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If you’ve never experienced an awkward moment during sex, you’re either a virgin, or you’re lying.
Sex—even jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, nerve-tingling sex—can be messy, clumsy, and sometimes (okay, pretty often) a little gross. Throw emotions and insecurities into the mix, and little things like embarrassing sounds, stilted attempts at dirty talk, and unexpected bodily fluids can seem like the end of the world.
But fear not.
“Awkward moments during sex? That’s just part of being human,” says psychologist and relationship expert Tracy Thomas, Ph.D. “It’s a circus, and you have to assume the total circus is going to show up, every time.” The good news, of course, is that most situations are totally salvageable. Here’s how to react and recover from 15 common sex setbacks.
Or queefs, or makes some other unflattering—yet totally natural—sound. It’s basically the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you…if you’re 13. But you’re not. So here’s what you do: Ignore it.
“Farting during sex is so common that it’s not even worth acknowledging,” says A.J. Marsden, Ph.D., a psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Beacon College. “Just pretend you didn’t hear it and keep going.”
Dirty talk is very personal, and even if you’ve mastered the art form in general, a single word or phrase (think: “fat bottomed girl” or everything John Cena says to Amy Schumer in Trainwreck) can seriously turn her off. But dirty talk gone wrong doesn’t have to completely obliterate the mood. “If she’s not feeling what you’re saying, stop what you’re doing,” Marsden says.
“Don’t double down, just move on to something you already know she likes.” The less you flounder and babble, drowning in your embarrassment, the better.
Every guy’s been here: She’s hot as hell, but you can’t get hard. If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, don’t sweat it, Thomas says. “There are things you can regulate and things you can’t,” she explains. “Sometimes your body has other things to deal with and just isn’t prioritizing your erection.” Plus, there are plenty of sexy things you can do without ever penetrating her.
Maybe you’re riled up, maybe you dove head-first into a position that sets you off, maybe it’s been a couple months. Whatever the reason, it’s pretty miserable for the sex to be over before her body’s even begun to climb toward orgasm. Awkward? Of course. Navigable? You bet. “Again, this is totally natural; finishing quickly is how our bodies are designed to work,” Thomas says. “Dragging it out—regulating sex—that’s what’s not natural.”
To recoup: Make a joke that spins your lack of control as flattery, then focus on making sure she gets hers. While you wait for your soldier to, well, soldier up perform oral sex on her. If she can climax this way, great; if not, it’ll warm her up for round two, which heightens her odds of reaching orgasm. (Also check out 8 cures for premature ejaculation if this is a common occurrence.)
Let’s paint a picture: She’s riding you, things are really moving, and she’s wet—like, really wet—then you look down to find she’s bleeding. Don’t panic. We repeat: Don’t panic.
There’s nothing medically wrong with period sex. “If periods gross you out, that’s fine; but don’t let her see you’re disgusted,” Marsden says. “Remember, whatever you’re feeling she’s probably feeling it ten-fold, and if you freak out she’ll just feel more embarrassed and insecure.” Toss your sheets in the laundry, then bring things to the shower where you can clean off and continue the fun (if she’s still bleeding, the water will wash it away). Some shower sex tips: Put the condom on before getting wet and use a silicone-based lubricant that’ll withstand water.
Muscle cramps happen. If you find your calf or hamstring seizing up mid-coitus—and that sucker won’t relax—take a break. “Cramps are your body’s way of telling you it needs something,” Thomas says. “Usually it’s water or potassium.” Make a joke about the crazy workout she’s giving you, and grab a drink and a banana. Then get back in the saddle.
Have enough sex and you’re bound to be interrupted by a third party at some point, whether it’s your roommate—or worse—parents. “Depending on who it is, it could kill the mood,” Marsden says. “But in most situations you can just laugh it off.” Your best bet is to read the situation and don’t push it. If she’s super shy about sex (and mortified about the interruption), you may be done for the day. And if you’re staying at her parents’ house when it happens, take the interruption as a cease and desist.
If things gets a little overzealous during oral sex or the real deal and you happen to finish (accidentally, we hope) in or near her eyes, react immediately. Semen to the eyes, as you might imagine, burns. Apologize, grab a wet towel, and help her wipe or rinse it out. “Being a gentleman in situations like this will go a long way,” Thomas says. “Just stay calm and tend to her.”
The mood doesn’t always strike at the perfect time. If she’s raring to go but you haven’t showered in days or you just came back from the gym, hit the shower. If your junk smells ripe, there’s no way to do damage control other than solving the problem at hand. “Don’t get embarrassed, just keep things moving,” Thomas says. Jump in together and either get the foreplay started or try your hand at shower sex (just read these tips first on the best positions to get her off). And if shower sex isn’t your thing, you’ll both be more inclined to engage and enjoy in oral sex (and and other type of sex) when you’re both fresh from the shower.
Cats and dogs have an incredible, intuitive ability to cock-block you. They want in on the love and affection, but a 55-pound bulldog jumping into bed with you is just intrusive, and your ancient Tabby cat watching from a few feet away is plain creepy. The only thing to do is shut ’em out. “You should be able to laugh it off without destroying the mood,” Marsden says. Your dog will forgive you. (We make no promises regarding your cat.)
You’re pulling out all the stops, but she just doesn’t seem to be feeling it. Is it you? Probably not, so don’t take it personally. “If you make it about her being turned on, you create a weird, awkward dynamic,” Thomas says. “Don’t overthink it. Sometimes she’s just not as wet, and it has nothing to do with you. Plus, the fix is easy—grab some lube.”
Sex involves a lot of movement, and it’s not always synchronous. Injuries happen—and you might not be able to just laugh it off and power through—like if she cracks you in the face with an elbow or you bash heads. “Stop what you’re doing and make sure everyone’s okay,” Marsden says. “In some cases, you might need to go to the hospital, and that’s more important than preserving the mood.” If a trip to the ER isn’t warranted, Marsden advises getting back into things slowly. “Maybe offer to give her a massage and see if it turns into something sexy,” she suggests.
Maybe it’s when she’s getting ready in the bathroom, three seconds after you orgasm, or during a particularly slow and sensual position. She’s not going to care about the exact moment you passed out, but she sure as hell will care that sex with her was apparently so boring you just couldn’t keep your eyes open. Thomas’ suggestion: Own it and be straightforward with her. It has nothing to do with her and everything to do with your body’s physiological needs (e.g. maybe you’re drunk). Do damage control and explain to her that it’s not personal—all that satisfaction just took everything out of you.
Ladies who squirt will usually let you know, but some might not (or might not know they’re capable of it). If you’re squeamish about squirting (it’s mostly urine, after all) and you don’t get a heads up, it can be a not-so-pleasant surprise. Marsden’s advice? Treat it like any other bodily fluid you might encounter during sex, and don’t make a scene. The key, according to Marsden, is just being aware that she might squirt even if she doesn’t mention it—if you come to terms with it going in, you won’t be as unprepared if it happens.
Regular penis-in-vagina sex can be messy, so you shouldn’t really be surprised if anal sex is occasionally messier, Marsden says. There are steps you can take to mitigate the risks, but you need to be prepared for the worst. (We don’t need to spell this out for you). If the worst happens, “Stay calm, help her clean up, and don’t let her see you’re grossed out,” Marsden says. “Again—she’s ten, maybe a hundred times more embarrassed than you are.” Just make sure everything is sanitary (including yourselves) before you start up again.