Novelty in the bedroom can be capital-h Hot—and there are tons of inventive sex toys that essentially prove as much. However, you certainly don’t need to pull out a new bag of kinky tricks every time you and your partner get it on. Sexologists and researchers both agree that simply copying what your partner does via a technique called sexual mirroring makes the familiar feel straight-up sexy.
“Mirroring happens in everyday (non-quarantined) life,” says Sadie Allison, PhD, sex educator and co-founder of GoLove CBD lubricant. “You see someone touch their hair, so you touch yours; someone laughs, so you laugh; and so on. At the most basic level, mirroring is the process of matching someone’s actions. We often do it when we’re experiencing a connection with someone, and it’s actually a telltale sign of emotional intelligence.” And the same principle goes for sex: Emulating a sexual partner can give way to an emotional connection that makes the moment all the more intimate, meaningful, and fun.
“Consciously focusing on vocal sexual mirroring with your partner can add a whole new dimension to your communications.” —Sadie Allison, PhD
Limited research has been conducted on mirroring, but scientists do know that humans possess “mirror neurons,” which fire up both when we observe other people and when we mimic an action that we’re observing. For example, if you feel a certain kind of way when your partner tucks your hair behind your ear, mimicking them by securing a piece of their hair may trigger a similar chemical reaction for you. Think of it as a form of communication that requires zero words.
And when it comes to in-the-bedroom applications, Dr. Allison says sexual mirroring can call upon this brain-to-brain connection to multiply the pleasure felt by both parties. “Consciously focusing on vocal sexual mirroring with your partner can add a whole new dimension to your communications, leading to deeper connections and enhancing your sexual experiences,” she says.
Often, sexual mirroring will come naturally: Your partner will do X, and you’ll follow suit passively, on autopilot. But if you want to use the sexy method a bit more consciously, Dr. Allison says you can take the power of mirroring into your own hands by paying attention to your partner’s sounds and facial expressions. “Start at the very beginning—say, when you’re kissing or during more frisky foreplay—then keep paying attention to the main event. Pay attention to how their expressions may change throughout the experience, from the types of moans and sounds they’re making, to the depth and volume of those tones,” she says. Commit your partner’s sex face and sex sounds to memory, and then you’re ready to start mimicking them.
“Once you study up on this symphony of expression, you may find yourself with a new arsenal of knowledge to then enjoy even more erotic engagement. Observe, retain, and practice later when you’re looking in the mirror, and see how it feels and how it looks to express in the way your partner does,” says Dr. Allison.
And sure enough, next time things start to get steamy, you’ll be ready to pull out your sexual mirroring and use it to your advantage. It’s also cool to ask your partner to do the same, by the way. Meaning, they should copy what you’re doing to fire up their mirror neurons as well.