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What Makes a Man Good in Bed?

And why is it not always sufficient?

“No matter what juggling tricks men do in bed, it does not excite me without intimacy.” —A widow

“A man who is good in bed never climaxes before me. As long as he does not climax, he devotes much effort to the sexual act. After ejaculation, I always feel that he is less passionate.” —A married woman

Most men would love to hear that they are “good in bed.” Yet can something so good, in fact, be bad?

Knowledge-based Technique and Emotion-based Intimacy

“Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships.” —Sharon Stone

Being good in bed requires two central qualities: Knowledge-based Technique and Emotion-based Intimacy.

Knowledge-based Technique refers to physical factors such as when, how, and where to touch your partner, as well as mental factors, such as when, how, and what to say to your partner. A good technique enables men to wait with their ejaculation until the woman climaxes, or even to withhold it for a long time, thereby enabling continuous penetration for as long as many hours.

Emotion-based Intimacy is more complex and includes deep closeness, associated with feelings of mutual belonging. Lack of intimacy is often associated with bad sex. As a married woman said: “Last night I had sex with my husband but he did not actually touch me—just penetrated me. I was so sad, I could have cried.” Intimate sex does not merely involve penetration; it also entails positive, close feelings between partners.

Knowledge-based Technique refers to a practiced sexual technique or behavior, applied and unmodified for every partner, while intimacy expresses the essence of romance—the unique bond between lovers. The technique can be learned and improved through personal experience and study. However, intimacy is not something to be learned, but to be developed through greater closeness.

It is hard to fake the technique—you either know it or do not—but it is easier to acquire it through repetitive exercises and learning. It is easier to fake intimacy at the beginning of a relationship, but harder to feign it for a long time. Sensitive women identify false attitudes quickly, even if superb technique makes identification difficult.

Enduring Intimacy

“My strongest orgasm was when my lover said: ‘you belong to me, and I belong to you’.” —A married woman.

“My married lover was cut off emotionally the moment he ejaculated. The speed of which he left me emotionally and physically was incredible. He actually left the bed to drink something and did not return to the bed.” —A divorcee

The two factors responsible for the quality of sex are not contradictory: A person can have a good technique and also establish enduring intimacy. Nevertheless, good technique often disturbs the establishment of profound intimacy.

There are several reasons for this. First, men who perceive themselves as sexual experts give greater weight to their technique in bed, thereby enhancing their self-image. As a consequence, they may neglect intimacy. Another conflict arises when one’s personality comes into play: some enjoy brief sexual encounters and hence, lack the incentive needed to invest in developing enduring intimacy (especially because their expertise is in high demand). It can also be the case that these people become experts in sexual technique precisely because they fear intimacy, and accordingly seek many short-term connections.

Profound intimacy discerns between good romantic sex and mechanical sex that it is too good. Studies indicate that investing time before, during, and after the sexual encounter enhances intimacy and the romantic bond. There is indeed a correlation between the relationship quality and temporal factors, like the duration of courtship, time invested in the sexual encounter, and the duration of intimate activities after the encounter.

Investing much time is typically contrary to the purposeful and efficient nature of the experts’ mechanical sex. The technique guarantees immediate satisfaction; conversely, intimacy determines whether you want to see them the morning after.

Our sex was incredible, but far from natural

A divorced woman, after an affair with a man, summarized her experience in this manner:

“Our sex was incredible, but far from natural, more like perfectly staged porn where he was the superstar. Like in porno movies, he loved penetrating me while my fancy evening dress was still on. This prevented touching the skin, which is significant for creating intimacy. I got the impression from our many hours of love-making that the length of the encounter was important for his personal record. I knew our love-making was not unique to us, but copied from his experiences with previous lovers. Establishing his sexual expertise included reading many books, not only on how to sexually satisfy women, but also on how to emotionally manipulate them. He also gathered all available information about me. Nevertheless, I felt that he did not see and hear me but acted in a mechanical and calculated manner. I was just a casual affair for him. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I left his enchanted bed to look for something natural but nothing short of earthshattering, because now I knew the difference and I wanted more.”

Telling truth and lies

Sincerity, which is crucial for enduring intimacy, is absent in the mechanical behavior of sexual experts. Similarly, genuinely different memories of the same experience differ in small details when one recalls them at different times, which naturally involves somewhat different perspectives. By contrast, liars learn their lies by heart, mechanically repeating them word for word. Likewise, mechanical lovers learn by heart all the ins and outs of women’s sexuality. Their technique remains the same, regardless of the woman they are with. Knowing fully well the impact of heartfelt words, they may mouth them during the sexual experience, but that is as far as they will go. They tell women what they want to hear but sensitive women do not believe them: Everything feels too exaggerated and embellished.

The behavior of these experts is repetitive (at least for them); they believe they know all there is to know and hence lack genuine curiosity associated with original imagination. They have been with many women and this specific woman is nothing new and unique for them; revealing and enjoying shared development is highly unlikely. Moreover, these men, who are so proud of their expertise, reveal their stunning sexual past in the first encounter, thereby again preventing developing shared meaningful intimacy.

The lack of meaningful development explains why, after several months, these experts lose interest in the woman they are with and move onto the next one. They constantly desire achieving new records. After adding a woman to their “hunting list," they wish to reach additional records concerning, for example, how quickly they can coax a woman into bed, the number of orgasms they cause her, and the number of continuous hours of lovemaking.

As other experts, these men are knowledgeable and clever. However, their cleverness often overshadows sensitivity to their specific bond. They may groom and cultivate many trees but hardly nurture the forest. Sex with them is spectacular, but lacking the spiritual gist present when one soul touches another.

Being with these men can be pleasant and thrilling and this is fine when one focusses on superficial aspects of the experience. However, if a woman expects profound intimacy, disappointment is likely to occur. When profound intimacy is combined with superb technique, heavenly gates are likely to open.

“These men are made out of marble”

One woman describes sexual experts as “made out of marble, perfectly chiseled without heart.” Although these experts focus on sexual satisfaction, their hunt will not be complete until the woman falls in love with them, uttering the precious words “I love you.” At that time, they can calmly move to the next woman in line.

Do these experts ever fall in love? They might, but because of their personality and expertise, the most they can offer the woman they fall in love with is being their primary partner while having other (secondary) women.

Although these able men sexually satisfy many women, they are always restless and often unhappy. At the end of the day (or the weeks) that follow, their women also feel a void in their once excited heart.

More from Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D.
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