We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today’s topic: how to know if you're good in bed.
Q: I have a really simple question for you: what makes someone good in bed? I used to feel like I was pretty damn skillful, but I’ve been sleeping with a new guy for a few weeks and the sex has been bad. B-A-D. The worst part is, I'm not even sure if he's not the problem — I think I might be. It’s making me doubt myself! How do I know if I'm good in bed?
A: Your question may be simple, but boy is it a good one! I don’t think there’s any sexual topic more misunderstood than what makes someone great in bed. Here are nine ways to know that you’re a great lover.
1. You Confront Your Sexual Shame
To be honest, I first wrote this one as, “you’re not ashamed of your sexuality.” It took me a split second to realize that wasn’t the right way to frame it. We all have some sexual shame and guilt; it’s a product of our sex-saturated yet sex-negative society. Blame those Puritanical roots! No one is ever going to be completely free of sexual shame, just like no one will ever be completely free of pain or anxiety.
Your relationship with your sexuality will go through different stages, but a good lover recognizes how shame can affect their sex life and actively works on feeling more comfortable with their sexuality. They recognize that this is a process — and they engage with it.
2. You Honor Your Preferences
This one could fall under managing sexual shame, but I think it’s important enough to warrant its own category. It’s crucial to acknowledge and accept your preferences in partners and activities. Too many people don’t allow themselves to have the kinds of sex that their hearts desire. Of course your preferences may change over time, but a good lover allows themselves to explore their fantasies.
3. You’re In Touch With Your Body
Here’s another one where the wording is important! No one has a perfect relationship with their body, but good lovers try to focus more on pleasure than on self-consciousness. They know which parts of their body enjoy physical contact. Good lovers make an effort to be present in their own skin. They soak up every little bit of stimulation, whenever possible.
4. You’re Willing To Try New Things
Sex is one big, endless world of possibilities. The eagerness to explore and experiment is important for a variety of reasons. We all have ideas about things we know we like, and things we know we don’t want to try, but there are lots of grey areas. A great lover is curious about these uncharted territories. They also know that variety is the key to keeping the bedroom interesting in a long-term relationship. Great lovers are respectful of their partner’s desires, and willing to explore activities that they may not have considered before.
5. You’re Accepting Of Differences
Good lovers understand that everyone likes different things, and they don’t shame their partner’s desires (or anyone else’s, for that matter). We all have boundaries in our willingness to try new things, but a great partner will be respectful in communicating those boundaries. Good lovers also understand that they won’t be compatible with everyone they come across (as may be the case with your new guy)! It doesn’t make you a “bad” lover, it just means you may not have the right chemistry together.
6. You Make An Effort To Communicate
Sex is hard to talk about, there’s no denying that! But people who are great in bed are willing to be vulnerable and try talking about sex. Good lovers are willing to ask for what they want, and comfortable saying what they don’t want. They seek out enthusiastic consent, and ask what their partners want. Good lovers also talk through any sex-related problems that may arise.
7. You Put Effort Into Improving
Great lovers are made, not born! People who are good in bed know that sex is a skill that requires effort and practice, and they don’t feel ashamed about trying to improve. They’re willing to buy (and read!) books, attend workshops, talk to friends, buy nice lingerie or sex toys, get feedback from their lovers, go to sex therapists, and practice, practice, practice!
8. You Enjoy Pleasing Your Partner
One of the most important qualities of a great lover is caring about your partner’s pleasure. You take the time to understand how their body works and what they like. You don’t place any expectations on them, nor do you shame them. You don’t pressure or rush them. You genuinely enjoy yourself when they’re enjoying themselves.
9. You Have Fun!
People can get so stressed out about sex that they forget one of the main reasons we have sex is simply because it’s fun. Great lovers get out of their heads and into the moment. They don’t take things so seriously, and they don’t fake it. They laugh, they play, and they enjoy themselves!
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