Conditions for Good Sex

how to have good sex

In his book The New Male Sexuality, Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld discussed the concept of "conditions," or requirements, for enjoyable sex.

  • Discuss your conditions for sex with your partner.
  • Like feelings, conditions may be confusing, but they can't be "wrong."
  • Don't assume you know what your partner needs. Ask.
  • If you are troubled by what it takes to make you feel comfortable, discuss it with a close friend or a professional.

Everyone has conditions under which they can enjoy sex, which I believe can be divided into three categories: those concerning ourselves, concerning our partner, and concerning the erotic environment. Examples of some people's conditions include:

- Regarding yourself: You may need to feel clean; you may like to feel you haven't left any chores undone;

- The environment: You may need privacy or a soft, romantic room;

- Your partner: You may need someone enthusiastic; or want your partner to say "I love you."

Many conditions express cultural ideals: Some people can't enjoy sex unless the man initiates it, or unless he makes more money than the woman. Some people can't enjoy sex if they believe other people can hear them.

Get to know your conditions for functioning sexually, then ask yourself: Do your conditions fit your values? Do they attract the kind of people you want? Or are your conditions so narrow that satisfaction isn't easy to attain?

It's fine to desire a sense of danger, for example - as long as you're with someone who isn't hostile or self-destructive. Similarly, if you can't enjoy sex before every single one of your chores is completed, you may never enjoy sex in this lifetime.

How do your conditions fit your partners'? If you need a lot of time to feel connected and relax, and your partner is impulsive, it will be hard for both of you to feel comfortable at the same time. Similarly, if you enjoy lots of gentle words, but your partner likes to talk nasty, it may be hard to create an environment you both like.


Many couples in such situations, unfortunately, argue about which of them is "unreasonable," "uptight" or "kinky." If, instead, a couple acknowledges that neither conditions are "wrong,'' they can strategize about how to make love in ways that satisfy them both. They may interpret their conditions in new ways: playing music or wearing a blindfold during sex, for example, can give a sense of privacy.

Similarly, if feeling clean is an issue, have your partner stroke your genitals with a warm, damp towel, which will enhance the erotic climate, rather than detract from it.

Are there conditions that are simply wrong? Certainly. Needing someone to be injured is problematic. Similarly, if the sex that you require makes you feel bad afterwards, that's a problem. Remember, though, that the issue is not for you to have "normal" conditions, or the same conditions as your partner.

Ultimately, you want to be able to have sex that celebrates who you are, whatever partnership you are in, and that enhances your life.

Marty Klein, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage counselor and sex therapist in Palo Alto, Calif. He has written for national magazines and appeared on many TV shows, including Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones. You can read more about his books, tapes and appearances on his Web site,

next: Good Sex Is Good for You!

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 1). Conditions for Good Sex, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: May 2, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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