¦ My boyfriend of two years has recently started putting much more effort into sex, experimenting with new moves and I worry about the reason.
Should I confront him, or should I just try to enjoy it? Perhaps I should be raising my game too?
>> I think the real problem is not his new repertoire, but your inability to articulate how insecure it is making you feel.
You don’t seem to know if you should be anxious, or grateful, or competitive — and at the back of your mind lurks a secret fear that someone else has been giving him lessons.
If it is any consolation, men don’t tend to share newfound sexual skills with a partner they intend to leave. Quite the opposite, in fact. I suspect your boyfriend is just upping his game to impress you and chances are, he has acquired his new moves from watching porn, or studying men’s magazines.
A quick flick through an online edition of Men’s Health for example, provides top tips on the “4 Sex Positions Every Man Should Try” and a step-by-step guide on “How to Give Her the Best Orgasm Ever”.
Women have been subjected to this kind of aspirational sex since Gutenberg, but it’s a relatively recent thing for blokes. As a result, the male response to media pressure is less well-researched.
There is, however, mounting evidence that a proliferation of idealised muscular physiques and intimidating “motivational sex tips” are undermining male self-esteem. Several studies have shown that men have become increasingly concerned about body image in the past decade.
If ripped male torsos in movies and magazines can create such measurable anxiety about the male body, it is inconceivable that the explosion of online porn has not, in some way, affected the way men think about their sexual performance.
Although anyone with a frontal cortex should realise that porn sex and real sex are barely related, research shows that some people, mostly male, actually believe that on-screen orgasms are real and that female porn stars experience a high degree of sexual pleasure.
These findings, which come from a study by Gordon & Krauss (2010), confirmed the researchers’ original hypothesis which was that “watching porn can turn some men into bad lovers because it leads them to form erroneous beliefs about how to trigger a female orgasm”. I’ll say. As any woman will confirm, no foreplay and half an hour of eight different positions will never equate to female satisfaction. Tragically, in the same study, both male and female participants agreed that many people watch pornography to learn new sexual techniques.
Ultimately, sexual experimentation is great as long as both partners are consenting to activities that they find mutually satisfying. Trouble is, we are all hardwired to detect the inauthentic and when sex becomes bound up in “performance” it automatically feels wrong.
It’s a difficult thing to articulate, but research shows that attempting to label complicated emotions can help to minimise their effect, so simply putting your feelings into words should help. None of us feel comfortable admitting that we feel vulnerable, but when we take a risk and expose our uncertainties, we give our partners permission to do the same, and that of course, is how we create authentic connections.
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