Column: The mourning after: Surviving a lame shag

In every romantic relationship there are always the expectations of firsts. The first kiss, the first hand held in public and, of course, the first time you have sex. Within these expectations you develop scenarios about how these instances will play out. Will he kiss me first? Will she make the first move? And so on. Our daydreams always conclude with a Hollywood ending of perfection; however in reality, perfection is nonexistent.

After weeks of meeting Jack in the afternoon and cautiously making out, I invited him to meet me at my apartment before our day on museum row. Minutes into his visit we began our spit-swapping dance. A hand to the waist and a grope to the left later, Jack asked if I wanted to move onto the bed. Seeing the hesitation on my face, he said in his British brogue, “It’s just more comfortable, we won’t shag.”

There we were – me in next to nothing and him in much less. What else was humanly possible to do but “shag?” After we slipped under the covers and slipped on the latex, something happened that neither of us expected. It felt like someone was bumping into me on the subway. I could feel my body move and see him over me, so either I had been given a major sedative or I had just entered the land of bad sex. The sex was so bad that the two of us had to stop because we were laughing so hard. We rolled over and looked at each other trying to decipher what went wrong when Jack said, “Now that was a lame shag.”

As we lay there mocking our sexual attempts, I began to think that we had successfully avoided the awkward after-bad-sex moment. In the past, bad sex usually ended with the scurry to find lost underwear and an “uh, call ya later” mumbled on the way out the door. But this time we laughed it off as a “lame shag.” Had I done it? Had I found a man capable of accepting his sub-par sex performance and be willing to come back for more? In all aspects of life you see people redeem themselves. Magazine covers are full of celebrities making their comeback. Can the same be done with sex? When it comes to bad sex, is it possible for you and your partner to make a comeback?

I knew I wasn’t the only lady out there to have had bad sex. So I called my partner in crime, Maggie, to figure out how she bounces back from not only bad sex, but bad sex the first time around. As Maggie settled down from laughing at my misfortune, she wiped the tears from her eyes and attempted to look empathetic.

“Bad sex comes in two forms,” she said. “There’s the kind you shrug off, and the kind you worry about. Everyone has had a bad hookup and dodged into an alley when seeing that person on the street. That’s the easy kind. But when it comes to actually liking that person, the only thing you can do is try to make it better the next time.”

So, what we have here is a dichotomy: bad one-nighter sex and bad beginning-of-a-relationship sex. In my opinion, the one bad night sex isn’t worth bothering about. But if you’re vibing with someone everywhere but the bedroom, then proper actions must be taken.

If you find yourself in the beginning of a relationship lacking in sexual steam, you have some options to pull you through and keep the good times coming. Here are your leading two choices. You can choose to be the Betty or the Veronica, the yin or the yang, or in this case – the Michelle or the Bonnie. My oldest and dearest friend Michelle makes her bad sex experiences short and simple – she cuts it off at the knees. For Michelle, when she falls victim to bad sex she says, “Well, there’s 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back – now get out.”

She was never one to beat around the bush, especially if someone failed to properly beat around hers. When I probed her a bit more about what would happen if someone she was dating was orgasmically challenged, she said, “Next! If it ain’t working in the bedroom, it just ain’t working. Sex is a huge part of relationships. If I ain’t cumming, he ain’t coming back.”

Boy is she strict. There is option one – be a Michelle and kick him or her to the curb. Now, if I was simply hooking up with someone, I too would be a Michelle. But when I have invested time and energy into a relationship, I am not so quick to throw someone away. So, option two, be a Bonnie.

Maybe it’s because I am a Scorpio, or that I’m a New Yorker, but my best bet is to talk about it. Now this doesn’t have to be a talk show with dim lights and candles, but it should be a conversation that puts your partner at ease. Remember, the sex was bad for both of you. It could have been nerves or the late hour that led to the bad sex. What is important is that you find out what went wrong.

When Jack and I failed to make a home run, we could not stop laughing. Right then and there, the awkward sexual tension was gone. In fact, we went out to lunch and spent the rest of the day together. Turns out he hated my condoms and that he was not 100 percent comfortable and relaxed. We decided that for next time we wouldn’t be so rushed and that he would bring his own brand. Problem solved.

Unfortunately, bad sex happens to good people. No, it isn’t fair, but hey, life is bumpy, so wear a helmet. If you fall victim to bad sex, you can be like Michelle and toss your partner out, or, you can be more like me and try to get to the bottom of it. Sex and relationships are all about communication. And if you can’t discuss your sex life with your partner without blushing, then you shouldn’t be having sex. When it comes to sex, you have to communicate with each other through the good, the bad and the ugly. If you vocalize what you want between the sheets, your partner will keep it coming. And of course, pay attention to what your partner likes and doesn’t like. Give them what they want. As they say, what goes around cums around.

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