How To Make Sex More Romantic Without Being Totally Cheesy

Photographed by Refinery29.
With Valentine's Day coming up, paired-up people are likely looking forward to an incredible night full of love, romance, and sex. But sometimes it can be hard to bring the romance from your special date night into your sex life — without feeling way too cheesy.
Lining the bed with rose petals might be a go-to romance move in the movies, but in real life it just feels like a bit too much. Plus, think of the mess! Do you have sex on top of the rose petals? Or do you throw them on the floor and worry about cleanup later?
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Just skip the petals and the overly sexual songs (sorry, Marvin Gaye), and put in the time and energy to make the night special for you and your partner, says Megan Fleming, PhD, a sex and relationship therapist in New York City.
And don't just do this on Valentine's Day; do it on any other day of the year, too. It's important, especially if you're in a long-term relationship, to make time for romantic sex every once in a while. "Ordinary sex is packaged between life," says Jane Greer, PhD, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "You’re having sex between taking care of kids and going to work and doing laundry, so the time for romance falls by the wayside."
Valentine's Day is a perfect time to reboot, she says, and bring a little bit of non-cheesy romance back to your sex life. Read ahead for seven tips on how to make sex special — no rose petals necessary.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Talk it out.

Romance starts way before you hit the sheets, and it's important to first know what "romance" even means for you and your partner. For some, it might mean having a fancy dinner out; for others, it might mean hitting up a comedy show and laughing so hard you can't breathe. "Whatever you enjoy, use it to build anticipation and romance throughout the day," Dr. Fleming says.

That can mean texting your partner romantic memories, or even something as simple as, "I'm looking forward to being with you," Dr. Greer says. To turn up the mood, tell your partner throughout the day how much you love them and how hot they are or how turned on they make you feel.
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Start with dinner.

The quickest way to a man's (or person of any gender's) heart is through their stomach, right? While that might not be totally true, there's something to be said about making your partner's favorite meal or dessert as a precursor to romantic sex. It shows them how much you care, Dr. Greer says, which will surely get their loving feelings flowing.

If you're really lucky, their favorite food incorporates some treats with "aphrodisiac" qualities, like strawberries, chocolate, and honey, Dr. Fleming says. (Honestly, science is a little iffy on whether or not these foods really do enhance your sex drive. But hey, it's worth a shot, right?) Chocolate-strawberry shots, anyone?
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Get away from home.

If the sex you usually have is sandwiched between ordinary life, maybe romantic sex means getting away from your ordinary bed. Dr. Greer suggests planning a romantic getaway for a weekend if you can afford to do so. But even a spontaneous hotel room for one night can be enough to make you and your partner feel like the night is extra special.
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Create a romantic environment.

Don't want to go to a hotel? Even your ordinary bed can be turned into romance-central if you set the mood. Think about sound, smell, lighting, and temperature, Dr. Fleming says. Make a romantic playlist with songs that mean something to your relationship. Light a candle you know your partner loves, or spray the room with a few spritzes of their favorite perfume or cologne. Does your partner like the room warm or cold? Make sure it's at the perfect temperature for them. "The setting sets the tone in the background for romance," Dr. Greer says.
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Pay attention to little things.

Romance can be found in the smallest moments. It's your partner stroking your hair, rubbing your back, or pulling you close for a foot massage after a long day. Remember those little moments when you're planing a special night, Dr. Greer says. You don't need out-of-the-box sex positions to make sex more romantic. Just remember to do all of the loving gestures you do on a typical day, except do them during sex.
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Make eye contact.

Staring lovingly into your partner's eyes may sound kind of cheesy, and it's definitely not for everyone, but making eye contact during sex really can boost intimacy with your partner. If you're up for it, there are certain positions that are more conducive for such longing gazes — one of them being regular ol' missionary, Dr. Greer says. There's also plenty of opportunity to make eye contact if you're lying side-by-side and facing each other. Just remember, you don't have to keep your eyes open the whole time. If it feels too awkward to stare — and it might — just keep your eyes on your partner's for a few seconds at a time.
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Take a stroll down memory lane.

What's more romantic than remembering your top sexual hits as a couple? Think back on your memories of the truly amazing sex you've had with your partner, and then describe it in detail. "Talking through your memories will anchor them to your body and your muscle memory," Dr. Fleming says. The more you talk about past sexual experiences, the more you and your partner will want to recreate them. Or maybe even change the one thing that would have made the sex even more amazing.
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