You were addled with anxiety, plagued by concerns over your performance, and worried about the worthiness of your physique during lovemaking. Even if the act achieved the idealized heights of a Hollywood screenplay — your partner melted at your touch, you thundered like a stallion, you writhed in unison to volcanic climax — you still harbor suspicions: You’re pretty much certain you’re not getting it as often as everyone else.
For creatures so famously consumed by thoughts of sex, men remain remarkably confused about what great sex is and how to have it. We’re shadowed by self-doubt, and clouded by myths and misperceptions. It’s not just about our mind-set. We men could also work on our mechanics. Mentally and physically, we’re hampered, hindered. We’re impeded on our path to greater sexual pleasure.
To rephrase a famous question: Can’t we all just have great sex?
Of course we can. But first we should decide what great sex is.
“Great sex is in the eye of the beholder, or the be-hander,” says Patti Britton, a clinical sexologist and author of The Art of Sex Coaching. “For some men, it might be the ability to produce fantabulous multiple orgasms in their partner. For other men, it might mean being able to last three minutes. Being a great lover means becoming a great lover to your particular partner, and that requires doing something very difficult: opening your mouth.”
Great Sex Tip 1: Take Up Pillow Talk
Right. The mouth. Useful for kissing and other orally administered forms of arousal (none of which should be underestimated), it’s also a tool for communication. Try it. Tell them what you want. Ask them what they like. Shoot for trust and openness.
“If you get to know yourself and your partner, you’ll have a much more erotic and explosive sexual relationship,” says Joy Davidson, a New York-based psychologist and sexologist, and the author of Fearless Sex.
Great Sex Tip 2: Don’t Believe Locker Room Talk
When men do talk, they often puff themselves up to their peers. Less apt than women to discuss their insecurities and more inclined to exaggerate their exploits, men paint distorted pictures of their sex lives for one another.
“A lot of men wind up thinking that their sex life is missing something, that other men are having wilder sex or more frequent sex,” Davidson says. “They have a sense that the pleasure ship has sailed and left them behind.”
According to Michael Castleman, a San Francisco-based sex expert and author of Great Sex: A Man’s Guide to the Secret Principles of Total-Body Sex, the average frequency of sex in committed long-term relationships is roughly once every 10 days.
Great Sex Tip 3: Don’t Compare Your Sex Life With Porn
Not everything men know about sex they learned from pornography. But a lot of it they did. And that can be a problem. Populated as it is by flawlessly formed women and men with etched abs and equine endowments, adult entertainment makes many guys wonder: What am I doing wrong? Or, more to the point: What’s wrong with me?
“One of the most destructive myths of porn is that it convinces so many guys that they’re too small,” Castleman says. “They forget that pornography is self-selecting…These are not average men. They’re the extreme end of the scale.”
Some of the other fictions that porn perpetuates are the idea that women are always primed and ready (“in the real world,” Davidson says, “people do say ‘no’”); that the same moves work on every partner; that satisfying sex always culminates in orgasm.
There are positives to porn — it can, for example, inspire us to greater sexual exploration. But when Debbie Did Dallas, she also did damage to the way men often think about sex.
“I’m not going to stand in the way of your watching porn, as long as you’re aware that it’s not reality,” Castleman says. “It’s like watching a car chase in an action movie. It’s exciting. It’s entertaining. But everyone knows it’s not the way to drive.”
Great Sex Tip 4: Focus on Pleasurable Sensations
While we’re on driving, let’s talk about commutes. And cubicles. And computers. And the demands and distractions of our daily lives.
Stress is an enemy of great sex. So is anxiety about performance. Minimizing both helps maximize your enjoyment of your partner. “If we can quiet our monkey-minds, put a stop to that ceaseless inner-chatter, we can open ourselves up to better sex,” Britton says.
She recommends that men adopt a mantra: FOPS, or Focus on Pleasurable Sensations.
“There are techniques ranging from eye-gazing to massage and synchronized breathing that help keep you in the moment,” Britton says. “Great sex happens in the present. It doesn’t happen in the future, like worrying about how quickly you’re going to come.”
Great Sex Tip 5: Focus Less on Size and More on Other Matters
“I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t matter,” Davidson says. “There are plenty of women for whom it absolutely does. But I prefer to focus on the idea of the right fit.”
No two people are built the same, and it helps to have compatible body parts. For some women, men of modest size may be a perfect fit. It’s a matter of physiology and personal preference. But perfect-fitting penetration isn’t the only path to satisfying sex. Focus on foreplay. Concentrate on kissing, cooing, caressing — the full panoply of sexual pleasure giving.
“A lot of women are very responsive to a man’s voice during lovemaking,” Davidson says. “If a man has verbal facility and can entice a woman through his voice, that can become a powerful part of his repertoire.
Great Sex Tip 6: Schedule Sex. Really.
What sounds rote and dreary can actually be dreamy, says Michael Castleman, who recommends the strategy especially to couples in long-term relationships, who’ve passed the can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other phase.
“There’s this powerful mythology that says you should fall into each other’s arms spontaneously, with string music playing and the sun setting in the West, and if that doesn’t happen there’s something wrong with you,” Castleman says. “Nonsense. Real life doesn’t work that way.”
Castleman says that scheduling sex also eliminates conflict over desire differences. “People say, ‘What if I’m not in the mood?’ Well, one of the things about relationships is that you sometimes make compromises. But what astonishes people once they start scheduling sex is that they can actually enjoy it.”