Okay, so you finally meet someone you can actually stand or maybe even actually like. After floundering around and channeling all your internal panic into monosyllabic text replies, you eventually get to the point where you’re ready to get it on.
But, then, unfortunately, as this all-too-familiar story goes: You have awful, uninspired and cringe-worthy sex that you find yourself talking s--t about during brunch a few days later.
You may have thought a go-with-the-flow approach was going to help you through the fumbling firsts with your new partner. You may not have known what to ask for or how to ask for it. You might have been terrified that by asking for something in bed (or asking for your partner's input), you might seem uncool or over-invested or needy or bossy or weird or, god forbid, vulnerable -- all those things that aren't "chill."
There's a real possibility, however, that giving das boot to all the pressure to "be chill" or "have chill" could help us put an end to this bad sex epidemic — and instead have a bunch of that better, way more equitable sex we're all dreaming of.
Due to the omnipresence of sexism, we tend to talk about a lot of gaps: the wage gap, the gap in hires in the STEM field, whatever the f--k thigh gaps are. All these gaps suck, but no gap is as aggressively (and, like, literally) unsexy as the orgasm gap — which shows that, statistically, men are occupying O-Town significantly more than women.
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), men reported orgasming in 91 percent of their sexual encounters; women reported orgasming in just 64 percent of them.
(That's right: The scourge of inequality isn't just coming after your paycheck or your self-esteem. It's coming for your sex, too.)
There are a bunch of problems that cause this gap: sexism, of course, plays a part. Women straight-up aren’t taught that their pleasure matters (instead they're incorrectly taught their bodies are gross), and the ones who have sex with men often learn that sex is "over" once a man orgasms. Ew.
Pair that with the perfect storm of abysmal shame-based sex education (where young people aren't taught anything about their bodies and are forced to fill in all those mechanical how-to blanks with pornography), and all the different ways -- including the employment of "chill" as an ultimate sexy virtue -- that we’re encouraged not to talk to our partners, and it’s super surprising anyone manages to pull off good sex.
"Chill," when it comes to sex and/or romance, means defaulting to non-confrontation and nonchalance (and just about non-everything). Alana Massey described the Chill phenom as "the opposite of demanding accountability" and "competitive ambivalence." Sex-y, right?
"Chill presides over the funeral of reasonable expectations," Massey writes. "Chill takes and never gives. Chill is pathologically unfeeling but not even interesting enough to kill anyone. Chill is a garbage virtue that will destroy the species. F—k Chill."
Once the IDGAF olympics makes its way into your bedroom, that’s when things start to get bad: It’s when partners assume that following scripts they’ve seen on TV or through porn constitutes successful sex (or that lifeless thrusting can replace intimacy and creativity).
"Indifference can kill a sexual encounter," Maya S., 24, told MTV News. "It's like dudes don't want you to think they care, even to the point of sacrificing their own enjoyment. I once hooked up with a guy who was trying so hard to be chill that whenever I asked what he liked, he'd say ‘it's cool.’ I kept thinking 'what's cool?' but I was younger and also trying to be chill, so neither of us had any fun and we parted ways with a super chill 'cool, well, see ya.'"
It's time to get louder
We talked to Dr. Heather Howard, a sexuality counselor and educator (because sex therapy is a thing and it’s super cool), to figure out a bit more about what's going on in our heads 'n beds. And, it turns out, there's so much more going on than inconsiderate lovers being inconsiderate. For the most part, partners are just not doing enough talking and aren’t always armed with the emotional tools to get started.
"It's funny, at my practice I see young people on both sides of this," Dr. Howard told MTV News. "Some people may have a hard time asking for anything for themselves and I see this with my male and female clients. They also may have trouble asking for what they want in life."
It can be hard and super awkward to get the conversations going, especially if you're the ~allergic to feelings~ type or dealing with a lack of confidence. But learning to ask for what you want and listen to what your partner wants is crucial for good sex (and also pretty important for good personhood).
Kathryn B., 26, told MTV News that those first few super-honest talks were, of course, "totally intimidating."
"You can feel like your wants or needs in bed could potentially push your partner away. Like maybe they'll think you're weird. And maybe they will, some people suck," she said. "Most people will be cool about it. But the people that aren't cool aren't worth your time because eventually you're going to get yours from a guy or girl who is willing to have the conversation."
It's important if you're in a relationship and even more-so if you're just hooking up, Dr. Howard said, to get used to having these kinds of conversations. If you and your partner are on different sexual wave-lengths, you should make it your business to know before you have that uninspired, cringe-worthy sex.
"If someone's in a one night stand and if you're someone who's traditionally not gotten your needs met, it seems that needs to be laid out upfront — if that's what your goal is," Howard said. "If what they’re hoping for is an exchange, they need to be advertising upfront what they expect out of it, if they hope to get that. A lot of people don’t think about why they're dong it and are not really asking themselves that question."
Frank and honest self-reflection and self-advocating is probably about as far from that capital-C Chill as you can get. But, if you don't throw out those social scripts that call for you to clam up about what you want, you’re doing a disservice to both you and your partner (who, again, may be totally clueless, failing at cliteracy and embarrassed about it).
Killing 'the chill' would be doing everyone a favor
No one is saying you should draw up a "Fifty Shades"-style contract every time you have a one night stand, but simply put: You need to act like a goddamn person and talk to your partner.
It also helps that this is so deeply intertwined with how informed, enthusiastic consent works — If you know that your partner is having a good time, you know you’re getting that consent in the right way.
This isn't that "what are we?" cuffing-season talk that'll raise your allergic-to-feelings, snake-people hackles (same). It's just making sure everyone playing the game knows what's going on. Sex itself is a conversation, and it benefits no one to play an aloof, too-cool game.
Lose your chill. Lose it for good.
For more on sex education, birth control and other sexy things, visit It's Your Sex Life.