Samantha Bitty Knows Good Sex (and Wants You to Know It, Too)

Toronto sexual health educator Samantha Bitty breaks down the components to having great sex — and they might not be what you expect.

Toronto sexual health educator Samantha Bitty — known through her travelling event “Sexy Sexual Health Trivia” and on Instagram for making sexual health accessible, funny and sexy — gets asked how to have “better” sex, a lot. Her answer shows that what we know about “good sex” has come a long way from orgasms and partner-pleasing, which amounted to most of the topics covered in women’s magazines not so long ago.

“The first step is not treating your sex life like it’s separate from every other aspect of your life,” she says. Having a holistic, curious view of sex, she says, is what makes it easy to explore how to make it better.

Here, she shares her tips for having better sex, from exploring self-pleasure and kink, to deepening emotional intelligence and choosing partners wisely.

(Related: 3 Ways Your Sex Life May Change at Midlife)

Samantha Bitty HeroImage Credit: Samantha Bitty

It’s 2021 — how has our understanding of sexuality changed?

“Society generally sees sex as penetrative, and our understanding of sex is replicated through education, media and our relationships. The way to disrupt that system of beliefs is to reimagine sex as any form of sexual expression, unless it’s not consensual. This can be partnered sex, penetrative sex with a penis or a toy, oral sex, solo sex or self-pleasure. There’s a hierarchy of sex acts, and we tend to assign value to certain sex acts as being more valuable. That isn’t real! What we’ve learned more than anything in lockdown is the importance of sex that happens with yourself. It’s a super valuable experience.”

If someone has never self-pleasured before, how should they start?

“Our discomfort with self-pleasure is rooted in sex and masturbation shame. It tells us that some people should be self-pleasuring while others shouldn’t be. It’s important to explore emotionally while exploring physically and working to unlearn all those oppressive narratives that we’ve internalized. They’re barriers to self-pleasure. Orgasm and touching your genitals isn’t the be-all, end-all of self-pleasure. Maybe start in the shower where you’re already nude, and pay attention to how touching your body feels, and go from there.

(Related: 6 Healthy Reasons to Masturbate)

How does masturbating make partnered sex better?

“We are so much more present and aware, and have more self-knowledge about what feels good for us. We have to let go of the idea that everybody enjoys sex in the same way. The more you know what feels good for you, the easier it is to communicate that with your partner. Sex with a partner is an experience, not a performance, and sex with yourself is the most authentic experience you can have, because it’s for nobody but you.”

Why is a body-mind connection vital to “good sex”?

“It’s important to decentralize the genitals when understanding sex because it broadens our ability to sexually express in unlimited ways, and is inclusive to those who don’t have a sexy relationship to their genitals, or those who don’t have use of them. Having better sex means working on whatever’s bothering you in your life. The value of sexual experiences, like anything else, is our ability to be present. If you’re stressed about work or your laundry, your body can’t really ‘be there.’ Being present during sex means not performing to impress your partner; it’s so much more liberated when pleasuring yourself or others comes from a place of curiosity and intuition.”

(Related: What to Do When Anxiety Is Affecting Your Sex Life)

It sounds simple, but what does curiosity actually look like during sex?

“It’s thinking about sex as an opportunity to explore, as opposed to determining what the outcomes will be. When you’re coming from a place of curiosity, there isn’t that ego there that wants a material thing—like penis size or looking good for your partner—to inform the value of the experience. Instead, you can focus on being compassionate and excited. When we have curiosity, we’re detached from outcomes. Maybe you didn’t orgasm, but you had a really good time because you got to experience something new. Our self-worth can be so inextricably linked to our ability to be ‘good’ at sex. If something doesn’t work, move on and find what does!”

What are some of the main components of ‘good sex’?

“A positive sexual encounter—with informed consent—doesn’t begin and end with the sex. It’s what leads up to it, and what happens during and after that are the indicators of how we emotionally relate to the experience. Having your verbal and nonverbal cues seen and heard by your partner, letting go of expectations and recognizing that people have different needs are big components, too. Pleasure, consent, mutual respect and bodily autonomy: If you have those things, then chances are you’re going to have a positive experience no matter how it goes. Sometimes the aftercare makes it positive. Good sex is rooted in emotional intelligence—it’s empathy, self-awareness and communication.”

(Related: Your Vibrator Shopping Guide)

Let’s talk communication. How do you ask for what you need without making your partner feel bad?

“We can’t control how someone else perceives information. What we can do is understand how someone else relates to it, how they interpret affection, care and safety, and then speaking in a language they understand. That may mean being direct, or might mean asking questions like, ‘does that feel good for you?’. Avoid value-laden language, as opposed to speaking from a personal space of ‘I enjoy’ or ‘this feels good.’ We’re all responsible for our own pleasure. Pleasure isn’t something that someone gives to us, it’s something innate within us. There are many reasons why some people can’t meet our pleasure needs, but that’s not a reflection of their inadequacy.”

Can exploring kink and fetish lead to ‘better’ sex?

“To have a ‘healthy’ relationship with fetishes, it does require a lot of self-knowledge. It’s not just about somebody else fulfilling some need for you. It’s very mutual and requires that ongoing dialogue. Kink serves so many different purposes. For some it’s for kicks, and for others it’s for healing from sexual trauma. There are things that won’t feel right for you, but you can practice non-judgment and let things be revealed to you. Sex is all about exploring the infinite possibilities of ways you can feel good.”

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Next: Can Cannabis Help Kick-Start My Sex Drive?

Originally Published in Best Health Canada