You Need Help: What If I’m Bad At Sex?

Q:

I’ve just begun seeing someone and she’s wonderful and I’m hoping it becomes something more. I haven’t been dating for that long after my longterm relationship of four years ended at the beginning of this year. I’m finding myself so paranoid about sex. What if I’m not good and don’t make her feel good or I embarrass myself? What if she’s turned off by pubic hair?? My last relationship didn’t have great sex. I feel like I might have a sexual dysfunction issue and find it almost impossible to feel any pleasure. I’m so stressed and it’s ruining my otherwise fantastic feelings about this new person!


A:

Congratulations on meeting someone who you really like! What a lovely feeling! Now, don’t let these negative thoughts about yourself and sex undo something that sounds so great and new and satisfying!!!!

I know, I know. Easier said than done. When it comes to negative thought patterns, it’s never as simple as “stop thinking these things.” I think the first step would be to sit down and try to figure out where these insecurities about sex stem from. If I had to guess, it does sound a bit like your past relationship might have something to do with it, but you don’t provide quite enough details for me to be sure. Maybe it stems from someone else or internalized idea about sex and bodies that are ingrained in us by society, media, etc. If you take the time to really think about it, I can almost guarantee you will realize that these feelings about sex come from some outside force. And once you can identify that, you can work toward unlearning it!

Let’s go through some of your anxieties one by one, because I think that might help you start to unpack them:

What if I’m not good and don’t make her feel good or I embarrass myself?

Ok, don’t tell the ultra-confident Tops in my life this, but being “good at sex” is not really a thing. I’ve had a lot of good sex, and I’ve had a lot of bad sex, and that really doesn’t boil down to me being good or bad at it or my sexual partners being good or bad at it. There are so many factors when it comes to sexual compatibility! And I say this not to stress you out further but rather to push back on the idea that people are inherently good or bad at sex. Sex is weird.

And here’s the thing: Something that embarrasses you might happen during sex with this person! Awkward stuff happens during sex all the time! THEY might do something awkward! They might even be having some of the same anxieties. Which is why you should probably talk to them about it. The best way to find out how to make her feel good is to… ask her how to make her feel good. I personally find sexting with someone to be the easiest and most fun way to find out what someone wants, but you can also just ask point blank if you’re comfortable with that. Because while you can’t guarantee that all sex is going to be good all the time, you CAN communicate with someone about what you want, what they want, etc., and better communication usually yields better sex. And once you accept that awkward stuff is kind of inevitable in sex, it’s easier to just not think about it so much.

What if she’s turned off by pubic hair??

If anyone is turned off by anything having to do with your body, then you should not date them. It really is as simple as that. The best sex is sex where everyone feels safe, comfortable, seen, and SEXY. Also, it seems like you’re fixated on a lot of hypotheticals — and as someone with anxiety, I absolutely get that — but this is really just a form of self-sabotaging! You’re not even giving this person a chance to be super into you and your body and just heading in with an assumption of rejection. Quit that!!! If she doesn’t think you’re hot as hell, don’t have sex with her. You deserve to feel amazing and confident.

My last relationship didn’t have great sex. I feel like I might have a sexual dysfunction issue and find it almost impossible to feel any pleasure.

I do think this is probably where a lot of your stress is coming from, and I get it. In general, when a long-term relationship ends, it’s normal to feel some insecurity and anxiety about sex with a new person. You don’t really go into detail here, but if your ex made you feel weird about sex, pubic hair, etc., well FUCK THAT. But that also means that’s some of the baggage that you’re going to bring into a new relationship. Why was the sex bad in your last relationship? I can’t answer that for you, but I CAN tell you that the answer is NOT that you’re bad at sex, because that isn’t a thing. Why is it almost impossible for you to feel any pleasure? Why are you self-sabotaging your sex life with this new person before it has even begun? If you can start to answer some of these questions and work through whatever outside forces are at play, you can start to curb the negative thought patterns you’ve fallen into. In addition to some dynamics/patterns that may have been established in your previous relationship, other outside factors that might play a role include trauma, internalized homophobia, sexism, ableism, and norms and assumptions about sex and bodies perpetuated by the media. I want to reiterate: NO ONE IS GOOD AT SEX. NO ONE IS BAD AT SEX. Because there’s no one single Right way to have sex!

You’re also so focused on making sure the sex is good for this other person, which is great and all, but don’t forget that the sex should feel good for YOU, too! Your wants and needs are just as important. Have the sex you want to have!

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a writer and critic currently living in Orlando. Her pop culture writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 233 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. I relate to this post a lot because I’ve felt very similar about sex in the past. Currently I’m reading a book called Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, and it has been incredibly eye-opening and helpful for understanding my own sexuality and learning how to deal with my insecurities and anxieties about sex. I highly recommend it and wish everyone could read it! It’s already making such an incredible difference to me.

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