5 Super Nice Ways to Say “You’re Not Good in Bed”

Sex is so easy, even chickens with pea-sized brains can do it. (Speaking of: If you’re looking for a hilarious and enlightening post about how, exactly, chickens do it, go here. You’re welcome. Em has a coop in her backyard with eleven hens and one very lucky rooster, and even she learned something.)

But if sex is so easy, how come so many of us get it wrong? Over the past fifteen years of writing an advice column, we have heard from numerous people, both women and men, who have been married for literally decades and are still unsatisfied in bed.

Unfortunately, saying, “You suck in bed” is not an option. Not only is it entirely unhelpful — what does it mean to suck, and how do you “unsuck,” as it were? — it’s also mean as hell. Plus, telling someone that they suck in bed is likely to kill their sexual confidence, not to mention their desire to please you in bed, for good.

That said, sometimes it needs to be said. Sometimes, someone really needs to be told that what they’re doing is just not doing it for you. So, for times like that, here are five super nice ways to tell someone that they’re scoring a zero in the sack, as far as your sexual pleasure is concerned. Oh, and you can get yourself pumped up for this gentle confrontation by checking out our Top 9 Songs About Bad Sex.

1. The Faux Casual Suggestion

Say: “I just read about something different that I’d love to try tonight.” If your partner asks where you read it, feel free to name-check EMandLO.com!

2. The Hands-On Demo

Say: “Let me show you something that really works for me.” If you’re shy of the limelight, maybe ask your partner to do the same thing, at the same time — but remember that the busier your partner is with their own hands/toy, the less likely they are to be paying attention to the specifics of what gets you off.

3. The You-First Approach

Say: “We’ve been together so long, I can’t remember the last time we talked about what we really liked in bed. Will you tell me one thing you wish we did more of when we have sex? And what about something you wish I did more of in bed?”

And just in case your partner is a complete doofus and doesn’t take this not-so-subtle hint to ask you the same question in return, you then say, with grace: “Now can I tell you something wish we did more often in bed?”

4. The Mime

Say: Nothing. Tell your partner with your body. Guide your partner’s hips/body/hands in the right direction with your hips/body/hands. If you like a position, get into it. If you need a toy, buy it. If you want to be dominated, buy a pair of wrust restraints. In other words, don’t ask for what you want, just make it happen!

5. The Risky But Brave Move

Say: The truth. But doused with kindness. And don’t forget to blame yourself for keeping this important news to yourself until now. Something along these lines: “I feel so close to you, and I feel like I can tell you anything, but there’s one thing I’m holding back from you, and it makes me feel really bad that I’m not being totally honest with you. I would hate to think there was something you couldn’t tell me. So I need to tell you that I don’t enjoy some of the things we do in bed as much as I’d like to, and I’d like us to try some new things together that we’ll both enjoy. It’s important to me that we continue to connect romantically and sexually, and I don’t want to lose that. Can we work on this together?” Avoid making big, sweeping statements like “I don’t enjoy our sex life,” as if there’s nothing redeeming about any of it — that can really knock the wind out of someone. And try to frame things as positive suggestions — such as “I’d really like it if we…” and “One of my favorite things we’ve done/we do is…” — rather than as negative accusations: “You never do X, Y and Z!”

Want more advice on talking to your other half?
10 Things to Say to Your Partner Instead of “I Love You”