Sometimes organising a romantic night is harder than it seems.
We want to treat our partner to a special, sensual night in, but what exactly do we do? Is it too much to cover the bed in rose petals? Do we need to have champagne on ice waiting for them when they walk in the door?
And once we’ve impressed them with a clean apartment and a home-cooked dinner, then what?
If you want to treat your sweetheart to a seductive night but you’re not quite sure where to begin, or what to do in the moment, read on.
Our Guide to Setting the Mood is here to help you overcome all your romantic hurdles.
Keep consent in mind
It doesn’t matter if you’re hooking up with a friend-with-benefits, heading out to a swingers night, or planning a romantic evening with a long-term partner: consent is key.
We’ve written this guide for someone who already has a romantic or sexual relationship with their date, but if you’re trying to set the mood to make a move for the first time, some of these suggestions may be a bit full-on.
No matter how well you know someone, it’s still important to keep an eye on their comfort levels and make sure they’re happy and consenting with everything that’s going on.
If your date seems uncomfortable, awkward, or unsure, take a moment to check in with them to make sure they’re okay.
But if they’re smiling, happy, and making lots of eye contact, it’s probably an indication that things are progressing well.
Still, it’s worth making sure: a simple, “Do you like this?” or, “Is this cool with you?” goes a long way.
Pick the right time
As they say, there’s a time and a place for everything. If you want to create a really intimate time that you and your partner will enjoy, put a bit of thought into when you want it to happen.
If you’ve both had a massive day at work, you might not be in the mood to come home and do anything but sleep.
Likewise, if you know you have plans the next day, like an exam or lunch with the parents, you don’t want to be watching the clock all night to make sure you get your eight hours of sleep in.
Pick a time when you’re both free and can focus on nothing but each other for a few hours.
Send a flirty text
Seduction doesn’t have to start when you’re in the same room as your partner—it can start much, much earlier!
If you’re planning a romantic night in with your squeeze and want to keep their interest aroused throughout the day, send them a text and let them know you’re thinking about them.
It doesn’t have to be sexual, either: something as simple as, “I’m really looking forward to spending time with you tonight” or, “I have a surprise for you this evening!” can be really effective at piquing their interest.
If you want to be a bit more explicit, tell them they’re on your mind by offering a compliment. “I’m thinking about your soft lips on mine…” is sexy without being explicit.
Look your best
Looking your best doesn’t mean looking like a supermodel—it means putting in a bit of effort to look like the best version of you.
Take a shower, brush your teeth, and choose a clean outfit that’s appropriate for whatever plans you have.
If you’re making your partner dinner at home something casual and neat is fine, but if you’re heading out on the town, dress up a little to show that spending time with them is an occasion worth getting dressed up for.
Spend a bit of time to make sure that nothing is going to interrupt what you have planned.
Put your phone on silent, take the dog outside, suggest to your housemate that now would be a great time to go and see that movie they’ve been wanting to check out...do whatever you can to make sure that there won’t be any disturbances throughout the evening.
And as much as you can, stay off your phone—it’s a turn-on to know someone has your full attention and interest, but a turn-off to see them check their notifications every few minutes.
Set up your space
You don’t have to go all-out with candles and rose petals, but you should clean up your space and make it an environment where your partner will feel comfortable being intimate with you.
Put the dirty laundry in the washing machine, pop some fresh sheets on your bed, vacuum the floor, and wipe down any hard surfaces so that everything looks clean and fresh.
Close the blinds and create soft, ambient lighting using a lamp with a warm-toned bulb.
Turn off the television and put on some background music instead—skip the cheesy beats and go for something smooth and chilled, like this Ultimate Sex Playlist on Spotify.
If you want something a little different, this Love Songs for Robots playlist has a quirky name and heaps of electronic tracks.
Focus on them
There’s no point going to all of this effort to set a romantic mood for your partner if you’re going to take the first opportunity to jump into bed, lie back, and expect them to do all the work.
Think of all of this as a way to make your partner feel appreciated and desired, and they’re not going to feel that way if you climax, roll over, and fall asleep.
Turn your attention to them and think about what would make them feel good—and if you’re not sure, ask!
Prolong the anticipation
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to do during a romantic night that doesn’t involve sex, focus on a part of your partner’s body that you don’t usually pay much attention to.
Would they like a sensual foot rub? Could you softly stroke their back as you walk by them, or run your fingers up and down their arms while you’re sitting together on the couch?
How about kissing their neck as you bring them a drink, or occasionally touching their leg during dinner?
Take a few diversions on your way to the bedroom. If and when sex does happen, it’ll be that much more enjoyable because you took a little extra time to get there.
Remember your sense of humour
Just like in life, things in the bedroom don’t always go as planned.
If you’ve put your all into creating a romantic evening but you’ve accidentally burned dinner, forgotten to put sheets on your bed, or run out of batteries for your new sex toy, don’t get frustrated—laugh it off and accept that things won’t always be perfect.
Even if your sexy night is disrupted by an unexpected period or a premature orgasm, try to just cherish the time you have with your partner and enjoy being in their company.
Relax and go with the flow, and remember that if all else fails you can always try again tomorrow.
To learn more about the foundations of great sex with acclaimed sex coach Georgia Grace, check out NORMAL's video masterclass, The Modern Guide To Sex.