Great connection, terrible sex
March 16, 2015 4:29 PM   Subscribe

I asked a friend on a date recently. The date went really, really well, until we tried to have sex. Now I'm not sure if I should try again, or see if I can get out and save the friendship.

I met this guy, Adam, through a shared hobby a few months ago. (I’m female, we’re both in our mid-twenties.) We pretty quickly found out that we got along really well. We have the same sense of humor, a lot of shared interests, and can easily talk and riff off each other for hours. I like him a lot as a friend, but could also definitely see him as something more, so when we started hanging out outside of our shared hobby recently, I asked him out. He was a little surprised and wanted to think about it, so I backed off and made it clear that I was more than okay with just being friends but he ended up asking me out on a date a few days later.

It went really great…until we tried to have sex. It was terrible. Kissing was good, but once we moved beyond that, it was really, really boring and slow and bad. He was quiet and not very active and overall didn’t seem very into it at all, which made me hesitant about what I was doing. There was just no enthusiasm. We didn’t even take off all our clothes and it sort of petered out slowly. It felt like I was doing it with a stranger I barely knew, except I've had good sex with people I barely know.

We’ve seen each other since then, but only in a group setting. I still felt like we had an awesome connection and we didn’t have any problem talking and hanging out.
What's the best way to handle this situation? At this point, I just really wish I’d never asked him out, because I don't want to lose the friendship.

Is it likely that the sex will improve? Everything else is so great. Most of me is pretty sure I don’t want to risk trying to have terrible sex like that again, but part of me thinks I should give it another go because it couldn’t possibly be as bad as I remember. Maybe he’ll relax more. I suspect he’s inexperienced, but he was in a long relationship so I really doubt he’s new to sex. (I have no idea what his opinion of the sex is.)

I feel like the best way to handle the situation is say something about how dating isn’t working for me as soon as possible so I’m not leading him on. It feels a lot harder since I was the one to ask him out first. (Obviously, I can't tell him the sex was terrible, but possibly say something about not feeling physical chemistry?) Is there a good script for this? What are my best options for keeping the friendship, because I’d still really like to have him as a friend? Is that a possibility?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Have you talked to him about the bad sex? It sounds like you haven't. There are a MILLION reasons that this could have gone badly, from him not feeling the chemistry to neither of you knowing how to turn the other person on. Talk to him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:36 PM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

"Hey I'm not really feeling it, can we just hang as friends? See you at next hobbything".
posted by bradbane at 4:46 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

The sex will definitely NOT improve if you just assume that this is the way it is and don't talk about it.

Sex can improve greatly if both partners are interested in making each other happy. It sounds like your partner may not have been in the best mindset to knock your socks off (or even TAKE your socks off), but that's a matter of technique and enthusiasm, isn't it?

Sex is something where you can ask your partner for specific things, and though that's not a guarantee that it will work out, if you click in every other way, why wouldn't you try?
posted by xingcat at 4:53 PM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

You have to talk to him. Or no, you don't have to do anything, but please talk to him.
I'm not absolutely against telling someone that the sex was terrible (it's the only way anyone learns what they're doing wrong, after all), but it sounds like you barely had enough sex for it to BE terrible? And a one-bad-date leading to a universal declaration that you've given up on dating might also come off a bit extreme, in the absence of any other information.

FYI re:Him - If he's not that experienced, and/or just came out of a long relationship, and you're the first new sex he's had in a while, that can be jarringly new / weird / confusing / scary, which can lead to not-great sex. And although he's not your personal responsibility, a couple bad new-sex experiences leading to sudden dumpenings, with no further information given, can really put someone down hard and lead to an aversion to new sex, period. (Also FYI re:You, you're in your mid-twenties; you're going to have some bad sex. It happens.)

If you really do connect and feel like you can talk like you describe, it shouldn't be uncomfortable to go sit down someplace public and say "So...last Saturday.... That was...way less than I was hoping for. What happened there?"
posted by bartleby at 5:00 PM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

Sometimes the first time with a new person isn't great. You're nervous, maybe your moves are a little rusty, you don't know what the other person likes... I wouldn't write this whole thing off based on one awkward time.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:01 PM on March 16, 2015 [15 favorites]

You've got every chance to salvage the friendship. After all, he didn't get so into the sex that he is likely to be possessive, or broken-hearted and you are level headed enough that you're not going in either of those directions yourself.

So consider yourself to have moved from being not just friends, to friends who are now comfortable touching each other and seeing each other in underwear.

I wouldn't say anything about the sex, I'd just arrange to see him again soon, but in the context of your shared hobby, such as providing transportation or helping transport materials, or planning the next whatever-it-is you do, and if you are meeting with other hobbiests in a public venue, so much the better.

Wait for him to bring it up. He probably won't. He is a guy. He probably doesn't want to talk about it. Give him some warm smiles so he knows you are approachable and just carry on with the friendship thing.

If he brings it up, let him know you got the impression that you're physically not quite his type.

A ga-jllion things could have happened to make it not work. He might have expected sex on the fiftieth date, or only on the honeymoon. He might be having traumatic flashbacks or earnestly participating in an internal dialogue with God trying to exculpate himself from the mortal sin of fornication. Or he might have not clicked with your personal scent. Or he might have remembered that he was engaged to a girl back home. Or....

If the sex didn't work he probably knows it and is worried about how you will react. Are you going to jump his bones aggressively and it will result in another unbearable round of desultory bad necking? Did he blow his one chance to lose his virginity? You need to convey the answer is no to the former and yes to the latter. That's easy to do without words. Don't get physical, don't go someplace alone with him where there is a bed or a couch, and you will have answered both questions.

I am guessing that most likely he won't bring it up so all you have to do is keep seeing him in the usual context as co-hobbyists to bring the friendship back to where it was, plus knowing each other a little bit better than before.

You might go to the trouble of glad-mouthing him a bit to some of your mutual acquaintances, specifically praising his abilities in the hobby and what he contributes to the group, not in a personal way, just in case he is afraid that you no longer respect him in the morning.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:12 PM on March 16, 2015

Based on what you said, it *could* have been bad chemistry - but it could also have been that things were moving a bit too fast for him, or he was uncomfortable for some other reason.

Given that you really seem to like him, try talking before giving up.
posted by bunderful at 5:14 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow, I don't even think this is debatable. This wasn't slightly awkward sex, as can be expected with a new partner. This was no chemistry sex. It won't get better. Abandon ship and try to save the friendship.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 5:20 PM on March 16, 2015 [9 favorites]

I am a little confused. Sex was bad, but you didn't even take off your clothes? There could be a lot of reasons for it, including he wasn't into it, he is inexperienced and needs guidance, you were moving to fast, or whatever.

If it were me, I would try one more time and if it is not to your liking during, speak up then.
posted by 724A at 5:24 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you really want to keep going, then take the lead or tell him to take the lead. Sex will continue to be bad unless you say something.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:00 PM on March 16, 2015

This sounds exactly like an episode of Sex & The City. The first time Carrie has sex with Berger. Haha.

I don't know how two times of bad sex makes friendship less likely than one time of bad sex. Next time, I would take a more active role in the sex. Tell him what you want vocally, maybe take the lead a little more. Maybe get a little buzz beforehand -- not hammered, but a little drunk so maybe he loosens up a little.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:08 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Reading your post I got the overwhelming sense that he was just not that into you, but a girl was offering him sex so he just figure...ok- cuz it's being offered. You made ALL the moves in the relationship with this guy including asking him out in the first place.... and even that he didn't exactly jump at the chance to say yes. He had to think about it and get back to you.

I just don't think he's that into you and I wouldn't pursue a romantic relationship further if I were you. Tell him you think you should just be friends. To be honest however, the friendship may get wierd now since he seems to see you as a "ehh..what the hell, why not?" sex option, he might still keep you in the back of his mind that way.
posted by rancher at 6:18 PM on March 16, 2015 [9 favorites]

The thing that makes me think this could simply have been an off-night, which can happen to anyone, is that you say the kissing was great. And if you had no chemistry, I feel like the kissing would have been bad as well.

Forget your awful first time for a sec. Think about him, about kissing him. Do you still want him? Then french him again and see where it goes. Maybe wait and round some of the bases for a few dates before sliding home; build up the tension AND bolster your comfort in communicating your desires a little bit. But if you don't want him? For whatever reason, including no reason at all? No, you totally don't owe him another chance.

You sound so frustrated and disappointed. I feel bad for you! But I also feel bad for him. Maybe he's just not that passionate, about you or in general. But I can think of other explanations. Had he been drinking or was he high? Was it really late or had you eaten a lot? Was he possibly a virgin? Did you maybe catch him by surprise, move a little faster than he's used to, and he was just kind of going along for the ride? Was he sick or stressed? Anxious or depressed? Was/is he religious? Is he cheating on someone or did he just break up with someone? Does he have self-esteem problems? Does he usually sleep with men? Might he have a kink? I could think of a million more.

Would be easier to just ask him what he thought of your night, though. I don't think it could get any more awkward than it already is, so I don't think you have much to lose. If you're friends, you'll be friends after you both recover.
posted by kapers at 6:25 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sex can go from really good to really bad and vice versa over a period of weeks, months, or years. There's just no telling why it was bad unless you talk to him. If you can see being really into him if the sex were really good then I would talk to him or just keep in mind that you may need to dialogue about this. But if you're 'meh' all around then I would keep it a friendship. I think you guys just weren't ready for that kind of intimacy and rushed it. Maybe you should hang out more and do it when you're both really worked up.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 6:33 PM on March 16, 2015

The first time can be bad sometimes. There's pressure, you may not be fully in sync yet... if you were friends first, it can be even trickier.

But FWIW, my wife and I started as friends. Had amazing dates. Then just plain horrible sex the first time. The air conditioner wasn't keeping up, I had lousy sheets on the bed that kept coming untucked, and neither of us could get into a groove. Mostly, it was me. We'd pledged to take things slow and then she had a change of heart and kinda jumped me. My bedroom was muggy and not really set up for sexytime and I felt stupid. I couldn't really get comfortable enough to do my best work.

But you know what? The second time, we were fantastic. Like, we broke some stuff in her apartment. We may have invented some things. It was some HOLY SHIT kinda territory. We relaxed more, gave each other some direction, and straight-up fireworks ensued.

Anyway, my point is: once and done? That may be a bit hasty. Things can turn around in a hurry. They sure did for us.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:20 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

I disagree with the folks telling you to try it again and/or talk to him. This guy has mixed feelings about dating you. They have been expressed both with his hesitation about the date and then his unengaged, unenthusiastic sex. People who are saying bad sex can be turned around.. eesh, maaaaybe, if we're talking about lack of skill/intuition; but we're talking about lack of interest here. I doubt this gets better for being discussed. And not only do I doubt the sex would get better; I think that way lies a whole pile of bad feelings for you. Don't go to bed with someone who isn't interested in going there with you, ok? You'll wind up feeling like crap about yourself, and angry at him. Let this go.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:33 PM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've read all the responses above and I get what people are saying about him not being into you (because he hesitated before accepting the date), but I wonder if there could be other reasons for his hesitation - like not wanting to ruin the friendship/making the shared hobby weird? Or some other random reason, who knows.

I vote for talking to him. I would just start with something simple about the other night being awkward and ask him if he thought it was awkward too. Maybe (big maybe?) you guys can even laugh about it a little? And see where the conversation goes.
posted by sunflower16 at 7:48 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's possible that the reason he was unenthusiastic and that slow and hesitant is because he was terrified. Also, you know, not every human is comfortable about having sex casually or early on. And that can be particularly complex to navigate for men who feel that way.

FWIW, a lot of first time sex between any two random people is terrible.

Anyway, it sounds like this is a guy you really like so it's worth some time. Maybe... take it a little slower? Try a date with no booty? And separately from that, use your words and talk to him.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:56 PM on March 16, 2015 [11 favorites]

Sometimes sex can be scary and awkward and embarrassing. And yeah, sometimes sex just clicks, and is awesome and wonderful. It seems like your past sexual experiences were the latter, which is great, but it kinda sets pretty high expectations that may not be entirely realistic. I actually had the opposite experience-- I thought first time sex was always kinda meh. With my current boyfriend, my first time was mind blowingly awesome, and I remember being completely floored that it could be so good out of the gate-- because my past experience with new sexual partners was that sex was kinda awkward and scary and kinda meh.

Absolutely sex can improve. Will it improve? This isn't really a thing anyone can answer because it depends on a lot of things... his personality, your personality, how receptive he is to change, and what happens when you get together.

I think that if it's an incompatibility brought about by nerves and inexperience then things will improve rapidly and get better and better. If it's just an incompatibility between styles or libido or attraction or such, then you'll notice things will pretty much stay the same-- or worsen. Sometimes people are just sexually incompatible and even if you try and improve, things just don't.

I will say that this guy kind of reminds me of my ex, and in the case of me and my ex, our bad sex was 80% inexperience. That's the biggest difference between my previous partners and my boyfriend-- my now boyfriend has had a lot more partners than me, but my exes had not.

Also, me and my ex didn't do well with latex, either, due to loss of sensation. Could it be that contraception is playing a part? I use Skyn now, and switching to non latex was so great. Also, when sex wasn't what we expected, we'd get discouraged and things wouldn't improve. I'm sure the person he got with after me would have been confused by his lack of experience, considering he'd had a long term girlfriend. So just because this guy has had a long relationship, doesn't mean he's experienced or even good at sex. If he hasn't had varied partners, he may just be doing what he used to do with his ex, which worked fine for her, but not for you. Besides, you don't know how much they did it, or whether one of them had a lower libido than the other or whatever.

The thing is, the only way you can know if things will improve is to give the guy another chance, and keep at it. Is he worth it, personality wise? Try and maintain enthusiasm, even though it's discouraging to 'fail' at sex the first time. Don't view it as a failure, just view it as something that can be improved, and try to keep up the enthusiasm for each other. If you need to, just address the elephant in the room next time and say, 'well I suppose we were kinda nervous that first time,' and discuss what you do like, (enthusiasm, full clothing removal, pacing), instead of hoping he'll read your mind. If you're not the kind of couple that can discuss things like that, it may be that you're not that compatible anyway.
posted by Dimes at 4:15 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I dated a guy for about 6 weeks - we had an AMAZING connection. Chemistry was there, kissing was IMMENSE... I could not wait to get in bed with him.
Then we got in bed together, it was horrendous... we just didn't really "fit" together.

Neither one of us tried to contact the other one again - I think we just both knew there and then that our sexual incompatibility was a deal breaker. Chances are your friend may be feeling the same thing as you... if you can continue to hang out together and act as if this never happened, that might be your best option!
posted by JenThePro at 7:44 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Most of me is pretty sure I don’t want to risk trying to have terrible sex like that again

I guess I understand not wanting to actively seek out bad sex, but I feel like your language is pretty loaded in this post, like you have been on some level actually traumatized a bit by this experience? Not judging--I've had bad sex that was just bad sex and then I have had bad sex that *most emphatically was not assault or anything* but which left me feeling really, really gross and unsafe. It's hard to say what made the difference between one case and another, but the difference was there.

Maybe it's not anything and you're just trying to convey how bad the sex was, I dunno. But maybe think some more about this before you go trying to patch things up romantically with this guy--and definitely don't even bother if you come to the conclusion that he just somehow made you feel not-safe and not-right.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:06 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I actually went through this situation recently, and after 2-3 series of dates with different women that went to booty-town, I realized that it was an SNRI that I'd been prescribed that was completely shutting down my sex drive when it came time for the actual act.

Chemistry seemed great, kissing was great, we went to have sex and... the passion just wasn't there. It led to fumbling, to trying to "fake it until you make it" which in sex is... not ideal, it led to guilt/anger at myself and I'm sure they were hurt too because they had no idea it was completely unrelated to them.

So for me, it was a medical reason. You should probably talk to him. Lots of mind reading going on in this thread about whether or not he's interested in you... bullshit. Complete and utter BS. You won't know unless you talk to him about it. Or don't, it's up to you. Talking about it with the last woman actually led to my getting off the drug, and while my sex drive is back, we decided to just be great friends for the time being because that all felt a bit weird to us both.

So actually, I guess I've been through this exact scenario. There's more details that may be helpful so feel free to memail me.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:12 AM on March 17, 2015

I think you should not jump ship yet! It's common for the first time together to be awkward. You don't know each other's bodies and you don't know what your partner likes yet. He doesn't know what you like. One or both of you might still feel nervous or uncomfortable at this point. Give him strong hints or tell him directly what you like and ask him what would make him feel comfortable/turned on. I would recommend against mentioning the dissatisfying parts in the debrief - Just make it clear what you want him to do.

Try it again and if X amount of time passes where you're still not satisfied, where X is whatever amount of time that works for you, break it off THEN. But he sounds like a good guy and it sounds like there's potentially something there.

Then again, if it was totally revolting, maybe it's just not worth your while? I vote try give him another shot.
posted by mermily at 1:04 PM on March 17, 2015

It's possible that the reason he was unenthusiastic and that slow and hesitant is because he was terrified. Also, you know, not every human is comfortable about having sex casually or early on. And that can be particularly complex to navigate for men who feel that way.

Yea, as a guy who is like this it's kind of a feedback loop especially since there's so much messaging that guys are supposed to be super on board and wanting to jump right in, and that any discussion about it beforehand makes you seem unenthusiastic and unsure and basically fodder for someone elses askme post where a lot of people would say a lot of things that were said here. So, you just try and power through it, and when it actually comes time to have full on sex after all the foreplay it's usually... pretty awkward and crappy.

No one really expects a straight woman to have a great first time with someone or be super in to it. It's often discussed when it wasn't, and it's fodder for lots of lighthearted joking. But when a guy is weird about it, it's often seen as "not that into it" even when it's anxiety or whatever.

I think i've had not akward first time sex with one person. And even then, it later got MUCH better. It was still pretty crappy. Everyone else? Pretty much just embarrassing/awkward/awful. And without exception, anyone i revisited it with it got good later.

But holy shit can i relate to this guy on the angle brought up DarlingBri here. I'm not saying you're obligated to, or even that you should give a shit, but i'm absolutely voting for team give-him-another-shot especially if he seems legit interested and fun the rest of the time(which it really sounds like he does, including the making out. I'm also on team "the making out would suck if he didn't give a shit")
posted by emptythought at 4:57 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Talk to your friend, if you can. My amazing attractive friend and I had sex two or three times and it was just never there. The first time we put down to altitude and alcohol. The second time I forget. We made out once to good success but then when we ah did it ... crickets. For both of us.

We've decided that Bad Sex is self-preservation on both our parts ... we get on so well but want such different things from life that aren't compatible. But if the shagging had been stellar, we'd both be all "I'd LOVE to live on a farm in Iowa/ashram in India! Let's make this happen!" And then we'd hate each other, instead of just being great friends who love each other but don't fuck.

However, we have a mutual pact to try it again at eighty, if neither of us are boning someone.

Good luck!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 9:56 PM on March 18, 2015

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