Men at Yale are overwhelmingly underwhelming in bed. Far too many Yale women have a few good conversations with a guy and feel a real connection, only to be repeatedly disappointed by oomphless coitus. I’m speaking primarily about heterosexual sex here, since this has been my only experience at Yale. And I guarantee that almost every woman reading this column can think of a decidedly lukewarm encounter, either personally or anecdotally.
Mediocre man-sex is not a permanent state of affairs. It’s something the men of Yale can fix with a little effort. But, at least right now, it’s an epidemic with a simple cause: Men at Yale are bad in bed because they are bad at listening to women.
So, men, here’s the secret. It’s really, really simple. Step one: Listen to your partner. Step two: Act on that. That’s it. That’s the whole secret. If you’re good at responding to your partner in and out of the bedroom, you’ll be good at having sex. If you don’t, you won’t. Simple as that.
Mediocre man-sex is, at first blush, surprising to anyone familiar with the common Yale desire to excel. It seems incongruous, doesn’t it? That so many men are performing at a barely satisfactory level in bed? I cannot understand how an entire population of people who believe that hard work, determination and focus are key to success in every other part of life go for a “wing it until I get sleepy” approach in bed. Where does that focus on performance go?
One possibility is that the men of Yale truly do not know how sexually mediocre they are. This is plausible — overconfident mediocrity from Yale men is ubiquitous. The other possibility is that they know but just don’t care. Once they start having sex, they stop trying to have better sex and are shockingly lazy about learning how to be good at it.
This is, in part, a result of unconfident and incoherent feedback. Many women I know have performed enjoyment for their partners, faking an orgasm because they’re searching for language to criticize constructively. This is not their fault. Instead, men should be more conscious of how gender dynamics impact conversations about sex, in and out of the bedroom. Without a habit of constructive criticism in nonsexual interactions around Yale, men need to ask questions and be curious about pleasure. To have constructive conversations about sex, men have to encourage real constructive criticism.
Most men at Yale don’t think to ask for advice because they are practiced in believing their own exceptionality. As a result, mediocre man-sex manifests in silly, sad ways. Yale is full of men who enthusiastically recommend Kurt Vonnegut, pontificate about debt policy or tell you about their successful startup. These are the men who do not reciprocate oral sex because they “don’t like the taste” or think “it’s complicated.” They are the men who react to an orgasm in jaw-dropping amazement because they never cared enough to ask their previous partners how the experience had been for them. Somehow, none of these men have ever bothered to read the “find the G-spot” wikiHow, or — even more easily — ask their partners if something feels good.
What I’m describing is consensual. It’s just really, really mediocre.
Nights of half-hearted hip thrusts are a symptom of a larger problem, one also found in club meetings, classrooms and coffee shops. Men talk over women in meetings, men willingly unload emotional problems onto women friends and — yes — men orgasm while their partners repeatedly do not. In the same way that men at Yale are “softboys” in their friendships, they’re even more flaccid with their sexual partners.
And yet, there are easy fixes. Oral sex should be reciprocated. Enthusiastically. If it’s dry, it won’t feel good. But if it’s dry, assume you need more foreplay unless told otherwise. If you orgasm before your partner, make sure she is satisfied. Shower together afterward. Tell a joke afterward. Stick around afterward. Minor improvements make a world of difference.
That being said, women are not just things that men must learn how to pleasure. Men at Yale absolutely need to learn how to pleasure women — there’s no denying that. Orgasm is far from the goal of sex, and far from the marker of whether or not sex was “good.” But a shared interest in a woman’s orgasm is a good first step toward that goal. Mutual pleasure is a prerequisite to a much broader conception of the constitutive parts of good sex — that’s about sensuality, learning and love.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a “nice guy,” or if you “really love your mom.” If you’re bad in bed, you aren’t paying attention to women. It’s as simple as that.
Amelia Nierenberg is a senior in Timothy Dwight College. Her column runs on alternate Thursdays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .