I’m anxious about having sex with someone new

It is best to keep things fairly simple in the early stages of a reltionship, says Suzi Godson.

Q. I’m 29 and I was in a relationship for eight years before we split up a few months ago — he was the only person I had ever slept with. 

Our sex life was very routine (we favoured the missionary position). I feel very anxious about sleeping with someone new.

A. You are overthinking this. 

First, unless a couple has quite specific sexual interests, many, if not most, heterosexuals in long-term relationships exist on a diet of routine missionary. 

Second, no one knows what to expect when they meet a new partner. So if you feel nervous, take comfort from the fact that your new partner will be equally anxious. 

Third, when it comes to sex, fear of the unknown is not a bad thing. When coupled with positive pleasurable emotions such as excitement and anticipation, a dash of anxiety heightens arousal and makes sex a much more intense experience.

When you meet someone new, you don’t automatically hop into bed with them. 

Sex is preceded by the initial attraction that you feel for each other, the first conversation you have, the first joke you share, the first personal revelation, the first display of affection, the first touch, the first kiss, the first feeling of arousal, and then the mutual decision that both of you want to take things farther. 

By the time this happens you generally feel that you know each other and like each other well enough to have sex.

Even so, the first time with a new partner can be a bit of a letdown. 

This is usually because couples are so nervous and overexcited that they skip foreplay and switch to sexual intercourse too quickly. 

At this stage, kindness, sensitivity and humour are essential — and any nerves will disappear as a couple become more comfortable and confident with each other.

With regard to positions, it is best to keep things fairly simple in the early stages. 

Don’t leave it to him to make all the moves either — passivity is not an attractive characteristic in a sexual partner. Mind you, nor is aggression. 

Good sex sits somewhere in the middle, where both partners yield and lead, direct and submit, in a natural interplay.

One of the reasons that sex with a new partner feels so intimidating is because we don’t know what constitutes normal (if there is such a thing) and we have no gauge by which to measure our experiences. 

Sex is one of the few areas where you learn very little by watching other people engage in it. You can, however, learn a lot about sex by reading books. 

Sex is a vast subject, and educating yourself about all aspects of human sexual behaviour and practices will give your sexual confidence a massive boost.

Over the years I’ve spoken to lots of people about their sex lives - including those who I spoke to for my book The Sex Book. 

Some of their quotes have been instructive, others are intimidating, but a lot of them are like this one from Rebecca, 30, who says: “I always feel embarrassed to admit that missionary is my favourite because it sounds so boring. 

"I think when you first go to bed with someone you do loads of stuff to show them how adventurous you are, but in the end, most people do the missionary thing because it’s really good and it’s really easy.” Sound familiar?

* Send your queries to suzigodon@mac.com 


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