James says. “Avoid cheesy poems or anything that might suggest it’s a joke. Treat it seriously and talk about the things you might do in the future. She’ll start to imagine you being a big part in it.”
10. How To Impress Her Dad
“You never know whether to go in hard or try the more sensitive approach. And it’s a constant struggle not to blurt out, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m banging your daughter’,” says Naz, king of parent charming.
Just be polite and don’t try too hard. If sweat drips into your eyes and blinds you, turn it down a notch.
“Be as respectful as possible and try to find mutual interests to talk about,” says James. “This could be sports, holidays, television shows or hobbies. Play it safe. And definitely avoid sarcasm wherever possible.”
11. How To Ask Her To Be Your Girlfriend
“It’s hard,” says Naz. “‘Going out’ just seems so childish; ‘Do you wanna date?’, too casual. ‘Wanna hang out?’ is too vague. ‘You, me, exclusive sex?’ To be fair, this one is quite good. ‘Would you like to skip and hold hands and roll around in hay and frolic all day long?’ Too weird. ‘Could I borrow your copy of Das Boot?’ has worked for me in the past, but there's a limited amount of times you can really use this.”
Just say ‘Reckon I can refer to you as my girlfriend now?’ with a light but serious tone and hope for the best.
12. When To Hold Her Hand
Unless she’s explicitly asked you not to, hold her hand at every available opportunity. Even if you’re on fire. It’s the easiest thing in the world, unless neither of you have hands.