Nobody wants to hear they’re bad at sex. We’d all like to be the Fabios of our own stories being dreamt about across the nation but for most of us that isn’t it. Instead we have to live with Expectations. From magazines to videos everyone has something to say about what you’re capable of in bed. So what happens when you’re just not that?
Well, you work to be better. The hardest part about knowing you’re not great at sex is, well, acceptance. I once dated someone who was really not great. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t know how to approach the situation. Any time we’d have sex I’d go to clean up and bring a vibrator with me. Me and my favorite toy would hash it out in another room and I never said a word to my boyfriend. I never brought it up, he never knew he was bad at sex. We were both rather new at sex if I’m being honest, we were leaning on the end of high school and had dated one or two partners at the most.
Unlike my earlier experiences I wasn’t struggling with nerves and shyness, I just found my mind wondering about my day and just general random thoughts as he went to town. You know those late night pillow thoughts you have with yourself? Yeah, that was me. Instead of focusing on him I was thinking about what I should add to my grocery list or if I’d forgotten anything for work. This was when I first learned how to fake an orgasm.
The relationship didn’t last long.
What I regret most about this relationship is that we just never talked about it. I don’t know if I was just avoiding conflict but in the end it just never came up. I didn’t become resentful or anything like that because of it, it was just something that stayed in the back of my head. An anecdote for when I was feeling horny — that I should just grab a toy because it’d work out better for me.
Realistically I could’ve been just as bad though. I don’t mind being told my technique is lacking in some way, the goal of sex is being able to feel pleasure between you and whomever you’re with. It’s not a solo job if there’s more than one party. You want everyone to feel good. After the initial shock of feeling inadequate the next step is mutually changing how we approach sex to make it better for both of us.
Fast forward to the future and I was in a relationship where I was the inadequate partner. When my partner and I first had sex I thought it’d been fine. I had orgasmed, he had orgasmed, goal met. Of course sex is more than that, good sex is more than that. Having an orgasm is the end goal but you can have plenty of trash sex even when you both manage to orgasm.
At this point I’d had some very particular partners and I got used to doing some not so standard things. One of them was just being quiet. My last partner wasn’t huge on sounds and liked it when I held back. For my new partner the way I held myself was off-putting because for him it almost seemed like I didn’t want to be there. It wasn’t true but it wasn’t something I could immediately change. And I didn’t know it was an issue until much later into the relationship. For us this was an issue that had grown and festered until it came out in a pretty bad fight. He’d told me he didn’t want to feel like he was having sex with a living sex doll and that half the time he just didn’t know what to do with me.
Hearing that sucked
Now if you’re reading this you might think it doesn’t mean that I’m particularly bad but that I was just doing things wrong but that’s what bad sex is — settling on actions or things that you or your partner don’t enjoy. It could be something you’ve held onto or learn to use in your regular sex life but if it’s something you or your partner don’t care for it’s just a bad experience. Everyone likes something specifically and everyone has preferences for what they enjoy over other things.
If we consider the learning curve to doing what your partner likes you’re pretty much always learning to do better. Every partner is different and every partner should open opportunities to do new and exciting things. You’re free to feel nervous but it isn’t the end of your sex life if every time you orgasm it’s not your finest work.
With this in mind I had to really learn how to, well, have sex again. Being compared to a sex doll made me feel like shit. And for a while I basically shoved sex to the back of my mind. I didn’t even want to try because the idea of having to change my whole demeanor was daunting. I’d like to say my partner and I resolved things but we didn’t. We did have sex again before we broke it off but it just didn’t work out. It wasn’t just about learning — we’d always be reminded that my inadequacies stemmed from a bitter fight.
From there I had to learn to start anew
Learning you’re just not good and that there’s no easy fix isn’t easy. For a while I tried to sleep around but it just never worked out. I’d get too nervous, too anxious, and there were night where I’d kick a guy out of my bed because I got too into my head. Learning to be okay with myself needed a lot of self reflection but also a partner who was willing to work with me.
I’m not going to lie, there are assholes who won’t bother working with you. If you aren’t their version of amazing they can really make you feel like shit and it’s unfortunately much more common than I’d like it to be. But there are also people who will listen to your fears and help you get better. Whether it’s learning to get out of your head or just how to not use teeth there’s someone willing to help you comfortable with what you do.
The best partners are the ones who listen and communicate what makes both of you feel good. No matter what you like it’s all about being present and comfortable with each other as you explore your sexual needs and desires. Being not great isn’t the end of the world — it’s a step towards better sex. Embrace the things you do and learn to be comfortable striving for what makes you feel good.