Worried man

The worry that you might not be particularly good in bed is one that occurs to lots of people at some point in their life.

Insecurities around sex are one of the most common problems that affect relationships. We see thousands of people who have similar worries in Relationship Counselling and Sex Therapy sessions every year.

So the first thing to say is, if this is something that’s on your mind: you’re not alone.

But before addressing the problem, it’s worth thinking about what we might mean when we say we’re not ‘good in bed’.

Understanding your relationship

Very often, when we describe ourselves as not good at something, we’re not necessarily literally talking about our skill level, but rather our relationship with it.

We might feel we’re not good at drawing because we don’t think we’re a particularly ‘arty person’. Or we might say we’re not good at public speaking because we don’t think of ourselves as confident.

When someone says they’re ‘not good in bed’, very often, what they’re really talking about is their relationship. Sex is so often symbolic of wider issues in the relationship. Very often, we’ll see couples who come in saying that sex is the primary issue, but only end up talking about this a few times over the course of their counselling – instead they focus on their relationship as a whole and how they’re feeling about it.

The ideal for having a good sex life with someone isn’t being ‘good at’ it – it’s doing things in a way that is mutually satisfying for you both. Getting to that point is usually much more about exploring any issues that might exist in the relationship and figuring out how they might be addressed.

How do we do that?

It depends entirely on your individual relationship. Problems with sex can come from a wide variety of places. It might be worth thinking about any of the following:

Have you been arguing a lot recently? Do you find that small disagreements can turn into big rows? Or that silly, seemingly unimportant things can easily set you both off?

Are you stressed about any other areas of your life, such as family and work? Anxieties from other sources can very commonly affect our sex lives.

Do you talk effectively? Are you able to communicate about your needs and feelings and empathise with what each other is saying?

Do you spend much time with each other? Or are other demands on your time making it hard to properly prioritise your relationship?

Have you been through a big life change recently? Things like moving house, getting a new job or having children can create challenges that you might not have been prepared for.

While different relationship problems can require different levels of attention, what usually links them is a lack of effective communication. When we’re not talking to our partner openly and constructively – and they’re not talking to us – then it becomes much harder to deal with problems and maintain your connection as a couple.

Communication is a big topic, but you might like to start by checking out our article about communication tips to try with your partner. These tips will help you think about how you’re communicating together, and using them can help to make tricky conversations easier.

However, if you think you might need a little help, then you may find it useful to find out a bit more about Relationship Counselling and how it works. Counselling is a great way of beginning to explore any issues in your relationship in a safe space where you’re both able to express openly how you’re feeling.  

Talking about sex and learning together

The other possibility here is that you may feel you’re unable to satisfy your partner because you simply aren’t that experienced or have never picked up that many ‘skills’.

In regards to this, it’s first worth getting a little perspective on things. Very often we can inflate these issues in our heads. People often worry about things like being ‘good’ in bed — or about their attractiveness or the size of certain organs — when, really, this stuff isn’t bothering their partner anywhere near as much as they’re worried it is.

And it’s also a good idea to address the concept of you personally not being good in bed. Sex with our partner isn’t something we do by ourselves — it’s something we do as a pair. So if you feel you aren’t getting things ‘right’, it’s something that you and your partner need to work on together.  

Again, so much of this can be addressed through more effective communication. Talking about sex can be awkward, but it’s a crucial part of having a happy sex life. Remember: the goal isn’t about being ‘good’ — it’s about being good together. The end goal is to figure out what works for both of you by talking about it and understanding one another’s needs.

Getting help

If you and your partner think you could benefit from getting some professional help when it comes to sex, there’s no shame in asking. People who come to Sex Therapy are so often surprised by how effective they find it – and how quickly they begin to see changes. You can come in for an initial consultation to find out whether it would be useful for you and your partner.

Find your local Relate Counsellor or chat to a counsellor online for free with our Live Chat service.