Ask a Badass is an advice column answered by history’s hidden badasses, writing as they see their whole lives and our modern world.
My lover is wonderful and funny, but… I never quite get there, if you know what I mean. And I don’t know if he knows. It’s frustrating! But I don’t know how to tell him that what he’s doing…just isn’t doing it for me. How do I tell my man without hurting his feelings?
No Big O
I am deeply sorry to hear that you are in such desperate need of reeducation. I admit that life as a fencer, performer, and all-around hell-raiser ill qualifies me as a teacher, but I did enter a convent once. Admittedly, it was to run off with a nun, but surely knowledge can be sexually transmitted as well. In fact, the knowledge to demolish the pernicious mythology you are laboring under may be only sexually transmitted.
Your question is based on two fables in faith. The first is the idea that lovers are born, not made. Nature, like a parent, provides us with the inheritance she thinks we need, namely the interlocking biology to create the next generation and the instinct to interlock. Everything beyond that is our own style to discover. Think of it like fighting. We are born with fists that can clench and the instinct to launch ourselves bare-knuckled at someone who raises our ire. Through practice and training, I have taught my body to wield a sword with such deadly grace that I can dismiss an insult without getting blood on my shirt.
Better yet, think of it like sex. Your body is unique. If he is a good and generous lover, he is trying to bring your aria and is likely as frustrated as you at the flat notes. Tell him, or better yet show him, what causes your body to sing. If you don’t know yourself, it is time for some solo sessions. I almost envy you, to be able to discover your new world. Be sure not to stop until you plant a flag.
Two caveats to the above: If he is not a good and generous lover, please drop him forthwith. Sex is too delicious to be wasted on the selfish. If he does not know his efforts are falling flat, please stop performing immediately.
This brings me to the other pernicious myth. You must learn that men are not made of such crystalline glass that they cannot withstand the weight of an honest word or reaction. Silent compliance or faked reactions are not good for men or women. Imagine me with my nun, as I show her a new way to pray. How do I know if I’m pleasing her? By her voice and breath and body. They are the stars to guide our voyage of discovery. Faking them would only lead us astray.
Imagine if I realized after many times in which we took each other to church that she was not in fact elevated. Devastating if I discover it at once or begin to slowly suspect. How am I ever to enjoin the heights again when I know I can be fooled? Now imagine my nun, how the performance would affect her over time. She learns not to ache for intimacy because she thinks the discomfort and partial pleasure is the best her body has to offer. Sooner or later, she’ll go back to the convent, no?
In short, please immediately discard this idea that one ever stops learning to be a good lover and remember that if you fake your pleasure, you are reinforcing the wrong moves. You have my enthusiastic encouragement to teach your lover to dance, even if you must first teach yourself.
Enjoy the applause.
Born around 1673 to an unknown mother and Gaston d’Aubigny, the secretary to the Master of Horse for the King of France. Died around 1707 in a convent that was possibly in Provence of causes that are unknown but still attributed to heartbreak. Not a great deal is known of the details of her life, but a great shadow is cast by her adventures. She was a bisexual fencer and performer who unabashedly relished life, so much so she had to be pardoned by the King twice. The first time was for abducting her lover from a convent. The second was after she had become a star of the Parisian Opera. She kissed a young lady in the middle of the dance floor, was challenged by three of her suitors and defeated them all in a duel, in defiance of the king’s ban on duels. She seems to have two great loves in her life and when the second, Marie-Louise-Thérèse de Senneterre, died of a fever, La Maupin retired from public life and died within a couple years.
For a witty biography of La Maupin, check out Rejected Princesses.
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