Maybe your current boo told you to up your game (ouch). Maybe you’ve always harbored sneaking suspicions that you’re subpar in the sack. Or maybe you just want to join the Greats.
Regardless, you’re here because you think you’re bad in bed — or at the very least, could be better.
Well, we’ve got some good news: It’s actually not possible to be bad in bed. Really!
That said, it is possible for your communication skills to need an upgrade. Or for your sex life to need a little zhuzhing up. This guide can help on both fronts.
Got an FWB coming over in 30 minutes and want tips stat? Or planning to get your flirt (and freak) on at the bar tonight? These tips are for you.
Carly S., pleasure expert and founder of Dildo or Dildon’t, says there’s one caveat to the “It’s not possible to be bad in bed” thesis statement.
“If you’re completely ignoring your partner’s attempts to communicate with you, and steamrolling them into doing whatever you want, you’re a bad lover,” she says. TBH, at this point, you’re not having sex with your partner — you’re violating them.
Your move: Tune into what your partner is saying with their words, mouths, hands, and body.
“Are they pulling you closer? Or are they pushing you away?” asks Megan Stubbs, EdD, a clinical sexologist and author of “Playing Without a Partner: A Singles’ Guide to Sex, Dating, and Happiness”.
“Are they shifting their hips away from you, or toward you?”
These body cues can give you insight into what they like and don’t like.
“Your partner isn’t a mind-reader,” Stubbs says. “For them to know what you do and don’t like, you have to tell them.”
For the record, she says, communicating can be as simple as saying:
If your ego is telling you, “If they need lube, it’s because they don’t like you” or “If they want a vibrator, it’s because you’re inadequate,” tell your ego to shut up.
“Sex toys and sexual wellness aids are inanimate objects that are designed to increase how pleasurable the sexual encounter is,” Carly says.
So, she says, if your partner expresses an interest in bringing those into the bedroom, your first thought shouldn’t be “I’m not good enough.” It should be “Wow! My partner wants to experience pleasure with me.”
Before we talk about the trees, let’s talk about the forest…
“Confidence is a work in progress for everybody — but it’s work worth doing especially, if you want to be a better lover,” Carly says.
Confidence, she says, is key to asking for what you want in bed, graciously receiving feedback from your partner, and more.
To build up confidence, she suggests:
Sensing a common theme?
“[Communication] should be happening before, during, and after sex,” Stubbs says.
Before sex, talk about:
During sex, talk about:
After sex, talk about:
Enthusiasm, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a strong excitement of feeling.
In other words, it’s the antithesis of apathy.
And who the heck wants to get it on with someone who’s acting *shrug emoji* about having sex with them? Specific kinks aside, very few pleasure seekers do.
Some ways to express enthusiasm during sex:
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Want to give your new boo the Hozier treatment? (That’s a Better Love reference). Keep these tips in mind.
Faking your orgasm is the opposite of communicating what you want in bed, according to Stubbs. “Faking orgasms positively reinforces bad technique,” she says.
If you’ve been faking it up to this point, you could have an open and honest conversation. You might, for example, consider saying:
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you emotionally and physically. But, before we continue having sex, I want to be transparent about the fact that I’ve been faking my orgasms. It isn’t that the sex hasn’t felt good — it has! — but I’ve been too shy to ask for what I need to orgasm. Do you think next time it would be OK if I touched my clit during sex?”
Another option is to stop faking your orgasm, and start helping your partner bring you to orgasm.
Now that you’re getting laid, you might be tempted to let your solo sex life fall by the wayside.
“Having a masturbation practice makes it easier for you to know what you like sexually and easier to communicate that to your partner,” Carly says. In other words, solo sex might lend itself to better partnered sex.
There are ways to be a better lover to your new(ish) partner.
Specifically: When you’re fully clothed.
“Talking about sex outside the bedroom automatically makes it a lower stakes conversation,” Carly says. “Because of that, it can become easier for people to talk about their fantasies, desires, likes, dislikes, and more.”
You might do this by:
Whether you and your partner see yourselves as being sexually adventurous, or not, Stubbs recommends spending an evening filling out a yes/no/maybe list (like this one or this one).
“Doing so will give you both an opportunity to talk about your desires openly,” she says, “which is something good lovers give their partner’s space to do.”
Who says pandemic-friendly date nights are limited to take-out, Netflix, and physically distanced walks?
Try attending an online workshop together about sex, kink, or intimacy.
You might say:
To find an event, you can search the #queersexeducator, #sexeducator, and #sexworkshop hashtags on Instagram and Twitter.
Want to be here for a long time and a good time (in bed)? Try these:
“Reading a book about sex with your partner can help give you language for things in your sex life you want to talk about, but didn’t previously have the language for,” Stubbs says. “It’s also fun and can give you some new ideas.”
Some books you might read together:
Don’t have the patience to sit down and scan 300 pages? Put on a sex podcast during the next long drive with your boo.
Some sex podcasts to look into:
Or, when physical distancing rules allow, go to one together IRL.
“Seeing which toys your partner wants to click on will tell you a lot about their interests and intrigues,” Stubbs says. “For example, maybe this is when you learn your partner is curious about anal play because they wanted to look at one of the butt plugs on the site.”
That one caveat withstanding, being bad in bed may not be possible.
But it doesn’t mean that improving your communication skills, learning to express your enthusiasm, working on your self-confidence and ego, and adding new “sextivities” to your repertoire can’t make you a better lover — they all can.
Don’t take our word for it. Try ’em out yourself. The proof will be in the