Hollywood lies about sex.
If Idris Elba and Beyoncé had sex in a movie, there would be sweat that glistens instead of stinks, hair that flows over the pillow instead of sticking out at all angles like a dog-licked Elmo doll. Idris Elba would say something sexy like, “I’m gonna do bad things to you,” instead of “Ah! shit, my toe just cramped. Sorry, hold on.”
When they switched positions, they wouldn’t slam their head into a bedpost, knock over a water glass, or kick the cat. They would intuitively know each other’s every preference and somebody would have forgotten the nipple clamps.
When we think of someone who is good at sex, we imagine a devilish creature full of lust with all of the secrets of the body at their fingertips. It is a myth that there are people out there who ooze pleasure and are amazing sexual partners for everyone they meet.
Great sex can happen with strangers, but the truth is: the best sex comes from being with a person who listens and learns your body. Someone can memorize the Kama Sutra back to front (and it can’t hurt) but that doesn’t mean they know that you like the way teeth feel on your left nipple more than your right, or that when someone puts their finger there—yes there—at just that right angle—oh yes, just like that—you feel exquisite.
This mythical sex god won’t know your past traumas that make certain things uncomfortable for you, or that you want there to be feet involved—a lot of feet. And, if you meet a stranger who happens to be carrying around a bag of your favorite sex toys, probably don’t bring them home.
So, if you are in a relationship or not, how do you know if you’re bad at sex?
There is judgment involved.
I will tell you a secret: if you are with someone who judges your sexual preferences and makes you feel ashamed, you are with the wrong fucking person. If you are currently judging your partner for their sexual preferences, you are doing yourself and them a disservice.
Stop it, you are bad at sex.
You’re not listening to your partner.
Don’t just listen to your partner’s words, also listen to their tone and their body language. Experimentation is great—forced experimentation is detrimental to your sex life.
For example, if you want to try anal sex/pegging and your partner doesn’t, you can ignore their protests and act like a puppy and say, “Please, please, please, oh please, it’s fine, it isn’t that bad—you’ll like it.” If your partner loves you, they’ll likely give in without being ready, and this will ruin the experience for them.
If you suggest small steps over time; a finger, a toy, a kiddy-pool of KY Jelly, etc., it will be a conversation where you’re listening and creating an experience with someone, rather than in spite of them. Also, while you’re having sex, you can tell if someone isn’t enjoying themselves if you’re listening.
If you go into sex ignoring your partner and seeking only to satisfy yourself at all costs, you are bad at sex.
You are not speaking your mind.
Say what you want and what you like. Too often partners will be ashamed of what they like, or nervous to tell their partner because they worry that their partner will think they are weird. This will eat away at your sexual health over time. Speak now or forever hold your own genitals.
If you’re not expressing your desires and not fulfilling them, you are cheating yourself and you are having bad sex.
You’re being too selfish or too giving.
There is a “Family Guy” episode where they show John Goodman sitting down to dinner with his family. He gobbles up everything on the table while his frail, starving family sits and watches with hungry eyes.
Don’t be John Goodman. At the same time, you don’t want to be the hungry one, sitting and starving for your slice of sex pie. The give and take of sex ties closely into the listening and speaking. Over time sex can become unpleasant for one partner if you’ve never established a balance of give and take. For example, almost everyone I have met enjoys oral sex, yet I have had countless friends who tell me “he/she doesn’t like to do that.”
Who raised you? Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?
If you are having great sex and your partner is having bad sex: you are having bad sex.
If any of these things apply to you and your life, sit your partner down and have a long talk. Life is too short, and sex is too big a part of it to waste time being bad at it. Never judge your partner, and never put up with shame or judgment. Be attentive to what your partner wants and make sure you are both communicating your needs and establish a give and take dynamic that turns you both on.
Remember: Sex is like a seesaw, if you’re not working together to make it move, you’re no better than two assholes sitting on a stupid-looking bench.