Great Date…Bad Sex?

Is your budding relationship perfect in every way…but a flop in bed? Never fear, here’s some advice to make sparks fly the next time you’re together.

By Elise Nersesian

he person you’re dating is amazing. Your conversations last for hours, and you could spend all day in a passionate liplock. So why aren’t you two bringing down the house with a scorchingly hot sex life? Well, as tempting as it is to think your amour is just bad in bed or that your chemistry as a couple is doomed, here’s a comforting reality check: It could be due to a host of other factors that have nothing to do with your long-term potential—in bed and out. “Thanks to Hollywood depictions of romance, many couples assume that if sparks fly over dinner, that passion will translate to the bedroom,” says Yvonne Fulbright, Ph.D, author of Sex with Your Ex & 69 Other Things You Should Never Do. “The reality is, great sex needs time to develop.” So if you’re first few times getting physical wasn’t fabulous, consider these common (and fixable!) reasons that this happened—and how to improve the odds going forward.

Lust-buster #1: You tried too hard to make it amazing
When two people get naked for the first time, there’s lots of pressure to make the sex amazing. Many couples want to set the bed ablaze so badly that when it doesn’t happen, they feel bad about it purely because it doesn’t match the image they have in their heads.
It’s easy to compare the sex to how it was with your ex.
If you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your feelings are normal—and that your partner may be feeling exactly the same way. To ease the tension next time, go ahead and admit, “Hey, I’m a little nervous,” and tell him or her that you’d like to take things slow. Suggest, “Let’s just make out tonight and not take things further” if that’s how you feel. After all, there’s no rush to the finish line, and by taking your time, you alleviate the pressure to pull out all the stops, which can help you relax and enjoy the experience.

Lust-buster #2: You had too much to drink
While a glass of wine can do wonders for squashing those pre-sex jitters, many couples overdo it in the beginning. And while lots of us use a little liquid courage to loosen up, too much alcohol depresses the nervous system, often resulting in fatigue, the inability to perform, or less-than-stellar technique. So if you need to be buzzed before hitting the sheets, try other non-alcoholic options to relax and set the mood, like soft music, a neck massage, even steaming cups of tea. Or plan your dates around places that don’t serve alcohol. The movies, a coffeehouse, or cooking dinner at your place, for starters. And if you feel like confronting your concern head-on, be sure to soften the blow by casually bringing it up when you're both sober. Make it a “we” statement rather than pointing your finger by saying something like, “I’ve noticed we’ve often had a few drinks before we get physical. But I feel like maybe I’d like to go to bed sober next time to make sure alcohol isn’t impairing my ability to please you or to connect.” Phrase it as a desire to tune into your date’s needs, and few would refuse such a sweet and considerate suggestion.

Lust-buster #3: You can’t shake your ex
When entering into a new relationship, it’s easy to compare the sex to how it was with your ex—or fall back on old habits or tricks that did wonders back then. “People who have been in long-term relationships naturally create a blueprint for what sex should be like,” says Dr. Fulbright. “They’ve found what works and stick with it.” Still, what
First-time sex is mainly trial and error.
floated your ex’s boat may very well not get your new partner soaring. So instead of relying on choreographed techniques from the past, mix things up by say, taking an old move and experimenting with different motions and speeds until you get used to each other’s bodies and find what flips both your switches now. And try to nix thoughts like, “She doesn’t kiss like my ex” or “He’s a lot quieter than my ex.” Instead of comparing the sex you’re currently having to those world-rocking “Best Of…” moments from your past, think of the very first time you and you ex got it on: Honestly, was it really that good? Probably not. Try to focus on the new set of emotions that a new partner brings, and you’ll discover new and unique pleasures together. “First-time sex is mainly trial and error,” adds Dr. Fulbright. “Once you figure out what works for you both, your lovemaking will feel more personal and improve.”

Lust-buster #4: You don’t speak up
Asking for what you want in bed can be tricky, especially with a new partner. When a particular touch or technique doesn’t feel right, many people keep silent about their discomfort because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. But even the most perceptive partner won’t have all your pleasure points mapped out, and by schooling your bedmate on what lights your fire, you get on the fast track to having hot sex. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to get your needs across without embarrassing either one of you. If your partner pulls a move that doesn’t exactly turn you on, try saying something like, “My body’s just not responding right now. Maybe we could try it this way.” Or, if you’re shy, try some non-verbal communication like placing your lover’s hands exactly where you want them and moving them in the way you like to be touched. On the other side of the carnal coin, letting your partner know what does turn you on is crucial. The minute something feels good, jump in with a simple, “That feels great” or “Keep doing that, don’t stop!” to let your sweetie know to stay on course. See? Things are improving already.

Elise Nersesian has written for Redbook, Stuff, and other publications.
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