What to Say When...the Sex Is Bad

No more mediocrity in bed! Here's how to get yourself out from in between a sexually unsatisfied rock and well...a hard place

If you find yourself stammering, hesitating or lying through your teeth when your lover asks, “Was it good for you?,” it's time to speak up.

Problem is, when people get naked together, they feel vulnerable. Be careful not to offend your partner.. “You’ve got to find a tactful way to make suggestions, without saying anything is wrong with your mate,” says Laurie Puhn, couples mediator, relationship expert and bestselling author of Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In. “Blame the situation, offer new ideas, include yourself in the problem, but don’t ever say 'you suck at this.'” When you start blaming, your mate will simply point a finger back at you and nothing will improve. “People are defensive about a lot of things and their sex technique is definitely one of them,” says Puhn.

If you’ve been together for a while, the first thing to explore is whether the sex has always been bad or if it used to be good and has since slid downhill. If it used to be good, ask yourself what happened. “The obvious place to look would be relationship issues. Anger and unresolved relationship issues almost always find their way into the bedroom,” says Paul Joannides, Psy.D., author of Guide to Getting It On. “How well do the two of you click when your clothes are on? If it's not happening there, then that should be an important area of focus.” 

If you think your relationship is solid you probably just need a powwow. If you're in a new relationship, but not ready for a “Thanks, don’t call me, I’ll call you,” moment, here are some suggestions of what to say to ensure a better romp next time.

Would you be offended if I gave some new hints as to what I might like? Remember, this is about saying what you want, not what you don't want. Nothing will shut your partner down faster than criticism. But if you make it seem like you’re open to him helping you find new hot buttons, he’ll be happy to comply. “This works because once you get ‘permission’ to give instructions, your mate is also more likely to actually listen to you,” says Puhn. Don’t be afraid to give enthusiastic feedback when something makes your toes curl.

How about if we rent an x-rated film? If he manages to squeak out a “yes” after he picks up his jaw off the floor, then you’re in business! Watching a porno together can not only get you both hot, but it can be an easy way to continue conversations such as “Have you ever tried that?” or “I think that might really turn me on if we did this." Puhn says that taking him to a sex toy shop with you can also help get change things up. “This technique works because it puts new ideas and options in your face,” says Puhn. “It pushes you both to reach beyond preconceived notions.”

I’m curious as to what might turn you on? Ask him first and he'll probably ask you the same question. See how this works? Make sure you’re prepared so when he does, you know what to say. “It helps you find a common point where the two of you can feel safe to explore,” says Joaniddes. And it will make it okay for the two of you to really start talking about what makes you feel good. Hey, the man has to know what to aim for!

You know how we always do that? Well, I think it would be good if we add something like this to the mix, too. Let’s call it carnal creativity. This is about embracing change (or at least mixing it up). If something doesn’t work, you can laugh about it in bed -- trying bondage might turn out to be a, well, bonding experience. “This statement will get a positive response because it isn’t saying anything bad about your current situation, it just says you’re looking to beef things up,” says Puhn. And really, who doesn’t want to increase their sexual bag of tricks?

How about if we do it before we eat dinner or watch our evening TV shows? We’ll have more energy to do something exciting! This suggestion is about changing the timing of when you have sex in order to give it more focus and treat it as a proper activity, as opposed to chore. “This tactic works because it places blame on the situation (the timing) and not the person,” says Puhn. “Feel free to add something like ‘When we have sex right before we go to sleep, we’re so tired that we’re not able to enjoy it as much.’” Plus, switching up the routine is always exciting.

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