She Wonders: Am I “Doing It” Right?

Puzzled womanWomen often get distracted in bed, wondering, “Am I doing it right?”

Maybe that’s why a number of my women students and blog readers have said they watch porn to figure out what guys like — not because they enjoy it, themselves — either the sex on screen or the sex moves they learn.

And they end up worrying about whether they are adventurous enough, moaning enough, loud enough, or “right.” And are they taking too long to cum?

When I told one of my friends about all this, “CJ” began telling me her story. As we sat at a kitchen table, drinking tea, she began:

“I used to wonder why I liked masturbation but not sex. And at some point I realized that when I had sex with another person I got too distracted.”

She turned her eyes to her cup, and then glanced back at me, continuing, “What I mean is that when I was having sex I liked the missionary position the best, but I’d heard guys complain about women who just lie there and don’t do anything. But when you’re doing ‘missionary’ there’s not a lot for the woman to do!” she laughed.

“So instead of enjoying sex I’d be thinking, ‘Does he think I’m being too passive? Not engaged enough?’”

I asked if she had felt any pressure to do more “adventurous” sex, then?

“Yeah, I did,” she said. “I’d worry about whether I should be doing something different — some other position — something that I didn’t like as well but that my partner might. Porn stars do all these crazy things. So, yeah, I would worry that my boyfriend was thinking, ‘This is so boring!’

“‘Am I adventurous enough for him?’ That’s what I was thinking, instead of enjoying sex.”

When I asked why she liked the missionary position, she said that she could focus more on her bodily sensations, instead of wondering whether she was “doing it right.” At least when she wasn’t fretting about whether she should be doing something else.

“In fact,” she continued, “I think part of the reason I liked the missionary position was that I didn’t have to get so stressed out about technique. I could just lie there.”

“Eventually, I figured out that being on top was actually way better for me,” she added. But for a long time I didn’t want to do that either.”

Why not? I wondered.

“I think I felt too exposed. How did I look? Was I was doing it right?”

Things are better now, she says. CJ has been able to let go of a lot of her worries and focus more on her pleasure, now that she is with her husband, whom she loves and trusts.

But distractions can still creep up. “Even now I still sometimes worry,” she admitted. “Once my husband said something about me doing more or being more engaged. I can’t remember how he worded it. It wasn’t a criticism. He was just trying to make sure that I was into it. So even though I’m really secure in my relationship I still retreat back to those thoughts, sometimes.”

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 12, 2016, in psychology, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I too, would enjoy masturbation more than sex sometimes. It made me wonder if it was me or the sexual partner who wasn’t doing enough to be pleased in bed. Part of the reason was because half the time my sexual partner was insecure with their own body. They would worry more about that than the actual act of sex. I, on the other hand, never put much thought to how I looked while having sex. I was always focused on climaxing and making the other person feel good. I definitely have looked at porn for guidance in bed, but usually all it takes is to listen to your partner. Ask what they like and vice versa. Quite simple.

  2. Perhaps learning mindfulness techniques would help with being present and embrace the pleasurable/sensational moment without worrying. Overthinking becomes a distraction with “being” and moves us into “doing”/accomplishing mode. I believe letting go of our thoughts and being present, despite feeling uncomfortable at first, can benefit our sex life. Your thoughts?

  3. I checked my surveys and pretty much everyone is concerned that their partner is enjoying themselves. But I had them describe their experience and here’s how it stacks up:

    About half of the men, and 80% of the women talked more of “worrying” about whether their partners enjoyed what they were doing — their words tinged with negativity rather than a more hopeful and exciting search for mutual pleasure.

    Just over half of the men, and just under one-quarter of the women, sounded less like they were worried and more like they were seeking mutual pleasure.

    • My guess is the same surveys would show the same percentages worrying about their partner enjoying their meal or enjoying the movie on TV. Nothing to do with sex.

      • Who knows?

        But when it comes to sex if you can get rid of the worry you’re more likely to have an orgasm, And then you are more likely to want sex, Which would be good for women and men, alike.

      • “If you can get rid of the worry you’re more likely to have an orgasm”

        OK, so your recommendation is don’t worry about whether your partner is enjoying themselves. Seems contradictory to your other postings.

      • You miss the distinction between the two things I wrote about in one of my last responses to you:

        Getting distracted “worrying” about whether your partner is enjoy him/herself
        Enjoying seeking mutual pleasure

  4. Wondering if you’re doing it right is hardly something unique to women.

    • I asked my men students too, and they were also often concerned about it. I’ll find the numbers and get back to you. I know the numbers were lower for them.

      The biggest gender difference is that young men are pretty much guaranteed to orgasm, even if they spend some time worrying. But for women it can completely distract from the erotic experience. There are some reasons for that, which I partly right about here:

      Men Have Higher Sex Drive. Why?

  5. though I guess it’s not just women who wonder this I suppose men will also get distracted too but I suppose a bit of experience bhind you would help somewhat and in experience I mean going through good sex education and asking the questions about the facts of life often everyone has differing opinions about this stuff so knowing who to believe I guess is the important thing.

    • Interestingly, I say that this friend of mine probably did have some good sex education. See my response to Fred. And the link I sent him.

      That said, one of the reasons why sex education is important is that women are more likely to be shamed in cultures where they don’t get sex ed. And shaming is going to make it more difficult for women to enjoy sex. Especially if they have the added worry about whether they are doing it right.

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