10 Sex Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making
The secret to great sex isn’t superfical elements like satin sheets, a Barry White playlist and scented candles. Instead, the key to a healthy, sexual relationship is to assess your personal behavior because the slightest missteps could have a big impact on your action between the sheets.
“Behavioral mistakes can have a ripple effect on our psyche, our relationships and sense of worth,” confirms Dr. Kate Balestrieri a licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy. “Left unchecked, misattunements during sex, and nonsexual relational moments, can start to drive a wedge between partners. People can read unaddressed misattunements as indicators that their partner does not care, does not see or hear them, or is not the right person for them. None of those beliefs make for hot sex.”
The reality is misstatements will occur in relationships, however the relationships that survive are the ones in which all partners understand the missteps, address them, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Here, Dr. Balestrieri talks us through some of the more common mistakes we make in relationships, and offers advice on how to fix them.
“Sex is more than just penetration, and what we think of as foreplay is really more sex. Skipping out on other forms of sex, such as oral, kissing, and nipple play, can lead to less pleasure overall,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “Every person’s body is different, and some bodies require a little more warming up to be fully erect or lubricated. Skipping out on the pre-penetration sex can lead to one or both partners not fully prepared for, or interested, in penetration.” Communicate with your partner and discover how important foreplay is to both of you. If you want more let them know, but be sure to also explain why. Don’t accuse them of not giving enough as this will only reinforce anxiety.
Our behavior after having sex can say a lot about a relationship. Staying for a cuddle or small chat suggests the experience was enjoyable and loving, connecting on a deeper level. Leaving straight away can indicate a lack of commitment. “Sex can be an incredibly joining experience, even if it is casual,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “But skipping the debrief can leave one or both partners feeling used, unimportant or devalued. It also leaves you unsure as to whether or not your partner had a good time and whether there were things you could do differently next time to improve the experience.”
Avoiding eye contact
To avoid eye contact during sex is to avoid a whole other level of intensity. “Eye contact can strengthen emotional feelings during sexual intimacy, but even if love isn’t part of the equation, eye contact heats up the simplest sexual act,” explains Dr. Balestrieri. “Mirror neurons fire in the brain when we make eye contact, so if your partner is feeling excited, chances are it will add to your excitement, too. And, if your partner isn’t really into it, eye contact can help you catch that, and make adjustments so you both are on the same page.”
Receiving, but not giving oral
Oral can be a complicated topic with some feeling uncomfortable or even repulsed by the experience. Dr. Balestrieri says, “While no one is obligated to engage in any sexual activity, refusing to give oral sex but expecting it in return may set off some alarm bells with your partner that you are not a reciprocal lover. If a partner believes the sexual experience to be one sided, they are a lot less likely to enjoy it or be of giving of themselves in the future.”
Not being open about what you want
The common saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. If you don’t open up about your desires how can you expect them to be fulfilled? Dr. Balestrieri explains, “People’s sexual fantasies and desires are incredibly diverse, and at the same time, pretty common. Not letting your partner know what you like and what works for you sexually, is essentially like telling them your sexual pleasure does not matter. When you are sexual with someone and your sexual needs are not being met regularly, sex can start feeling like a chore. Having the mindset that sex is an obligation often leads to avoidance, resentment and decreased pleasure.”
“Not flirting is like eating a meal without any salt or pepper,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “It may be okay, but a little spice would have elevated the experience. Flirting is fun. It tells a partner you’re interested, and gets your biggest sex organ (the brain) ready for sex long before your clothes come off.”
Faking an orgasm
Dr. Balestrieri has some strong and clear advice on this topic: “Stop faking!” By faking it you are telling your partner that what they are doing is right, and reinforcing bad habits. “Having an orgasm is great, but it’s also not the only goal of sex, so to fake an orgasm continues to reinforce performance-based sexual activity, that undermines all of the other moments of pleasure,” continues Dr. Balestrieri. “In long-term partnerships, faking an orgasm can create a wedge in emotional intimacy, as well as sexual pleasure, because dishonesty can erode trust and make it more challenging to tell your partner what you really like and want later.”
Sticking to the same positions
While Dr. Balestrieri believes if it ain't broke don’t fix it, she suggests keeping desired positions on rotation. “New positions will give you the chance to learn more about your body, your pleasure and erotic potential, and new ways to be exploratory and adventurous with a partner,” she adds. “Humans love novelty and mixing in a new position is a relatively easy way to introduce a little bit of renewed energy into the mix. Sex is as much about play as it is about pleasure, so sticking to a rigid routine may take away some of the fun of co-creating each sexual experience with enthusiasm.”
Thinking that sex is shameful
“Sex is a human biological imperative (in other words it is a completely natural instinct and act),” explains Dr. Balestrieri. “However, shame is taught and reinforced by oppressive systems of fear and control. Holding on to the belief that sex is shameful can leave you with a confused view of yourself and others.” Not only can this mindset significantly inhibit our ability to feel sexual pleasure, but Dr. Balestrieri believes it can also limit peoples’ willingness to discuss sex. “Shame about sex can leave people feeling disenfranchised and marginalized and can lead to sex being used as a weapon,” she adds. “Sexual shame can increase risk of exposure to STIs, sexual dissatisfaction, or sexual exploitation, due to a fear of discussing sexual health and boundaries. It can also perpetuate a spiritual disconnect. Let that shame go! Your mind, body, relationships and soul will thank you.”
Putting too much pressure on each time to be special
“Expecting sex to be special or mind-blowing every time is setting yourself up for disappointment,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “Sometimes sex will be more emotional, sometimes it will be quick, sometimes messy, sometimes anticlimactic, and other times explosive. Setting realistic expectations for a diverse experience of pleasure is the best way to stay away from putting so much pressure on yourselves that you end up sacrificing pleasure for performance.”
Finally, the key to correcting misstatements is to correct them sensitively. Dr. Balestrieri advises using less accusatory language can help everyone stay calm and be more understanding, instead of being defensive. Remember, your goal is to stay connected, not to be right. If you prioritize taking care of each other as you communicate, having hard conversations about mistakes can feel less daunting.