Going up on the chairlift the other day (I’m in the French Alps at the moment) I was sitting next to a guy who asked me what I did for a living.
‘Writer,’ I said.
‘And what do you write?’
‘Sex manuals,’ I said. I could have mentioned other books but I always enjoy the effect sex manuals have.
He rubbed his chin. ‘How can anybody be sure,’ he asked, ‘if they’re good in bed?’ He seriously wanted to know. ‘I mean, how can I know if the pleasure I’m giving my partner is the best? How can I know if what I’m feeling is as good as it gets?’
It’s a bit like trying to find out if the colour I see and call green is the same as the colour you see and call green.
On a scale of one to ten the guy might say his last sexual experience was a nine, but how do I know if his ten is the same as my ten? What Jill thinks of as the ultimate in sexual pleasure may have only half the intensity of what Jane feels on a good day.
It’s common for sex writers and therapists to say you shouldn’t be concerned with performance and targets and numbers, but I don’t agree. I’m currently struggling to improve my snowboard technique. That in no way detracts from my pleasure. On the contrary. No one, I’m sure, would seriously suggest it would be okay to remain forever at the level I attained at the end of my first week. So why is it wrong to want to give your partner the maximum possible sexual pleasure and to receive the same? Why is it wrong to want to discover how far you can go?
I thought I’d discovered the secret of the universe when I was 18. How could anybody else have sex this good? Now those early experiences seem totally inept. What then seemed to be a ten now looks like a one.
I can’t define ten in sex and I can’t know I’ve ever reached ten but I’d say it can’t be anything like ten unless:
- Sex goes on for a good while (say, an hour), because the human body just can’t reach its maximum response during a quickie.
- The afterglow lasts a good while (say, four hours at least).
- There’s a sense not only of physical satisfaction, but also of emotional, spiritual and intellectual satisfaction as well.
I’m not saying that’s everything, but it’s a good start. The guy on the lift promised to buy either Have Great Sex or Get Intimate With Tantric Sex and let me know if it changed his perspective. If you have any thoughts on what constitutes the greatest sex, or the rights or wrongs of aiming for a great ‘performance’, share them with us by clicking on the word ‘comment’ at the top of this blog. And, Ian, I’ll be expecting to hear from you.