Finding the Doorbell



That Magical Connection

What it takes to be "good in bed"

by Cindy Pierce and Edie Thys Morgan

The art of being good in bed starts well outside of the bedroom. It begins by creating the feeling of comfort that comes when sex is the expression of the emotional connection rather than the source. One working mother of three finds herself unable to touch base with her husband in a meaningful way as they scramble through the work week. "If we don't really talk and listen to each other during the week and lay in bed not speaking for five nights straight, then having sex on the sixth day isn't going to keep us connected. It makes me so mad when he thinks that sex is the thing that is going to make us connect. For me, the connection comes before the sex, not during."

If you communicate in other areas of your relationship, it is not much of a leap to do it in your intimate life. If you do not communicate well elsewhere, the bedroom can be a loaded place to start, especially considering that men tend to use physical intimacy as a vehicle to emotional connection while most women crave emotional connection to be motivated for physical intimacy.

As you review your sexual highlight reel, you may be smirking and skeptical about one thing: If good sex is all about connection, what explains the unbridled pleasure of the one-night stand? Certainly, we hear time and again that the absolute best sex people ever had was during a wild, uninhibited one-night stand, where both partners had superhuman stamina. One-night-stand sex is so outrageously good because of the connection of intent — in this case, the intent being not to connect. Both partners are free, neither burdened by a complicated past, nor intimidated by an uncertain future. But it is a short-lived pleasure, typically accompanied the next day by the "walk of shame," and the clearheaded realization that you can't really emotionally disconnect from sex. Even if that one-night stand turns into a lasting relationship, the disconnectedness that fueled that athletic, hedonistic sex is replaced by the slow simmer of reality sex, which, as we mature, is all most of us can handle. Indeed, great or mind-blowing sex is so physically and emotionally exhausting that it requires inner reserves. What is exhilarating and tantalizingly memorable in the one-night stand is unsustainable and even onerous in the scheme of a long-term relationship where good sex is just, well, sex.

It's Not All About You
One European woman was quick to point out that men from cultures that pride themselves on being great lovers are often the worst. This has less to do with one's nationality than with one's ego. Pleasing the woman becomes an egocentric act — when the man is so invested in his "success" that he loses track of what she needs.

"They (nationality withheld) aren't the sex gods they are made out to be... it's true that they don't have too many inhibitions, but they think way too much about themselves and their sexual skills and what women are supposedly looking for." Another woman recalls dating an attractive self-assured man who didn't bother communicating verbally because he prided himself on his ability to make love to women with his eyes. "If I could have blindfolded him the sex would have been much better. As it was, he creeped me out." Casanovas take note: Deep, meaningful eye contact works great in the movies, but can be unsettling in real life — even among close couples.

"Good in bed" is not a static state of being, but a fluid skill of adaptation. One man recalls his initial success as a young buck giving his girlfriend an orgasm. "I struck gold with my hand the first time out." Then, he had a girlfriend who was anatomically lined up to easily have orgasms during intercourse. "I figured I was just really good in bed." And he was, for her. Then he moved on to new partners, and it wasn't clear if it was working for them, but they didn't speak up or offer any feedback. "I just went with the harder and faster technique to be sure. And now, looking back, I am sure they weren't having orgasms." In fact, such bursts of vitality, however well-intentioned, may be counterproductive if not accompanied by some sign of encouragement.

Good Sex Is... Bad Sex Is...
Everybody has his or her own idea about what constitutes good sex. Short and sweet, uninterrupted, communicative, fun and playful, relaxed and unhurried, cozy, gentle and athletic are some of the many ways people describe good sex. Bad sex also owes itself to a variety of factors, from vaginal dryness or fatigue to feeling rushed, unappreciated, annoyed or fat. The factors vary person-to-person and day-to-day. "I don't like the slow, steady crawl to orgasm," says one busy 40-year-old mother of two. "This long, dragged-out exercise in friction is just too much for me to take." One consistent answer from men and women is that bad sex is selfish.

Patience is a virtue, especially in the sack. Being good in bed doesn't end with your own resolution. One woman notes with displeasure, "Once he has been drained, he is indifferent. He is no longer hyper-focused on getting what he needs so, to some extent, he becomes aloof." In general, the speed differential between men and women requires men to have more patience in the process of bringing women to climax. Women, in turn, need to understand what men are up against and be patient with their attempts to please. Both partners need to approach sex with a genuine desire to learn what pleases each other and the acknowledgement that neither of you is psychic.

Finally, what's good for you may be what makes you good in bed. Sex studies show that looking out for number one — that is, taking responsibility for your own pleasure rather than depending on your partner for sense of self-reassurance and approval — is arousing to your partner. If you deal with your own emotions first, instead of laying that burden on your partner, you're better able to please and be pleased.

It is the connection and the feeling of being at ease that makes someone good in bed. Mechanics are important, but only effective if they work in concert with the good dynamics you create. Being good in bed isn't a badge of honor, but it is a hefty incentive to incorporate good communication skills into your relationship.

What You Can Do
Focus on connection rather than performance. Once you have the connection with your partner, encourage discussion and communication about what turns you on. By being open about what you're feeling, you'll find that some "skills" are no-brainers. (Case in point: lube, lube lube! Be it a scoop of K-YŽ, a dab of AstroglideŽ — it'll set you free.) Bodies change, moods change — there is no one technique that works every time, so approach sex as an organic exploration rather than a set of mechanical tasks. Performance hitches a ride on connection.

Me magazine — Jan./Feb. 2008

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