Tracey Cox reveals how to tell a partner they’re bad in bed

How to let someone know they’re bad in bed… WITHOUT offending them: Tracey Cox reveals ways to subtly improve your partner’s technique (and the 10 things you should NEVER say)

  • Tracey Cox reveals how to tell a partner they’re disappointing in the bedroom 
  • She says it is important to give them positive feedback as well as negative 
  • Suggests guiding your partner with your hands to improve their technique 

Telling someone you love (or could love) that having sex with them sucks, does not rank highly on anyone’s ‘Things I love doing’ list.

But if you do it, I can guarantee you two things instantly.

First, it’s not as bad as you think. Second, crack the code on this one and you’re sexually set for life.

And it really isn’t that difficult if you follow one simple rule.

The secret to telling someone they’re the worst lover you’ve ever had, is…not to. 

Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox reveals how to tell your partner they’re disappointing between the sheets – without hurting their feelings 

Focus on what you want, not what you don’t, and you’ll find the solution without ever having own up to having a problem!

Confused? Keep reading and I promise it will all make sense.


What to say (and what NOT to say) 

I love touching you.

Do you like it when I do it here/hard/soft/like this/like that?

Which way do you like it best – like this or that?

Demonstrate by using your tongue on the palm of her hand or sucking one of his fingers.

Your bottom is beautiful. Do you want me to spank it?

Can I kiss you here?

Never ever say or do……

I hate it when you do that.

God, that’s so irritating.

Deliver a criticism without a compliment before it.

My ex used to orgasm in about two seconds flat.

My ex used to do this thing with his fingers and I really miss it. Could you give it a try?

The hottest sex I ever had was with this Swedish backpacker on a beach. Why don’t we ever have sex on a beach?

Shout ‘And you’re rubbish in bed!’ in the middle of an argument.

Say ‘Why don’t we ever do this or that?’, in an accusatory, whiny voice. Use the word ‘should’ instead of could you or would you.

Say ‘That’s not normal. I can’t do that, I’m a feminist!’

Make dirty talk sound like a demand or criticism.

Work out what you want

Start by focusing on yourself, not your partner.

Make a list of 10 things you want more of in bed, 10 things you want less of and 10 new things you’d like to try.

Finding it harder than you think?

This is the mistake lots of people make.

Saying ‘I hate it when you do that’ isn’t much help unless you suggest something you’d like them to do instead. You have to know what you want sexually in order to get it.

One final check before you proceed further: how specific are your lists? Do they simply and clearly spell out exactly what you want, for how long?

Your partner is not a mind-reader. Loving you does not mean they know exactly what you need to turn you on at that exact moment.

Let me repeat that: your partner is NOT a mind-reader. Which is why it’s a good idea to….

Let them in on the secret

Not much point in just you knowing how to give you pleasure is it? Here’s where you open your mouth and – shock horror! – tell your partner about it!!

Choose a time when you’re both getting on reasonably well (call me an alcoholic but I always think a good time is when you’re a big glass of wine in and having a laugh), then simply bring the subject of sex up.

‘I forgot to tell you! Remember Kate? The girl I used to go to school with? (A complete lie – all of it.) Well, I ran into her and she’s left her husband and run off with a younger man – purely for sex! 

‘Anyway, I started thinking, I hope you won’t run off on me because you aren’t happy with our sex life. And then I thought, we really should put more effort in. Like there’s loads of new things we could do and try in bed and I’d hate for you not to be happy….’

Get the idea?

Tracey says it is imperative to tell your partner what they are doing right before you tell them what they’re doing wrong

You’re opening up a discussion on sex that’s two-way: both of you talking as a team about what you’d like to explore instead of you pointing the finger.

In fact, you’re actually on the back foot and giving them centre stage – maybe even insinuating they’d have more to complain about than you would.

When it comes to the bedroom Tracey advises using your hands to direct your partner 

Hold the indignance – it’s the end result that counts. And you’ll get a lot further this way than launching into a discussion on why you don’t enjoy sex because your partner’s the worst you’ve ever had.

Work from the positive

This is the crucial bit: always work from the positive.

Always start by telling your partner what they’re doing right before moving onto what they’re doing wrong.

In other words, talk about what you want more of in bed, not less of.

I don’t care if the only thing he does right is turn the lights off. Whispering ‘I love the way you make it all dark and sexy’ is still better than ‘Oh for God’s sake, when are you going to learn I like foreplay!!’

Lying helps.

Saying, ‘Wow! That felt great when your tongue hit that spot – go back there!’ is kinder and more constructive than saying his tongue is so far off target, it was in the next room.


The five minute confessional

Set an alarm clock for five minutes then put it out of sight.

One person is ‘talker’, the other ‘listener’. Then each take turns to do just that.

The ‘listener’ cannot interrupt until the alarm sounds, then they get to talk uninterrupted for five minutes: it’s much easier to talk if you know you’re not going to be interrupted for a little while.

It’s much easier to listen if you know you’re going to have your say, uninterrupted, soon after – and five minutes is quite a long time, as you’ll see.

The Alien Game

Everyone thinks I’m nuts when I give them this initially but it really does work because it’s a device which gives you an excuse to wipe the slate clean.

You don’t have to say ‘You know the way you’ve been touching me all these years? Well, I hate it. I really like being touched like this…’

You have to start from scratch because, well…one of you is from outer space. Yes, really.

Put your creative cap on and leave your mind open.

Pretend one of you is an alien and the other is an earthling.

The alien has never had sex before, never seen genitals before, never seen a human being naked before, so has no idea how to touch them or what to do with them.

The person who is the ‘earthling’ has to instruct the alien, very specifically, on how to arouse them.

If you’re the alien, start asking the million sex questions you really would have buzzing around in your head: Does this feel good? Why does it feel good? Does this feel even better? Why?

As the earthling, it’s your job to explain, in simple terms, why touching a certain part of you in a certain way makes you aroused.

Master the art of criticism without wounding feelings and the rest is easy.


Put your money where your mouth is (or should now be) by reinforcing your words with body language.

Use your hands

If they’re still not getting it right (and they’re probably not yet because words can only explain so much), redirect.

Use your hands to move his/her hand/mouth/hips to where you’d like them to go/do.

It’s pointless (not to mention a complete waste of time which could be spent enjoying yourself) to just lie there and hope they’ll eventually hit the spot.

Instead, reach down and show them where/what/how hard you want him/her to be.

Back it up with body language

Praise them vocally and with your body when they do get it right and make it so obvious even the neighbours know.

Apply the same technique when they do something you DON’T like: show zero enthusiasm so they well and truly get the message.

Your body should radiate ‘That feels about as pleasurable as getting a pap smear when they haven’t warmed up the steel thing’.

Don’t judge others by your own behaviour

If we respond to something a certain way, we assume everyone does. Wrong! We’re all individuals and it pays to remember it.

Take noise in bed for example.

The world divides into three types – those who scream, groan, moan and generally wake up everyone within a half mile radius from the first kiss through to the last thrust (about 20%); those who are generally quiet but quite vocal during the climax bit, emitting grunts/sighs and involuntary moans on orgasm (about 60%); and those who keep their lips zipped no matter what (about 20%).

Seriously, Scarlett Johansson/Jon Hamm could miraculously burst through the screen, fall on their knees and deliver and some people would still stay silent.

So don’t take it as a personal slight if your partner does fall into the last category.

Why are some people vocal and others aren’t?

It’s more to do with upbringing, past experience and general personality type than enjoyment of the experience.

It doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying it, it just means they’re more embarrassed/inhibited/private/quiet/different/put whatever word you like on it about sex than you are.

Even if they’re not writhing about the bed screaming Yes! Yes! Yes!, it doesn’t mean they’re not melting on the inside.

Check out the new products in Tracey’s product ranges at Find good, practical information about sex on 


Some scenarios are fixable.

Technique can be taught if you’re willing to school a new lover in what you like, where and when.

Ignorance about sex in general and a lack of understanding of how your sexual systems work is also solved by education. Harder but also possible to change are things like reshaping someone’s attitude to sex.

If your partner has been brought up to believe sex is ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’, they may need counseling to reshape deeply ingrained beliefs – but it can still be done.

Even dramatically different sex drives can be balanced if you’re willing to compromise.

It’s not such good news if you don’t think your partner’s a good lover because there’s no spark or fireworks (if it’s not there in the beginning, it’s unusual for chemistry to kick in later on).

But the only thing which is truly impossible is transforming a selfish, brutish lover into a good or even acceptable one.

These people will fight you, kicking and screaming every step of the way.

So, if you (poor you!) end up with someone like this, I strongly suggest you extradite yourself from the situation ASAP.

If your partner is well intentioned, just not terribly good at sex, stay.

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