No matter how smart, sexually adept, or good at Tinder you are, chances are good that at some point in your life, you're going to fall junk-first into some bad sex. Some seriously bad sex. Some sex that is so boring yet off-putting, so awkward yet overly familiar, that it might make you re-think the whole "sex" thing for a minute. Like, are you even actually into sex? Maybe you'd be happier just 'dipping your own candle,' so to speak, for the rest of your life? Also, maybe actual literal candle-making is a better use of your time than sex?
Calm down, calm down: candle-making is an expensive and time-consuming hobby! Also, don't think that one bad experience is the definitive final word on sex. Everyone is involved in a straight-up unsatisfying sexual encounter from time to time, for all sorts of reasons — we don't have any chemistry with someone, we're not yet comfortable around a new partner, an old partner is having a serious off-day, you're totally spacey and distracted by how much money you spent on your home candle-making kit. Bad sex happens to everyone.
Of course, some of you out there are so empowered and in tune with yourselves that you put a stop to things as soon as you realize that bad sex is happening, no matter how turgid and lube-covered you are at that very moment. For that, I salute you. You're an American hero, and we should all be studying your life and work in some kind of mandatory college class. But in case you're not so bold — if, like me, you have occasionally just decided to "plow ahead" with some terrible sex — the following 19 thoughts are for you. Oh, and make no mistake — we've probably caused the following thoughts in other people as many times as we've had them ourselves.
1. "Huh, I've Never Seen That Move Before!"
A lot of bad sex starts out promisingly, with a new or very unexpected sexual move immediately thrown into the mix. Often, this can be misread as a sign that your partner is wildly adventurous, making you think you are standing on the precipice of an unforgettable night. Oh, it'll be an unforgettable night, alright! In that you will literally try to forget it and be unable to do so.
2. "Wait, What Are They Doing?"
However, the illusion is quickly shattered, as you realize that whatever your partner is trying to do, they're doing it wrong; or at the very least, doing it in a way that gives you no pleasure. I don't mean something non-consensual or scary; I'm talking about something that just...doesn't make immediate sense and is not fully explained. Are they rubbing their knee on your knee and groaning in ecstasy? Are they releasing a series of guttural moans as they wildly dry-hump one of the bed posts while you look on, confused? Are they trying to put your entire vulva in their mouth...and then just kind of humming? The specifics don't matter; what matters is that you are now beginning to realize that you two may not be on the same page when it comes to what kind of sex you want tonight.
3. "I Must Be, Like, Positioned At A Weird Angle."
Ha ha! You hopeful fool. It's adorable, really. Sure, try adjusting your position, if you think that will make you feel better. But no, this is not an issue that simple things like physics can solve.
4. "This Must Just Be A Miscommunication Issue."
Plenty of bad sex is just a miscommunication issue — so if that turns out to be the situation for you, congratulations! You can close this article and read something highbrow about the 2016 election. But in incidences of truly bad sex, trying to initiate honest and open communication mid-bang probably does nothing to improve things. In fact, it may begin to make the situation worse.
5. "Oh No, Is That Their 'Sex Voice'?"
Now you have an even bigger issue on your hands than the fact that your partner isn't great at following directions. Like the heroine in a horror movie who finally realizes that she's trapped in a haunted house, the reality of your situation begins to set in: you are in bed with someone who's ideas about what's sexy are waaaaaaaay different than yours.
6. "Also, I Said To The Right! No, Your OTHER Right!"
You let a person who follows directions this poorly drive you home? How did you not end up crashed into the median strip???
7. "Maybe If I Just Take Charge Of The Situation..."
It's time to put those leadership skills you honed in student government to the test! Time to turn this sinking ship around with your take-charge leadership skills! Time to Leslie Knope this bang sesh and turn it into something that you won't regret having missed Saturday Night Live for!
8. "I Didn't Mean I Wanted To Be The Only One Doing Any Work."
Due to a poisonous-yet-fascinating mix of clashing communication styles/ sexual styles/ bad luck, your paramour has interpreted your take-charge attitude as a sign that they should start acting like a Real Doll/ person in a high-impact collision and go completely limp.
9. "Are They Bad At Sex? Am I Bad At Sex?"
At a certain point, bad sex can take you to a late-night-freshman-dorm philosophy discussion kind of place, where you begin to question the nature of your entire sexual existence.
10. "What Is Sex, Even?"
Why are we so obsessed with having it? Is it really that important? What is life? What are human beings? We're just monkeys with pants on. It really makes you think, right?
11. "I Wonder Whatever Happened To That One Actress?"
As the bad sex proceeds, your mind may fly off into a completely different orbit, trying to answer burning questions you haven't really had the time to dig into in your usual busy, non-bad-sex-having life. Like seriously, what was that actress's name? She had, like, brown hair? She sorta looked like Renee Zellweger, but also not really? God, what was she from? Well, you have the time to try to remember right now...
12. "I Got It! She Played Gia On Full House!"
Look at that! At least you achieved something tonight. Also, her name is Marla Sokoloff, and she was delightful in Dude, Where's My Car?
12. "Everywhere You Look/ Everywhere You Go / There's A Heart (There's A Heart)..."
13. "Did I Miss Some Obvious Signs?"
You can only remain immersed in the sweet oblivion of trying to remember the names of '90s TV actors for so long, though. Eventually, some errant hump or weird sex-yowl brings you back to the present — where you are most likely frantically berating yourself for not having been able to anticipate this weaksauce sexual encounter. But it's not your fault! You can't tell how compatible you'll be in bed with someone based on how they walk, talk, dress or play classic vintage arcade games. There is no point in trying to blame yourself.
14. "I Wonder When This Will Be Over?"
If it ends within the next five minutes, you could still get some chalupas at the drive-thru before it closes.
15. "Oh, I Think It's Almost Over!"
By this point in your crappy sexual experience, you have probably resigned yourself to the fact that your rocks are not getting anywhere near off during this encounter, and are now simply waiting out your partner's orgasm clock as if it were the "Final Jeopardy" music.
16. "Oh God, Are They Starting On Some Whole Other Thing Now?"
You thought they were almost finished! You thought you heard some serious "almost finished" grunting! You could taste those chalupas! And then, bam! Now they're doing some random thing with your foot.
17. "Wait, Did YOU Just Tell ME That I 'Like It'?"
Your partner's use of the "Ooh yeah, you like it!" genre of dirty talk feels like a mockery of a sham of a joke at this point.
Your partner has finally tired themselves out, and, via their orgasm, liberated you to go do something more productive with your time, like watch TV or throw damp paper towels at the ceiling.
19. "I Can't Wait To Get Home And Masturbate."
Don't feel bad, tiger. They can't all be winners. Buzz one out and go to bed. Tomorrow is another day; a day when no one will try to use a painfully awkward sex voice on your (probably).
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast,I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Apatow Productions/ Relativity Media, Giphy (8)