Do you ever worry about just how good you are in bed? Feel like it might be worth upskilling to give yourself (and your partner) the pleasure you deserve? If livening things up and broadening your sex repertoire is something you think would set fire to your sex life, we can help.
And no, before you ask, you're not bad at sex.
Given that sex is a completely subjective entity, it’s safe to assume that bad sex does not equal a lack of skill on your part, so let’s forget about skills and focus on the three Cs: chemistry, confidence, and change.
GOOD VS BAD
Caroline West is a Doctoral Scholar in Sexuality Studies in DCU. She is currently completing a Ph.D. on feminism and porn. She studies the ins and outs of sex every day and says there’s more to being ‘good in bed’ than just how well you can hold your balance during reverse cowgirl. “At a very basic level, being good in bed should involve a willingness to give pleasure instead of solely receiving it,” she says.
“It should include mutual respect of each other as people. Boundaries should be respected, and consent sought. Being left with a feeling of “damn I just had a really hot, fun time!” should be high on the list, regardless of whether it was five minutes or five hours or with a stranger or long term partner.”
One of the big things we find when we speak to people about their sex lives is that when they feel comfortable in themselves, with their partners and with their bodies, they have incredibly satisfying sexual encounters. You don’t need to be a Victoria’s Secret model to feel good in your body, but there are things we can all do to give ourselves the best chance of a cracking night.
Whether it’s new undies, a fancy exfoliation or just a tough gym sesh, get yourself feeling body confident and embrace the nakedness. Again, whoever you’re having sex with wouldn’t be there unless they found you irresistible. Caroline also advises ditching any feelings of sexual shame you might have, and embracing your authentic sexy self, instead of just playing the role of “girl having sex”.
“Some women can worry that they take “too long” to orgasm, or else spend too much time focusing on ‘acting’ sexy rather than being sexual. Being in touch with your sexuality means being authentic in what you want, rather than going along with what you think is the right way to be sexy, out of fear of judgment. Sexual stigma needs to become a thing of the past, and sex without shame needs to be our mantra. If a guy judges your wobbly bits, kick him out of your bed and find someone who spends more time focusing on things other than your cellulite stretch marks.”
If sexual chemistry isn’t there, it’s a bit of a death knell for any relationship, casual or serious. Once the heat goes, you either work to get it back or you give up – we know which one we’d like to tackle. One thing Caroline recommends for getting the juices flowing and the chemistry stirring is talking and, as dull as it sounds, research.
“Talk, talk, talk! People aren’t mind readers, and life is too short to go along with sex that just isn’t doing it for you,” she says. “Your eyes should be rolling out of pleasure, not from cringing from someone’s dirty talk that’s more mortifying rather than mesmerising. Read some sex guides, find some porn that does it for you, spend some time by yourself with your hands or toys, and find what genuinely turns you on. You do you, literally.”
Sometimes, sex isn’t the problem. Sometimes it’s to do with frequency of sex, other relationship problems occurring in the background, or maybe even that you’re stuck in a sexual rut. There’s always a chance it’s to do with size or skill, but in most cases, feathers just need to be ruffled. Caroline suggests changing your routine, exploring new avenues and communicating your wants in order to get the best out of your sex life.
“You might find you come harder in certain positions, or actually really hate that thing you thought you liked (or love the thing you thought you’d hate), or need a lighter or harder touch. Have fun exploring and then sharing your discoveries with your partners. Let’s leave shyness out of the bedroom and communicate with your partner. If you can do other things with your mouth in bed, you should be able to use your mouth to express what you want too,” she says.
THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
The concept of being ‘good in bed’, as we touched on, is subjective. And you could be both great and terrible simultaneously depending on what measurements you’re going by, as Caroline puts it. But does counting orgasms and measuring decibels of pleased groans equal mad skills?
“You can be good at making someone orgasm, but rubbish at making them feel respected or safe. Orgasms are nice, but they aren’t the sole measure of a good time. Let’s stop worrying about how we are seen, and take charge of being in control of what we do. “The expression “different strokes for different folks” really is true, especially when it comes to sexual strokes! What works for one won’t necessarily work the same for another. You can memorise everything in a Sex 101 guide, but then fail to connect to the person in front of you, or even to your own pleasure. We all have our own individual anatomy, quirks, and turn-offs, and that uniqueness should be fun to explore instead of strictly adhering to page 48 of the Kama Sutra.”
WHAT ABOUT THE GUYS?
Surely men don’t lack confidence in the bedroom department? In our experience, they certainly don’t seem to – maybe they’re just so delighted by the prospect of what's ahead that they’re distracted from all insecurity? However, Caroline reckons a lot of men do have worries about their sexual prowess.
“A lot of men do, and it’s a part of healthy masculinity to admit vulnerability, and admit that they don’t magically know everything about sex. They need to learn just as much as women do, and be open to exploring what they actually want in bed, and how to please their partner. I think men feel they have to be the more active partner, but lots of women will happily take charge too.”
Too right we will!