Vātsyāyana’s Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu sex manual written sometime between 400 BCE and 200 CE, has a reputation for mainly being a compendium of body-bending erotic positions and mind-bendingly archaic relationship advice. But upon closer inspection, the text also contains plenty of tips for keeping the flames of romance burning that are as applicable now as they were back in the day. Here are a few pearls of wisdom gleaned from this guide that might surprise you.
1. Pass It On
Modern-day sex education is abysmal when it comes to the basics, but let’s say those bases are covered. What about the nuances of sexuality and pleasure? Vātsyāyana suggests that young women exploring eroticism should be taught by older women who are already experienced in the sensual arts. “The sexual instructress of young girls should be independent and know the meaning of the words,” Vātsyāyana writes, referencing well-read maternal aunts, older sisters, and experienced friends as suitable educators. Of course, there are caveats; the endgame back then was to please a husband, but today, it’s crucial for women in the know to discuss not only STDs and birth control with uninformed girls, but also consent, gender identity, LGBTQ relationships, masturbation, orgasm, and other topics that aren’t necessarily part of the discussions happening in the classroom or with parents.
2. Keep It Complimentary
Practitioners of the world’s oldest profession have always been experts in the art of flattery—as Vātsyāyana recognizes in his section about courtesans—because it makes people feel sexy to be admired. But this trick is even more effective when it’s not a trick at all. For sex partners who actually know and like each other, a genuine compliment or ego-boosting observation can add a sweet spark and drive away complacency. Offhand comments about our body, scent, or skill have a way of sticking with us for years. So a little positive reinforcement about what turns you on about your partner can go a long way, whether it’s their delicious pheromones or the way they say your name.
3. Sexy Souvenirs
The Kama Sutra’s chapter on scratching covers everything from the types of marks a lover can leave (“a peacock’s foot,” for instance) to places that are ripe for marking. “On seeing nail marks on her secret parts, a girl feels affection awake for her lover, whether new or old,” Vātsyāyana wrote. Of course, drawing blood doesn’t do it for everyone. The point is to find ways to remind your lover of how much fun you had, whether that’s leaving a little note in their pocket or sending them a Spotify mix. Keep the afterglow going.
By Abigail Student
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
More from BUST
6 Tumblr Blogs That Put The 'Sex' In 'Sexy'
The Elvie Is A Fitbit For Your Naughty Bits: BUST Review
What New York Magazine Gets Wrong About The Sexual Revolution