(The Root) —
"This is a weird question, but how do I get better at sex? My boyfriend is much older than me and way more experienced. I don't have any complaints about him, and no one's said I'm bad at it before. He hasn't said anything, but I get the feeling that it's just OK. I want our sex life to be great. I tried to watch porn to get some ideas and new techniques, but it turns me off. Is there any way to get better at sex?" —Y.R.
Actually, it's not a weird question, and I wish more people would take an active interest in improving their sex lives, to please their partners and themselves. In a survey for CommitmentNow.com, 52 percent of Americans reported that they were unhappy with their sex lives. I hope they, like you, are being proactive in addressing that concern.
Sex isn't everything in a relationship, but if you're having it, it should be good. And if it's not, it's worth working on to make it so. Life is too short to have bad, or mediocre, sex.
Start by communicating with your partner that you want to step up your game when it comes to sex. There's an implicit promise there that you're willing to have more sex and try new things, which should go over marvelously.
Before you rush to the bedroom, talk to each other about your likes and dislikes and fantasies that you would like each other to fulfill. Remember to keep the conversation positive: "I really like it when you do X" or "Y drives me wild" will go over better than "I hate it when you XYZ." This is an opportunity for improvement, not criticism.
Of course, there's a difference between theory and application. So once your partner fills you in on what he likes and you've done the same, set a date and time — the sooner the better — to put your newfound information to good use. Things may not improve immediately, but a willingness to please is half the battle. Keep up the practice and the enthusiasm, and you'll have your ideal sex life sooner rather than later.
I realize that not everyone is comfortable talking about sex, even with the person with whom they are having it. If the idea of talking frankly with your partner about your sex life is unfathomable, you still have some options.
In the bedroom — or wherever you and your partner like to get it on — ask your partner to be explicitly vocal about what he likes so you'll have cues about what works best for him. Use his verbal cues to figure out what he enjoys the most, and whatever that is, do it more often and with more enthusiasm. Ask him to take the same approach with you.
There's also an option that seems to baffle some people when I suggest it: Take a sex class. For anything else that people don't know, seeking instruction is a logical step, but when it comes to sex, some find it taboo. It shouldn't be.
A few months ago, I signed up for a class, "How to Have Better Sex," being held at one of my local sex shops. I did it partially because it was a work assignment — plus I was wildly curious about what went on there. Would it be like a junior high biology class that focused on how parts work, or would it get to the nitty-gritty of how parts are best pleasured?
Turns out the answer was both. The instructors quickly ran through the basics of anatomy so we all knew what there was to work with, where everything was located and which nerve endings were the most sensitive. Then they got into the tips and tricks of how to best please your partner (and/or yourself), which took up most of the class. It was well worth the price.
My only complaint about the class, which has nothing to do with the instruction, was the lack of men in attendance. Of the 30 or so participants, just two were men, who had shown up with their wives. Hopefully, men are finding ways to improve their performance — because sex is something at which both sexes should be striving to be better — in a more hands-on route and not just assuming they know it all.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.