How rare is this very good sex?
February 11, 2024 2:05 AM   Subscribe

I want to break up with my partner, but I'm afraid I'll never find sex like this again. Is it really that bad out there?

First of all, I've been a serial long-term monogamist so I have very little breadth of sexual experience, and for most of my life it was not great. When I first got together with my current partner, I was surprised at his very wholesome tastes in sex, but I have come to love it. Respectful, loving sex is amazing for me. It has continued to improve over time even as other aspects of our relationship have deteriorated.

Now I want to break up with him, for very good non-sex reasons, but I read so much about the porn-addled brains of men these days that I'm afraid I'll never find anything like this again. If the odds are bad, I honestly might just learn to live with his other issues.

So I ask you, women of Metafilter: How often have you encountered in the wild men who are loving in foreplay, generous and talented when giving oral sex, skilled and passionate at intercourse, and are definitely not into degradation, anal sex, porny gymnastics, etc.? Age range 45-65, I guess.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Nearly everyone I've dated has been one such man. You just gotta be picky (that's more so the reason why I'm single).

But these "issues" your guy has - I can't help but think of Madonna's lyric from "Express Yourself": "Satin sheets are very romantic, but what happens when you're not in bed?" Sex ain't everything, so if there are issues which are a dealbreaker for you, then it makes sense to move on nevertheless.

But the key there is "dealbreaker". If he's someone who just does something annoying now and then, and you've never told him that this thing annoys you - maybe it makes more sense to say "hey, sweetie, so I kinda don't like how you order for me in restaurants, it makes me feel like [x] and that's not great". Then give him a chance to fix it.

Mind you, if the issues you're talking about are things like "he drinks a lot and it's making me uneasy" or "he's occasionally threatened violence" or something seriously red-flag, get the hell out of there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on February 11 [8 favorites]

I think it's not about a statistical number or specific set of skills, but it's a combination of factors like good communication, mutual respect, and physical chemistry and attraction.

You're worthy of all of those things within a non-dealbreaker relationship. You have to believe in yourself and your own worth so that you will go out on a limb to make those connections. They're out there.

Staying in a relationship that's not right because of the sex will make you resentful for cheating yourself.
posted by bearette at 6:12 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I'm going to be honest, it's actually pretty fucking rare out there at least in the 45-55 bracket. Don't know about older than that.

I think it depends on what the issues are. In my experience, it's easier to work out (some) other issues than it is to fix how cis men fuck.
posted by corb at 7:07 AM on February 11 [27 favorites]

Coming at this from a different angle, fear of scarcity of one kind or another is incredibly common around breakups, both in the lead-up to making a huge and painful change and in its immediate aftermath.

The literal answer is that yes, of course you are not breaking up with the only man on the planet who is not looking to recreate hardcore porn scenes in his personal relationships. If you're finding yourself repeatedly reading a lot of information about this, pay attention to whether you're engaging in a kind of doomscrolling that is both responsive to and feeding this anxiety. There are good(-for-you) ones out there, and you have direct evidence of that.

And, also, yes, the fear is not totally unfounded. This kind of compatibility is not always easy to find, no matter what you're looking for. I've had these worries from the other direction: I left a toxic partner who was filthy in all the right ways and, even more rare, extremely sexually compatible along gender dimensions, and my next relationship was sweet and good and next-level compatible in most ways but the reserved, standard sex, and didn't work out in part because of that.

Finding someone who checks all the boxes, whatever the boxes are for you, is just tough. I have had to come to terms with the possibility that the best sex of my life may be in the past. That very well may not be true, but even if it is, I would much rather be single or having hot-but-not-quite-as-good-as-that sex than trapped in a bad relationship. Bad relationships are soul-killing and hold you back from the possibility of eventually finding a better fit. Saying no to what's not working, even if it involves taking this risk, is really worth it.
posted by wormtales at 7:12 AM on February 11 [24 favorites]

I left my partner of 29 years last year for really good reasons--it was vital I get out of there for my well-being. Sex between us, though we had dry spells and some issues we worked out, was amazing. So amazing. I've been dating, and I've had some sex, but I think it's unlikely I'll have have the trust and underlying compatibility to have sex like we had ever again. I'm sad about that; it's one of the things I lost when I left. I hope to find out at some point that I'm wrong.
posted by Well I never at 7:13 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]

Caveat: I'm a decade younger than your lower age range. This is kind of an impossible question to answer, but in my personal experience, the porn addled-ness of men is significantly overstated. Or maybe confined to men who are otherwise undatable to someone seeking a respectful partner? I've encountered much more "wants to have missionary style sex and stare into your eyes and tell you you're glowing" than "whiny about anal". Obviously a lot rides on your "etc" – if for example you don't want to have your ass slapped occasionally, you might need to bring that up proactively. But the majority of men I've encountered in dating and casual sex are primarily into their partners having a good time and just want to give/receive oral and have PIV in one of three positions.
posted by umwelt at 7:56 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]

Seconding umwelt. I'm 40 and this has been exactly my experience as well. These men are out there!
posted by cozenedindigo at 8:08 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

If you're unhappy in a relationship, you're unhappy and no amount of good sex will counteract that. Trust your instincts on this. Other partners will be potentially better in some ways and worse in others and it may take some time to find someone that you have a similar groove with. But staying in the wrong relationship for good sex isn't fair to either of you.

How would you feel if you knew your partner didn't really like the relationship but thought the sex was so good that they couldn't do better? You already know the correct thing to do.
posted by Candleman at 8:20 AM on February 11 [9 favorites]

You've gotten some good advice already. I'll just add that something to consider is how long you've been dating this guy. Especially if you're in the new or new-ish stage of the relationship (i.e. roughly the first 2-3 years), there is no guarantee that the very good sex will stay very good.
posted by coffeecat at 9:01 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I've encountered one (1) such man out of about 10 or so that I've been with over the past few years. But he was "polyamorous" - and I hope you know *exactly* why I am putting that in quotes, because that is the reason why I had to very reluctantly give up that sex. (In case you don't know: he was a fuckboy who was interested in wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am whenever he felt like it with whoever happened to be on hand, not what he initially claimed he was - a polyamorous man who was interested in building real relationships with more than one person.)
posted by MiraK at 9:12 AM on February 11

Great lovers of are any stripe are rare, vanilla or otherwise. But they are out there. You can figure out what things suggest mutual physical chemistry in paper or in conversation, but there's no substitute for making out.

What I'm saying is don't expect everyone to be great for you – they won't be – but do give yourself a chance to meet people and figure out what leads to a great match, and be very ok saying no and passing on someone early on if you're not feeling it with them.

If you can do that, then you'll have a better chance of meeting people for mutually fun times.
posted by zippy at 9:20 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

I divorced my first husband for non-sexual reasons. He had no porn hangups or much porn experience, no erectile dysfunction, very few and minor emotional hangups about sex, no weird kinks. He had a nice package too, which didn’t hurt. He was always ready to go, enthusiastic, and good. His libido matched mine.

I am going to be honest, it was a very difficult decision to leave and had his family not made my life unbearable, I would have stayed and just worked on our other issues.

My second husband is a much more emotionally/lifestyle compatible match and is still very good in bed, but he is not as athletic and doesn’t have the easy, natural sex drive of my first.
posted by stockpuppet at 9:44 AM on February 11

As others have noted, it's a bit of an impossible question without knowing what the reasons why you want to leave, but then again if they're enough to give up great sexual chemistry, I'll trust that they are indeed dealbreakers. I separated from my now-ex-husband almost five years ago for very good reasons that included a dead bedroom. The first guy I was with after separation was ultimately an unhealthy choice *but* the sexual compatibility was good, and awakened a part of me that I kinda thought was gone. I later joined Bumble, and have found an amazing partner that is literally all of what you describe as well as a great match in other ways. We are both in our late 40s, are now three years into our relationship, and somehow the sex keeps getting better. I know I'm lucky, but I can assure you that those men *are* out there, but it will probably take some time and good communication to find another diamond in the rough.
posted by Molasses808 at 11:45 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I think going deeper on what it is you like most about this partner’s approach to intimacy and how you might communicate these desires to a future partner ups the odds of finding that again. Read “Come as You Are.” It may help you find the language to express what you like and don’t like. If you feel like that book vibes with you, might even be a shorthand litmus test for whether a future sexual partner is going to be right for you. Have they read it? If not, would they?
posted by amanda at 1:29 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I’m at the bottom of your named range. In my experience I’ve had lots of good, sexy, interesting lovers including my now husband. (Not to say every relationship was perfect.) Not to oversimplify, but being clear up front about what you want and not tolerating sexual selfishness goes a long ways. Best of luck!
posted by jeszac at 3:18 PM on February 11

How often have you encountered in the wild men who are loving in foreplay, generous and talented when giving oral sex, skilled and passionate at intercourse, and are definitely not into degradation, anal sex, porny gymnastics, etc.? Age range 45-65, I guess.

A lot, actually! I am early 50s and have slept with more than 25 men in that age range in the past handful of years, some of them enough to have a sense of them as lovers over a longer term. And many of them have been wonderful lovers. I've had a lot of great sex. Maybe some of this will be useful for you to know:

I am a feminist, and I always put that in my dating apps (where I've mostly met these men). Sometimes I say I'm sex positive. Sex is important to me, and I've always prioritized it in dating. Dating men who are into dating feminists means, I think, that these are men who have at least spent some time thinking about gender roles and so on. I'd walk away from a date where this wasn't a shared value. So I don't exactly mean to say that feminist men, or men who like feminist women, will always be better lovers. But it helps to be with someone who is willing to consider gender dynamics in sex and prioritize your pleasure.

Also, a lot of it is the interpersonal connection you have with the person (which I'm guessing you still have with your current partner even as you struggle to figure out the relationship). As one example: a few years ago, I dated someone for several months who I regarded as the best lover of my life. He was generous, giving, skilled, etc. I was also newly separated and wild about him, and I was worried I'd never have sex like that again. A couple of years later, we had sex again, and it was fine. Not bad, but I realized that some of the great sex between us was also related to what was going on in my head at the time. After having had sex with a few more folks, sex with him felt fun but not spectacular. I now think that the connection between us was part chemistry, part him being an enthusiastic lover, and a big part us both being in the right moment to find that with each other.

Some of the men I've dated are into some kinks, but nothing extreme, and I've never been or felt degraded. That's not been part of my sex life at all, and I've never had a lover spring that on me unexpectedly.

Also, while I did sleep with a fair number of men when I was younger, I do think the quality of sex is much higher now than when I was young. We are all more comfortable with our bodies and with sex and we know better what feels good. So if you are comparing a recent lover to experiences you had as a young woman, it maybe that some of this is maturity.

Are you a generous lover, excited about your partner and his pleasure? Then I think you will be able to find the same. Just make sure to prioritize sexual connection; don't stay with men who aren't excited about making you feel good, who aren't curious about what makes you tick.

(And, fyi, many serial monogamists find that non-monogamy is a really great match. I know that sleeping regularly with a few different men over several months gave me insight into how you can have really fun and good sex with different people that's very different from what you experience with the other person.)
posted by woolsocks at 8:10 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Let's zoom out a little. There are 2 people in the relationship you describe. How rare are you? Did you set boundaries, express your needs and emotions, and work on communication? If you can do those things you may be more likely to end up in a relationship that works for you. And you have the added plus of knowing what criteria yo screen for.
posted by KMH at 11:05 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Good sex is something you can communicate, and educate, with a partner not just to a partner. It can also be a part of your up-front process with a potential partner instead of something that comes up eventually.

It's not a lottery ticket or other unicorn. Be glad that you know now what you like in enough detail to know to ask for it. Who knows what else there is to learn, you know?

I'm a gay man and FYI I'm pretty insistent in my partner selection these days. I spend a lot more time without one, but good riddance—I also have no interest in going back to that porn-addled brain that so much of the larger gay culture doesn't just tolerate but celebrates. I would never, ever consider the great sex I had with my ex-husband again if it were to come along with the baggage I left behind when we split. That's easier to see with some distance between me and the end of that relationship. I expect you might feel the same in the not-too-distant future.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:53 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

From my perspective as a man, giving good sex is being able to say
"I watched your body,
and did more of what she reacted positively to
and less of what she reacted negatively to"

Some things that have helped:
+ Underatanding women's bodies better with Books like She Comes First and Come as You Are (the second is written by a woman for women)
+ Exploring my own sexuality and sensuality - maybe classes in bdsm, shibari, tantra, watching a sex-positive series like Goop Lab on netflix)
+ Being with women who communicate both what turns them on and what helps them to feel safe and comfortable
+ Generally working on my communication skills, emotions, and empathy (Nonviolent communication)

Notice that only half of this is actually about sex and a lot more is about empathy and communication.

If your partner is willing to engage join you in the above, your sex life will probably improve.
posted by jander03 at 7:45 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I am 50 and usually date people about the same age as me. I found what you were looking for fairly easily until I was 35 or so, and then it got harder- I think because fewer of the men who were considerate in bed were single. I still find enough who are good in bed without too much difficulty, in part because when I meet people online, I make it clear I'm a feminist, expect oral sex, and am "a big fan of vanilla."

However, I have a lot more difficulty finding men who are good partners outside of bed. It takes a lot more time and effort and long stretches of being single while looking.

So if you're primarily looking for good sex, odds are in your favor. If you're primarily looking for a serious relationship with a man in that age range, that might be more challenging.
posted by metasarah at 8:03 AM on February 12

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