Not every sex session is dynamite. Sometimes the position isn’t as hot as you thought it would be. Or you can’t stop worrying if you’re sporting a double chin from that angle.
If this happens now and then, it’s no biggie – we all have off days (and nights).
But if you constantly find it hard to keep your head in the game, it may not entirely be your fault. Sometimes it’s not you – it really is him. A study from the University of Kent found that women who think their boyfriends are too much of a perfectionist in bed find it hard to relax and enjoy making love.
Before you say “Duh!”, let’s look at the study because it has some insights that are relevant to us in a kiasu (afraid to lose) society such as Singapore.
Researchers got 366 straight women aged under 30 to do a survey about their own sexual expectations and beliefs, and the beliefs of their partners. They were also asked if they felt they or their partners were perfectionists, and whether these perfectionist traits affected their enjoyment in bed.
Researchers organised the responses into four types of perfectionists.
A self-oriented perfectionist: You feel you must be “the best” at sex, so you sometimes give yourself a hard time if you’re “not good” at a certain move, for example.
A partner-oriented perfectionist: You feel your partner expects you to be perfect in bed. He may not have said anything – in fact, he may think you’re a total babe. So the problem is possibly mainly in your own head.
A partner-prescribed perfectionist: Your partner is a perfectionist about sex and he makes it clear you need to act in a certain way in bed, and look a certain way.
A socially prescribed perfectionist: You feel pressure from society to act in a certain way. For example, “nice girls never make the first move in bed”.
It’s not you… it’s him
Now comes the interesting part: Researchers found that the women who felt their partners were perfectionists when it comes to sex had also tended to have a bad time in bed. They were also more inclined to have a low opinion of their own sexual skills and felt more anxious about sex.
And because they felt judged all the time, these women also had a very hard time getting aroused in bed. It makes sense – how can you relax and enjoy yourself if you feel you are taking a sex exam – and failing?
Signs your man is a sexual perfectionist
So how can you tell if your man is just kiasu… or a sexual perfectionist? You might be sleeping with a sexual perfectionist if your man often acts like this:
He has a strong view of how sex “should” happen
For example, he always wants things done in the same order. He might say some moves are not allowed, like “You should not need to touch yourself. I should be enough.”
He is pre-occupied with having his orgasm – and yours
For example he feels you “should” always have an orgasm when he does x or y, because that is how “normal women” react. Or he says things like “You take too long to come.”
He is critical about what you do in bed
To fix it, he gives lots of instructions during sex, as if he is your sports coach. The key here is that he’s not moaning words of encouragement like “yes baby, like that…” Instead, it feels more like he is coaching you. For example: “No, not like that. That’s wrong. And where is your enthusiasm?”
He is easily disappointed when things don’t go his way in bed
And he makes it clear you are the one who is to blame. For example, he might say, “If you lost some weight, it would be better for me.”
He is more concerned about “doing” sex than “feeling” it
So you often feel distant during sex or find your mind wandering. You are often worried and scared to relax and you find the emotional experience unsatisfying. Afterwards you often feel anxious or sad or angry.
He does not listen if you give feedback
Or he gets so angry or sulky that you gradually start to wonder if you are wrong to feel the way you do?
So now what?
What can you do about it? You can choose to show him out the door but let’s assume you love this guy and want to keep trying. Then you have to speak up – but be smart about it. A sexual perfectionist is afraid of being vulnerable, so you need to tread carefully. Be generous with praise and say you love how enthusiastic he is about sex, but you feel it would be even better if you were a little more relaxed together.
Maybe he is so controlling because he’s terrified that you will dump him if he doesn’t meet some incredibly high standards. Maybe he’s worried that his skills are not up to par so he over-compensates.
Whatever the reason, keep trying to make him a little less judgmental and free-spirited in bed and see if there’s a thaw in his attitude.
Because in the end, only you can decide if this sexual relationship is worth saving.
By Tara Barker, Cleo, 5 April 2016