6 Signs You're a Bad Lover

Medically Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on August 30, 2013
From the WebMD Archives

Even good lovers can fall into bad habits sometimes. These six habits may signal that you're missing out, when you could be blissing out, during sex. Changing them can get your sex life humming again.

You Don't Like Your Lover to Offer Tips

It's key to tell your lover what you like or want sexually. But people often ignore an "elephant in the room" -- an unspoken problem, preference, or dislike. The longer you avoid it, the bigger impact it will have.

Why do lovers avoid honesty? "They worry the other person will think they're a freak or will start to cry or feel criticized," says Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD. She is a psychiatrist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine who specializes in sex therapy.

Fix: "Be open to your lover's suggestions," she says. Listen and respect their ideas instead of getting mad or upset.

Castellanos suggests checking in every 6 months or so, because sexuality evolves over time. Ask yourselves: Are we happy with our sex life? What should we add to it? Is there a big deal out there we haven't talked about?

You're a Distracted Lover

That's not you, reaching across the sheets to check your smartphone, is it? A sign of good sex is being totally in the moment -- mind and body.

"It's important to set a scene that's non-interruptive," says Pepper Schwartz, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

Fix: "Don't leave your phone on. Don't check email. Don’t send texts. Don't be a mommy who won't lock the door," Schwartz says. If your mind wanders, zero in on how you're being touched or refocus on your breathing.

You Don't Give and Take

Is your orgasm your only goal? Do you like to receive oral sex but not give it? (Or vice-versa?)

It's one thing if you and your partner don't need everything in bed to be equal. "Not everyone likes oral sex, for example," Castellanos says. "But if you're not doing something because you can't be bothered or are selfish, that's more problematic."

Fix: It's best to give and to receive. "Sexual pleasure requires balancing selfishness with unselfish giving," she says.

You Make Love on Automatic Pilot

Ready, set: kiss, touch here, stroke there, get in position...

If your lover can predict your every move, you may both be missing out.

"Couples fall into a script pretty quick. They know what works," says certified sexuality counselor and author Ian Kerner. "Comfort sex," as he calls it, can be great. But a too-steady menu can spell boredom, which makes it hard to get aroused.

Fix: Freshen up your sex menu. Your brain loves new things. "You can get to your usual script eventually, but for the first third of sex play, start with something more exciting," Kerner says. He suggests using sex toys, role playing, talking dirty to each other, or trying new positions.

You Don't Guide Your Lover

If you're totally still and silent, your partner can't get much sense of what pleases you or whether they're on the right track. "Being a good lover is being a good communicator," Kerner says.

Fix: Use your words, your sounds, and your movements to help your partner know what you'd like more or less of. Let yourself moan or sigh. Let your hips move.

Your Ideas of Good Sex Are Based on Porn

Worried your breasts aren't "pretty" enough? Or your penis isn't big enough? Or your partner isn't having a "real" orgasm if she doesn't moan loudly? More and more, sex therapists say that people are asking, "What's wrong with me?" based on what they've seen in pornography magazines or videos.

"A lot of people come in thinking their relationship or their physical responses or their bodies aren't normal," Castellanos says. "But they are. They just think they're not because they compare it to what's not normal."

That anxiety makes it hard to get aroused and enjoy sex. It puts useless pressure on you both.

Fix: Porn can put you in the mood or teach you new techniques, sex experts say. But define good sex by what's happening in your own bed. Explore your partner. Get to know their body, breathing, and muscle tension. The more you relax and see what works for each other, the more you'll naturally develop a great sex life.

The question shouldn't be, "Am I normal?" But instead, "Are my partner and I having a good time?"

Show Sources


Madeline M. Castellanos, MD, sex therapist; assistant professor of psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.

Ian Kerner, certified sex counselor, New York, NY; author, She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, Harper Collins, 2010.

Pepper Schwartz, PhD, professor of sociology, University of Washington, Seattle; co-author, The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship, Harmony, 2013.

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