5 Things That Can Ruin Your Sex Life

And how to avoid them

Are you guilty of committing any of the following common sexual sins? They each have the potential to destroy your sex life, but don't panic ‑- they're all preventable. If you want to be the best lover he's ever had ‑- not to mention maxing out your own pleasure potential ‑- pay close attention.

Sex Sin #1: Squeamishness

Most people have their most intense orgasms by way of oral sex. With that said, refusing to give your partner oral sex is unforgivable. Women who jump five feet if a drop of semen dares to land somewhere it supposedly shouldn't will top any man's list of Girls I Never Want to Sleep with Again. How could it possibly be a turn-on for a guy to see a woman approach his penis with her nose crinkled up and an "Ew!" expression on her face?

Watch Video: The Biggest Sex Mistakes

Get over It

If you're worried about smell ‑- his or your own ‑- pounce on him straight after a shower. Solve any gagging problems by using a position where you're in control (for example, he stands in front of you while you sit on the bed facing him with one hand holding his penis as you take him in your mouth). As for swallowing, most men won't mind if you don't, so long as there's an appealing alternative. If that's the case, try removing your mouth as you continue to stimulate him with your hand, and let him ejaculate elsewhere on your body or his. Yes, there will be a mess ‑- but sex is messy. And the sooner you accept that there's no way to avoid ending up sweaty and smudged, with stained, crumpled sheets, the better.

Sex Sin #2: Fear of Experimentation

Your partner wants you to dress up as a waitress? Lick pumpkin pie from his navel? Play a game of naked Twister? Resist your usual knee-jerk reaction, and instead of asking, "What planet are you from?" consider it. We all march to the beat of a different drum, and if that's what does it for him, why not indulge him? Just because the "average" population doesn't appear to need or want the same, who cares? So long as no one is being hurt physically or emotionally, and it doesn't become a necessity (which then moves it into fetish territory), aim to be a healthily adventurous Anything Goes Girl. Nothing kills a sex life faster than a partner who refuses to push herself out of her sexual comfort zone. If you refuse every time he suggests something new, you're sending a clear signal: Your pleasure and needs aren't important to me. Judge him for suggesting something "bad" or "shocking," and you virtually guarantee he'll never propose doing anything even vaguely interesting ever again.

Get over It

Adopt this motto: "If I have no real moral objections to what my partner wants to try, but just don't fancy it, I will try it once." If you would truly rather get a root canal than even attempt it, try to recapture the spirit of what he's suggesting ‑- role play, dirty talk, etc. ‑- but with different specifics. Or simply come up with a different idea that's just as experimental, so (a) he doesn't feel rejected and (b) you're still broadening your sexual horizons.

Sex Sin #3: Not Knowing Thine Own Body

Most women have their first orgasm solo because, unlike men's, our orgasms aren't an easy process. While he's struggling to control embarrassing, impromptu erections on the train or desperately counting backwards from 500 in a bid not to orgasm in class, most girls are doing quite the opposite. We're locked away in a darkened room trying to figure out what buttons to press, and how to make something happen, desperately hoping our flatmate doesn't barge in before it does. Frustrating? Yes. But ultimately worth it: 95 percent of women who masturbate can orgasm that way. In fact, if you're a female who has never masturbated, it's extremely likely you've never had an orgasm in your life.

Get over It

If you're not as orgasmic as you'd like to be, put in the effort now to figure out why. Experiment with different masturbation techniques and touches until you hit on some that are consistently successful and partner-friendly. Pay attention during sex. Be aware of what you're enjoying and what's not so nice. Think about past sex sessions, old lovers and fantasies about new ones until you're confident you have a clear map of your individual sexual response system in your head. Above all, ditch any ridiculous expectations that you don't have to work at your sex life. We all tend toward a presumption that good sex magically "just happens." But the reality is, six years into a relationship you won't be as passion-hungry as you were six weeks after meeting him. Why is it that we accept that our bodies and faces will age over time, and will need more work to keep them looking good, yet we assume our sex and love lives will require zero effort from both parties? Recognize that you have to work at it, and you'll see more long-term results.

Sex Sin #4: Never Taking Charge

If you always wait for your partner to initiate sex, you're seriously missing out. Power can be a huge turn-on, and nothing feels sexier than being the one unzipping the trousers and having your wicked way with him. Initiating sex when that's not your usual style can jump-start even the most sluggish of libidos. With your partner pleasantly caught off-guard, you'll get a buzz from being in the power position.

Get over It

Make the first move as often as possible ‑- and keep having sex even when you don't really feel like it. Human beings are creatures of habit: Our bodies thrive on routine because it keeps things simple in a complex world. Have a waffle every day after lunch and within three or four days, buying and eating them will become automatic. Your body will wait for that sugary carb rush (and your thighs will get bigger and bigger, but that's beside the point). By setting up a craving cycle and having regular orgasms, your body will expect its regular sex quota. It's worth pushing yourself when you're not longing for it, if for no better reason than to keep your libido stable.

Sex Sin #5: Being Easily Embarrassed

We've all been there. One minute you're groaning and moaning with unbridled lust, then suddenly the next noise is, shall we say, less erotic? Or who hasn't turned on the lights to discover that her period arrived early, and the bed looks like a battlefield? Only last week I woke up to see a (new) lover staring at me with absolute astonishment: I hadn't removed my makeup the night before, and the false eyelashes I'd been wearing for a film shoot had worked their way down my face and looked like little spiders sleeping on my cheeks. A friend of mine recently humiliated herself by pushing her new boyfriend downward, then suddenly remembering that she'd applied yeast infection cream a few hours before. She pulled him back up in the nick of time for the confession.

Get over It

Embarrassing, but highly amusing sex stories abound ‑- and for good reason. We're dealing with something that forces us to get up close and personal with someone else, and that means there's very little you can get away with. Smelly breath and smelly body parts, openings and orifices that start "talking" on their own accord, there are so many potential disasters, you'd have to avoid being in the same room altogether to guarantee looking smooth and cool all the time. Give up now.

Missed one of Tracey's columns? Read them all here. Check out Tracey's Love Bytes video series here.

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