Am I OK in bed or a disaster?
April 30, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Am I terrible in bed or sexually repellent? And if I am, how do I find out and fix it?

I am a heterosexual woman in my mid forties. I have been married twice and had one other fairly long term (7 years) relationship plus quite a few shorter term liaisons but I'm currently single. I had a lot of sexual partners, mostly in my youth, but as time has gone by I have ended up being mostly alone.

Recently, I met somebody, had a great time and then was summarily dumped, with the explanation that I was just "too vanilla". OK. That would be one thing, but the boyfriend before that had trouble maintaining an erection (and we tried viagra, but it didn't work) which, eventually, he blamed on me being too "sexually aggressive." The boyfriend before that had no complaints, but he was much younger than me. The boyfriend before him just never wanted to have sex - it took an old girlfriend of his to tell me that he was kinky and felt I would not be interested, so he just broke up with me for unspecified reasons. Many years ago, my first great love told me I was boring in bed, because I came too easily., Then, my second husband said I was too complicated in bed. So it's very hard to tell.

I like sex. I think of myself as a fairly open minded person. I am all about the oral sex, the various positions, the general everything that one person with a penis and another with a vagina can do with each other. I think sex is a joyous and a fun thing, an expression of love, or, hell, deep like, or,when I was younger, what happens after an evening of drinking when the sun comes up. I never thought of myself as having sexual hangups. By the time I was in my 30s I had given up on one night stands because I realized that I needed more emotional closeness to really be happy, but I didn't think I was sexually impossible. I don't have a whole lot of strictures but honestly I have never seen the need for toys and I am uncomfortable with anal stuff. I just like getting naked with a guy and getting, well, down to it. I have orgasms pretty easily through vaginal sex. I like having sex three or four or more times a week. I can't quite figure out why you need props. I mean, I just like a little foreplay, then sex in a couple of positions, we both have orgasms, we are - or I thought we were - both happy and we smoke a cigarette and go to sleep. Apparently that isn't enough?

Everything was okay for a long time but given the last ten years or so, now I think there must be something terribly wrong with me. I was worried for a while that my vagina was deformed or something but I've known my gyno for 15 years and you would think she would have told me. I don't think I'm physically too big - actually, larger penises hurt a bit and I'm happier with the smaller to normal ones. Nobody has ever said anything about that. I am thinking now that I must just be terribly boring or maybe I make awful noises or I guess there's just something off? If I smell bad would the gyno have noticed it?

So. I think I do come off, probably unfortunately, as a wholesome kind of girl - I cook, I make things, I tend my house and my garden and my animals, etc. I have raised my children (now grown) as a single mother and done it, I think, pretty well. I work; I'm not looking for a sugar daddy. I have had guys tell me that I'm the kind of girl you don't mess around with unless you're really serious. Fine. Whatever. Oh and I'm conventionally supposed to be quite attractive. I mean, I'm heavier than I want to be (I'm an American woman) but I am by no means grossly obese and I was in my twenties considered beautiful.

What I want to know is this whole sex thing me or is this some awful run of men? Am I really terrible in bed? Am I boring and awful? Do all men expect something - and if so, what - extra now? Is everybody else using things I know nothing about? Do I have to learn about toys and stuff to be okay? Is there something wrong with me? Should I go to a different gyno? Who should I ask about this stuff (besides askme)? How could I find out if I'm sexually normal?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Honestly, it doesn't sound like you are the problem. You are who you are. There are many, many men in the world who would appreciate someone like you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:38 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

It sounds to me like you've just had a series of awful men. I think most men would be thrilled to have someone as easy to please as you are.

Perhaps you just need to raise your standards as to the men you're getting involved with?
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:41 AM on April 30, 2010 [17 favorites]

What the hell? You have been dating assholes.

Maybe you're giving off kink vibes and attracting kinky guys even though you're not kinky? I don't know why that's happening. Also, guys should be able to ask for stuff that they want.

I could tell you a million things that the guys I know like to do and play with, send you off to learn the techniques and buy the equipment and it would be useless if the next guy you're with only likes, say, nipple torture.

And most people aren't kinky but there are people who go around being kinky at vanilla people and then blaming them for the lack of erections, I guess, which is stupid.

I am pretty sure your vagina is nice.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:42 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Every single one of the guys you describe sounds like jerks. I have no idea about the other stuff, but please do cut yourself some slack. All of their complaints sound to me like they didn't know how to communicate and didn't want to bother so they gave up. Nothing can work that way.
posted by amethysts at 9:45 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Where are you meeting the guys that are saying these things to you? That might shed some light on why they seem uniformly jerky and disappointed. Also honestly not trying to derail but understand what kind of guys you're attracting, their mindset, so I'll ask:

I have had guys tell me that I'm the kind of girl you don't mess around with unless you're really serious.

What the hell does that even mean?

Maybe you're intimidating to guys because it sounds like you really and truly don't need them--you're independent, successful, good-looking, have your own domestic stability and interests/pursuits. Hm. Maybe some guys long for a lady who makes them feel important, needed. I'm not saying that's a good thing or you should cater to it though--rather, maybe you need to look in different places for dating partners.
posted by ifjuly at 9:46 AM on April 30, 2010

boring in bed, because I came too easily.

Uhhh, this is whatever the opposite of a cogent argument is. Anybody who is less into their partner because their partner finds sex enjoyable should probably receive a thorough psychiatric evaluation. It's not you, it's them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:47 AM on April 30, 2010 [32 favorites]

Nthing the suggestion that it's the men you're dating and not you. I'm a female, so I can't speak to this directly but how in the world is it negative that you come too easily?! Most men would be pleased that they can make you come, and come again, and again, and again...

Life is short, don't waste it on bad sex and stupid men.
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:50 AM on April 30, 2010 [8 favorites]

There are completely indefinable things that can result in good or bad sex for one or both parties, even when with most partners each individual is good in bed. Sometimes people just click; sometimes people don't click. It sounds to me like you're sexual experiences are pretty typical. You've just met a bunch of guys who are looking for different things (and who sound kind of jerky).
posted by Caduceus at 9:50 AM on April 30, 2010

It's WAY easier to blame someone else for your own deficiencies and insecurities than to face up to them. These are weak and cowardly men. Rise above it, as they have not, metaphorically AND literally in some cases!
posted by greenish at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2010 [12 favorites]

My rule of thumb with men and dating is that I don't give people negative feedback on any sort of sex-performance thing unless I think they can reasonably fix or adjust that thing [assuming they want to]. So someone does a thing you don't like? Tell them you don't really like it. Suggest a thing you do like. Mention other things that they already do that you like fine. Say that you like having sex with them generally, in actions and in words. If someone's some way in bed that I don't think is fixable and is for some reason a dealbreaker, I don't think I'd bring it up as such.

People are responsible for their own orgasms at some level. This doesn't mean always going it solo, but it means working with a partner to sort of explain how your body works and learning how their body works. So if these guys are basically faulting you for something that you didn't even know about when you were with them, heck with them. I've been on the receiving end of that sort of thing too, hearing after-the-fact unflattering comments from exes second hand through other people, and it can be hurtful and confusing. That said, again, to heck with them. In my world it's against the rules to slag a former sex partner (rare exceptions if you're trying to explain something to a current sex partner) for sex-related things. It's too easy to really do some damage and it makes you look like a nasty person.

So, sorry about your past paramours. If you're concerned about this new one, I'd just try to introduce some conversation on the topic [pillow talk is good for this] and even mention it's something you're a little nervy about. "Hey some of my exes made me feel I dont know what I'm doing. I like you and I like having sex with you, wanting to make sure the good feelings are mutual...." or even at the time "Hey does this feel good?" or "Wow that feels great" sorts of things. Sure sometimes things are a bad fit sexwise [kink vs non-kink could be that way, but again people can TALK about these things] but if the two of you seem to be enjoying each other, good on you. If every guy had been complaining about some specific recurring thing ["trapeeze distracts me!"], I might be a little concerned. The fact that people are claiming all sorts of things all over the map about you is, to my mind, evidence that you're just fine.
posted by jessamyn at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Do all men expect something - and if so, what - extra now?

No, I actually get bored with those who feel the need to constantly bring new gimmicks into sex. Nothing's more exciting than vanilla, as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think this is a rare view.

I don't see the need for us to attack every one of your exes as "jerks," but if one of them thought you were too "aggressive" and the other thought you weren't "kinky" enough and the other thought you were too "complicated" and the other had trouble maintaining an erection, that seems like they had their own idiosyncratic preferences or issues -- they didn't have a common complaint about you (in fact, the complaints sound bizarrely contradictory). You don't seem to have any particular hangups or physical problems with sex. So it doesn't seem like you have a problem.
posted by jejune at 9:53 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I can't see anything wrong with you from your description of yourself. As a male of the species, I apologize for the vast majority of jerks that you've encountered. I've never been one to try to fix up friends with other friends, but on occasion, when a male friend was looking for a girlfriend after some time "out of the loop," I suggested some female friends we are both acquainted with. "Nah, she's too old." (He's early 50s, she's late 30's early 40s.) "Nah, I like them slender." His proclivity for beer is apparent by the extra keg around his mid-section, she's proportional and attractive. And on down the list. Most of my women acquaintances, though, their biggest criteria have been--"does he have a job?" or "is he still breathing on his own?"

Not to say they shouldn't set their sites higher, but what I am saying is women tend to be (in my sphere of acquaintance) more humane, and men tend to be driven by unrealistic biological imperatives that they have somehow internalized without comparing them to, um, reality.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:54 AM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]

It's probably your choice in guys. In other words, it's not you, it's them, but more importantly, it's you that is choosing them.

It couldn't hurt to take a good look at yourself. Are you physically healthy? Are you showing off your best features? Is there something you've perhaps overlooked?

I once knew a girl that was perfect in every way, but was a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE kisser. I brought it up and she had no idea. I mention it here because it could be weird things that trip you up.

OK, all squared away there? Now why are you choosing these types of guys?

Start there. And start identifying and eliminating potential sources of problems. But don't be surprised when it all comes back to you making choices about these types of guys.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:55 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter sees a lot of "Is it me? Is it them? What am I doing, or does it not have to do with me at all?" questions, from sex to dating to conversations. Short of finding a sample of blunt, experienced-but-not jaded men who are emotionally unconnected to you who are willing to "romp-and-report," with truth serum and lie detectors, you probably will never know. And that's one study in which you probably do not want to participate.

Comes too easy? Only a problem if you are a one-shotter (and some women are) who wants to be left alone afterwards, if you are too busy climaxing to do much for the other person, or if you're with someone who has a "climbing Mt. Everest" fixation on working for it.

One thing I can offer is that, past their teenage years, that whole "sex is like pizza: when it's bad, it's still pretty good" thing doesn't apply to men as much as you might think, but most of them do try to carry on with that particular facade, only to be disappointed by the kinds of experiences you get when you behave as if getting some is all that matters. Given that the responses you have heard were all over the map, perhaps the only suggestion I would have is the occasional conversation with whomever you are dating that touches on the basic, "Sooooo ... is there anything particular you wanted to try sometime?" If you ask that, be serious about considering, well, pretty much any kind of answer.
posted by adipocere at 9:59 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

OK, I may be way off base here, but here's what I read between the lines in your question. If this doesn't apply, just disregard.

You sound like you're very capable and goal-oriented and like to 'get down to business'. Maybe that is shining through a bit sexually, making it feel a bit too robotic or rushed or straight-to-the-point and not intimate enough? In other words, it's easy to get bored if you basically do the same stuff every time you have sex - even if it reliably ends in nice orgasms. I really doubt there's anything wrong with you or your vagina, and I think it's less about you needing to beef up on the latest kink craze and more about maybe being more flexible in how you approach sex and the act itself.

But again - could be totally off base here. Good luck!
posted by widdershins at 10:03 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you haven't found a compatible partner.
posted by zippy at 10:05 AM on April 30, 2010

Ummm, being able to have an orgasm easily is a great thing. Nthing the guys were dicks. Don't worry about yourself.
posted by Silvertree at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2010

"Many years ago, my first great love told me I was boring in bed, because I came too easily"

I have a hard time imagining how badly screwed in the head a guy would have to be to consider this grounds for complaint. For most guys, that would be a big plus.

I agree with everyone else. It sounds like your only problem learning how to choose guys who aren't jerks.
posted by tdismukes at 10:14 AM on April 30, 2010

If I got that sort of quantity of negative feedback, which was mutually contradictory, here is how I would start trying to figure it out:

Maybe I am so good at graciously receiving criticism that they do not realize how it is affecting me.

Maybe there is something about my choice in partners that is leading me to pick people who are not sexually compatible.

Maybe there is a consistent problem that is not being properly diagnosed.

It could be that what you are doing is never the problem, but the way that it is introduced or approached is. One thing that may be helpful is to look at the whole sexual experience as a delicate balance of following and leading. Often the key to a good experience is being able to simultaneously each lead the other and each follow the other - if a partner is slowing down slow down with them, if they are accelerating accelerate with them. Notice your partners breath - inhale when your partner inhales, exhale when they exhale. Or time your actions on their breaths, speeding up when their breathing speeds up, slowing down when their breathing slows down. You can effectively lead someone in an intimate experience by matching their affect that they are displaying, and transitioning them from that affect to the affect that goes with the emotion you want to help them feel - if you do this well their instinct will be to follow you.
posted by idiopath at 10:14 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I feel your pain -- I think I'm your unfortunate sex twin. I've had the guy who called me a rapist for initiating (and enjoying, heaven forbid) sex, the unerectables who decided I was solely responsible for their limpness, then the dude who called me physically and sexually unattractive to my face.

Dating sucks, and I'll second everyone else that says you sound just fine. I send your vagina many hugs.
posted by soft and hardcore taters at 10:27 AM on April 30, 2010

As a man.. I have to agree with all the other comments: "It sounds like you just had bad run of partners / havent found the right sexually-compatible partner." (finding a good compatible sexual partner is a subtle chemistry that takes quite a bit of experimentation/testing.... not being successful at it doesnt make you a bad person)

2ndly I'd echo widdershins thoughts... you may be wonderfully awesome in the sack, but your description sounds a little to "methodical". It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong and I don't think you need to be more kinky or add toys to the equation... but (if you aren't already doing so) try to be more mysterious/seductive/sensuous/alluring. Also, you don't mention anything about talking dirty during sex... do you do that? Dirty talk can be quite effective at turning plain vanilla sex into smoldering sweaty hair-grabbing I-think-I'm-Losing-My-Mind fuck fest that you can both exchange a silent smile about while sharing breakfast the next morning.
posted by jmnugent at 10:28 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just like getting naked with a guy and getting, well, down to it. I have orgasms pretty easily through vaginal sex. I like having sex three or four or more times a week. I can't quite figure out why you need props. I mean, I just like a little foreplay, then sex in a couple of positions, we both have orgasms, we are - or I thought we were - both happy and we smoke a cigarette and go to sleep.

It's very easy to see how some men would find this boring and rather robotic (it's almost by numbers). Doesn't mean they're right and you're wrong, just that there are sexual differences. You just need to find someone more like yourself, that's all. Or learn to mix it up a bit, if for no other reason than to keep your partner a little surprised, which generates excitement.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The fact that people are claiming all sorts of things all over the map about you is, to my mind, evidence that you're just fine.

Just wanted to reiterate this.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:30 AM on April 30, 2010

"Many years ago, my first great love told me I was boring in bed, because I came too easily"

I have a hard time imagining how badly screwed in the head a guy would have to be to consider this grounds for complaint. For most guys, that would be a big plus.

I'm guessing that to an insecure guy it wouldn't feel like the woman was orgasming because of something special about him, he'd be just another instrument for this easily excitable woman to get off on. Sure, orgasms are essentially just reflex (stroke here to get this reaction), but most people like to feel as there's something special about them that's helping to bring about the sexy times. If it's a seriously easy thing for the woman to do, then what's so special about the guy doing it, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:36 AM on April 30, 2010

I agree that it sounds like your guy-picker isn't functioning that well. Over and above that, it kind of sounds like you aren't communicating that well -- you don't seem comfortable asking some questions directly to your gyno; you are hearing gossip about your relationships second-hand rather than directly; and you are asking us questions that you clearly didn't feel comfortable discussing with the people involved at the time. A lot about good sex is about communication, both verbal and physical, and if you can't express your desires and really listen to and engage with what the other person wants, then the sex is unlikely to be all that great.

If I smell bad would the gyno have noticed it?

Do you smell good in general? Your overall scent, not your crotch specifically, I mean. Barring a yeast infection or whatever, I've never encountered someone who smells good overall and bad down there. So while I totally doubt that your junk smells bad, it never hurts to check that you are smelling good overall.

I mean, I just like a little foreplay, then sex in a couple of positions, we both have orgasms, we are - or I thought we were - both happy and we smoke a cigarette and go to sleep.

That's cool if both people are fulfilled and happy. On the other hand, if you seem unengaged, just laying there waiting for him to do some foreplay and then you lay there for the humping, and finally you lay there for the smoke, that would be a really unsatisfying version of sex. There's no way to know from what you wrote what things are actually like in bed -- my comment here is to make sure that, regardless of what specific physical activities are or are not happening, to make sure that you are making the other person feel appreciated and desired.

Again, maybe you are already doing this, and you are just getting crappy guys, I don't know. But if people keep calling you "vanilla" and things like that, that sounds to me less like you forgot to break out the cuffs and floggers, and more like you were disengaged and appeared not very passionate.
posted by Forktine at 11:46 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me as if everyone you've been with has had feelings of inadequacy or hang-ups about sex, and rather than realize that they've projected their problems on to you. You sound like you're honest, willing, and interested. You're just fine. Continue as you are, and realize that many people do not have a good sense of self-consciousness.
posted by mikeh at 12:47 PM on April 30, 2010

You sound fine to me. You seem to have a good grasp of what it is that you like and don't like, which is more than a lot of people I have known. It's not you, it's them.
posted by number9dream at 1:06 PM on April 30, 2010

I will admit that it is difficult to make an assessment from having read a few paragraphs that you wrote.
The "luck of the draw" comes into play, unless you are selecting from a known good group. Or it could your selection mechanism or whatever thing attracts you to them or them to you.

Having said all that, it sounds like the partners you have chosen to be intimate with were somehow messed up. I am going along with the "it's not you, it's them" clause.

See if you can get your new partner to play a different game so to speak. A friend of mind described an activity that she and her husband used in the bedroom to discover preferences and foster exploration. They would trade off roles; one would close their eyes, the other would provide some kind of stimulation. Discussion ensued if it was found pleasurable or not. It was not a test, it was a game. The winners were usually both of them.
posted by Drasher at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2010

Yup, nthing all the above. It;s not you, it's them.

That being said, you may need to work very hard to break down your personal barriers and talk to your partners about sex. Tell them what you like, even if it sounds mechanical and clinical to you. Ask them what they like. Don't be afraid to set boundaries, but don't be afraid to push them - after all, that's how you find them!

You'll find that this kind of thing - talking - may scare off the faint of heart. That's good. Weed out those passive aggressive assholes early.
posted by Xoebe at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Many years ago, my first great love told me I was boring in bed, because I came too easily"

Did he take a long time to come? Linking is hard cos I'm on my phone, but retarded ejaculation is an issue for some guys - apparently 4-6 minutes of thrusting to ejaculation is average, but I've been with guys who take a lot longer, and so I come and then my hips get sore and I look like I'm not enjoying it and yadda yadda. My solution was to mix it up, play with extended foreplay and different positions to mix it up and get him so excited he can't wait! But most importantly not to take it personally - any two people in any particular coupling are going to be different. You need to ensure you articulate what's working for you, and encourage him to do the same, to make it successful for both of you.

I haven't met it, but I'm sure your vag is at least as beautiful as anybody else's!
posted by goo at 1:37 PM on April 30, 2010

Seems a little glib to just write off all these guys as jerks.

"You just need to find someone more like yourself, that's all. Or learn to mix it up a bit, if for no other reason than to keep your partner a little surprised, which generates excitement."

posted by ian1977 at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2010

Nthing the suggestion that it's the men you're dating and not you.

Yes, it's the men you're dating. BUT if you find that the men you're dating all suck in the same way (and you have!), then the problem IS you. Something you're doing is attracting assholes and, apparently, only assholes. Ask yourself why these are the people you attract, and why you're attracted to them.

Sexually, you sound like a great partner.
posted by coolguymichael at 5:17 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems to me that you're not doing anything all. In fact you're doing a lot of things right. You seem fairly open, and adventurous enough to be considered fun in bed with out being considered "too adventurous". More importantly....i truly believe that most guys aren't that hard to please in bed. Often it's the other way around. Many guys would go nuts over a girl who cums so easily during normal intercourse. Many girls are extremely hard to please. Most men are more interested in the frequency of sex vs the quality of sex. And just so you know, tons of guys would love to be with the girl next door. In fact, for most of us, that's who we would choose to settle down with. I think you're just getting involved with guys who aren't right for you. Actually, it seems like these guys just plain suck. But unfortunately finding "the one" is pretty hard. That's why so many relationships eventually come to an end and people break up or get divorced. My biggest words of advice here would be....don't change who you are. You're great. Keep dating. Don't settle and don't be too over critical with yourself especially when it comes to sex. Eventually you'll meet someone who realizes what a find you are. Hope this helps!
posted by ljs30 at 9:46 PM on May 1, 2010

I don't think there is anything wrong with you physically sex-wise. I think maybe your attitude towards sex might be a little off-putting to some guys though, it seems a bit business-like. You know what you like and how you like it, just insert man A for perfect experience and all should work great, but no, he doesn't want to be man A, he wants to be special and unique. This doesn't mean you have to have him take the lead, or be on top or anything, just let him kinda customize things a bit too. I think most people prefer a delightful custom experience (even if they get an elbow in the eye) to a perfect standard experience. And customizing doesn't have to be wacky and kinky, it can be as simple as one person undressing the other, being on the couch or floor not bed, or giving each other foot rubs first.
posted by meepmeow at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2010

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