I've said it before and I'll say it again: The struggle, is very, very, very, very, very, VERY f*cking real when it comes to S-E-X.
Sex presents a number of struggles: condoms breaking; the pending possibility of potential hurt feelings; embarrassing sounds and smells. And, of course, there's the slew of all-consuming insecurities.
“I don't know if I'm a good lover!” my close friend Leah* said to me about five years ago. It was Christmas Eve and we were tucked away on my parents' freezing back porch, our cold bodies nestled beneath fleece blankets, our young crazy eyes gazing out into the starless sky.
Leah took a sip of her coffee and soulfully lit a Marlboro Light. I watched her suck back the gray smoke and spiral into a dark vortex of shame.
“I just think that's the worst reputation. Don't you? I mean, I f*cked Tom and Jeff and Mike -- God, I'm a whore -- but besides that fun fact, what if they're all talking about how BAD I am in bed, Z? I bet they're all talking right no—"
“Leah, I'm sure they aren't talking about how bad you are in bed, girl. And come on, it's 2011. Don't slut-shame yourself. That's SO 2007. GET OVER IT.” I was raised never to cut a woman off when she's upset, but Leah was really getting on my damn nerves. What the hell was she talking about?
“Z, you've never worried about your 'sexual performance'? Do lesbians not worry about these things? God, I wish I were gay. You bitches have it so much easier.”
I rolled my eyes. Leah could be really thick for a girl with a master's degree in biology. "You're spiraling. And yes, even glamorous gays worry about their sexual performance."
“You do?” Her eyes were desperate and earnest.
“Come to think of it, yes.”
To be fair, I hadn't really thought about my performance anxiety in a long time. And truth be told, the whole concept was a little bit jarring. Gay or straight, my best friends and I were definitely guilty of gossiping about our sex partners' sex skills (or lack thereof).
My friend Mel* once complained about a girl who went down on her for 20 minutes and STILL couldn't make her cum. Another friend, Sarah*, confessed to me on the subway that her boyfriend Mike* just couldn't get it up. Suzy*, still clad in eye makeup from the night before, complained over Sunday brunch that her hookup buddy Reed* f*cked her like a bunny rabbit.
And after finally sleeping with the girl I'd been dating for several weeks, I couldn't help but complain about how she clawed at my body like a horny 14-year-old boy. I wanted to sleep with a woman, NOT a horny 14-year-old BOY.
But I was still flummoxed. “What exactly does it even mean to be a GOOD lover?” I pondered out loud.
“Girl, why you asking me? I'm the one who probably sucks," Leah said. She looked small and defeated and vulnerable bundled up in the thick, plaid blanket, her pale skin dramatically juxtaposed against the black midnight sky.
She was a striking girl, that Leah. She had massive almond eyes set off by luscious lashes, perfectly arched brows and skin cut from porcelain. If she was insecure about sex, how was I supposed to feel? (I know, I know, it's about HER, and I'm making it about ME. It's called narcissism, babes).
Later that week, I decided I was going to get the bottom (er -- top?) of this. I met up with my oldest friend, Kate*, for a drink. Kate is a Wall Street banker, but she's also a raging sex goddess. She's one of those girls who just exude confidence and ooze sexuality. Both men and women become wildly intoxicated by her sexual prowess after minutes of meeting her. With her oversized pillowy lips and soft bedroom eyes, it's hard NOT to become turned on in her presence. Her vagina enters the room before she does, if you know what I mean.
I took a deep breath and slugged back my wine. “Kate, what makes someone a good lover?" I asked, staring into her ice-blue eyes.
“Ha, babe. That's easy.” She took a confident sip of her champagne (compliments of the men at the table to the right) and leaned back against the bar. She had no makeup on, and her black leather pants fit like a glove. Girl had f*cking swag.
“Well, tell me," I said. "Leah is, like, totally freaking out that maybe she's not a good lover and I want to help her." I was fully aware that I was throwing Leah under the bus and projecting my own insecurities on her, but whatever.
“Enthusiasm,” Kate replied, her whiskey voice raspy and deadpan.
“En-f*cking-thu-siasm,” Kate purred. A chick with an undercut and upper-arm tattoo shamelessly checked her out.
Later that evening, I was lying on my sofa thinking about KATE and SEX and ENTHUSIASM. As I gazed into the static screen of my television, I had a ground-breaking epiphany: Of course Kate was right. The key to being a good lover was simply being an enthusiastic lover.
I thought back to all the sex I'd had throughout the past couple of years. Did I even f*cking notice if someone did or didn't have a perfect body? No. Did I notice if someone wasn't amazingly skilled or experienced? No. The most memorable, mind-blowing sex I'd ever had was passionate sex. It was sex that resulted from my partner being excited about f*cking me. It was from my partner telling me I was sexy and making me feel confident. There were loud sounds, dramatic moans, pulling of the hair, irrepressible screams of PLEASURE.
It was a major life realization. I can't tell you the amount of times sex was ruined for me because I didn't feel “pretty enough" -- the number of times I felt self-conscious and pulled out of the moment because I didn't think I was “perfectly groomed” or “skinny” or “sexy." When I phoned it in because I felt insecure.
What a waste of goddamn time and energy!
Kittens, now that I'm almost 30 (two days, bitches! This is actually the last article of my 20s, so drink it UP), it's become increasingly apparent that perfection isn't a real thing. Even if we're the perfect size, with perfectly blow-dried hair and fresh eyelash extensions, we're going to feel imperfect. Despite our great efforts, we're all just going to have days where we feel unsexy or gross or fat or ugly.
And guess what? It's going to shatter our confidence and make us feel insecure about sex. But get the f*ck over it. As long as you're an enthusiastic lover, you're an amazing lover. As long as you go for it and make your partner feel like a f*cking rockstar, you're going to be a great lover. As long as you aren't half-assed -- as long as you invest more energy into being INTO IT rather than worrying about what you look like -- you will always be known as a kick-ass, incredible, GORGEOUS LOVER.
So to all my kittens, babes, vixens and virgins, just throw em' a little moan, tell em' they're hot as f*ck and be widly enthusiastic, and you'll always be fab at f*cking.
Happy weekend SEX. I love you. (Really, I do).