Though this is the truth, it’s the stripped-down version of the truth. In our real lives, nothing about sex and pleasure is that simple. Shame, stigma, unhelpful self-talk about our sexuality, bodies, and desires, lack of access to inclusive sex education — we’ve got many barriers to work through to reach toward our authentic pleasure. The common, super narrow model of being “good at sex” says, “You can’t do this, as you are, now.”
I say, “Of course you can.”
Good sex isn’t encapsulated by your sexual resume or what your body looks like. Good sex is actually highly subjective. What I did to have mind-blowing sex with one partner may very well translate to so-so sex with the next. The only real way for anyone to know how to have good sex with anyone else is to communicate with that person about sex: to inquire about what makes sex good for them, to share what makes sex good for you, and to set the stage for said communication to happen in a safe and productive way. All of this is to say that objectively good sex is actually not defined by the technical or material; it’s entirely relational.
There’s a thin line between communicating well and relating well, and both are pillars of my go-to advice about how to have good sex. Don’t know what your partner wants in bed? Ask. Want something new or different out of your sex life? Say so. Feel totally nerve-wracked about the process of doing that? Talk about that with your partner first.
Communication makes for better sex, period. So, having good, mutually pleasurable sex — whether for one, one hundred, or one thousand nights — requires us to have good relational (and no, not just sexual) skills.
Some relational/communication skills that might make you good at sex:
- Curiosity about your partner.
- Asking questions.
- Soliciting and receiving feedback.
- Awareness of nonverbal body language.
- Willingness to repair mistakes.
- Setting healthy boundaries.
- Bravery to show up as your full self.
- Social justice frameworks such as anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-transphobia, just to name a few.
Some technical skills that can help you be good at sex (but cannot make you good at sex on their own):
- Knowledge of sexual anatomy, sex toys, erogenous zones, positions, and sexual activities.
- Knowing how and where to research sex educational questions you might have.
- The resources to get and maintain sexual health screenings, treatments, and preventable measures.
Some things that do not determine how good you are at sex (especially in the absence of any of the above):
- What your body looks like or how it functions.
- The size, shape, or functionality of your genitalia.
- The number of candles you have lit.
- Your sexuality.
- Your gender.
- The number of partners you’ve had.
- Whether or not your ex thought you were good at sex.
- The number of orgasms had.
- How much your sex life mimics media-made sex lives or what your friends tell you they’re up to between the sheets.
The good news about relational skills is that we all know how to do at least some of them well and we can all learn how to improve the rest (if only just a little). Which means that we are all — yes, ALL— capable of having good, if not totally mind-blowing, sex. Here. In our real lives. No pretzel-positions required.
From the book Hot and Unbothered by Yana Tallon-Hicks. Copyright © 2022 by Yana Tallon-Hicks. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.
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