Frank revelations from our unmissable sex columnist, Rosie Green (@lifesrosie)
Are you good in bed? This is a question I’ve often pondered. But your ‘sex score’ is one of those things you’ll never 100 per cent know, right? Unless you’re rapper Drake, whose ex Cyn Santana told an interviewer he was a ‘selfish lover’ who ‘wanted to look at himself in the mirror the whole time’. I’m sure her feedback was appreciated.
Most of us, though, won’t be given a rating like an Uber driver or given a Tripadvisor-style review (if we did, mine might be: ‘The welcome was warm, but the view disappointing’).
Although I obsessed over this question in my teens and 20s, I stopped giving much brain space to it once I was in a long-term relationship. When I was married, there was a long period when I thought my husband was good in bed if he didn’t snore/go to the loo and fall asleep/duvet-hog. Now, post-split and back dating, the question is more pertinent.
A lot of the men I’ve met since being single have made it their mission to up their game. They’ve read up on things such as tantric sex, edging (holding back your orgasm) and how to deliver female pleasure. They’ve studied the anatomy and could draw a GCSE-level diagram of the female reproductive system. They even have a view on whether there is a difference between a clitoral or vaginal orgasm. They’ve progressed past thinking being good in bed is about pounding away like a porn star. Which is welcome, but it’s made me think about my own skills.
In my marriage, I fell into that pattern of treating it like something on my to-do list. I didn’t welcome anything new. Why? I think I was scared. Or stuck. Hands up – my ‘sex script’ (how we act in sexual situations) was the same for 20 years. I think I was, gasp, boring. I’d give my previous self a four out of ten. I’m just not sure how giving I was. How relaxed. How communicative.
To be introspective, it goes back to the idea that ‘nice girls’ were not sexually desirous; that to display wantoness was a weakness. I remember a friend telling me about ‘Bev the Bike’: ‘She wasn’t a looker so she needed to make up for it by going the extra mile.’
I talk to Ian Kerner, sex counsellor and author of She Comes First (surely the biggest tick for men) about this ‘princess mentality’ where women deliver sex as a reward. He thinks it’s bad news. ‘You are making yourself an object. Not a participant.’ He says it won’t work because that veil of perfection is lifted as sex is, by nature, ‘messy, sloppy and real’.
So just as men need to know being good in bed isn’t about having a big penis, we need to know it’s not about having a hot face or body.
I’ve heard so many men moan that their ‘dream girl’ is often a letdown in the sack (one actor famously referred to his encounter with a universally desired woman as like having sex with a couch). And it works the other way, too. A female friend who slept with an insanely hot actor said it was underwhelming. Her viewpoint? ‘Good-looking people don’t have to work for attention and that means they don’t try in bed.’
Yes, I hear you say – all this theorising is good. But what specifics make you good in bed? Is there such a thing?
Kerner says there is. And gives me some pointers. So, just like those guys who have evolved and learned, I will, too. Here’s my manifesto…
I’m going to be more flexible. Not literally. Although that’s probably good. Kerner says I need to get rid of any set ideas about what great sex is. And also be relaxed when it doesn’t look like a movie scene. So I’m lowering my expectations and accepting there will be fumbles and not allowing them to derail me.
I’m going to get turned on, but also, if I’m not careful, off. Kerner says ‘being in your head is the enemy of great sex’. And what does that mean? Too much thinking – about my thighs, tomorrow’s meeting, whether I’ll orgasm. He adds being good at sex is being able to get into the flow state, relaxed and connected.
Plus, I’m going to try to be self-aware, but not self-conscious. Anxiety around the way you look means you can’t relax. It’s not going to be a perfectly curated, manicured moment. Fact. So I need to get over that.
And lastly, I’m going to quit thinking great sex means intercourse. Kerner says in a US study 85 to 90 per cent of couples had intercourse the last time they had sex. In his clinical experience, it’s more than 95 per cent and most of them got to there in five minutes. He says giving intercourse a ‘privileged position’ on the sexual scale has to stop as it’s often not the route to bliss but instead ‘a lot of anxiety’. I’m hoping if I heed his advice I’ll up my score by a couple of points at least.
And no, chaps, I don’t have Bev’s number.