In an intimate and emotionally open sexual relationship, the role of more dominant and more submissive partner may alternate between the man and the woman. Each partner can be comfortable with whatever a particular sexual position demands of them. For example, during man on top sex the woman is not so much passive as receptive, opening up to her man while he's in a position that seems to imply the more dominant or more "active" role. By contrast, woman on top sex suggests that the woman takes over the role of the more active partner; she is literally "on top" and in control of the rhythm and pace of the couple's sexual activity. And, just as the woman's movements are somewhat limited when her partner is in the man on top position, so his movements are more limited when she is riding high! Side by side sex tends to be more equal - it looks and feels like an act of mutual love and respect, where communication and intimacy between two people is reflected in long, slow lovemaking, albeit with deep penetration and powerful orgasms.
Man on to: the missionary position - uncomplicated, satisfying sex
The legend is that the man on top or missionary position, with both partners lying down, was named after white missionaries by Pacific Islanders, who saw the white men and women having sex in the man on top position - the only one the missionaries deemed acceptable. Apparently the islanders preferred to have sex in the woman on top position, with the woman squatting. Whether that's true or not, man on top is still as popular now as it was then, and of course for very good reason, since it offers great intimacy, the opportunity to kiss, to maintain eye contact, and to have close physical contact between all the most erogenous and sexually sensitive parts of the body.
Best of all, perhaps, from the man's point of view, is that he can move his pelvis freely, and so has great control over the depth and pace of his thrusting. Generally his penis will be at a very comfortable angle when it enters his partner's vagina, and and he can control his pelvic thrusts, making them as deep or shallow as he and she want. The fact that he can change the speed and depth of his movements means that he can find exactly what gives both he and his partner the greatest pleasure and the most powerful orgasm.
In the basic man on top position, the man lies between the woman's legs, which are wide open to allow his penis access to her vagina. It's unlikely that his penis will slip out, but taking it slowly will help ensure that he remains inside her. Men: penetrating her slowly is good for your partner's pleasure: many women love the teasing sensation of their partner's penis slowly entering their vagina just an inch or two, then stopping, then resuming its inward journey, perhaps moving in and out several times within the first inch or two of the vagina before it goes deep into her.
(It's important to respect the moment of penetration, especially if you are making slow, romantic and gentle love. For a woman, the moment of penetration is a symbol of opening herself up to her man, and she needs to be ready both psychologically and emotionally if she is to enjoy it to the full. Her partner can check if she is ready by feeling how moist she is - or she may tell him that she wants him to enter her. That's the ideal way to judge when the moment is right for penetration, because a woman can be physically aroused (i.e. her vagina may be wet) but not emotionally ready for penetration. And it's also possible for a man to have a hard cock but not to be turned on mentally - if you're a man and you've ever been in a situation where you knew that you didn't want sex despite having an erection, you'll understand this.
The basic man on top position illustrated
You can bend your arms more and rest more of your weight on your partner if she is comfortable with this.
Once you're inside your partner, you can begin to thrust gently at first, and also with quite shallow movements, moving your pelvis slowly back and forth and allowing time for the two of you to become fully attuned to the energies flowing between you.
Ways to make man on top sex better for both of you
Penetrating your partner does not mean that you can thrust away regardless of her wishes, needs and desires. She may experience a whole variety of feelings when your penis enters her - and so may you, of course - and it's good to take time to savor the experience and feel it fully. You may wish to keep your eyes open so that you can look at each other as you make love; that adds to the intimacy. Some lovers prefer to close their eyes and focus on what they are feeling - that's especially true for sensitive people who can be a bit overwhelmed by all the sensations and feelings that sex produces.
These days, most men realize that a woman wants more than the physical side of sex - she wants the emotional connections and feelings of being loved by her partner. And even if women's sexuality is a puzzling mystery to most men, at least we are capable of showing love and affection during sex and gaining great pleasure from our partners' sexual happiness. And it's true that most men do actually want to make their woman happy - it's very rewarding for men to give their partner an orgasm, or see her enjoying the feeling of him being inside her.
If the woman wants to move more in this position, she can raise her hips on a pillow and brace her feet against the bed - this will give her greater freedom of movement. Equally, the man can raise himself on his arms so his weight pins her down less. Both of these variations allow her to assert her sexuality more and to gain greater physical pleasure from her own movements.
If this is uncomfortable for the woman, for example if she gets squashed by his weight, or she's pregnant and can't have her man resting his weight on her, or if she wants more clitoral stimulation than the position in the photo above offers, there are many ways to vary the experience.
A lot of sex positions books and websites suggest that this is a good position for deep penetration. However, that's only true if the man has a larger than average penis or a flexible erection which will bend down at right angles to his body even when he is completely erect. If a man has a small penis, or if his erection is inflexible and points straight up towards his face when he's erect, he's not likely to be able to go very deeply into his partner in this position.
When you're using sex positions which offer the possibility of deep penetration, it's important that you don't thrust too deep or too hard in the early part of sex. This is because a woman's vagina only reaches its maximum length when she's sexually aroused; until then, her uterus may not be fully elevated, which means your penis can hit it if you thrust too vigorously or deeply before she's ready for deep penetration.
The pleasure of watching penetration
Men, as you know, are very visual, and take great pleasure from the sight of their partner naked and sexually open to them, and they especially enjoy watching the act of penetration. So any variation of man on top sex (or any other position!) which allows a man to see what is happening is likely to prove highly arousing!
Of course a woman may also be aroused and excited by seeing her partner's penis entering her body. But what is arousing and exciting varies from woman to woman: for some it will be knowing they are going to give themselves to their partner; for others, it will be the physical pleasure of vaginal thrusting; for others it will be the whole act of sex, especially the love and intimacy that the act of sex implies. Sexual fulfillment, too, comes from different things: some women will want to have orgasmic pleasure, others will want the sense of closeness and love; and some will want to experience the sheer physical pleasure of being penetrated.
One of the great things about the missionary position is that it allows the two lovers to kiss and cuddle while they make love. Whole body contact is easily achieved, as is eye contact and the luxurious feeling of being surrounded by your partner's body as you enjoy sex.
Woman holds the man close
One of the questions which features a lot in our postbag is whether or not the man on top position produces good sex for the woman. This question often seems to come up because woman wants to enjoy an orgasm during intercourse, but she can't when her man is on top. Well, no, because orgasm during vaginal penetration is not particularly common for women - at least, not from vaginal thrusting alone. Only a small minority of women actually come just from their partner's thrusting: most who reach orgasm during intercourse do so because either they or their partner is stimulating their clitoris as they make love. Obviously this is easiest when you can get a hand or finger to her clitoris, but there are other ways in which you can produce friction on the clitoris - for example, the woman can pull her man in towards her with her legs, so that as he moves, his body weight presses more firmly on the clitoral region. This may be very effective when he moves in a rocking or circular motion rather than a thrusting one.
Man enters his partner from behind
A variation of the man on top position which can produce very intense stimulation of a woman's G-spot. Depending on the angle of the man's penis and her vagina, this may even be too intense for her. So take it gently and softly at first, to see how you both like it. The easiest way to get into this position is to start form the kneeling rear entry and slowly lower yourselves down onto the bed.
Varying the angle of penetration
A very good way to avoid the mechanical rhythm of repeated thrusting - which can become boring and unstimulating for a woman - is to vary what you're doing by changing position so that you stimulate different parts of the vagina (and, for that matter, the penis). The best sex is fun, enjoyable, and varied, and by taking up a position during sex in which he enters his partner from a slightly angled sideways position like the one shown in the first of the four pictures above, a man can give his partner extra pleasure by pressing his penis on different areas of her vagina - some of which may be more sensitive than others.
Woman raises her legs
By lifting one of his partner's legs over his shoulder, a man may find that he can move more easily and at the same time press his body against his partner's vulva region, which can add to her excitement in this position.
Any position which allows the man to put a hand under one or both of his partner's buttocks and pull them slightly and gently apart can be very exciting for the woman - the gentle spreading of the cheeks of her bottom will pull on her anus and add a lot of intensity to the sensations she is experiencing as he thrusts.
The same is true of a gentle spreading of her vulva, for example as he gives her cunnilingus, or plays with her with a finger. For some women, the sense of being opened up and exposed to his gaze can be a powerful and exciting experience.
More on the missionary or man on top sex position
Man on top or missionary is the most common and popular sex position. It is by far the most common sex position in European and American cultures. As recently as 1948, Alfred Kinsey discovered that 70 per cent of Americans had never had sex in any other way. Since then later surveys have indicated that we are more likely to vary sex positions depending on the level of education we have received. If you are college educated for example, you are more likely to use a variety of sex positions than if you left school early and went out to work. However, the missionary still ranks high.
This face-to-face, man-on-top position offers the opportunity to kiss, caress and watch each other's faces during sex. It's relatively easy and is best started off with the woman opening her legs with her knees bent. If you encounter any difficulty guiding your penis into her vagina she is well positioned to reach down with a hand to help.
However, if you allow your weight to collapse upon your woman at any stage of the proceedings, including after your orgasm, you stand a good chance of squashing her. One of the benefits of the missionary is that you can support yourself with your limbs and prevent her from being squashed.
Another benefit is that most women are less strong than men. Should they get the opportunity to be on top, they may find it hard to continue because they get tired. Also, being rather more passive suits some weaker members of the sex. Since man on top sex gives the man the real range of movement she may need encouragement to shift around beneath you. This is especially important if she really gets off on deep thrusting.
The subtle adjustment of helping her to pull her knees up and back during the missionary position is one way of assisting her to deeper penetration. If she doesn't know whether or not this is good for her, take such powerful strokes extremely easily. Some women possess an oversensitive cervix at the end of the vagina and slamming in to it can shock and bruise, not tempt and delight. Some women have a cervical area very sensitive to deep thrusting and find that its stimulation sends up erotic responses to the whole of the body.
One of the great mysteries of male and female sexual fit is that there appears to be a design fault. The penis penetrates the vagina neatly enough but unfortunately never directly touches the clitoris. Unless ... slight adjustments are made during the missionary position. One of these adjustments is for you to snuggle hard up against her pubic mound penetrating her deeply, but not thrusting. Instead, you make very slight rocking movements against her pubic mound. If you have managed to angle yourself slightly up and over her pubic mound, there's a high likelihood that the shaft of your penis will reach direct contact with your lover's clitoris and that your pelvic rocking now offers a chance of her reaching orgasm.
* The pictures expand into much larger and clearer photos when you click on them!