By Mark Reed | @mark_reed88

Picture this: You. The man of your dreams. In bed. The walls shake with the power of a Richter 7 earthquake, your hands are clasped in unbridled ecstasy, gasps and moans of intense animalistic pleasure fill the air as the heavens open to the sound of your earth-shattering, mind-blowing, operatic lovemaking!

Sound familiar? Probably not. How many sexual experiences are ever on this scale? They are more often sadly consigned to our memory bank, filed under ‘unobtainable fantasies’. In GMFA’s ‘Big Gay Sex Survey’ of 3,141 men, fewer than half of the participants said that they were happy with their sex life and 27% said that it even made them nervous. So what is the secret to fulfilling sex? Technique and experience all come into play, but I think there’s more to it than being able to do the butterfly flutter – that could help though, you should definitely look it up.

In our app obsessed culture, sex has become as available as fast food. If you pop online at any point, chances are someone nearby is after a shag too. We want to have our cake and eat it. We can have sex to our hearts’ content – and another organ’s a little further south. So we have many prospective lovers all around us, but that doesn’t mean every time will be a knockout. Is that because we lie to ourselves about what we want from sex?

If I’m honest, it can be validating. It makes me feel good to know that someone wants to have sex with me. You get that little ego boost because this guy wants to do the no pants dance with you. On the surface, that doesn’t seem too bad. But what if every encounter became about validating myself? What if I was to continually pursue men to boost my self-confidence? Then sex would become a meaningless pursuit to give me a minute high that it would never ever satisfy, and the more I pursued it, the less that high would matter and the shorter it would last.

It’s sadly quite natural for gay men to have some hang-ups about sex. We spent our formative years hiding our true selves. Some people had it really hard coming out, and others had a relatively easy time of it. Whatever your situation, you probably have accumulated a certain amount of shame that is so ingrained you sometimes don’t even notice that it’s there. Combine that with a sometimes destructive gay scene where you feel obliged to conform to unrealistic body standards, and despair if you can’t meet them.

Naively, I thought the gay scene would be a place where I felt at ease when I came out, and whilst I love going out to gay bars and clubs, they sometimes do leave me feeling lonely, unattractive and just plain not good enough. To cope with our own particular set of problems, sex might be a salvation – an easy way to resolve feelings of loneliness, anger and depression.

But sex can never be a solution to issues that we need to deal with ourselves. We shouldn’t be using it for validation, or out of anger or guilt or loneliness. If you attach a negative emotion to this experience, what can you possibly gain from it? And to hope that sex would alleviate your issues in the long run would be severely misguided.

So it’s important to be mindful about what you want from sex. I’m not saying it can’t just be fun and free of any drama, and sometimes it’s a whole bucket load of fun. But I do think that we can forget that we have a choice about the sex we want to have. In a recent survey by GMFA, 77% of participants stated they preferred sex with their partner if they had an emotional connection. We should look for someone we care about, someone who makes us laugh, someone who makes us light up when we’re around them, someone we can trust. I want to have sex with that guy.

But how do we get that connection, I hear you cry? Well, I suggest tapping your ruby slippers together three times and wishing on it real hard. Failing that, there are some other avenues to pursue. A few months ago, I started attending a gay and bisexual men’s mindfulness group. Mindfulness is defined as focusing on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings. I enjoy the sessions themselves, but also the sense of camaraderie amongst the group. And it’s great to have that sense in a non-scene setting, free of all the complications of gay bars and clubs. It’s not a quick pathway to great sex, but it allows you to be vulnerable in a safe space with other gay men. It’s this openness that might help you to trust that someone I described earlier, in and out of the bedroom.

A good friend of mine, Aidan Treays, is also running a workshop for gay and bisexual men. As we live in this odious world of objectification, we sometimes forget to have a relationship with our bodies. We view ourselves as objects to be refined, never toned, lean or ripped enough. His workshop involves investigating our bodies, rather than judging them. “Touch, when used with open curiosity, can be a tool of awareness. It can shine a light on what is beneath the surface and enable what is there to emerge.”

Whatever you do, I think the key is to find something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. If you can be at ease with yourself, you can be at ease with your partner. Sex is no longer about validation, or solving feelings of loneliness or depression. It’s no longer about pecs, biceps, and ripped torsos. Sex becomes a wonderful connection between two equally awesome people, blissful in each other’s open arms. The heavens probably won’t open – that was a cheeky fib – but you will make the neighbours incredibly jealous. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I call great sex. 

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