You were so tired you literally fell asleep in the middle of sex, leaving your partner all, “Umm? Hello?” You tried to do something sexual you thought was super-sexy but the other person thought was weird, silly or downright gross. You were pretty sure you were rubbing someone’s clitoris until they mentioned, and only afterward, that you were nowhere near when you thought you were right on target. Something one partner of yours thought was the hottest thing ever turned out to be something that, when you tried it with another person, bored the pants not even off of them, but right back onto them. Your biggest turn-on is someone else’s buzzkill. Your idea of what your own sexy is doesn’t match up to someone else’s. Your earnest sexuality right now is someone else’s tired sexual cliche, or a phase in their own sexuality they’re now past.
In any of these situations or many others like them, you might feel like you were bad in bed or someone else might think that about you. Despite how crummy or embarrassed we or others might feel in these situations, and despite a lot of messages we might get out and about in the world that being “bad in bed” is the kiss of sexual death, the truth is, mediocre sex, sexual things we try which just don’t land, or what we or others experience as downright lousy sex — and I’m not talking about sexual violence, abuse or other kinds of sexual non-consent, I’m talking about consensual sex — happens. It happens a lot, as it turns out. When it does, life, including our sexual life, really will usually go on. If we let it, it always does.
Here’s the biggest thing to know about that, before I say anything else at all: When sex is consensual, we all have the right to be our own idea or someone else’s idea of who or what is “bad” in bed. Sometimes; anytime. That’s because we’re human. While we can give consent — or ask for it — for a given kind of sex, and put a lot of specifics on that, what we can’t ask anyone for, nor can anyone insist on with us, is that there is consent ONLY if sex is totally awesome. No one can ever promise that or be expected to deliver that. We also have the right to suck at sex in someone’s estimation because anyone else involved always has the right not to have sex with us or, if they already have, to opt out of sex with us at any time, or to choose not to have sex with us again. And, for that matter, someone we have any kind of sex with gets to be our idea of a lousy lover because we have the right not to have sex with them, to opt out of sex with them at any time, or to choose not to have sex with them again.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
That’s one of the best questions I’ve received in a long time. I wish more people would ask it!
But. Umm. I can’t actually answer it.
I can’t answer exactly what you’re asking because human sexuality is one of the most diverse things there is, and that diversity includes how different everyone is in what they like and don’t like and in what they experience or consider “good” and what they experience or consider as “bad.” What one person means when they say someone is “good in bed” can be way different from what another person means. One person’s awesome can be another person’s awful. There is no universal “good in bed” for people of any gender or orientation, or for people, period. Some people certainly seem to think there is, or present that as real, but this really, truly is not universal.
But let me tell you why I’m glad you’re asking: because nobody knows, but very few people question that phrase or ask what it means. Instead, people will just tend to stress out about it, and decide the answer is whatever any given source who pretends that this stuff is universal says it is, often trying a million different ways to be “good” even if they really aren’t interested in those things, don’t enjoy them, or their partners aren’t interested in those things and don’t enjoy them. Sometimes people are so focused on trying to be a person someone will call “good in bed” they wind up sabotaging what otherwise would have been good sexual experiences.
It’s hard to really enjoy ourselves and each other sexually if and when we’re hung up on the idea of proving ourselves in any way, being some kind of sexual expert or getting a gold star. While I think being a good partner for people is certainly laudable and important, I think framing ourselves or anyone else as “good in bed” or trying to achieve that as any sort of status we affix and carry around is a mistake. A phrase or idea like “good in bed” is so loaded, so external and so arbitrary that it’s more likely to be a barrier to you or partners feeling your best about sexual experiences and yourselves as sexual people, rather than a help. The proverbial rubbish bin for poor or iffy terms or framing often used with sex is always overflowing, but my advice is that you cram this one in there.
Here’s the good news: even though I don’t know the answer when it comes to the framework you gave me and I suggest you ditch it, what I do know, and can fill you in on, are some basic things — let’s go for a top-ten list — that tend to play a part in people mutually enjoying sex and sexuality together; that typically loom large in people feeling good about sex during and after. The even better news is that these things don’t require asking anyone to be a contortionist, they don’t usually cost any money, you won’t need to memorize anything, they don’t involve doing anything that doesn’t feel right to you or pretending to be someone, something or somewhere you’re not.
Read the rest of the answer here.