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30 People Share Their Intimate Pre-Sex Rituals

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    Photographed by Natalia Mantini.

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    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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    "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

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    "Light tickles on his chest and abs always get the message across that I'm ready when he is."
    -Monica, 24

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    "I put my hands on my jugular so they aren't cold."
    -Reddit user gobigred3562

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    "The back rub, like since the day I met her that's how it begins."
    -Reddit user groovyinutah

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    "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