I’m not one to shy away from a difficult conversation (Picture: Almara Abgarian)
Lying in bed with a new lover, there was just one thought in my mind: ‘Why is he jabbing at my vagina like that?’
The man in question – let’s call him Elias, though that is not his real name – was trying very hard to give me pleasure, but his fingers were nowhere near my clitoris, which is what I think he was aiming for.
Meanwhile, he also kept trying to pop a finger in my mouth in a sexy way… but there was a bizarre smell of garlic on his hands from cooking dinner that was very off-putting.
This odd foreplay went on for a few minutes and I hoped things would improve.
When Elias started moving towards my vagina with his tongue – missing every pleasure point in his path – I knew it was time to say something.
Before I go on about this unfortunate sexual experience, let’s talk about women’s pleasure.
Dear reader, it’s time to lift the veil on what some people claim is the universe’s biggest mystery: how to please a woman.
(Side bar: it’s not a mystery, a lot of men are just not used to having to figure this out, but we’ll work through this together).
Given how long women’s enjoyment has been overlooked and ignored, I can understand why some may feel hesitant in saying ‘Hey, that’s not working for me’.
But this stops today.
Interestingly, I’ve never had a bad reaction from a lover when sharing my thoughts (Picture: Almara Abgarian)
First, let me finish my story.
Elias cared about my pleasure. I could tell that he wanted to make me orgasm, he just didn’t know how to execute this result.
I’m not one to shy away from a difficult conversation. So I asked him to stop, which he immediately did, and then gently explained how I’d like to be touched, moving his hands with mine to share what rhythm and pressure to use.
Far from being offended, Elias was excited.
The foreplay (and later, sex) only improved marginally. But I salute him for his attitude and effort.
Our romance didn’t work out but we’re actually friends now and recently had a good laugh about what happened, with Elias thanking me for being honest.
I have countless female friends who have shared tales of similar encounters but many of them don’t feel comfortable telling a sexual partner what they want – out of fear and embarrassment or to avoid hurting the other person’s ego.
Some just don’t want to ruin the mood and by proxy, ruin their own good time.
Interestingly, I’ve never had a bad reaction from a lover when sharing my thoughts. If anything, most of them appear relieved.
It can be hard to share feedback in a situation where you are both naked and vulnerable, so focus on what you like versus what you don’t
Some former dates have told me it’s sexy when a woman is vocal about her needs. And it’s also helpful because it removes unnecessary guesswork and prevents any anxiety that these men have about not being able to perform.
Just for the record, while I’m a sex columnist, I’m not implying that I’m great in bed (I’d like to think I’m good but I’ll let my sexual partners mull that one over).
I am however very open about my needs and I think we all should be.
But I also understand why people are afraid of speaking up, because once upon a time, I was too.
One particular experience sticks out in my mind. I was in my mid-20s and had gone home to my date’s house after a few drinks at the pub. We ended up having sex and it wasn’t my cup of tea at all.
He was too preoccupied with his own pleasure and didn’t really notice that I wasn’t enjoying myself. Afterwards, I felt awkward and uncomfortable.
We didn’t talk about the sex and we never saw each other again.
From then on, I promised myself I’d always speak up.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (Picture: Almara Abgarian)
But not all women feel able to do this and I don’t blame them.
I’m a feminist and believe in equality, but let’s be real – history and research shows that women are unlikely to tell their sexual partner what they want.
From a young age, we’re conditioned to put our (male) partner first, to be the ‘caring’ half of a couple and all that patriarchal jazz that we’re yet to put behind us.
I hope that one day this will no longer be the case.
But until then, I have one key message for any man reading this column: please, take notice.
Figures differ depending on the study you choose but in general, it is often believed that roughly 70-90% of communication can be non-verbal, so try to pick up on the cues your partner is giving out.
And if you’re not sure how to proceed, ask questions.
Even better, check in with your partner. Just because a woman’s not saying anything, it doesn’t mean she’s enjoying it. So ask her if she’s having a good time and make it clear you’re open to feedback if not.
For anyone on the other end of the coin, here’s a top tip: I know it can be hard to share feedback in a situation where you are both naked and vulnerable, so my advice is to focus on what you like versus what you don’t.
All bodies are different and it can take time to figure out what makes the other person tick.
If you were hoping for a playbook on how to pleasure a woman, I’m sorry to disappoint, because there is none.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be the greatest unsolved mystery of all time. The only secret to good sex is talking, being open to learning new tricks and repetition.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.