People are afraid they’re too inexperienced; they’re afraid their sex life isn’t interesting enough; they’re afraid they don’t know what they’re doing; and they’re afraid their wants and needs are abnormal or terribly strange. So many people who write to me seem to believe they’re missing some vital information and that if they only had it, they’d never be anxious about sex again.
I try to give them practical suggestions and to remind them that they are not alone, but the truth is that they can stop fear of getting sex “wrong” or “right.” It’s so varied, owing in part to the fact that it’s so emotional. It changes all the time, depending on your partner, job stress, health, and even small, insignificant things like whether your dog just ate one of your socks and threw it up. There is very little universally applicable advice other than “Do what feels good without causing harm to others.” If you follow that rule, you should be fine.
However, there are some unconstructive generalisations that many of my readers appear to share. Below are some commonly held sex opinions that are making the whole thing a lot more hectic and a lot less fun. Think of these as behaviours to adopt rather than rules to follow, and as with all advice, take what works and leave the rest.
Orgasms Should Not Be The Only Goal Of Sex
Orgasm is something fantastic, and you deserve to have it. But some people are obsessing over their own sex lives, obsessing over how to be good at sex. In other words, they’re in their own heads about coming, which, of course, makes it all the more difficult to come!
It’s natural to believe that coming is the most important indicator of good sex; we even refer to it as “achieving” an orgasm, as if it were a feat. According to research, people fake orgasms quite frequently, often in order not to hurt their partner’s pride — and the only reason for doing so is the belief that orgasms are the only and ultimate point of sex.
So here’s the secret: focusing on pleasure throughout the experience rather than the big finish improves sex.
You can have satisfying sex without having an orgasm. Many people do: Some meds, including many that are first recommended for anxiety and depression, make orgasming extremely difficult. As do stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as past sexual trauma and a variety of random body quirks. Coming isn’t guaranteed for a lot of people (probably more than you think).
In any case, why focus solely on the conclusion? When you think about it, it’s a little strange. Would you watch a movie again if you hated the first 95 minutes but liked the ending? Probably not! — similar to an orgasm! — you must build to a satisfying conclusion. Besides, it’s not as if a strong emphasis on coming makes it easier for anyone to come.
Communicate with your partner about what you want and need, as well as what might or might not help. But, at the same time, try adopting a new attitude toward sex: This is a nice thing you two are doing together to make each other and yourselves feel good.
Being Afraid Of Missing Out
In the world of sex advice, almost nothing is more common than hearing from someone who is convinced they are missing out. What if people left a bad relationship sooner? What if they had gotten together with their college boyfriend? What if their ex hadn’t dumped them?
The worst part is that people frequently describe themselves as silly or ashamed for feeling this way, as if being emotional about missing out will only waste more time. But it’s a bummer that you only get one life and can’t try everything. So depressing! Feel your anguish! You can be angry, lonely, scared, resentful, and bitter all you want. Feel your way all the way to the top.
And then find healthy ways to deal with them — perhaps spend some time exploring and decide if that’s what you want. However, please let go of the notion that everyone else has an easy-come, smoking’ hot, gangbusters sex life without you.
Thinking that good sex is solely based on chemistry
Good sex necessarily requires effort. Most of us, however, believe or else: we see good sex as a sign of chemistry, which makes it a static thing — something a person can either offer you or not. In reality, your sex life is built with the help of another person. You’re not choosing a car; you’re constructing a house together, brick by brick.
Hot sex necessitates attraction, but it also necessitates effort, which usually entails painfully honest conversations about what you want in bed. Most of us are unpracticed at talking about sex in ways that don’t feel extremely awkward, in part because we’ve never had great opportunities to do so.
People always keep thinking about how to ask their partners that they want something different in bed. It’s not like you have to share every sexual thought and feeling you have with a new partner right away. But it’s worth it if you want to have sex with the same partner for a long time. Don’t be afraid to engage in seemingly “corny” activities such as playing games that ask sexual questions or taking online quizzes that reveal your overlapping kinks. If this is the only person with whom you have a sexual relationship, you should be able to discuss it.
Oh, and don’t forget about lube!