That’s the sound of you two clicking. And it’s gorgeously resonant.
You’re having a great time on date numero uno…maybe you’ve even been playing it slow, and this is date two. Or three. Finally the time has come—ehem—to consummate thy blissful union.
In a most unfortunate series of events, or one blurry moment you dissociated from, the sex was a flop. It wasn’t connected, it wasn’t in-tune, none of the tricks were for you…or maybe there were no tricks. It was all-around terrible.
What does it mean?
Before you go writing the whole thing off and tossing your aforementioned chemistry straight into the biohazard bin for proper waste disposal, hang on. We spoke with Dr. Shannon Chavez, licensed Psychologist and Sex Therapist for a quick intervention.
She starts out serving sweet relief: “It’s not uncommon for sex to be not so great the first time you are with a partner.”
This means the pressure is off for ourselves, too.
“Have realistic expectations about first-time sex, so that you allow for it to improve over time as you get to know what each of you wants when it comes to pleasure.
“Most people are nervous and in their head about it the first time, so it is very likely it will not be your best time. Take a moment to breathe, and know that bad sex doesn’t mean you or your partner are bad lovers. It usually results from communication issues and irrational fears around what the other is thinking or expecting from sex, which fires up performance anxiety.”
Another important reminder from Dr. Chavez is that one time of having not-so-great sex is no reason to question a connection.
“Sex is like any activity we do. It takes time to figure out what works and get in a good rhythm around giving and receiving. Don’t jump to conclusions or faulty beliefs about the experience or the person based on one time. Don’t take it personal. There are many reasons that lead to bad sex. Assess what went wrong and what the problem or concern is around sex.
“Remember that sex is a partnered issue, and no one person is responsible for the outcome. It may help to notice within yourself what went wrong such as the pace, activities that were chosen, not enough communication, or feeling too much pressure to please each other.
“Work on a reframe around what sex is really about for you with this partner. Sex is connection and play. The expectations around sex should be realistic and not based on an unattainable fantasy. It is not like we see in the movies. Sex requires good communication and practice.”
Sometimes it’s hard to shake that feeling of disappointment after you’ve built someone up in your head from moments of pure chemistry.
Dr. Chavez assures us that that’s ok.
“Accept the feeling of disappointment, and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s better to embrace the feeling than to deny it or become frustrated by it. It will help with coping and moving past the feeling. Try to not only dwell on the disappointment or what went wrong, but also notice and be aware of what worked or went well and can improve over time.”
Lastly, she leaves us with some actionable pointers and generous reminders.
“Expectations around sex are usually around performance and not the experience. Sex is not only something we do, but it is an experience we create, and each one is different and unique. Set expectations around how you want to feel in the connection rather than the mechanics of sex and what you are doing.
“Examples are feeling present, focusing on sensations and not the outcome, and giving yourself permission to be vulnerable and creative.
“Most expectations are usually based on past experiences which require a reset to manage expectations and start slow with a new partner and experience. The most realistic expectations around sex should be mutual pleasure and enjoyment.
“Communication issues are always at the root of sex issues. Bring it up with a partner outside of the bedroom and not immediately after sex. Talk about it from the perspective of what you want to improve, rather than a checklist of things that didn’t work.
“For example, if you need more time to warm up and get stimulated, talk to your partner about slowing down and being more mindful during sex because it helps you feel more intense sensations and pleasure.
“Provide feedback for a partner that is constructive and productive towards improvement, rather than critical or shaming. Start with a positive attribute to the experience, and follow that up by what you want to improve or focus on the next time.
“Offer to work together to improve the problem by doing research, reading books, getting toys or products to help, or naming what might be more pleasurable the next time around.”