Whether you’re trying to spice things up with your significant other or connecting with a new partner, navigating your sex life can be complicated. So you might just turn to someone you trust for a bit of their hard-earned wisdom and some tips.
But often the sex advice you might get from family, friends or magazines can range from bizarre to bad to deeply unsatisfying — making the act itself (which should be fun and exciting) into something intimidating, awkward or way more confusing than it needs to be. Not that we don’t love getting some good tips for what to do in bed, but sometimes the advice is just a miss. Here are some true (and yikes-worthy) stories of the worst sex advice real people have received:
Spit or swallow?
“Always swallow [semen], no matter what. That’s the advice I got from a group of teenage boys in my school. They suggested that any other option was either gross or not sexy. Of course, it was based on what they had heard or seen, because at the time of the discussion, we were all inexperienced.
What’s interesting to me is that I applied this advice to my sexual encounters well into my 20s. One day I woke up to the fact that I don’t ‘owe’ anyone anything when it comes to sex, perhaps least of all when it comes to my preference for what to do with their bodily fluids. Now I’m in a long-term, monogamous relationship, and I do what I want. My partner appreciates that.” — Asha C., New York.
Where shall I sit?
“I read in a magazine that it’s sexy if a woman sits on her partner’s face. It’s supposed to be pleasurable for both parties — it gives women a sense of power and turns men on. I felt extremely vulnerable when I tried it with my longtime partner. It just wasn’t sexy. I didn’t like the angle he got, and it felt weird squatting. I was worried that I’d maybe fart or shit.” — Sarah L., New York.
A steamy shower
“I remember when I was a teenager, I read somewhere in a magazine that guys think shower sex is the hottest. Nope! It’s a struggle honestly. It is way too cramped in there, one person will always be cold because it’s virtually impossible to share the water. Water isn’t a lubricant, if anything it makes things more difficult because it washes away our body’s natural lubricant, so it ends up being rather awkward and kind of painful. I know movies and TV shows depict it to be really hot, but it usually has ended up being so incredibly awkward.” — Sol G., Seattle.
Curb your enthusiasm
“The most significant piece of advice anyone has even given me about sex is my mom telling me that all men are ‘wolves’ and that I couldn’t talk to any until I turn 21. She’s very Christian, so it was an unspoken rule that abstinence is the way to go. That greatly colored my interactions with boys throughout my teenage years. I would view them with both suspicion and curiosity. Coupled with my natural shyness, I was extremely awkward around them. I’m fine now and have a healthy relationship to sex today. But her advice stunted my emotional growth when it came to relationships.” — Samantha L., New York.
“I grew up Catholic and had to take classes, pass exams in church. We were told that masturbation is bad, that it is sinful. At the time I was embarrassed about what we were being taught and didn’t ask any questions. One piece of advice I also heard was that you’d have a better sex life in the long run if you don’t get with a lot of people. I now know that’s not true; it’s all about personalities, expectations. I’ve seen a lot of people living life the way we were told we’re not supposed, but their lives are perfectly fine and aren’t falling apart. So over time I thought I should trust science more. The textbooks we had in school explained the human body in a mechanical way. It wasn’t emotional and I liked that. It was easy to understand, and it didn’t say things like ‘if you think about sex you’re doing something wrong.’” — Angie M., New York.
Turn me on. Now.
“A few years ago, a colleague and I started flirting. We went out for coffee a twice but hadn’t slept together nor had we made out. While exchanging texts, he told me that wearing sexy underwear, tights and heels was the way to go to turn him — and other men — on. I told him I didn’t like the idea of doing that because that’s just not something I do. He was insistent and inquisitive about whether I’d do that for him. That was one of the reasons we stopped talking.” — Maite S., Spain.
“When I was a teenager and still a virgin, my dad told me that I should get an STD panel, ask my partner to do the same and send him both our reports before we have sex. I said I would do that but ignored him. I did get an STD test done and asked my partner if she had done the same — I just took her word for it. We didn’t submit the reports to my dad but had a good laugh about his request.”—Travis W., New York.