Sexual intelligence has nothing to do with how kinky you are, or how often you get it on. It’s about curiosity and open-mindedness. It’s understanding pleasure, intimacy, and satisfaction; it’s the ability to adapt to getting older; and the ability to adjust when things get a little weird.

1. Know what you want

The heart of sexual intelligence is knowing what it is that turns you on, that makes you feel connected, that pushes your buttons and makes you feel insecure. You are a work in progress, and even sexually intelligent people have faults, but they easily identify them and can navigate through them throughout a relationship.

2. Be easy with relationships

Easily be able to open yourself up to love and be sexually expressive with a new partner, and also easily be able to let go of love before a relationship gets toxic. Knowing when to end a mediocre relationship is a sign of sexual and emotional intelligence.

3. Be comfortable naked

Knowing your body and being comfortable in it are absolutely imperative to great sexual relationships. Surrendering unrealistic physical expectations for physical satisfaction is what separates good sex from mind-blowing sex.

4. Create a connection beyond sex

A great sexual partnership doesn’t end at orgasm. It rolls into good conversations, shared passions and emotional openness. To cultivate an intimate sexual connection, get to know each other as actual human beings.

5. Speak up and concisely ask for what you need

This is a game changer for most couples. When you can firmly ask for what you want, you give your partner permission to give it to you. When you learn to incorporate this process into dirty talk or non-verbal communication, that’s when things get really interesting.

6. Balance brutal honesty with kindness

When you ask for what you want, your partner has the right to say no. Being brutally honest can seem harsh and you risk cutting down their confidence in moments where your most vulnerable self is out there naked. Learn to say no gracefully and with kindness.

7. Be ok not having sex

Amazing connection doesn’t always mean penetration. You can have an insane sexual connection without having to go past second base. Play with anticipation and delayed gratification. You’ll thank me later.

8. Listen before reacting

In the heat of the moment, some people can’t articulate their needs and communication can get twisted. Before you react with anger and resentment, ask your partner to explain their perspective until you understand what they TRULY mean. Have empathy for the complicated nature of sexuality and actively listening before responding or reacting unkindly. Most arguments are actually miscommunications.

9. Have deep connective sex without verbal communication

Learn to use your hands, body, mouth, and energetic pull to express what you really want. Communication is amazingly sensual, but over-communication can be a buzzkill. Start to combine the verbal cues with subtle physical cues until you and your partner understand the ebb and flow of each other’s body. It will be amazing.

10. Be GGG

Dan Savage describes GGG as Good, Giving and Game. This sums up what sexual intelligence means in practice. Be good in bed and be attentive to the details of what makes your partner turned on. Be Giving and don’t be afraid to give oral sex or favors without the expectation that you will get it in return. Be Game and ready to try anything, even if it isn’t your own personal turn-on.

11. Be happy alone.

Desperation is the least attractive quality in a partner. Be able to enjoy your own company and create a life that makes other people want to be a part of it. Sexually, learn about what your body needs to stay engaged whether you are in a relationship or not. Don’t solely rely on your partner for sexual satisfaction. Find ways to express your sexuality on your own.

12. Feel comfortable with discomfort

The jump from good sex to unbelievably sex is an awkward one. You aren’t always graceful and sensual when you’re trying something new. But don’t let that stop you. Learn to laugh and embrace the awkwardness of sex. This shared experience is what brings couples together and makes for hilarious stories.

13. Be able to disagree without conflict

You might not agree on the logistics of your sex life, the where and when and how; but you should agree on the why. If you’re both in it for love or for exploration, you will be able to work out your disagreements without creating a blowout argument. Be civil and mature and come to a common understanding before taking off your clothes.

14. Lean on each other

Both physically and metaphorically, it’s important to trust your partner to hold you. When you exchange complete trust and allow yourself to lean into each other you will find amazing strength. You can’t do this thing alone, so listen and be aware of when your partner needs you, and be ready to take on a little extra weight as your relationship and sexual experiences ebb and flow.

15. Don’t play mind games

Manipulation is the enemy of sexual intelligence. With great power comes great responsibility. I shouldn’t have to quote any other comic book characters to get this point across.

16. Forgive

When things go wrong and relationships don’t work out, or sexual experiences turn from bad to worst, forgiveness is what sets apart the sexually intelligent. While others hold onto resentments, you forgive yourself and your partner for any miscommunication or hurt.

17. Laugh

Laughter is what brings a bad situation out of the dark and into a great story. When we take risks in life and in relationships there is always a chance they won’t work out. But it usually makes for a good story. Use laughter when you need to heal from a bad experience and move on. Trust me that it makes everything better. And fake it if you have to, until a smile feels totally natural.

18. Make love to ease stress not create it

Avoid people who are addicted to drama. That translates into an exciting but tumultuous and emotionally explosive relationship in the bedroom. Love and sex should release pressure,, not create it. Although there is an ebb and flow to the tension between lovers, don’t end things until you are at peace and ease with each other.

19. Prioritize exercise

This seems too practical for this list, but as we get into the nitty gritty, there is no better way to make sex more powerful than by training your body to step up to the physical demands that your creative sexual minds can imagine. Even moderate exercise helps you stay aware of your physical body. When you stop exercising your body and mind disconnect, and if you expect to reconnect it on a whim, you’re going to be disappointed. Exercise keeps your physical body ready to go when the moment of sexual tension starts.

20. Eat sexy foods

In the same practical terms, food feeds your sexuality. If you don’t give your body the nutrients it needs to run, it won’t be able to respond when and how you want it to. Food is a mega turn on. And healthy, colorful food is what your body craves for energy to get you through a long hot night.

21. Use your words

Learn how to express your thoughts and opinions without them being laced in emotions and manipulation. The most powerful words in sex are “I don’t know” and “Let’s try it and see what happens”. Being able to translate the subtle but powerful emotions that often spin around our heads during sex, allows us to share an honest moment with our partner and avoid bad situations that often start with a simple miscommunication.

23. Leave your anxiety outside the bedroom

Anxiety is the underlying problem in many sexually dis-functional relationships. Let go of your worries about work, family and whatever else or your relationship risks becoming imbalanced. One person often becomes the caretaker of the other, empathy is lost and sex becomes a bandaid for a non sexual open wound

22. Do the work

Like all the best relationship advice, this was originally business advice that changed my life. Great sex doesn’t just happen. It takes practice. And this is not a bad thing! This is the greatest kind of practice there is. You have to do it every day, or on a consistent basis in order to get better. A writer that wants to be famous needs to write every day. A swimmer who wants to make the Olympic team needs to swim every day. You need to have connective sex every day to get really great at it. So go!