As you saw in our last post, there is no shortage of advice on how to be good, better, the best at sex. Magazines like Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Men’s Health are full of suggestions on how to surprise, delight, seduce, and impress your partner, and there is no shortage of sex advice books as well. But after reading a lot of sex advice columns in various magazines and blogs over the years, we’ve noticed some common themes in all of the questions and concerns. Based on these, we decided to put together a concise guide, a kind of Cliff’s Notes, on how to really be good at sex.
Talk to your partner
Hopefully this is a really obvious tip, but the vast majority of issues or concerns we’ve read about in other advice columns could be partially if not completely resolved with some good communication. (Anyone who has ever had a “How do I get my partner to ____” type question, here is your answer.) I once encountered someone who didn’t want to have to discuss sex with her boyfriend because she thought he ought to be able to figure out what she liked. There is definitely something to be said for experimenting and trying different things to figure out what you like, but it’s also important to remember that your partner is not a mind-reader. You can certainly give some feedback in the moment to let them know if what they’re doing is working for you (a good moan or two is always appreciated), but if there’s a particular activity you’ve been wanting to try, a kind of stimulation that you know will get you off, or a fantasy you’ve been having that you may want to make a reality, talking about it with your partner is the most effective way to make those things happen. (And if you don’t have a partner but partners, whether you’re polyamorous, in an open relationship, or are single and having fun, open lines of communication are an absolute necessity to ensure everyone is on the same page and everyone’s well-being, both emotional and physical, is respected.)
It can be scary to talk about sex if you’re not used to doing so – you may worry your partner will feel criticized or like they aren’t pleasing you or that they may judge you for your desires. It’s good to bring it up when you know your conversation won’t get interrupted, like if the two of you are reading in bed together, and the way you frame the subject can really make a difference – telling someone that you hate the way they touch you may not be terribly encouraging to them, but saying that you really love when they do x and y but could they do a little more z is more constructive while still getting your point across about what you want. And it’s also a great way to find out what they want and if everything you’re doing is pushing all the right buttons. Future Mr. and I have fairly regular conversations where we suggest new activities to each other or old favorites we haven’t done in a while.
Don’t take sex too seriously
Sex can be passionate and sensual and emotional – and it can also be funny and awkward and silly and weird. If you have sex with someone enough, there will almost inevitably be elbows to the eye, tumbles off the bed, heads bumped into walls, all kinds of farts and other amusing noises, and did you know that testicles can move all by themselves? That shit is hilarious; don’t be afraid to laugh. It can ease any pressure you may feel to perform flawlessly and can make potentially-embarrassing moments much less so. This also includes being lighthearted and supportive if your partner makes an awkward sound or smacks their head into the headboard. Fairly early on in our relationship, I accidentally farted mid-orgasm during a very intimate moment; I could have been mortified, but future Mr. simply said, “If that means you’re having a really strong orgasm, I don’t care.” I still felt silly but my embarrassment very quickly disappeared, and his willingness not to take sex super-seriously helped me feel much more relaxed both with him in general and during sex. (Let’s be real, if you’re trying to hold gas in the whole time, you are not having nearly as much fun as you could be.)
Be open to trying things
Let’s be clear, though – this does not mean that you should do anything that you don’t want to do, and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have and respect (and expect your partner to respect) your limits. (There are certain things I know I am not and will never be interested in doing.) But trying new things can be one of the best parts of sex – sometimes something takes you by surprise and ends up becoming one of your favorite activities, and sometimes you learn new things about yourself and your partner. Future Mr.’s own personal rule is that he will try almost anything twice, his thinking being that the first time you do something new doesn’t always offer an accurate indication of how you’ll like it since you may be nervous, awkward, figuring things out, and so on. And what appeals to you and your partner can change over time; when I first began exploring my dominant side, there were things that I didn’t feel comfortable doing, but as I got more comfortable with being dominant and began to really enjoy it, my limits shifted a bit. There are still a few things I don’t do, but there are also things I initially thought I wouldn’t like that I now genuinely enjoy a lot. And this is another thing that ought to go without saying, but a caring and supportive partner will never pressure you to explore territory you aren’t interested in, no matter what it is and what your reasons are.
There is more than one kind of sex
If you’re a man, you may have been led to believe that your sexual worth is defined by two questions: Can you get it up? and is you big enough? Really, though, we’re faced with an onslaught of bullshit sex-related cultural expectations that can make anyone without a perfect body and a very specific skill set feel like they shouldn’t even bother. Men need big penises that stay hard far longer than most medical professionals would recommend, and women need to have multiple orgasms immediately upon penetration, and this is the only pairing of sexes/genders and the only act that “counts” as sex.
As we said before, bullshit. Our personal criteria for what constitutes sex is if we’re turned on, having fun, and we’re doing something that has the potential to give at least one of us an orgasm (i.e. something that feels good). Stick to those loose standards, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you and your partner enjoy. After all, the more inclusively you define sex, the more sex you’re having.
Got a question or subject you’d like us to discuss? You can e-mail us at FriskyFeminist@persephonemagazine.com, and we’ve also set up a Tumblr for the sole purpose of receiving completely anonymous questions here.