What To Do When First-Time Sex Is Awkward

UPDATE: This post was originally published on March 19.
I just had sex for the first time with a guy I’ve been going out with for a while. It was...well, let’s just say it was inexplicably, catastrophically bad. I really like him, and I want to continue to see him, but I’m genuinely concerned that we may be doomed. Help!

Annie Roseman, Licensed Certified Social Worker
First, let me assure you that this is not a sign that your relationship is doomed! However, it is a sign that you are going to need to begin to create some really open lines of communication. If your sexual chemistry has any hope of improving, it’s not gonna happen by accident, so let’s map out a plan of attack.

First and foremost, you don’t want to hurt his feelings — or his ego — so choosing your words wisely is going to be of the utmost importance. Don’t judge or make generalizations that might him feel like he disappointed you; instead try laughing it off and telling him how nervous you were so it feels like you’re in this together. After all, he’s not totally to blame — it takes two to tango, even when it’s done terribly. Next, tell him what you did like or can’t wait to do again. Since you two are just getting started, I guarantee you that dirty talk will be better received than straight talk.
Sex and intimacy are such an important combination. Even though the relationship felt ready to consummate, you may need to work on being closer emotionally so the physical connection can be stronger. The first time for most people is awkward because you’re revealing yourself in a new way and as you’ve just learned, getting to know someone physically is much different than getting to know someone emotionally. So, even though Hollywood likes to tell us that two strangers should have crazy hot sex on the first try, don’t think of this as a deal-breaker. Here’s some tips to help you bounce back.
Try some sexual bonding (not bondage! Not yet! Unless you’re into that!) to help bring you closer. Draw out foreplay a little longer and really enjoy the process of figuring out each other’s bodies.
Have a conversation about compatibility. Both of you should share what you like and don't like and even explore each other’s fantasies. Make the learning experiment feel fun, and most importantly, safe. Careful wording ("I really liked this" or "Could we try that instead?") can set a tone that sounds like you're learning with him, not criticizing him. And, keep in mind that — after some extensive conversations — some people find they're not sexually compatible, and that's okay. Of course, this goes for all couples, hetero or not.
Lazy sex is severely underrated. Don’t think you have to get a blowout and stock up at La Perla to make magic. A little afternoon delight on a Netflix weekend can be just as intense as a Friday night free-for-all.
Ultimately, if you are compatible on all fronts, it'll just take time and effort to iron out this kink (pun totally intended), and this will be a distant and hilarious memory.

More from Sex & Relationships

R29 Original Series