I’m worried that our sex life is a lost cause

Practice makes perfect when it comes to sex in a new relationship.

Q. I’m 23 and I’ve fallen in love with my new boyfriend’s personality, but the chemistry just isn’t there.

We get on so well and are generally really honest with each other, but we recently had sex and it was terribly awkward. 

I put the first time down to nerves but the second time was just as bad. Can you learn to have good sex with someone, or is it something that has to be integral from the start?

A. If you think about the components of the ideal relationship, a combination of chemistry and compatibility would, one assumes, predict a successful outcome. However love has a tendency to defy stereotype.

Sex is important but there is no gauge by which any of us can measure whether sex is good, bad or indifferent. When it comes to rating sex, we can only go by what we feel and, let’s face it, feelings can be terribly unreliable.

How many times have you had unbelievably hot sex with a guy, only to discover, three months later, that he was a complete idiot? You say you feel that the sex you had was terribly “awkward”. 

It is an interesting choice of word because it conjures up an image of incompetence rather than insensitivity. That’s encouraging because lack of experience is much easier to rectify than sexual selfishness.

Practice makes perfect and the more you have sex, the more proficient he will become. 

However, it is much easier for someone to become a better lover if they can openly ask for guidance and I’m slightly concerned when you say that you are “generally really honest with each other”.

That statement implies certain topics are off limits and I presume sex is one of them. 

Because sexual intimacy requires each partner to be vulnerable to the other, being able to talk about sex is one of the most important predictors of a successful sexual relationship.

Also, although sex happens between two people (mostly), it is judged as an individual experience, so we can’t assume that the person we had sex with interpreted the interaction in the same way that we did.

That’s why we ask “How was it for you?” There is one other consideration that I’d draw your attention to. I’m not suggesting this is the case for you, but I, too, have fallen love with not one, but two, men who have similarly fantastic personalities.

I can talk to them about anything and everything. We kiss and hug and laugh and tell each other our innermost secrets.

We don’t have sex, though, and if we did, it would indeed be terribly awkward, because they are both in a monogamous relationship — with each other.

I make this point because many young men who are unsure about their sexuality will experiment with different types of relationships in order to confirm what does, or doesn’t work for them. 

Questioning your new man directly on this would be both insulting and pointless, because if he doesn’t know himself, he’s not going to be able to reassure you.

However, it might be worth, in very broad terms, having a general discussion about sexuality to see where it goes.

It’s obviously unsettling when sex turns out to be less amazing than you had anticipated, but do try to keep things in perspective.

You are at the very beginning of a new sexual relationship. You’ve had a couple of sessions of not brilliant sex, but no one has had the opportunity to embarrass, or humiliate themselves.

Neither of you has lied, or faked it, or done anything to be ashamed of, so an injection of honesty is likely to turn things around.

If the issue really is just inexperience, it is a fun problem to solve. Coaching a willing partner so that you can turn him into a better lover is an incredibly rewarding experience, but for that to happen, you need to feel at ease discussing sex with each other.

In a new relationship it takes courage to broach subjects that feel awkward or embarrassing.

* Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com


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