When it comes to wooing women, men aren't perfect. But perhaps guys are more selfless than their rep suggests.
Men's Health asked readers from all 35 international editions - our largest global survey ever - what sexual skills they'd most like to improve. The most common answers: seducing a woman more effectively and bringing her to orgasm every time.
Of course, there's another way to read this. It could be that men from Argentina to Ukraine simply realise that our pleasure rises and falls with hers - that by stoking her fires, they'll have hotter sex more often.
To that end, we interviewed hundreds of women and sex experts from around the globe. The result is what follows: an expert lesson in the universal language of lust.
Make It Easy for Her
You catch her eye from across the room. Now what? "Playing games wastes everyone's time," says Nikki Hayia, sex editor at Men's Health Greece. "Women prefer a man who knows what he wants, especially if what he wants is us."
Use body positioning to advertise your confidence, suggests Helen Fisher, a research professor in the anthropology department at Rutgers University, in New Jersey. If you're sitting, keep an open position—legs apart, head up, chest out, back straight. If you're standing, position your shoulders toward her while turning your head toward your conversational partner.
Mirror her actions to signal your attention - when she drinks, you drink. When she changes her body position, so do you. If you see that you and she are moving in tandem, to a beat, then it's time to make your move. "I know whether I'm attracted to you, so I don't need a pickup line," says Sara, a 28-year-old bartender in South Africa. "Just introduce yourself."
Craft an Invitation that Works
"A woman who's dressed to thrill is less likely to go home with you," says Emily Dubberley, a British sex expert and the author of Brief Encounters: The Woman's Guide to Casual Sex. "You don't want to be the third of 25 guys to approach her that evening."
Instead, go for the woman in the background. "She's with a friend or two, both of whom are brighter, brasher, and louder than she is," says Dubberley.
And remember: "A woman needs to feel as though it's a passionate one-off, not planned," says Pam Spurr, a United Kingdom–based sex expert and the author of Sinful Sex: The Uninhibited Guide to Erotic Pleasure.
This depends on how you ask her to come home with you. "Coffee at my place?" is too stark a transition, because it suggests the party's ending. Instead, try "I've got a bottle of wine in the fridge at home—could we carry on this conversation back there?" This suggests a continuation of the fun.
"It's honest and exciting, and the notion of a man with wine in the fridge is encouraging," says Spurr. "Make sure you have fresh towels in the bathroom and clean sheets on your bed, too."
Seduce Her Early and Often
Foreplay is like an investment. Start early - way before her clothes come off - and you'll reap greater rewards. "The longer we wait, the better our orgasm," says Spurr.
Begin your wooing when she's unattainable - you're both at work; she's stuck in traffic; her father just asked you to pass the salt. Whether it's an email or text, or just a smile, the important thing is that it builds the romantic tension.
Once you're together, pay attention to the details. "Instead of making a beeline for her breasts, try tugging on her hair while you kiss her, exhaling near her ear, or just gently kissing her eyelids," says Caroline Hurry, a sex writer in South Africa. "For women, a combination of boldness and tenderness is crucial."
Awaken All Her Senses
Nearly 30 per cent of the men we surveyed wish they were better - and quicker - at seducing women. Here's the secret: Because arousal has a cumulative effect, try to engage at least three of her senses at a time. As Marta, a 27-year-old Italian lawyer told us, "It takes time and lots of ingredients - smells, tastes, sounds - to heat us up."
The next time you're near a mirror, pull her close and let her have the full view as you kiss her neck and caress her body, suggests Sonia Parreira Duque, a clinical psychologist in Lisbon. "Or play her favorite record, spritz her favourite fragrance around the bedroom, and leave some small pieces of fruit and chocolate beside the bed."
One no-fail move: Give her the spa treatment. "Choose a fragrant shampoo and swirl your fingertips around her scalp with the warm, sudsy water," says Spurr. "The massage and fragrance will help her relax, unleashing oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that promotes emotional bonding." Next step: physical bonding.
Last Longer in Bed
"There's a Hungarian proverb that says, 'Do not paint the devil on the wall, for it will appear,' " says Agnes Beregszászi, a sex columnist in Hungary. Translation: The area of the brain responsible for triggering orgasm is engaged whether you're trying to have one or halt one.
The more attention you pay to your orgasm, the more likely it is to arrive. So concentrate on gauging your partner's response to each move instead - did she "oooh" or "ehh"? - until you find her sweet spot.
"Good sex is like driving to a faraway city," says Beregszászi. "You know your destination, but you need to concentrate on the road ahead of you—turn left here, turn right there. If you focus on what's happening now—her silky thighs on your hips, say—you can diffuse your pleasure throughout your whole body."
Oh, and she'll love it: "When my boyfriend slows down, I feel every bit of him," says Petra, a 30-year-old receptionist in Belgium. "It helps me focus on the sensation, and really puts me over the top when he begins to speed up again."
Test-Drive a Hot Foreign Import
The least-pleasing position for women - missionary - is still the go-to move for 48 per cent of American men and 42 percent of men worldwide. You can do better. These sex positions span the earth, and might just make it move.
Spain: The Downward Dog
Ask her to rest her chest on the bed while lifting her rear in the air. From your knees, enter her from behind. Thrust downward slightly and the bottom of your penis will massage her vaginal wall where her G-spot is located.
"This position lengthens her vaginal wall," says Pedro Otero, a sexologist in Spain, "which tightens her and makes you feel bigger."
India: The Fusion
Sit on the bed or floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Lean back about 15 degrees, supporting yourself with your arms. Ask her to sit facing you, and help her lower herself on your penis while she leans back and supports her body with her arms behind her. Her knees should be bent and near your shoulders.
"This is one of the few positions in which the union of sexual organs is visible for both partners," says Dr Mahinder Watsa, a sex therapist in India. "That translates into an increase in sexual excitement."
Brazil: The Amazon
Lie on your back with your knees to your chest. Ask her to squat on your erection, facing you, one foot on each side of your abdomen and her thighs resting on yours. Wrap your legs around her waist and hold hands to help her balance.
"This is perfect for women who aren't strong enough to be on top for a long time," says Laura Muller, a sex advisor in Brazil and the author of 500 Questions on Sex. "It lets her control penetration and leaves one of your hands free to caress her clitoris."
Hungary: The Lazy Lady
In a spooning position (you're on the outside, holding yourself up by your elbow), ask her to raise her top knee; then enter her from behind. The angle of penetration will stimulate her G-spot while your hand plays gently with her clitoris.
"Your chest will be hugging her back," says Beregszászi, "so you can match your breathing and rhythm, and thus be lulled into a very gentle, intimate togetherness." And what woman could say no to that?