The new etiquette of sex

Jane Austen knew good sex. To ‘pull’ back then was easy; picking up a partner merely involved having a good pair of child-bearing hips, or some pretty impressive sideburns. All you needed was a decent rendition of Greensleves on the harpsicord and a carefully suggestive flash of the ankle and you were shacked up in your Derbyshire love pad in no time. But the twenty-first century sex game is more complicated and the plot thickens even further at university.

Just because we no longer have to take pains over drafting obligatory quill penned love letters to our beloved, doesn’t mean that composing that perfect ‘fancy me’ text message is any easier.

Nowadays, even the most conservative among us can be left scouring the History department notice board, to simply find out the name of that random who climbed out of the bedroom window in the middle of the night (swiping petty cash on the way out). Just because we no longer have to take pains over drafting obligatory quill penned love letters to our beloved, doesn’t mean that composing that perfect ‘fancy me’ text message is any easier. Those classic dilemmas over how long to wait before you reply and how many kisses to use, can keep the discerning passion hunter awake until the wee hours (for the record one is mean, two is acceptable, but four is just far too keen).

Whilst today we can get away with discussing sex at the dinner table, the rules of sexual conduct have not become any less confusing. In fact they can seem even more complex than ever.

Thankfully Emma Taylor and Loreli Sharky (Em and Lo as they are affectionately known to their bed partners) have come up with a shining light for those fumbling around in the dark over this sexual grey area. Their book, Nerve’s guide to sex etiquette for ladies and gentlemen, answers all the burning questions about sexual decorum that you have been dying to ask, but were too polite to bring up (without taking a trip to such well established centres of education as a Swiss finishing school or a Thai brothel).

From what to wear on a date, to what to say, to how many drinks to accept before the obligations mount up and the sexual protocol of how to behave at that crucial moment and afterwards, this is the book that might just save your life – or at least your sexual reputation on campus.

Firstly, Em and Lo deal with the essential art of ‘the pickup’. Here the advice is crystal clear: no lines. Never any lines. As they say “far too much emphasis is placed on the pickup line”. Whilst “was your father a thief? Because he must have stolen the stars to put in your eyes” might not be a winner, “nice shoes, wanna’ fuck”, certainly isn’t going to work on the classy types either. Instead get them talking about themselves, everyone likes to feel that they are interesting.
However, be careful about the questions that you ask. Em and Lo explain, “it is considered gauche to discuss any of the following: astrology, predicted degree results, exes, abortion, infidelity or children”. Most of all listen, flatter, smile and make eye contact (but not the extent that you look like Tony Blair in a Newsnight interview with Paxman).

But whether your success at the pickup generates a first date or a drunken fumble, you may still be stuck as to what to do next. Often it is too easy to stereotype men and women. Women are generally dubbed as being commitment seeking, bunny boilers, whereas men are perceived as being likely to run at the first “you should meet my housemates” remark. However, it is important not to second guess your desired’s motives. Forget any preconceived notions of your date’s long term relationship plottings, most of the time people don’t know what they want – but they do know that they want to be wanted. Em and Lo make it clear that keeping things classy is the key, but whatever your intentions, flirt responsibly.

Whilst it is somewhat of a passion killer to explain your disinclination to marry whilst in the throws of desire, it might be worth gently hinting at your distaste for monogamy at some point. It is a fact universally known that only the exquisitely vulgar intentionally string people along.
Although formal dating is rare at university, if you do end up in one of these terrifying situations, you should at least make sure you are on time; “only a savage is late for a date”.

The ‘asker’ is expected to pay by everyone other than the one who is asked. Whatever you do, don’t order anything overly messy, expensive or suggestively phallic. And for the record, accepting a casual drink does not translate to accepting a casual frolic. You are not expected to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with – including ten-pin bowling and karaoke.

But what happens if you change your mind, or they are simply not as attractive in the daylight as you remember? This is where the art of disengagement comes into play. While this might not prevent hearts from being broken, it might just ease your conscience. Being kind but firm is the guiding principle here. Whilst it is uncouth to suggest to a woman that it is her facial hair problem that is standing in the way of things, it is equally vulgar to simply phase them out by ignoring their ever more desperate messages. While emailing is a safe option for those who feel like hiding behind a computer screen, politely explaining the reasons why you don’t want to take things any further, face to face, will earn you much more respect from your victim and their friends (who you could possibly go on to date).

Em and Lo give further advice on many more topics, tackling issues ranging from perverse sexual acts that you never knew existed, to how to successfully initiate a booty call. However don’t be distracted by the naughty bits, this is a comprehensive guide to an issue that affects us all. The most important thing to remember is however embarrassing, shameful or awkward the sexual situation that you entangle yourself in, never forget your manners. As they say, “Schmoozing, wooing, courting, romancing – whatever you term it, please dear reader, do it with class.” Amen.

A complete guide to bedroom etiquette

It is uncouth to feign a foreign accent to get laid. No matter how sexy the latino in the corner, dishonesty is just so unattractive. All accents have a surprising tendency to drift into Indian after a while anyway.

To lick one’s lips or run one’s tongue over one’s teeth is not considered an effective method of seduction by anyone with good taste. Particularly when the remnants of your lunch are on public display.

Although a gentlemen or lady never assumes that buying someone a drink means that they are owed something, it is gauche to accept a second drink as a gift and then turn to talk to their more attractive friend to your left.

And finally, do not play games. A gentleman or lady avoids petty manipulations simply to gain the upper hand.