It is nature's most frustrating law: with everything good must come something bad. Columbia's academics are excellent, but, let's face it, our athletics are sub-par. The Red Sox won the World Series; Kerry lost the election. My last lover was good in bed, but a moron in the realm of dating. Another before him was a sweetheart, but terrible in bed. Harsh, but true: sex is no exception to the law—it was created as a part of nature.
It would be annoying enough if bad sex were a one-time occurrence, but then it dares to rear its ugly head again. You tell yourself to be serious, it couldn't possibly happen once more—until it does.
How many kinds of bad sex are there? There are the obvious—short sex, tight or limp sex, "jackrabbit" sex—and then there are the more subtle—make-up sex, rebound sex, and the we're-gonna-fuck-until-we-both-come-even-though-it's-not-gonna-happen sex. Short sex has got to be the most awkward, and it doesn't help when he starts apologizing profusely, because you both already feel terrible enough.
Tight/limp sex (in layman's terms, when she's too tight, or he can't get it up, or both) comes in as a close second on the awkward scale. This is nothing short of mortifying for both parties involved: the culprit is ashamed, while the partner can't help but wonder what about his or her sexual expertise failed to arouse the other.
As for the "jackrabbit" technique, made infamous by an unfortunate tryst on Sex and the City, I am going to dare to be a bitch on this one: it is unacceptable. Even if it gets a woman off (which is rare), there is much more to the art of the sex then pumping up and down as fast as you can. Be honest with your lover about your inexperience, or go buy The Idiot's Guide to Sex; just don't pull the "jackrabbit" moves.
Learning to gauge the magnitude of make-up or rebound sex proves difficult: true, make-up sex can be amazing—if you've really resolved everything. More often than not you haven't, and the sex proves a poor substitute. Rebound lovers expect amazing sex with their new partners, only to find they are physically accustomed to their ex—you start nibbling an earlobe because it made your ex shiver in ecstasy only to realize after no response that you're with someone new. Rebound sex is equally bad for new lovers: even if they are lucky enough not to realize their "new" role and feel shitty about it, the sex is marred by their rebound lover's ex-tendencies.
One would expect it to be easier to gauge the we're-gonna-fuck-until-we-both-come-even-though-it's-not-gonna-happen sex; unfortunately it is our inability to make that judgment that results in this final kind of bad sex. After enough time he's going to go limp, and she's going to start to hurt. Let's face it: sometimes it's not going to happen. Save the sex while it's still good: stop ahead of schedule.
As a supposed sex-connoisseur extraordinaire, I have to ask myself: why the hell have I come up with not one, but six different classifications of bad sex? Why does it happens so often? Intoxication is certainly a factor—we might think we're amazing when we're drunk, but in reality we get carried away and just act sloppily. Long intervals between sexual pursuits don't help either: most adults our age are not having consistent sex with one partner and have no solid ground on which to learn. We get caught up in the anxiety of first times and the desire to please, ironically causing ourselves not to perform our best.
On the grand scheme of sexual things, how much does bad sex matter? There's no denying the damage factor of bad sex: I've seen it destroy everything from booty-call potential to friendships and relationships. Just as there's no easy way to tell a friend he or she has bad breath, there's no easy way to tell a lover that he or she could use some bedroom guidance. Is bad sex a problem in and of itself, or do we make it a problem? How many people believe they're good in bed because no one informed them otherwise? That said, is there a way in which we can communicate to our lovers about bad sex?
On the one hand, as the "victim," bad sex has very little to do with you: shortness, limp dick, tight dryness, and rebound tendencies are almost always a reflection of your lover. On the other hand, as the "victim," bad sex has everything to do with you: if you keep faking, your lover's only going to continue to do the "great" things he or she thinks he's doing. If you can't bring yourself to share your dirty secrets out loud, show him or her. Take the lead in bed and guide your lover. Avoid drunken sex until you both get it right.
It's awfully tempting to be dishonest, but bad sex will continue to invade our lives until we muster the courage to come clean. It's easier to hear it early on, before you or your lover feels embarrassed or angry, from a friend rather than from someone you love. You're bound to feel bad, but try to be kind, or take it for what it's worth and know that things can only get better. After all, who doesn't want to be a genius in the sack?
Miriam Datskovsky is a Barnard College sophomore. Sexplorations runs alternate Mondays.