Skip to main content

Sexual superstitions: Good with fingers = good at intercourse?

Share |
Anonymous asks:

I'm closing in on 18 and I've been in a relationship with a girl for a few months. We've had some fun with a little foreplay, going down on each other, mutual masturbation, everything minus sex toys and actual sex. Thing is, I'm really good at fingering her, and I can get two to three actual real orgasms out of her. I have heard in numerous places from numerous people that if a guy is good at fingering, he will most likely be good in bed. I know this is only a somewhat superstition, but do you guys know if this is true in most cases?

CJ replies:

It sounds as if you’re concerned about your performance abilities, and whether your partner is going to get pleasure out of intercourse. From what I’m reading, it also sounds to me like you’re already having “actual sex”—indeed, oral sex, manual sex….it’s sex! And with sex comes the need for good communication between partners in order for it to be healthy and fulfilling for all involved parties. I’ve definitely heard my fair share of sexual superstitions out there, but I’ll tell you what: if you are concerned about how well you will perform for/with your partner in bed, there are better places to focus your energy than trying to figure out whether your fingering abilities will mean anything in relation to your abilities with intercourse.

But simple answer aside (which is no, there’s no magic relationship between fingering abilities and intercourse abilities), I think there’s a lot going on in your question so I’ll try to tackle a few things while I have your attention.

First, let’s talk about orgasms. I think the language we often use when talking about orgasms is kinda weird. Usually we hear about “giving someone an orgasm” or “getting an orgasm” out of someone. It makes orgasms sound like cobras in woven baskets, like if we just play the right song on our flutes they will come slithering out to wow the crowd. “Giving an orgasm” sound so formulaic, as if following some number of simple steps in a set order will result in this definite and predictable end point. “Getting an orgasm out” of someone sounds a bit like what you’d do with a pesky stain on your favorite shirt; you put in a bit of effort and hope that it comes out ok.

I prefer to think of orgasms in slightly more collaborative terms. As a partner, orgasms are not ours to either give to someone or get out of them. Indeed, each of us has our own sexual potential within ourselves and that is something over which we hold ownership. Our bodies and our sexuality belongs to us, not to a partner (unless we give consent for someone to “own” us or take control of our sexuality, which is a whole different ball game than someone doing that non-consensually). We can share orgasms with a partner or partners, and/or we can pleasure ourselves.

I only mention this because I think that sometimes the way we frame our sexual encounters can have a lot to do with how they go, and how satisfying they can be. If you and your girlfriend enjoy digital penetration, that’s great! But I urge you to not think of those encounters as you “getting an orgasm out of her”, but, rather, engaging in some activities that are pleasurable for her, and hopefully also for you!

But pleasure does not usually arise out of thin air. None of us are sexual psychics. I think that no matter how well we know a partner (which even in long-term relationships is a never-ending process), there is always more to learn. We’re not mind readers, and so we have to rely on feedback from our partners in order to know what feels good for them, or what they want. Many a cruddy sexual experience has happened because we’ve made assumptions about what our partners like or want, and it turns out that we are dead wrong. Even if we have good intentions, communication is absolutely necessary in order to assure that we’re on the same page with our partners and doing something that feels safe and good. We look at the way sex is portrayed in the media and so often it looks like this unspoken and purely spontaneous process where everyone “knows” what the other person wants, when they want it, how they want it…it sends such an unrealistic message about sex. We know that sex can be hugely awesome, but it can also be awkward, underwhelming, hilarious, goofy, or just sort of…there. Let’s face it, we’re not always totally suave when it comes to sex.

But there are ways to increase the chances of things being fabulous for everyone involved, which I think is what you’re really trying to get at in your question. First of all, the decision to engage in any kind of sexual activity needs to be completely mutual and wanted. In order to fully consent to sex, we need to be free to say no at any point. There is no ladder or sequence of events that necessarily need to happen when you start being sexual with a partner, so just because you and your partner are into fingering, into making out, into oral sex or into whatever, does not mean that you need to have intercourse….unless you’re both really on board for that.

I probably sound like a broken record, but communication is important here! Before engaging in any sexual behavior, you should be prepared and willing to talk with your partner about any potential risks involved, whether those could be STI risks or emotional risks. Sex can be a lot more enjoyable when you’re not worrying about unintended pregnancy or STIs! Open communication about safety can help to clear the pathway for more conversation about pleasure.

So I’d say that the number one thing you can do to help assure that you’re satisfying your partner and helping her enjoy all of her pleasure potential is to use your biggest sex organ—your brain!—and talk to her about what you want, what she wants, and what feels good for both of you. Make sure that your decision to have intercourse is because you both want it, not because you feel like it’s just the next step and what is “supposed” to happen. I think it’s ok to let her know if you are a bit worried about how it will feel for her or how it will go; she may have some of those same concerns.

Hopefully you are already doing this, and the reason she’s enjoying fingering so much is because you two are able to communicate and you’re learning what she likes. That was probably a learning curve; it probably took some time to start to see and figure out how your girlfriend likes to be touched. The same thing will go for intercourse should you choose to have it.

If we’re not used to having these conversations then they can totally be a bit awkward at first. Many of us did not grow up really talking openly about sex, and sometimes it can be hard to shake those feeling enough to have the conversations. But, trust me, this is probably not the first time things have been awkward for you and it definitely won’t be the last. That’s all a part of being in relationships, but these conversations do get a little easier as we get more practice in having them.

As for the numerous people who are trying to convince you that there’s some equation that can objectively determine how good you will be in bed, well, my guess is that a lot of that is arising out of their own insecurity. It makes sense that people want to be good lovers and good partners. Sexuality is a healthy and fun expression of our humanity, and something that will be with us throughout our lives. Sharing pleasure—with ourselves or with a partner—can be incredibly powerful. It makes sense that sometimes we want some kind of scale, some kind of indicator of how we will measure up sexually. That makes it seem so concrete when we know that sexual relationships are dynamic and that being a good partner is something that is not quite so easy to define or predict. Communication, however, is a great starting place and increasing your communication skills around sexuality will do wonders for your abilities.

Try to remember to leave room for imperfection along the way. Learning is not always liner. What I mean by this is that rarely do we take in information, try it out once, and have it down perfectly. Humans are so complex and relationships have so much going on within them that it will undoubtedly take some time and practice to work on your communication skills and really get to know your partner. Be kind to each other as you work together n the pursuit of healthy sexual expression and pleasure!

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, so let me also point you to a couple of other resources that can help you beef up your communication skills.

You may also want to check out these articles and suggestions:

written 16 Dec 2008 . updated 17 Jan 2014

Related Content

Whether we walk, bike, skate, wheel or drive, when we're on the road there are traffic lights, signs and signals we know we and everyone else needs to pay attention to. We also know we need to...

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.