Unsatisfactory sex a big letdown? 4 tips on how to turn the tide when he underdelivers in bed

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He sells you dreams — whispering his deepest fantasies in your ear and driving you wild with excitement. You can’t wait to take it all off for him. Then sexy time comes — he fumbles, rolls over, and starts snoring, with contentment written all over his face.

You’re shocked and seething with anger and dissatisfaction. You give him more chances to deliver on the sexual promises he made, yet this sad state of affairs continues until you admit he’s all talk and no action in bed.

If this is your story, you’re not alone. And don’t worry – experts are convinced this situation can be salvaged. Here’s how:

1. Ditch false beliefs

Dr Siyanda Ndawo, a Durban-based general practitioner with an interest in sexual health, says men generally believe they’re entitled to sexual pleasure, and that once erect, their penises are mighty and can please any woman.

“Men think they’re better at sex than women — while the opposite is true. Boys learn misleading messages about sex from their peers, and apply these mistakes in their relationships.

“The truth is that most men have no clue what pleases women in bed or when a woman is not satisfied. So, they will ask stupid questions such as, ‘did you enjoy that?’ and ‘did you cum?’, because they can’t tell when a woman’s bored to death but will carry on believing they are doing a great job,” Ndawo says.

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2. Talk about it

Despite all these ingrained beliefs, Esiet and Ndawo believe that even the worst situation can be improved, provided couples are willing to communicate their sexual needs openly and listen to each other. Popular beliefs aside, almost all first sexual encounters are likely to be clumsy because of anxiety.

It takes confidence and practice before a couple gets their mojo, Ndawo reveals. Esiet champions for a no-holds barred form of communication. This includes being open about your state of health, because sex is linked to it.

“If your man has non-communicable diseases like hypertension or diabetes, he’ll struggle to get an erection. But, being a man — he’ll promise you heaven on earth, knowing full well that he can’t deliver. In the absence of non-communicable diseases, alcohol also affects a man’s sexual performance adversely,” Esiet reveals.

“No matter how amazing a man is, if he has never performed oral sex and hasn’t bothered to ask you how you like it, he won’t give you an orgasm, let alone the multiple orgasms he promised. On the other hand, when there is communication, encouragement and willingness to pleasure your partner in a relationship, the sex improves drastically,” he adds.

3. Take the lead

Both experts urge women to take the lead in their sex lives, but to perhaps tread carefully around the subject. Remember that men also suffer from sexual anxiety.

“Addressing mediocre sex should be guided by how you want to proceed with the relationship,” Esiet says.

“If you don’t want to be with the guy who lets you down in bed, move right along and don’t bother discussing his dismal performance. If you like him, gently break it to him that he didn’t meet your expectations. Then, guide him to do what you like, where to touch you and how to kiss you,” he explains.

“Men are like children. When you encourage them, they do exactly what you want. Tell him to slow down, take it out, breathe and then go back in slowly. Let him know that it’s about both of you winning and having fun at the same time,” Esiet adds.

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4. Get help

Esiet says that if this approach doesn’t work and his erection remains poor, then consider getting professional help. Ndawo chirps in, adding that the key to sexual happiness lies in how your man responds to what you say.

“If you say outright things like, ‘hayi ngeke, angiyi feel-i lento oyenzayo’ (I’m not feeling what you’re doing), you won’t get anywhere. He’ll be defensive and think he’s being compared to someone else,” he explains.

Yet, Ndawo says, when you raise this gently, you’ll most likely get your way.

“Unfortunately, due to men’s egos and upbringing — which is not to say they are justifiable — women are left with the tiring responsibility of improving their sex lives,” he explains.

Four readers share their tales of awkward sex:

I dated a lovely guy who said the right things and would turn me on by talking dirty. When we eventually slept together, the few minutes he was on top felt like hours. Not wanting to embarrass him, I pretended and moaned. I was disappointed, and pegged the awful performance down to nerves. He was convinced he had shown me a great time. While we were together, the floundering became his standard. In the end, I blamed myself for not speaking up and guiding him.
Gloria, mechanical draughtsman

My ex-boyfriend was someone I’d known my whole life. In our late teens, he’d wax lyrical about how banging my body was and how, if he ever got a chance to have sex with me, I’d tie him to my bedpost and beg him to never leave afterwards. He was also the type to tell every ear willing to listen how well-endowed he was. We started dating in our mid 20s and our first few sexual encounters were surprising. The strokes were weak, the confidence I’d known him for vanished and yet at the end, he was still pompous. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t live to see the three-month mark [chuckles].
Shweshwe, broadcast journalist
A perfect gentleman swept me off my feet for four months. We would ‘sext’, send nude pics and have sexually charged video calls. When we eventually spent our first weekend together, the foreplay was amazing, but he couldn’t get an erection — which meant no sex the entire weekend. We skirted around the issue. The following week I visited him again, fully armed with sexy lingerie and a plan to strip dance for him. He still couldn’t get it up all night. I was furious, dumped him via a text message and that was the end of us.
Elizabeth , retail assistant
I’d be silently fuming with frustration after each sexual encounter while my boyfriend slept merrily next to me, unaware of my annoyance. At first, I let him believe that I was fine. As time went on, he couldn’t get an erection and on the occasions when he did, it wouldn’t last long. I suggested professional help. He opted for traditional remedies, but those didn’t work. We ended the relationship because I could no longer stick around when my sexual needs weren’t being met.
Zandile, IT technician

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