SHAILENE WOODLEY from Descendants, The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent trilogy, Snowden, Adrift, HBO’s Big Little Lies, director Kevin MacDonald’s upcoming legal thriller The Mauritanian, and Netflix’s The Last Letter from Your Lover—both out this year.
From a woman’s perspective, if the sex is not great but the relationship is thriving, do you call it quits or work on it? – C.D.
Oy … I have been here. And to be quite honest, it has happened more than once in my life. Listen, I hope for all our sakes that we have had the kind of sex that leaves us fucking hungry and full all at once. Where the beginning has no end, and the end has no beginning. Where every. single. primal. instinct. had its way … how it wanted it, where it wanted it, when it wanted it. Because that shit is the real magic. It’s an alchemy our minds cannot create. And it is … everything.
Until you wake up, and realize that that person doesn’t make you feel safe, or seen, or heard. Until you realize that there is only so much water one can give, when there is nothing to replenish the well. So you leave and you wander until you find yourself in love. They fit the bill, top to bottom—on almost everything, except for sex.
No matter how hard you try, or they try, no matter what physical, mental, or emotional gymnastics you attempt, nothing replicates the chemical explosion you know is possible. And you can’t help but feel underwhelmed and exhausted. Not to mention, insecurities are now flying through the roof. Sex becomes a clinical trial in a petri dish: if we try this, maybe it’ll work? if we listen to this podcast, if we read this book, if we try this game … maybe, just maybe, something will click?
All I can say is, from my perspective as a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to say it, honesty and transparency are everything. If you don’t feel safe in communication with your partner, then chances are, you may never be able to cultivate a truly connective sex life. And, if you do feel safe, then talk about your needs. Whether they are being met or not. Ask your partner about theirs.
“Bad sex”, in my opinion, is simply two people who haven’t quite found the language that speaks to their unique lives together yet. Or, two people who dont know how to be deeply vulnerable with one another. That shit can take time. And although you occasionally and very rarely do meet someone whom you spontaneously sexually combust with—most of the time, sex is a lesson in true intimacy.
In the united states, we are conditioned to be uber sexual, and sensuality has lost its cause. If your relationship is THRIVING, and you are in-sync with a lover in most ways apart from your sexual connection … try exploring and experimenting with sensuality. Try sleeping with their mind, their heart, their senses … before you sleep with their bodies. Try the ‘slow is fast train’, and see where it takes you.
Wanting to call a good thing off simply because your sexual connection isn’t a 10 yet is perhaps the greatest path to growth… perhaps it is an invitation to reach into the underbelly of what you are both afraid to dive into. To explore the roots of emotions, feelings, attachments—and to play in the world of sensually exploring your partner.
Don’t be afraid to say what you really want. The most turned on I have ever been has been when lovers told me exactly what they wanted me to do, or what their needs were. So don’t be shy. Chances are, that dirty little mind of yours in there is just as naughty as the mind of your partners … but maybe neither of you have ever felt like you’ve known how to share those intimacies with one another. The more surrendered we can be to the discoveries we make with a lover, the better and more delicious our physical connection becomes.
You never know what demons and ghosts are lurking in the shadows of our pasts, and sex can be a brilliant way to unearth them and heal them—both in ourselves, and in our lovers.
If you are looking to enhance your relationship and feel the desire to connect deeper with your babe, then use your sexual discord as a portal to expanding your love, versus running away from it.