So the other day, one of my exes was hitting me up for some relationship advice ((And this right here is likely the most unbelievable thing I have ever written)). She and her boyfriend were having issues connecting sexually. They were amazingly compatible in just about every area of their relationship except sex. The sex was just… enh.
My first question whenever someone tells me that their sex life is on the downward spiral is “Well… have you talked about it?” Not surprisingly, the answer was “no.” In fact, just about every time that’s the answer I get. My follow-up answer is almost always “Why the hell not?”
“Because Jackson1 thinks that it’s supposed to come naturally. If you spend too much time talking about it or making it happen it’s just not genuine,” she said.
This was the point when I asked for his address so I could beat him about the head and shoulders with the Chair Leg of Truth.
Unfortunately, this attitude – that if you’re really compatible, the sex should be completely unplanned, undiscussed and magic all by itself – is absurdly common. Somewhere along the lines, the idea developed that if you have to actually think about and talk about sex, you’re doing it wrong, and it causes no end of stress to otherwise happy relationships. This is one of the most asinine memes I have ever run across and not a day goes by that I wish I couldn’t kill it with fire.
Sex is an incredibly important part of a long-term relationship, and sexual dissatisfaction is one of the top relationship killers. Good sex requires more than just compatible genitals and it’s more than just knowing mechanical tricks like the reverse corckscrew swirl or the Rusty Venture; it requires a willingness to investigate, to really get aquainted with what it is you like and – most importantly – being able to communicate what you want to your partner.
So let’s talk about what it takes to actually get the sex you want.
Get In Touch With Yourself (By Touching Yourself)
Hey, don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.
– Woody Allen
Jerking off doesn’t get enough credit in my book. It’s more than just a case of “Wham-bam-thank-you-glans” way of getting off when you can’t find someone else to do the job for you. It’s a way of relieving stress and tension, a sleep aid, even a way of practicing chaos magick by using the orgasm-induced no-mind state to charge eldritch sigils according to Grant Morrison.
But beyond a convenient way of entertaining oneself when there’s nothing good on TV, masturbation is a valuable means by which to get information about what really gets you off.
One of the odd double-standards with regards is how we consider the comparative complexity of what it takes to get men and women to orgasm. Women, we are told, are akin to trying to pick a combination lock blindfolded and upside down – every woman is painfully complex and unique code of movements and pressures that you have to memorize. Meanwhile men are like McDonalds – you know exactly what it’s going to take every single time. The Big Mac is gonna be the same no matter whether you’re hitting the Golden Arches in Toledo or Tokyo. Up Up, Down Down, Left Right, Left Right B, A, MOVE YOUR HEAD!!
As fun as it is to reduce the complexity of the gendered sexual experience to a pair of stereotypes, it’s not really true. I’ve heard complaints from guys (and their significant others) who simply can’t get off without very specific routines and I’ve known women who were easier to get off than a pair of shoes.
What is true is how much masturbation affects our sexual experience in general. Women who masturbate regularly are more in tune with what actually makes them orgasm, which makes it much easier for them to orgasm during sex (please notice I very carefully said sex, not penetration… but I’ll get to that in a second.) Men on the other hand2 frequently don’t think very much about their masturbatory technique beyond “lube or no lube” and “did I remember to lock the bathroom door this time?” This lack of introspection cuts them off from a world of information – one that would greatly benefit their partners.
There’s more to getting a woman off than being able to identify the little man in the boat; there’s variations of levels of pressure, g-spot stimulation versus clitoral stimulation, whether direct clitoral stimulation feels best or they prefer indirect stimulation closer to the internal shaft. There’s also considerably more to getting a guy of than “grabbing his cock and pulling rhythmically”. The problem is that guys often don’t know exactly what it is they prefer… because they never stop to think about it. Do you prefer a firmer grip at the base of the penis and loosen as you move up, or do you keep a relatively light grip all around? Do you require high speed, or do you use a more moderate pace? Do spend more time manipulating the glans or do you put more pressure on the underside of the shaft. Do you use any sort of prostate stimulation whether directly (a finger or a sex-toy – ONE WITH A FLARED BASE, PLEASE) or indirectly (pressing something against your perenium)?
The more you know about the specifics of what brings you to orgasm during masturbation, the better equipped you are to actually tell your partner what you want… and that conversation can mean the difference between a ho-hum night or some of the most mind blowing oral sex you’ve ever had.
But Not TOO In Touch
Speaking of masturbation: a lot of guys can actually ruin their sex lives through masturbating. The penis is sensitive and can easily be acclimatized to levels of pressure and sensation, ones that the mouth, vagina or anus simply can’t match. Some men when masturbating use what is colloquially known as “The Death Grip”, where they grab their cocks as though they were trying to literally choke a chicken. Other men discovered masturbation by humping a pillow or a towel, or even the space between the mattress and the box spring of their beds. They become accustomed to this level of pressure or those intense textures and end up unable to actually orgasm via traditional sex, much to their frustration (and the frustration of their partners). Ultimately the only way to cure this is to deprive onself of those sensations when masturbating, even if it means that you’re jerking off and simply can’t come. After enough time, sufferers from the death grip will eventually be so backed up that they will start to respond to much less intense pressure and texture out of sheer determination.
It’s worth noting however, that this is a different matter from women who can’t orgasm without intense clitoral stimulation… but we’ll discuss this in a moment.
COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE!
The most important part of the body when it comes to improving your sex life is your mouth. Yes, it’s great for kissing and oral pleasure… but it’s biggest role should be in talking with your partner. While there are lovers out there who are masters at reading body language and so adept at translating gasps, sighs and moans that it seems like they know what you want even better than you do, not everybody you’re going to sleep with is going to be a Charles Sexavier.
This means you’re going to have to actually talk to them about sex.
A general rule of thumb is that if you’re comfortable enough to swap body fluids with someone for fifteen minutes, you should be comfortable enough to be able to tell them what you want, sexually. This includes people you may have mentally designated as one-night stands. Just because you’re not planning to see them again (which could very well change, you know) doesn’t mean that the sex has to be awkward or uncomfortable. Being able to tell someone that you need more foreplay, that he’s not actually anywhere near your clitoris, that she needs to use way less (or way more) teeth or that you can’t come from penetration shouldn’t be something you’re afraid to tell someone you’re intimate with.
This extends to more than just the mechanics of sex, by the way. You may have the “insert tab-a into slot-b” aspects of your sex life down to a science with your partner, but if you have other needs that are being unaddressed, it can still affect your sexual satisfaction. Many people have fantasies and kinks – ones that their partners might well be willing to indulge them in – that they simply never bring up for fear of how others may react. A healthy, successful relationship means that you should be able to at least be able to discuss these topics without fear of judgement or ridicule from their partner. It may be something that your partner isn’t necessarily willing or able to fulfill but you shouldn’t feel as though you are somehow not allowed to have these interests or to talk about them.
Also: everybody needs to accept that suggestions and advice are not necessarily criticism. While there are women who have this problem as well, guys are the most prone to taking a suggestion that they could do something differently as a condemnation of their entire sexual repertoire. The suggestion that your partner would appreciate it if you spent more time on the upper left or right of the clitoral head rather than directly on it (or worse, under it) or that you need to use less pressure is not telling you that you are horrible in bed. Similarly, your boyfriend telling you that you have a tendency to rake your teeth in uncomfortable places isn’t getting the reaction that you’re expecting isn’t telling you that everything you know about sex is wrong. Everybody has different requirements and preferences; there is no universal technique that is going to please everybody, and just because your ex liked it doesn’t mean that all your future partners will too.
You Need to Unlearn
We pick up a lot of bad messages about sex from pop culture… and many of them come from porn. Now while I’ll be the first to tell you I loves me some porn, too many people look at porn sex as something to emulate rather than something to watch and jerk off to. Porn sex is not real sex, it’s performance, and it only bares the slimmest relationship to actual sex. In porn world, foreplay lasts minutes at best and usually involves playing with the nipples and vigorously fingering the vagina, maybe a little oral before slamming the cock home to earth-shaking orgasms like an industrial film directed by David Cronenberg. In the real world, not only is this not conducive to actual arousal, but it’s often painful if you’re not careful. It creates unrealistic expectations whether it’s how quickly women should expect to come (or how, or how they should signal that they’re coming) and how much endurance men should have. It puts far too much importance on penile-vaginal contact and minimizes the value of other forms of intimate sexual contact as inferior. Some aspects of porn – deep-throating a penis during oral sex, ejaculating on a woman’s face or breasts, fisting, “double” penetration, etc have taken on fetishistic value in the “real” world – even though it can be unpleasant at best or even potentially physically harmful at the worst, especially for a couple who isn’t experienced or ready to try it.
Expecting porn star sex in any context outside of an actual porn shoot is an invitation to frustration and dissatisfaction… and possibly some medical issues as well.
You Need To Experiment
Enough repetition can make anything boring, including good old-fashioned vanilla sex. You need to be willing to vary things up… and this means more than just going from missionary to female superior on occasion. If your sex live revolves around the same time, circumstances and location – in the evening, in the bedroom with the lights dimmed – you may find yourselves becoming bored by the routine, even if the sex itself is good. Even minor variations – grabbing a quicky over the kitchen table, making out on the living room couch, fumbling in the backseat of your car like a couple of horny teenagers – can inject some freshness and novelty into otherwise stale sex. But sometimes you need to shake things up a little more. Sometimes it’s a matter of expanding your concept of sex.
Maybe your partner read (God help ’em…) 50 Shades of Gray and suddenly has an interest in being tied up and disciplined. Maybe a porn scene about a college professor and a horny grad student got you off more than you expected and you’re curious to see if you can recreate that excitement with your girlfriend.
Or you – or your significant other – may have other desires that aren’t being met yet but you’ve always wanted to try.
Like I said earlier, some partners have kinks and fantasies that they’ve always wanted to indulge, but may not have felt comfortable bringing up to their partners… and you should consider indulging them. While there are some kinks that are just too far for many people – usually ones involving bodily fluids – others may be a bit odd or even off-putting but are ultimately harmless. To steal a line from Dan Savage, couples should aspire to being good, giving and game – good in bed, giving to their partners and game to try things just because their partners are aroused by them. Who knows… on the one hand it may just not be your cup of tea but it gets your partner off like a rocket. On the other, you may discover an untapped well of heretofor unknown kink of your own.
Don’t Fear a Helping Hand (Or a Prop or Two)
Too many people, male and female have bought into the idea that a “look ma no hands” orgasm is somehow inherently superior to all other forms of sex; if she (or he, for that matter) can’t come through strictly vaginal sex (or blowjobs or…) then it just isn’t as good somehow.
To be perfectly blunt, this is ALL KINDS of bullshit. It’s this sort of thinking that leads people to unsatisfactory sex and feeling somehow inferior for it because they can’t get their partner to come the way the porn stars do. Statistics time! Only 25% of women are consistently able to orgasm through strictly vaginal penetration. Almost every other woman requires direct clitoral stimulation which is almost impossible to achieve sufficiently during intercourse. However, because of the perceived desirability of the “no-hands” orgasm, women often don’t do what it takes (stimulating themselves, having their partner stimulate them) to achieve orgasm during sex… whether it’s because they feel they “should” be able to come during penetration or for fear of insulting or offending their partner.
Furthermore, some women require intense direct stimulation in a way that most humans simply can’t replicate and require outside toys like vibrators… yet some people find vibrators intimidating, even offensive. The problem are the people who see a vibrator as competition somehow – that it’s use is either a tacit admission that he simply can’t bring her to orgasm and is thus less of a man or that this mechanical device pleasures her in a way he can’t possibly keep up with. By holding onto this attitude – that “my woman shouldn’t need this if I’m around” – is counter-productive; all it ends up doing is closing a potential avenue to even better sex. The idea that a vibrator is somehow competition is silly; better to see it as it really is: a toy, a tool that he can use to make things mind-blowing.
This perceived supremacy of the “look ma no hands” orgasm affects guys too. Many guys can’t necessarily achieve orgasm through oral sex alone but feel that they should… yet resist the idea of playing with themselves or allowing their partner to use a hand as well as their mouths. Others may have a hard time coming from penetrative sex but gamely try to push their way through it (as it were) rather than using their hand (or their partner’s) to get them off; somehow not coming through penetrative sex is seen as less “manly” or less “real” .
When you open your mind (and other funbits) to expanded definitions of sex, when you quit worrying about what’s “real” or “genuine” and start to encompass outside help, suddenly the world is your oyster.
You have options and – more importantly, orgasms – that you never had before. Openness, communication, honesty and a willingness to try things you’ve never done before… these are the keys to finally having the sort of sex you’ve always really wanted.