30 People Share Their Intimate Pre-Sex Rituals

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Imagine that you're spending some quality time alone with your S.O., and things start to heat up. The plan is clearly to have sex, but before the clothes come off, what do you do? Do you run to the bathroom, make sure the kids are asleep, or just get down to business? A surprising number of people have what could be described as a pre-sex ritual — something they always do right before doing the deed — and we've rounded up 30 of them here.

After asking R29 readers and consulting the people of Reddit, it turns out there's quite a bit of variety. Some pre-sex rituals are totally utilitarian, like making sure you pee beforehand so you don't get the urge to go mid-coitus. Others are purely for peace of mind: One person said she makes sure her ponytail is tight and secure.

Across the board, we found all of these enlightening — and they gave us a few ideas about how to tweak our own rituals. Whether you do anything to prepare yourself for sex or not, you just might find something here inspiring.

Click through to discover what people really do before sex, and share your own rituals in comments.
The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more, here.
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1 of 30
"Unfold and lay a certain blanket over the (made) bed, soft side up. This makes it more comfortable and means we don't have to wash the sheets after. Downside: It's now referred to as 'the sex blanket.'"
-Reddit user lawlifelgbt
2 of 30
"Light tickles on his chest and abs always get the message across that I'm ready when he is."
-Monica, 24
3 of 30
"I put my hands on my jugular so they aren't cold."
-Reddit user gobigred3562
4 of 30
"The back rub, like since the day I met her that's how it begins."
-Reddit user groovyinutah
5 of 30
"Sometimes I'll have a cold shower, then I moisturize and maybe tan — not too much tan though so I don't sweat it off — then I choose between no underwear or cute and sexy. Also [I do] a natural dewy glow makeup look with loads of setting spray. [I] straighten my hair and make sure the ponytail is durable and won't go loose."
-Rachel, 20
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6 of 30
"Put the cat in the guest room. We don't like observers."
-Reddit user Nickosuave311
7 of 30
"Drink a cup of water so I can pee after sex, had my first UTI recently and not in a hurry to get another."
-Koala Whisper, 26
8 of 30
"Clip my nails. Accidentally scratching her is a real mood killer."
-Reddit user Groundzr0
9 of 30
"If it's specifically for sex, then I'll take a quick leak. I have a stubborn bladder, and it makes enjoying myself almost impossible if there's even a little in the chamber."
-Reddit user Unsmiley
10 of 30
"I clean between my toes, behind my ears, my butt hole, and my vulva inside and out. After I dry myself, I even put a finger there just to make sure I taste good. Also, I must cover my whole body with lotion and my vulva with coconut oil. I just want to make sure I am not self-conscious when I am in the act about how I smell."
-Mars, 25

Ed note: There is absolutely no reason to clean your vagina — it's self-cleaning. Not to mention, douching or otherwise washing your vagina can actually disturb the balance of bacteria in it, which can lead to bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
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11 of 30
"Put on loud music to cover up the noise."
-Reddit user Icedworm
12 of 30
"Shower, shave face and junk, brush teeth, scrub hands and fingernails, apply deodorant. Let us fuck."
-Reddit user _Doos
13 of 30
"I look at my partner and I'm overcome by her beauty staring into her eyes. We smoke a joint and kiss. When she touches me, it's on."
-Ian, 43
14 of 30
"Pee, wash myself, and if I'm wearing eye make up, remove it. I like to give sloppy, passionate head, and don't want to come up looking like a sad clown. But grooming aside, it also gives me a chance to gather myself. Maybe a pep talk in the mirror. And a few practice poses so I know what angles I will look best. Not that it matters if the sex is good though, because I forget my own name when it's being done right."
-Reddit user FluffyUnicorns27
15 of 30
"[I like to] shower, but most times I prefer to be spontaneous so I'll pounce on him regardless of our shower status."
-Reddit user SubDee54
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16 of 30
"First, I make sure I'm clean-shaven and physically ready. When we're together, typically our routine is make out, get a little handsy. Eventually, when we both feel we're at that point, then one of us says something about the next move, and if we want to have sex then we do!"
-Ellen, 16
17 of 30
"Pre-sex: flirting, light petting, and doing my level best to ensure our kids are asleep. Post-sex: snuggles, shower and bed."
-Reddit user NeoRyu777
18 of 30
"Honestly depends on the person, situation, and the environment I'm in (bed, car, forest lol). Those factors change how I will go about having sex with someone. Each person and experience brings something different to the table, which means I have to be ready to change a routine or do things differently to try make it an enjoyable experience for the person and myself."
-Adeline, 27
19 of 30
"Self-love (better safe than sorry)."
-Reddit user Bolzenschneider
20 of 30
"Grab the toy bag and set out what we're playing with for the night."
-Reddit user CatrionaShadowleaf
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21 of 30
"If it's more than just a quickie, I like to invite her to take a shower with me. We start off talking and soaping each other up and rubbing up all against each other and stuff. We both get clean, plus it’s arousing and adds to the foreplay."
-Reddit user Demyk7
22 of 30
"Get comfortable, or naked, smoke a joint, and then really connect through communication first. The relaxed, open conversation and eye contact escalate things quickly."
-Bree, 37
23 of 30
"I have a rigorous grooming ritual, which involves Nair hair removal on my entire my lower half, including both butt cheeks."
-Diana, 31
24 of 30
"Fucking floss. Don't rely on gum for 'good breath.' Especially if you smoke."
-Reddit user Keanex
25 of 30
"Make out at minimum, and then usually a bit of oral foreplay. If it's a special occasion, we might bust out the massage oil."
-Erica, 27
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26 of 30
"I take off all my clothes besides my underwear and jiggle my bum in front of him and make him watch until he grabs me and leads me towards the bedroom. It always works with just a little jiggle."
-Reddit user mybmisbananas
27 of 30
"A nice hot steamy shower to relax my body."
-Perkytit, 24
28 of 30
"Shower, and shave my face. My wife doesn't like my stubbles on her lady parts."
-Reddit user ell20
29 of 30
"Hopefully, I had enough of an idea beforehand to make sure my sheets are clean, my body is shaved, and my apartment isn't too cluttered — I don't want anything to be a distraction. I'll do all this stuff the day before or the morning of if I know I have a date later — I'm not too much of a casual sex person, so it's rarely a surprise. But once it's on, it's ON — I'm a walk in, start fumbling with clothes kinda girl, and I don't wanna mess with anything when the moment happens (except grabbing a condom, of course)."
-Alyssa, 27
30 of 30
"Take off my glasses."
-Reddit user go_green_machine
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