By Camille Noe Pagán
Awkward sexual moments don’t end with your teen years. Even the most secure adults may find themselves tongue-tied or at a loss for what to do sometimes.
Here are six common scenes that may fluster you (or someone else), and graceful ways to get out of them.
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Caught in the Act
Getting caught during a delicate moment, whether you’re solo or with a partner, is common.
“It’s best to address your embarrassment head-on,” says Carole Lieberman, MD, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills. A light response can work wonders — something like, “Oh, I thought I was going to have some private time here,” or, “We thought we were alone.”
Get caught by your kids? “Young children, in particular, may interpret sexual situations as Mommy and Daddy fighting, so it’s important to quickly let your child know that you are playing,” says Lieberman. Older children are more clued into what’s going on and respond better to, “We were showing our love for each other, and you’ll understand better when you grow up.”
Your Partner Has a Fetish
If your partner makes a freaky request, ask yourself: Are you ashamed to do it? Is it unsafe? If the answer is no to both, “it’s worthwhile to be open-minded and willing to try it,” Lieberman says.
Before you start, discuss what it is you don’t like about the idea, and consider having a “safe word” that lets your partner know it’s time to stop. Knowing you can call a halt when you want to may even help you enjoy it.
You Can’t Get Aroused
These issues are normal. If you don’t make a fuss about them, chances are, your partner won’t either.
“Hormonal changes and even cycle changes can cause a lack of vaginal moisture in women. It’s incredibly helpful to have a lubricant on hand,” says Lauren Streicher, MD. She’s a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. Streicher says silicone-based products last longer than water-based versions (and as a result, require fewer “breaks” during sex).
Men may lose their erection during or after putting on a condom. Streicher’s advice? “Use a female condom instead. It offers protection from STDs, is made from a very, very thin, lubricated material that doesn’t decrease sensation, and in most cases, eliminates erection problems.”
If problems don’t stop, though, seek a doctor’s help.
Hooking Up With a Coworker
One in four people say they’ve had a fling with a work colleague. Whether it’s a one-night stand or the start of something serious, your other coworkers may figure it out.
“Be professional at the office, because you want to avoid the appearance of favoritism,” says Amy Nicole Salvaggio, PhD. She’s an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven who studies workplace romance. If things between you sour, she says, “don’t unload your emotions on other coworkers. The degree to which you [stay calm] will go a long way toward minimizing damage to your career or reputation.”