Mind & Body

A sexpert’s guide to figuring out if you’re ‘good in bed’

According to two sexologists, here’s why we all need to say goodbye to the idea of being “good” in bed altogether.

Since the dawn of time (or so I imagine) sexually active folks have been consumed by their performance in bed. Cavepeople were probably walking around wondering whether Betty from next door ‘faked it’ and if Fred was really having as much fun as he said he was.

Did I just ruin the Flintstones for you? Sorry about that.

The point is, sex is important to many people, and as a result, we find ourselves obsessing over whether or not we might be “good” at it. It doesn’t take a sex expert to figure out that this kind of insecurity is probably impacting our enjoyment of the whole shebang. If you want to learn more about sex and your performance in the sack, however, a sexpert is exactly what you need. So, of course, I reached out to a couple.

According to sexologists Sarah Melancon (PhD) and Kassandra Mourikis, this is what you need to know:

To start, forget the idea of being “good” in bed.

“What?!” You ask. “The first step towards figuring out if you’re skilled in bed is to forget about it?”

Yes, friends. It really, really is. Think about it. What does the concept even mean?

Does good equal an orgasm? If so, an orgasm for whom? Does it equal connection? Safety? Communication?

People seek different things from their sexual encounters – which is absolutely normal – so there can’t be one universal definition of what “good” looks like.

There are, however, some pretty broadly held assumptions, still. Mourikis explained that “Often it [good sex] might mean sex that ends with ejaculation and orgasm; the ideal is simultaneously,” she said.

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.

Other common ideas, Mourikis shared, include “knowing what others want without having to ask,” “being very willing and open to requests” (despite your comfort own level), “being fully erect and well lubricated” and “lasting a long time”.

This list of descriptors is not only impractical (how many of you know how to mind-read?) it also puts pressure on people to fit a particular mould. Expecting great sex to look one way excludes the experiences of folks who are unable, or do not want to follow this dated set of guidelines.

Melancon explained that a fixation on the theoretical dos and don’ts of sex “can lead people – especially women – to ‘perform’ good sex instead of being in the moment and actually enjoying good sex”.

This performance, she shared, “is essentially sexual people-pleasing. It is engaging in sex acts to get your partner’s approval, rather than acting from your body’s true sense of desire”.

In this kind of setting, Melancon continued, it’s more likely that folks will develop feelings of anxiety, and they may struggle to voice their preferences.

In case it isn’t obvious already, let me put it plainly: there’s nothing fun about rote learning moves you don’t enjoy in an uncomfortable environment.

Instead, the question you should be asking is: are you present during sex?

This, both Mourikis and Melancon agree, is going to be the best indicator of how enjoyable a night in bed with you might be.

“Being ‘good in bed’ is about being in tune with your body’s desires and emotions and equally attuning to your partner’s,” Melancon said.

Everybody is going to have different desires, so your ability in the sack heavily rests on “clear communication, respect, authenticity, presence, consent and boundaries,” she continued.

According to Mourikis, we should do away with any kind of “sex script” we’ve come to learn and prioritise a more considered approach.

“The only way you can tell whether a partner is enjoying a sexual encounter is by checking in often and asking them how they feel, [or] whether what you’re doing together is enjoyable,” she said.

“Listen for verbal cues like moans and pay attention if they stop moving or slow down.”

Mindfully engaging in your sexual interactions is particularly beneficial because it’ll make you a more attentive lover, and it’ll help you to enjoy sex more, too.

“When you’re distracted or not focused on how sensations feel, you’re less likely to become aroused, [and] less likely to notice pleasure,” Mourikis said.

“To truly be good in bed, stop trying to be good,” Melancon added.

“Instead, learn to be in the moment and tune in more deeply to your and your partner’s desires.”

There’s no paint-by-numbers guide you need to follow here, guys. If you’re paying attention, communicating well, and treating everyone with respect, chances are you’re stellar in the bedroom. So, worry less and go have some fun!