Sex columnist Nadia Bokody argues the solution to your sexual dilemma is more obvious than you might think.
Earlier this week, I did a radio segment where I took a call from a woman who wanted to know how to find out her boyfriend’s turn-ons.
Each time I answer a question like this on-air, I warn listeners they’re about to be horribly disappointed – and not just because I have neither the face nor the voice for radio.
I make this disclaimer to prepare them for the fact I won’t be delivering the answer they’re after.
Anyone who reads this column regularly knows I’m not a doctor or a therapist, and my sex life is far from aspirational.
Like a lot of women, I’ve struggled to reach orgasm with a partner, battle bedroom insecurities, and have had plenty of bad sex.
It also took decades of writing about bonking men to realise I was a lesbian (and yes, I talk about it a lot now, because I wish someone had talked about it when I was growing up).
My work is and has always been an ode to the everyday woman, and a channel for normalising discussions about sex in all its messy, confronting glory.
Even still, each week people ask me to fix what’s gone awry in their intimate lives.
And if fielding their questions has taught me anything, it’s that most of us are terrified of talking to our own partners about what we want in the bedroom.
We’d sooner confess our insecurities to a stranger on-air in the hopes of being handed a sexual silver bullet, than merely turn to our SO and ask, “Can we talk about our sex life?”
It’s not entirely dissimilar to the psychology of impulse-buying an Ab Destroyer after you’ve had one too many wines watching late-night infomercials.
Deep down, you know it isn’t going to make you look like the model in the ad and will almost certainly end up collecting dust under the bed, but the promise of a flat stomach in just 20 minutes a day, three times a week, holds far more appeal than the gruelling exercise and diet regimen required to achieve visible abs.
Our culture doesn’t teach us to wade through the discomfort and say and do the hard things. We’re encouraged to outsource, numb and ignore our issues.
I don’t tell people how to be better in bed, because there is no linear route to mutually satisfying sex.
Incidentally, infomercials spruiking diet pills and fitness machines don’t tell us that, even with the strictest calorie intake and most religious exercise, most of us will never look like the models in the ads, because our genes play a far bigger role in what size we are than they’d like us to believe.
In sex too, there is no one-size-fits-all archetype for pleasure. What drives one person wild may bore another senseless. A cookie cutter approach to getting off is a sure-fire recipe for disappointment and feelings of defectiveness.
I’m not interested in telling people what to do or making them feel as though their love lives don’t stack up.
I started writing this column to dismantle the unrelatable sex advice I spent most of my twenties consuming, convinced I was broken.
But I’m also not going to provide a glossy sound bite because it’s what people want to hear.
My answer to the question I got on-air this week was the same one I give in response to most of the questions I get, and that was to suggest the listener talk to her partner.
It doesn’t make for particularly sexy or entertaining radio, and I may be selling myself out of a column here, but I can’t solve anyone’s sexual issues. And as long as you continue to avoid addressing them with the person you share a bed with, you won’t be able to either.
So do the awkward, hard thing, and communicate what you need. You can’t shortcut to better sex any more than you can fast-track abs. Meaningful change is the result of wading through discomfort over and over again, until you break new ground.
Though, it should be acknowledged, no one’s eulogy ever included the words, “She’ll be forever remembered for her flawless six-pack.” So, you know, choose your discomfort wisely.