What to do when first time sex with a new partner goes badly

A mediocre first time isn't the end of the road

‘ The early days of dating, before you sleep together for the first time, are incredibly exciting, which is possibly why all the sex advice you’ll ever read is about trying to ‘recapture that first time feeling.’ So if you have your ‘first time’ with someone you really like and it was anything but amazing, what do you do?

NB: We’re working on the basis that you do really like the person you’ve been with. If you’re not that into them, it’s the work of a moment to send them a polite but firm blow-off text and get back on Tinder.

But if you did like them? Well, to start with, you’re allowed to feel disappointed. If the spark is there in person, and you were excited about being together for the first time, it can feel like a massive disappointment.

But all is not lost.

Did you do a brilliant job the first time you drove a car? Or cooked a meal? Probably not. And sometimes these things just need a little finesse before you get them right.

Why was it bad?

The first thing you need to work out is why the sex was bad, because if you don’t know what the problem was, you can’t fix it. It’s perfectly normal for the first time to be underwhelming, explains sexpert Caroline Kent: ‘Whilst we expect to take time to gradually develop an understanding of someone’s personality through conversations, we’re often impatient when it comes to getting to know each other’s bodies, and don’t allow space and time to develop the physical side of things.’

The most likely culprit is alcohol, as Caroline explains, ‘ plenty of people really physically and mentally struggle to orgasm if they’re tipsy, so bare in mind that you are probably desensitizing yourself and whilst alcohol might make you more comfortable about hanging out naked, you probably won’t feel fireworks.’

So whilst large quantities of Pinot Grigio are, arguably, more likely to get you into bed, sadly it’s also likely to screw things up once you’re there. Alcohol dulls your senses, meaning that you’re less likely to orgasm and all the enjoyment you might be feeling is muffled. On top of that, it makes you less perceptive, making it harder to read your new partner’s signals. So if you want to have a better time during round two, maybe lay off the sauce.

If you were both dead sober then there’s still a lot of easily solved issues that might be causing problems. Nerves and self-consciousness can make it difficult for him to get hard and for you to orgasm so work on feeling as comfortable as possible with each other.

Does your other half know it was bad?

Another thing you need to ascertain pretty sharpish: If the person you slept with thinks that the sex was brilliant, then you’re looking at a bit more of an uphill battle. But realistically if you had a rubbish time, the chances are he did too and he’s just being too polite/painfully British to say anything. Even if he doesn’t know, if you like him and you want to give the relationship a chance of succeeding, I’m afraid to say that honesty is the only policy.

Bad sex doesn’t really reflect on the person you slept with, depending on their attitude towards it, says Caroline. ‘If they pounded away, focused on their own satisfaction with no regard for your enjoyment? That’s inexcusable. It’s immature and you deserve better. Enthusiastic yet clumsy? That’s something you can work with, if you like them enough to invest the time in it.’

The language that you use is important. Staring sentences with ‘I feel’ and ‘For me’ rather than ‘You didn’t’ or ‘You should have’ is a bit of a therapy thing, but it genuinely works wonders. ‘I didn’t feel that last night really worked for me’ is an easy opener, and leaves room for your partner to agree.

What was wrong?

Did you not orgasm? Did he realise that you didn’t orgasm? And most importantly, was he bothered that you didn’t orgasm? A guy’s attitude to your orgasm is very telling, it belies his attitude to all sorts of other things. If he didn’t notice, or didn’t seem to care, that’s not a good sign. If he tried but wasn’t quite getting it? Easy to fix.

The best way to teach someone how to make you come is to let them watch how you masturbate. It sounds pretty daunting, but it’s certainly the most efficient way to cut to the chase and it doesn’t have to be embarrassing. If that’s not on the cards, telling them or writing it down is a great way too.

Everyone’s bodies are different and chances are you like something different from his last partner. Also, bear in mind that penetrative sex is about angles and how your bodies fit together – something that can take some experimentation to get right. As long as he’s willing to learn, there’s nothing wrong with having to do some teaching.

How does he respond to the discussion?

Having a discussion with someone about how little you enjoyed sleeping with them is never going to be much fun. But it’s brave, and it’s necessary if you’re going to have a fulfilling relationship, as Caroline explains:

‘What is not OK is pretending you enjoyed it because it’s too awkward to admit that you didn’t. Sex is not a race to orgasm! Be patient and chill out about the fact that you didn’t cum straight away; our bodies (our genitals in particular) are complex things and they take a while to become well acquainted with. Didn’t have an orgasm the first time? Welcome to the club. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have great sex with them, it simply means you should invest more time in getting to know what makes each other tick.’

Your partner owes you a respectful, understanding response. If they have a go at you, blame you or tell you that their previous girlfriend never complained? That’s a really, really bad sign. It’s okay if he’s a bit hurt, as long as he’s upset about the fact you didn’t enjoy it, rather than feeling his manly pride has been hurt.

Caroline suggests that this discussion could actually be a positive thing, giving you the chance to work out how you two might deal with difficult conversations if your relationship did progress. ‘This can be a good indication of how they deal with communicating about tough issues in general. Did they clam up? Blame you? Get ready to see a similar reaction if it ever comes time to talk about other intimate issues like money and commitment.’

Practice makes perfect

Having sex for the second time when you’ve acknowledged that the first time wasn’t great, will be nerve-wracking. The pressure is on. But those nerves can really help – they’re showing that you’re excited and invested. Every piece of sex advice ever written tells you to spend a long time on foreplay, that’s because it’s so important. The longer the build up, the more you want each other and the better the sex will be.

It might not go from rubbish to earth shattering, world changing-ly amazing over night. That’s the honest truth. But if you’re both willing to work at it, to listen to each other’s wants and needs and to learn? Then it will get better, and eventually it will be great.

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