Knowledge vs. Experience: What Makes Good Sex

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Reader’s Question

I’m 31 and I’m really concerned these days, because I want some peace of mind. I’ve been with my girlfriend for about four years. She’s a nice, shy girl. I love her, I care for her and I want the best for her life. We’re considering moving in together soon. So, it seems like a perfect relationship, but something’s upsetting me.

I’m anxious about her sexual past. I lost my virginity with her; she’s the one I wanted to do it with. Our first time went great. I knew I was not her first guy but it didn’t matter at that time. It didn’t matter for a long period of time, until now. From what she told me, she only had three boyfriends before me. I think she only had sex with the last one (but I’m not 100% sure about it; I hope he was the only one). The problem is that I started asking her details about her sexual life. It seemed fun and gave me some kind of arousal, but now it doesn’t. Sometimes I picture her having sex with another guy. I even asked her to tell me details while we were having sex, things like: “Where did you learn that?” or “At what age did you do this thing?” She said something like, “And what about you?” with a smile on her face.

I’ve tried to understand what’s bothering me. Her past is her past, I understand that. Call me selfish, but I wish I could’ve been her first and only lover, as she is for me. Maybe I am envious of her because she did it before me. Here’s another problem: she’s been a shy girl and she didn’t have great boyfriend experiences. My case is different. I had normal relationships and I started dating girls at a younger age, so my girlfriend thinks I’m an experienced man. She thinks I had sex with those girls and that I know a lot about sex, and that’s the reason I perform so well with her. That is far from the truth. I’m what you could call a sex geek: I’ve read a lot of articles, watched a lot of videos, experienced cybersex, and have always been open to talking about techniques and stuff like that. So, it’s more theory than practice!

On the one hand, I’ve been thinking too much about her (I assume) only sexual partner and her sexual behavior. On the other hand, she thinks I’m an experienced guy who had a great sexual life before her. My mind is not clear: should I talk to her about it? Should I ask her how many guys she’s slept with? Should I confess that she’s my only woman?

Psychologist’s Reply

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(Please read our important explanation below.)

Sex is an incredibly tricky topic. In a lot of places, the cultural expectations and beliefs surrounding sex frequently turn what should be an amazing, pleasurable experience into an interaction filled with anxiety. Sex between loving partners should be about making each other feel good, expressing your deep feeling and forging a physical connection. It should not be about staking a claim or enjoying it only because you’ve been there first. Too many people lose sight of that, and it sounds like you could be one of them.

I wonder if you’re familiar with the old adage: be careful what you wish for. In this instance, you wanted to know about your girlfriend’s sexual past and you got it. Now that you cannot put the genie back in the bottle, this knowledge is starting to bother you. This is not uncommon, as a lot of people who think they want to know such private information end up regretting it, but the damage is done. Since you cannot unlearn what you know, you’re going to have to live with it. The best way to do that is to figure out what it is that upsets you. My guess is that, like many people, you worry that you won’t measure up. Because you have little practical experience, you may fear that you don’t know what you’re doing. Let me ease your mind.

As your girlfriend probably could tell you, experience doesn’t guarantee expertise. Sometimes having a lot of experience simply means that the person has been doing all the wrong things for a very long time. In no area is this more the case than with sex. Sure, having a lot of information about sexual techniques and methods of pleasure are important (as you demonstrated through your study) but human beings are individuals, and we like different things. What feels good for one person may not feel good for another. Consequently, good sex is all about respect, communication, and exploration. A lot of people forget that, and instead concentrate only on what feels good for them or solely on various techniques. That doesn’t make for a fun time.

Instead of worrying about things you cannot control, why not concentrate on what’s really going on? Based on your description, it sounds like your girlfriend enjoys having sex with you. She is most likely thrilled to have a partner who is knowledgeable and caring enough to find out what she likes. While talking with her about your prior lack of experience would probably be fine, it doesn’t sound like it’s necessary. If she wants to know, she’ll ask. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is leave the past where it belongs, concentrate on the present and enjoy what you’ve got.

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