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Sex with my new man is bad - really bad. Should I cut and run?

Welcome to Sex Qs, a weekly column where The Globe's Amberly McAteer seeks answers to your sex questions, talking to sexperts and regular Canadians alike. Have a question? Fire away: (All questions will be published anonymously.)

The Question

I waited two months to have sex with my boyfriend. I wanted to build the relationship before going into the bedroom, so I took it very slow. But now we've been sleeping together for a few weeks, and the sex is bad – really bad. Can sex get better, or should I turn tail and run?

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The Answer

Short answer? Don't run, sprint.

I'm a huge proponent of sticktuitiveness: Fake it 'til you make it, I say. From the downward dog to parallel parking, practice makes perfect. But sex is a completely different beast: It's either something or it's nothing.

Run fast and far – but with the caveat that you and I agree on the definition of bad sex. We're not talking the first time (because let's face it, almost anything can happen in that first mattress dance). And I hope it's not for lack of communication – no "he goes left when he should go right" nonsense. If that's the case, tell him to go right, gently. Crisis averted.

No, I'm trusting when you say bad sex it's a matter of mismatched, chemistry: to quote HBO's Girls, my oracle of modern relationships, it "feels like a weird uncle touching your knee." Then I'm sorry – there's nothing you can do. Do not resuscitate, do not pass go. Of course sex can get better – become mind-blowing even – over time, but in the first two weeks of sex, after two months of build-up, you should be just barely resisting the urge to tear off your clothes in public.

"Two weeks! Two weeks!", screams couples and sex therapist Dr. David McKenzie, on his hands-free cellphone as he drives through Vancouver. I called an expert, and in doing so clearly inflicted some road rage.

"Amberly, please, give the poor guy a break!" the former pastor turned sexologist yells. "This woman has made sex out to be this grand prize, this big carrot at the end of the road, waiting for so long – I have to wonder why."

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Simply getting used to another person's body, says Dr. McKenzie, doesn't happen in a number of weeks, no matter how big the, uh, carrot. "It takes an average couple several years to work out what they like, how to really please one another."

I'm not convinced. Shouldn't the spark – the instant you touch – be a fire? I can hear him white-knuckling the wheel. He says there's "some scientific evidence" to support the presence of chemistry – "that spark you speak of," he chides, "but there's nothing conclusive."

The good doctor begs you to give him six months. He says sex isn't "the be all and end all" of a good relationship, and if you're nuts about him, you have many other reasons to stick around. To me, however, six months of bad sex will reverberate into all other areas of your relationship.

Am I being too kismet-centric? Clearly, you need a third opinion.

"Well, what about love?" insists Alex, a stranger turned friend at a dive bar in Toronto (sex talk will do that). Twisting her new, engagement ring as she talks, the young paramedic instantly strikes me as an expert on love, lust and lasting relationships.

"Some things are a slow burn – you can be just 'meh' at the get-go, then things heat up over months."

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Alex applauds you in principle, for waiting: "She let the relationship build, and made him earn it." But she slept with her fiancé (who is "the best ever") in less than two weeks after their first meeting. The sex was "literally fire" since the first time.

But Alex insists, "even if it sucks after all that time, I'm sure it could get better."

I'm not convinced: I like that you waited – playing hard to get, as old fashioned as it sounds, drives him nuts – and made him chase you. But it's also a dangerous game. Now you love him, and you're stuck with him.

How is it that you waited two months for such a travesty? What happens when you kiss: Fireworks or crickets? And did you ever take him on a dance floor for a test drive? (I promise never to quote Shakira again, but your hips truly do not lie.)

Let me give you a glimpse into your ugly future: A very good friend of mine was in your unsatisfied shoes for two very long years. She fell quickly in love with, let's call him no-game-Gary: his swagger, his witty banter, his Saturday pancakes. But once the clothes came off, she was horrified: The heat wasn't in those sheets, and she had two years of bad sex, like some sort of terrifying urban legend. That's far too many nights of making confused faces at the ceiling.

My advice? Get out now, friend – while you're still relatively unhinged and unscathed.

Have a sex question? Fire away:

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More


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