Have you ever tasted something and needed a second taste to decide if you liked it or not?
I was recently out at a restaurant with a friend and we traded tastes of our food. While the initial sample of their entree was ok, I could tell that I needed a second taste to decide if I liked it or not. It was much more delicious the next time. Sometimes, we need a second try to figure out if it’s something we’d like more of. I think that’s really relevant to sex.
I’m not the only one who’s ever said that food is a lot like sex. It’s a pretty obvious comparison. For both of them, you never know what you’re going to like until you try it. You might be really hungry one day and not so hungry on another. And if two (or more) people are going to share a meal or sex, they need to be able to communicate around their limits, desires, and needs. I think I’d also add that sometimes, the second taste is better.
While this might seem like a trivial point, I can promise you that it isn’t. I’ve talked with thousands of people about their sex lives, their challenges, and their desires. I’ve seen how often people will try something new and if it doesn’t curl their toes immediately, decide that it’s not for them. But there are a lot of reasons it might not have worked. Perhaps that particular partner (if they were with one) didn’t know what they were doing. Maybe it was a kind of sex that often takes practice to make pleasurable, like anal sex. It’s possible that they weren’t in the right mood that time. It could be that the unfamiliarity of the new experience made it hard for them to relax into enjoying it. And it can be something as simple as needing one taste to clear your palate and a second one to appreciate the experience. With all of these possible reasons why a first time might not be full of fireworks, it makes sense to me that a second or even a third try might work out better.
I’ve been having this conversation a lot with the recent publication of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure. Plenty of men have been telling me that they tried prostate massage once, usually some time in the past, and that it wasn’t that much fun. When I ask them for more detail, they often tell me about partners who rushed things instead of helping them relax into it. Sometimes, they tell me about their concerns about discomfort and pain, or their worries about whether anal sex would affect their masculinity. These are among the most common concerns that men have, and they can get in the way of allowing themselves to enjoy something awesome. And plenty of women have told me about trying to combine prostate massage and blowjobs, but it’s tricky to coordinate. Or they share stories about awkward first pegging experiences that keep them from giving it another try. Of course, this kind of thing can happen with any kind of sex. I’m only hearing about it so often with respect to prostate play because of the book.
Just knowing that a first time might not work as expected or hoped can take a lot of the pressure off. I think its’ a great idea to go into your first time with an attitude of exploration and experimentation. You might have an amazing time, but you might not. If you can take the pressure off and let it be about the journey rather than the finish line, you can get a lot of good ideas for making the next time even better.
Any good scientist will tell you that an experiment’s success or failure doesn’t have anything whether you get the results you want or expect. An experiment is a success if it gives you information to let you move on to the next one. It’s much the same with sex. There’s often a learning curve and when you stress about not being suave or skilled, it can keep you from taking a chance. Let your partner know that you’re exploring something new instead of pretending a level of competence you don’t have yet. Ask them for feedback, during and afterward. Here are two good ways to do it:
During sex, try something and ask them to tell you to rate how good it feels on a scale of 1-10. That’ll help you calibrate things. Or try one thing for a minute and then switch to a second one. Next, ask them to tell you which one was more enjoyable. (It’s kind of like an eye exam. A or B.) If you need ideas for techniques to experiment with, check out a how-to website or book. Nobody is born knowing anything about sex, so we all have to learn it somewhere.
If you’d like to ask your partner for feedback after sex, here are three questions to ask that will help them give you useful and constructive information:
1) What did you enjoy about what we did?
2) What didn’t happen that you’d like to add next time? (or what didn’t happen that you would have liked to have happen?)
3) What would you have liked to have happened differently?
These questions focus on the actions, rather than the people, so they’re easier to answer and less likely to trigger difficult feelings. The information you get from them is usually more useful than a vague “how was that for you?” while still being general enough to let them decide what to share. And by starting with what worked well, it gets things rolling in a positive way, which sets a better tone for the conversation.
But even if you don’t get this kind of feedback, I think it’s still worth remembering that the second taste might be better. If there’s something you tried that didn’t work, consider giving it another shot. Of course, there are definitely times when a single sip is enough to tell you that it’s not something you want to try again. But there are also occasions when we need to keep an open mind for another try. You just might discover that it’s something delicious. And when it comes to sex, that’s what we’re aiming for, isn’t it?