Is There REALLY Such A Thing As 'Bad Sex'?

When it comes to bad sex, technique has very little to do with it.


A show that I checked in and out of, during its past season, was Married at First Sight. I shared before that the last official pastor I ever had is on the show; however, this time, it was the two featured Black couples who intrigued me…for a few reasons. One day, I might write a piece on how a lot of folks need to heal themselves before getting married, so they don't expect someone else to do the work for them and/or so their definition of what a spouse "should be" isn't based on brokenness or a tainted perception. But for now, I digress.

Anyway, the two Black couples I'm referring to are Miles and Karen and Woody and Amani. Woody and Amani have been pretty much smooth sailing from day one. Miles and Karen? Eh—not so much (although both couples did decide to stay together and seem to be doing well post-season). If you didn't catch any of the season, something else that I should mention is Miles and Woody are best friends. So, as Miles was sharing some of his concerns about his marriage, including the fact that close to zero amount of physical affection was transpiring, Woody said something that I thought was very fitting for the intro part of this article—"What if you have sex and it's completely trash?"

Bad sex. While I do think there is such a thing as bad orgasms (check out "Who Knew There Was Such A Thing As 'Bad Orgasms'?"), the more that I reflect on my own past sex life, the couples that I counsel and how much research that I do on both sex and relationships, I actually think that "trash sex" isn't really a "thing" as much as people try and make it out to be. Why? Because when it comes to having bad sex, oftentimes, there are things that can be done to quickly turn it from bad to good. Problem is, oftentimes folks chalk a poor experience up to the act itself when usually, there is far, far more to consider. The kinds of things that, if these were openly and honestly addressed, so-called bad sex probably wouldn't be an issue at all. Things like the 10 that I'm about to share with you now.

1. Your Motives Are Unclear


If you live on this planet long enough, you start to get that motives are pretty much the foundation for how things end up going. Motives can also reveal the outcome of many situations too. That's because a motive is either a goal or an incentive. That said, when it comes to sex specifically, it's important that when a situation is new that both people are clear—with each other and their prospective partner—about what their goal or incentive is. If it's just to "get some", it needs to be said. If it's in hopes of turning a relationship into something more serious, that needs to go on record too. That said, if you don't really know what your motive is, it's a pretty good idea to wait until you do. There are far too many people who are unhappy in their relationship and it's not really because they are sexually dissatisfied so much as they thought that sex was gonna automatically satisfy them in ways outside of the bedroom when it did any and everything…but.

2. The Energy Is Way Off

A simple way to define energy is power. A dictionary definition of energy that I like a lot is "capacity or tendency for intense activity; vigor".

What is good sex? It's intense. Good sex? There's a healthy physical and mental energy that is present in both partners. That's why I say that another way that sex can come off as less-than-stellar is if the energy is off. If for, whatever the reason, one or both people don't feel physical chemistry or a mental connection, there's a pretty good chance that the sex itself is gonna be rather lackluster—and that's to put it mildly.

This is actually why many people in long-term relationships can have off-the-charts sex one day and horrific sex, the next. When their energy levels are not in sync, that will play out in how sexually satisfied they end up feeling. So yeah, make sure you're in a healthy physical and mental space before doing-the-do. And, if for some reason, you feel like your partner isn't also bringing good vibes, you might want to hold off until they actually are. For both of your sakes.

3. You’ve Always Gotta Be Inebriated


I've had sex when I was tipsy and when I was high. While some folks wholeheartedly believe that being inebriated makes sex so much better, the only thing it does for me is make me a little less anxious. As far as the sex itself, it doesn't really make a huge difference, one way or another. My point? While alcohol and weed are knowing to boost libidos and intensify orgasms and that's perfectly fine, it's a bit of a red flag if you can't seem to enjoy sex without participating in either activity beforehand.

I actually had a sex partner who could only have sex while close-to-being either drunk or high. I didn't think much about it at the time but, in hindsight, I get that it was because he was struggling with the pressure (mostly from his parents) of being expected to act one way in public when he really wanted to be a totally different kind of person. Both the substances and sex were ways of escape for him. While that is completely understandable, it's not a good idea to be dependent on something that alters you in order to participate in sexual activity. Definitely if you see yourself in this point, do some pondering. You can't be certain if the sex is as good as you think, if you're never sober enough to make a wise and fair judgment call.

4. You’re Rushing

What. Is. The. Freakin'. Rush? Am I anti-quickies? Of course, not. Yet "fast sex" all of the time takes me back to my college days when a lot of the women I knew complained about how they barely got any foreplay (more on that in just a sec) before their partner, quite literally, hit it and quit it. Great lovers enjoy taking in each and every moment; they want to bring in all five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch) to the sexual experience and doing that takes time. If you just read that and it's foreign to you because every time you have sex, it's over in 15 minutes or less—don't blame that on the sex itself. Your partner has a lot more to do with this point than the act itself.

5. There Is No Foreplay (or Afterplay)


Intercourse is amazing. Lord knows that it is. But back in my sex-having days, the thing that made sex feel extra sweet and special, what made me feel like a true connection was being made, wasn't the act itself so much as the foreplay that came before and the afterplay that followed.

I think it's because foreplay is like putting all of the ingredients together to make a meal and intercourse is like having the meal after it's already prepared—if some ingredients are lacking, the meal isn't gonna taste just right. Meanwhile, afterplay is a moment of feeling very safe, appreciated and valued. Because, c'mon. Many of us know what it's like to have sex with someone, have an orgasm, and then roll over and immediately be like, "Why did I just do that?" And "that" would be him.

8.5 times outta 10, when you want to experience afterplay with someone, what you're conveying is you desire to still be intimate with them, beyond sexual pleasure. And when two people share this sentiment, the sexual experience, from beginning to end, tends to be pretty damn good.

6. You’re Faking It

I'm not a fan of faking orgasms (check out "Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP"). The word "fake" in the phrase, pretty much gives away the reason why. To be fake is to be disingenuous, deceptive and a fraud. And, even if those words aren't your intention when it comes to sex, being fake is also about pretending to be something that you're not. Y'all, I've had plenty of clients who've been faking sexual pleasure with their partner, for years now. Two things that always baffles me about that is 1) how their partner hasn't picked up on it and 2) how resentful "the faker" is, when they are the ones who are choosing to live a lie. Only a peak ego maniac would prefer you acting like you've seen the mountaintop than actually getting there. Besides, if you're with someone like that, you are definitely engaging in what qualifies as being bad sex—and let's be real, a bad relationship too.

7. You or Your Partner Is Selfish AF


A selfish lover is a bad one. That's a sweeping generalization that you can bet on every time. The reason why I say that is because, the individuals who have a fulfilling sex life can 1000 percent vouch for the fact that, it's mostly because they are as into getting their partner off as their partner is into giving them pleasure in return. Neither is focused on self nearly as much as they are intentional about satisfying the one who they are with. So if, for whatever the reason, you are in a sexual relationship where you find that you are not getting your needs met—not some of the time but each and every time—you are engaging in a classic definition of bad sex. There are no ifs, ands or—pardon the pun—buts about it. Again, not because of the sex act but the mentality of the person who you're having sex with.

8. “Getting Yours” Isn’t a Top Priority

It might seem a little crazy that this would be a sign that you're participating in bad sex on the heels of what I just said about a good lover being a giver. Here's where I'm coming from. Although I stand by my point that good sex is when both people are giving their partner what they need, at the same time, it's ridiculous to think that your partner should be able to read your mind. If you're not clearly communicating what works and what doesn't (even if "it" switches up from time to time), you're not making your own pleasure a top priority, so I'm not sure how you could be in anything less than ho-hum sex.

Am I saying that you should have an orgasm all of the time? Whew, that's a loaded question. First, there are many ways to climax, so honestly, I don't see why you shouldn't. However, my follow-up statement would be, you can still really enjoy yourself without always climbing the walls. But if full satisfaction isn't what's happening, at least 80 percent of the time, that's a problem. A serious one, if you ask me.

9. You’re Doing It FOR Your Partner Rather than WITH Your Partner


In order to get a good idea of where I'm coming from with this particular point, you might wanna first check out the article, "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?". Some people have yet to experience good sex because they are so focused on engaging in sexual activity because they either believe that is what will keep their partner happy or that is what their partner expects of them. I don't care if it's oral or intercourse, don't pressure yourself into doing something that you're not ready to do. Trust me, I've spoken with far too many women who have a really unhealthy view of sex and it's all because they didn't participate out of desire; it was more like what they deemed to be obligation. Ain't nothin' good, wise or healthy about that. Ever.

10. There Is Constant Post-Coital Regret

Some people don't live with regrets. I've written an article on the platform before about why I don't trust that (check out "Why Regret Might Not Always Be A Bad Thing"). Regret is remorse and remorse is how we correct certain actions. And that's why this article is ending with post-coital regret being something else that could cause you to see sex in a negative light. The regret could be that you keep picking partners who don't deserve you (check out "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner"). The regret could be that you tend to use sex to "mask" or repress other emotional issues. The regret could be that you keep having sex, thinking that it will make your life better when it just…doesn't.

Again, I don't think anything is wrong with regretting things. I truly don't. Yet if that is the feeling that you have, pretty much every time you get out of a bed, that is not something you should ignore. Speak with a trusted friend, therapist, counselor or life coach. Your mind, body and spirit are alerting you that something isn't quite right and you need to tend to that…so that you can experience good sex in the future.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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