So you’ve just had sex with a new partner and you’re not sure how you feel about it. The smiles and touches either feel awkward, or both of you are struggling to make eye contact and are urgently trying to end the moment and move on to something else. It’s a horrible feeling– wondering if you kissed them too hard or too little, panicking because you think you might have used too much tongue, second-guessing whether your hands were too limp or too rough and did your hips move okay? Were you too fast? Did you take too long? Did you sweat too much or accidentally use your teeth?
The horrors of trying to figure out if you just did okay in the bedroom especially if the usual signs of ecstatic orgasms, loud moans, and direct verbal cues to keep going or go harder just never come. And when the night ended, neither did you. So what do you do when you think you’re bad at sex? Or worse, when they actually tell you that you’re bad at it? Here’s a guide on how to handle it and what to do if you think you’re bad at sex.
Sex has a lot to do with communication and connection– both of which are very hard to do when you don’t feel like yourself or are anxious. If you want to go ahead with sex and are nervous, take a moment to ground yourself. Take a second to connect with your body, think about the person you’re about to have sex with. If they’ve had sex with you before, great! They’re coming back for more and that can be a great sign.
If it’s your first time with them, remind yourself that the buildup to sex can be awkward no matter who you are or how you move or what you look like. Don’t aim to be perfect, aim to be yourself in a way that allows you to be calm, confident and attentive to your partner’s needs. Remember that sex is a two (or more?) way street. Your partner should make you feel like your inputs and feedback matter too, and hopefully, they’re standing outside the door nervously fixing their hair with the same anxiety that you’re checking yourself in the mirror.
There’s no cheat sheet to good sex that will help you be good in bed with every partner you have. That’s precisely why being present and calm enough to communicate makes a world of difference. Good sex is often about creating an environment or maintaining a tempo where your partner can tell you to move a little to the left, or go faster, or change positions or let them change positions. It’s about finding yourself in the company of someone who is eager to hear your instructions and requests and feedback too, to build a better sexual experience for you.
You know what makes most sex as bad as it is? Partners who assume they know what’s best for you, refuse to listen to feedback, pay zero attention to direct and indirect cues, and are more focussed on their own plan for the evening than where the evening is actually heading. Let there be room for your partner to want something different from what you imagined. A different mood, position, rhythm, act, etc. Pay attention to how your own mind and body feels about those different requests and see if the night is still moving in a direction that’s making you feel present, connected and drawn to the experience and the person.
Remember that good sex can take some time to build sometimes. It means making mistakes on your way, pulling a muscle, sudden sneezes, foot cramps, making a bit of a mess and sometimes not having an orgasm at all but still having an incredible time on your way to it. So when your partner tells you to change something, shift to the right or move differently, try not to hear it as “I hate what you’re doing right now” and take it instead as ”I’m enjoying this time with you so much, I want to show you how to make me come for you”. Let feedback feel like a sexy request for more, and if your partner expresses their needs in ways that don’t feel like fun requests to you, maybe you could share that feedback too!
The feedback stage has many steps too. On one hand, this is the stage that allows you to get a better understanding of what worked for your partner, what didn’t and what you can try with them next time (or with another partner, to avoid the same feeling/feedback). On the other hand, this is also the stage where you look into what you liked and didn’t. Not just to share that information with this partner or the next partner, but also to remind yourself that this sexual encounter was not just about you pleasing the other, but it was about them trying to please you too and recognising that they may not have done a perfect job with it.
Remember that sex is not an act that is fated by the gods to either go perfectly or end terribly for you. Every sexual encounter with new people or even with your partner of over 20 years is about actively listening to their cravings and desires and having your actively heard too. You can work on your body, teach yourself new positions, imitate your partner’s favourite porn actor and use all kinds of numbing sprays or creams to last longer and still feel weird about the sex. Because you probably weren’t being you. And that’s no fun.
What good is sex that makes you pretend to be someone you’re not?