Only 30% Of What You Try In Bed Works

Reader:  Athol, you said ” Only about 30% of what you try in the bedroom together will work for you as a couple.”  You’ve said this before, IIRC. Two questions.
1 Where does this number come from? Is it a rule of thumb or is it more research-derived?
2 Does it actually mean that one woman in three will do pretty much anything and the other two will do missionary only?!
Right, I’ll get my coat… ;_)
Athol:  The figure of 30% is based on the personal experience of Jennifer and myself. We’ve found that an awful lot of things that sound good, simply don’t work for us when we try them in reality. It’s just as simple as “Ahh… I don’t bend that way” for some things. Half the toys we’ve tried over the years got used once and tossed.
I know you all imagine Jennifer and I drenched in each others juices in a sweaty rythymic choreography each night, but some nights it really is exactly like this when I get a really good idea…

There’s also some things that we do as a couple that simply won’t work for many other couples. For example I’m 6′ tall and fairly sizable, while Jennifer is 5′ and fairly petite, so one position we like is a rear entry position with me lying on my back and Jennifer lying on top of me with her back on my chest. If Jennifer was 5’10” and fifty pounds heavier, it wouldn’t work for us as a position. It’s a great position in that it’s really intense, but even with her so much smaller than me, as soon as I orgasm the “erotic intensity” immediately turns into “bitch get off me”. There’s a sort of a 1-2-3 move where I orgasm, dump her ass on her side of the bed  gently roll her off me, and take a huge breath of air.
So the 30% figure is quite real to us as quite a lot of what we’ve tried in bed hasn’t worked for us. Somethings only work once as well. The first time is really good, and then the second time it’s just all kinda meh.
The 30% is important in that I think it’s very helpful and encouraging to couples starting out with widening the things they do, to think that it’s okay to have sexual failures. Most people have so much invested in sex that even a tiny handful of sexual failures can be viewed as a significant problem. The reality is pretty much everyone starts out pretty damn awful at having sex, and it’s only with practice and trying out stuff that you get better and better.
Trying out new sexual things is like batting in baseball. You hope that you’re going to hit a home run, but most times you aren’t even going to get a clean hit that gets you to first base. If you quit after a few strike outs, you’re not understanding the game. But if you just keep getting up to bat enough, at the end of the season you should have a decent record.
Or if makes you feel better… a symbolic interactionist based seventeen year longitudinal study involving the mating practices of a bonded dyad determined up to 70% of all novel breeding methodolgies initated by the male met with negative levels of reported enjoyment. This lack of enjoyment was slightly more typically reported by the female than the male.
So anyway, make a bucket list and just start trying new stuff out together. If it doesn’t work, laugh about it. If it works, you’ve found something new to do together that’s exciting and fun!

Jennifer: Don’t see things that don’t work as failures, see them as experiments.  Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we just say “meh, tried that once, don’t need to do it again” and sometimes we say “ow, never mind” and go with something tried and true. Your 30% of what works for you is going to be different than our 30% of what works for us.  Also, things change over time…things that weren’t in our 30% ten years ago are there now, and things that used to be there are not enjoyable any more.


  1. Anonymous says:

    So it's based on a data set where n=1 (one couple). And as far as it goes, a couple somewhere to the right side of the bell curve (thats meant to be a compliment!!!!).

    I think the guy yesterday was right – one woman in three is up for trying most anythingand the other to are strictly missionary

  2. Tequila Mockingbird says:

    AK, thanks for this post. The more that we can talk about sex openly, the healthier it is. There is far too little openness and understanding about sex, and this leads to unnecessary judgement and shaming, such as:

    "If you like X, you're perverted/gay/wrong/bad/brutal/a rapist/just not sexy."

    "If you don't want X, you're a freak who isn't having sex the right way."

    For example, when my partner and I first started out, he didn't particularly enjoy receiving oral sex. He was really wound up tight about it, and it caused some weirdness between us, because he didn't feel that he could just say, "You know, that really isn't doing it for me, let's do XYZ instead." And since he had so much emotional baggage about that particular act, it became a source of extreme anxiety (read: very NOT sexy!) for him. Now, after a year and a half together, and me demonstrating to him repeatedly that it is OK if he doesn't like oral sex that much, amazingly, he is starting to like it and even request it from time to time.

  3. Ian Ironwood says:

    I'm currently editing a humorous collection of user reviews of sex products over the years for a big-time porn company, and I'll vouch for the fact that the vast majority of sexual experiments/toys/lubes/whatever just don't work for most people. People's bodies are different, their levels of sensation are different, their personal likes and dislikes are terribly different. The same vibe that gets twenty 5-star reviews will have another twenty talking about what a horrible experience it was. Sexuality is the most personal thing about us, and "one size fits all" just isn't a productive approach.

    Hormones and novelty can get you through the first year or so of a relationship, but after that you really have to start exploring each others' sexual nuances if you want to keep things going. That just can't happen (for either party) unless there is a general agreement to explore such things with an open-minded spirit, without judgement and without recriminations. Exploration of a rape fantasy, for instance, is likely not an indication of a deviant sexual disposition, but it's easy to interpret that way. Likewise such "sensitive" areas as prostate massage, homoerotic porn, anal sex, bondage, and other less-vanilla variations might also lead to harsh judgements if they challenge our preconceived notions of what sex "should be".

    If you are hesitant about being forthright about a desire to explore something your spouse might object to, don't be. A part of taking the Red Pill is accepting that your sexual desires and needs are just as important and valid as hers are, and a healthy exploration of your sexuality will by definition lead you down some dead-ends. But if you rely on her to propose any new menu items, you may be in for a long wait. Just like with regular sex, when it comes to "extras" women are often subject to "responsive desire". That is, she may not actively pursue something she's interested in — say, light bondage — but if you do propose it, she'll be all over it (often after some face-saving initial reluctance). Once you do create a pattern of injecting novelty into the sexual relationship she'll eventually begin to be more comfortable expressing her own desires for exploring her sexuality.

    And you will inevitably run into problems. Mrs. Ironwood and I have a "three strikes" rule: if one of us is really adamant about trying something out, the other person has to give it three chances (if the first one fails badly enough, usually that's enough to kill it, however) to make it work. If it doesn't, then it's perfectly acceptable to table the issue for five years or so (if you really feel strongly about it) or shelve it forever in the land of masturbatory fantasy.

  4. Athol should hire you to finish the posts. Badger and you are, by far, the best "commenters" of this blogs, and you add a lot to whatever subject Athol is talking about. Thank you!

  5. Ian Ironwood says:

    My absolute pleasure. I'm astounded by how well Athol does what he does, and I cannot underline the potential importance of his work. I mean, it has potential to change our entire culture, when placed into context. My own work with the sex industry gives me some helpful "meta" insights into the sexuality of North America, which allow me to evaluate Athol's work in a much broader context, and I love sharing that with everyone to further the development of Married Game. It has enriched my own marital life so dramatically (and we were already in a pretty strong place) that I can only imagine what it can do for a relationship that's in trouble. And believe me, half of the "user comments" I wade through are actually thinly-disguised criticisms of a partner's sexuality. There are a LOT of rocky relationships out there, and sex is one of the biggest rocks.

    And as far as Badger goes, I highly recommend his own blog. While we don't always agree on specifics, I consider him one of the Wise Old Men whose intelligence and eloquence inform and enrich the Manosphere tremendously.

    But thanks for your comment — believe it or not, I have an ego.

  6. One thing that has changed a lot in our sexual dynamic over the years is that it feels better but probably doesnt' look as exciting. Most men (and in increasing number of women) who grew up in the 80's or later have had a lot of thier ideas about sex shaped by the porn industry in one way or another, and the porn industry is almost solely focused on presenting sex as something exciting to WATCH, as opposed to something fun to do. The farther we have moved away from using 'porn star' positions and techniques, the better our sex life has gotten… the downside being that to an outside observer we probably often look like a pulsating jumble of arms and legs tied up in knots.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Eric, another child of the 80s here… Amen! And it's sooo hard to shed that ubuntu concept that requires external validation of what we're doing, even in private. I no longer have to tell myself to not think about how it looks from an outsider's perspective, but that took an incredibly passionate and caring man to get me there. I've been plagued with all kinds of self-criticisms, too, like not having big enough boobs, wrong-colored nipples, too short… And, oh, GOODNESS did I think my pie was overbaked!! All because of comparing myself to porn stars.

    If anyone else were to see us having sex, they'd probably be grossed out. But, it's my absolute most favorite way to spend my time!! And I think I have the hottest man on the planet.

    No wonder our kids (older!!) tease us and say "ew" all the time. I don't think they have quite the same experience with the airbrushed porn we did.

  8. So, yeah I would have to agree with the 30% rule of thumb… and who cares if it is an off the cuff approximate guesstimate. Athol isn't going to do an elaborate study on it!

    Pokey and I have found the same thing, and that things change and what didn't work ten years ago is good now and part of our staple. I have also found that since learning more about the married 'game' and being more masculine and less of a 'nice guy' the number has gone up! When she is excited and turned on by me, less things hurt and if I just Do it, then she is more likely to like it than if I whine and beg… surprising, I know!! (what? that isn't sexy?)

    "I think the guy yesterday was right – one woman in three is up for trying most anythingand the other to are strictly missionary"

    I used to think this and that I had lost the lottery and that my wife was just not that into sex. However, It was me not getting her spark going. I still think everyone is different and results vary- some women are nymphos and some are just a missionary type but most can up their enthusiasm and participation with the right encouragement!

    I used to have a lot more anxiety about things not working out with sex, if we tried a position that didn't work, she had to stop or we got interrupted…basically if I didn't get off I was disappointed and frustrated. Now it isn't so bad, I have learned to not take it personally as a failure and as we have sex more often so if it doesn't work today, it will probably work tomorrow or the next day, it used to be more like i had to wait til next week.

    So, generally things are going much better!

  9. "…some women are nymphos and some are just a missionary type but most can up their enthusiasm and participation with the right encouragement!"

    This is so true, and I wish that more people understood it. Most husbands can do things that will increase their wife's desire, and most women can do things that will increase their own desire and openness to sex. Many people think "that's just the way she is/that's just the way I am," but in most cases that isn't true. The conditions and mindset just need to be changed.

  10. Whenever I read about a guy being offered oral sex and turning it down I wish there was some kinda international database where oral sex could be transferred. Like, "I'm not into that honey, but go deposit it and some needy guy in Canada can have it tonight". There should be a charity or something.

  11. Yeah, it's not the position, it's the passion.

  12. "So anyway, make a bucket list and just start trying new stuff out together. If it doesn't work, laugh about it. If it works, you've found something new to do together that's exciting and fun!"

    A bucket list… wow. Great way to look at it.

    Laughter is important, no matter how it turns out. I can't understand how anyone makes sex a serious dramatic thing. I mean, it's pretty ridiculous even though it's so amazing.

  13. Ian and Badger are both excellent writers and valued members of the Manosphere. It will be very interesting to see where all this goes in a few years.

  14. Anonymous says:

    "…some women are nymphos and some are just a missionary type but most can up their enthusiasm and participation with the right encouragement!"

    And the same position every time year after year STILL gets dull, no matter how enthusiastic. If you eat fillet steak every night, and never ever eat anything else, sooner or later you ARE going to crave something else.

    Just sayin'…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Anon 11:31, you sound like my husband. And I agree!!

  16. Ian Ironwood says:

    "If you argue for your limitations, you will never exceed them."

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