“How do I communicate in the bedroom without having a panic attack? I can’t make the words come out of my mouth and then I end up in a weird mental spiral that ultimately ends sexy time. Please help?”
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Bethany Rutter Says:
I would get the communication done before it gets to the bedroom, or specifically the bed, but definitely before it gets to a state of undress in the bed. It can feel too much, too personal, too critical to have those conversations once sex is already happening, so chatting about what you want and what you don’t want and what’s hot and what actually makes you feel kinda uncomfortable is best done in a chilled environment before you get down to it. ‘You know what would be really hot?’ or ‘hey, I feel kind of weird about…’ are fine and legitimate ways to start sentences.
Knowing what you want to say and feeling like you have something concrete to work with is often half the battle with communication. It could be a good idea to create a list, for yourself, consisting of three things: stuff you know you like, stuff you know you don’t want to do, and stuff you’re not sure about, but under the right circumstances you could be into exploring. You could literally write this stuff down in a draft email or a note on your phone, so it becomes clearer in your mind, so that when it comes to your next sexual encounter, you can articulate your turn-ons, turn-offs and curiosities. It might seem prescriptive and un-spontaneous, but having it clear in your mind what you know you’re into and what you’re not into can make it more likely that you’ll be able to speak confidently and get what you want sexually. Full disclosure: I learnt this approach off someone I had a fling with, and it’s been super useful to me ever since. People often really like talking about what they’re into sexually, and don’t often get asked by their sexual partners. Assuming a one-size-fits-all sex life exists is the road to boredom, ruin and unhappiness.
Also, a weird mental spiral is not necessarily a bad reason to end sexy time. If you’re feeling uncomfortable and like a sexual encounter is causing you to freak out a little bit, you’re totally within your rights to cut it off at any point.
Not to get too granular, but meta-communication (that’s to say, communication about communication) is a really valuable part of relationships of all kinds. Talking to your partner or partners about how you want to communicate, how you don’t want to communicate, the ideal scenario for talking about stuff, your worst communication nightmare, can be super helpful. I like resolving issues right then so if I’m in conflict with someone who finds it useful to have time to think before stating their position, then I need to know that about them so I don’t think they’re being evasive and don’t value me. Asserting how you want to talk, and hearing how your partner wants to talk, will mean your talking goes better every time.
Bethany is a journalist and blogger living in London. She spends more time doing nonmonogamy and being queer than she does writing about it, but hopefully she can lend a hand in written form. She loves cute clothes for fat girls, reading obsessively, lipstick, Broad City and giving pep talks. Follow her on Twitter at @archedeyebrowbr
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"How do I talk to my girlfriend about getting a sex toy? (I’m also a girl.) And at what age do you think it’s appropriate?"
Question submitted by Anonymous
Ok first off: I work at a sex toy shop and out of all the questions I get, this is one of my FAVORITES. There’s nothing I love more than working with people who are putting themselves out there and exploring a new part of their relationship.
When it comes to bringing up the topic of sex toys with a partner, I’ve personally always preferred a blunt approach. I’ve found that dancing around the topic just makes things more awkward and opens it up to confusion. Try to find a casual, comfortable moment when the two of you won’t be interrupted (this may not be a conversation to have at the local coffee shop) and directly bring it up. Being upfront about it can show your girlfriend that this isn’t a big deal, which can help everyone be more honest and comfortable about what they’re feeling.
You might find it helpful to start off with a comment about how much you enjoy whatever things you’re already doing before mentioning something you think might be fun. Something along the lines of, “Hey darling, you know how much I love it when you X my Y? I was thinking that it might be even more fun if we also had a [insert whatever sex toy you’re thinking of here].” The point isn’t that you’re unhappy with whatever bumping-and-grinding you’re getting up to, but that you think there’s something fun that you could bring in. (Sidenote: If you are unhappy with your sex life with your partner, that’s a whole other conversation. Remember that a sex toy isn’t the magic cure—honest communication is going to be your best friend there.)
Some people recommend buying an inexpensive sex toy before having the conversation so that you can be like, “Hey, I found this and thought it might be fun to try!” The idea there is that you’re keeping it casual and making things simple by presenting one concrete thing to consider rather than a bigger question of sex toys in general. I’m not a huge fan of this approach because I think it can feel more like “Surprise! Let’s Do This!” rather than opening up a conversation. Instead of buying a toy before the conversation, I recommend having a plan you can offer of what it would look like if she’s into the idea. Do some pre-conversation research to get a sense of where you might get a sex toy, what the options are, what your potential budget is, and so on. This can help give specifics for her to think about without springing a sex toy upon her without warning.
The best thing you can do in this conversation is be honest and open with your girlfriend and be willing to listen to her concerns. She may not want to run out to get a sex toy right at that moment, but these conversations are important for couples to understand each other even more.
As for the second part of your question: I’m not really sure there is an inappropriate age to get a sex toy. For those of us who have sexual urges, the instant we begin to experience them is usually when we tend to find sex toys all over the place. Early sexual desire drives innovation as we find new uses for washing machines, handles of hairbrushes, or the classic electric toothbrush. If someone is old enough to be repurposing household objects for sex toys, then I don’t see what’s wrong with them having something that’s actually intended for that purpose. I will say that not everyone agrees with me on this and that you should check to see what your local restrictions are on getting sex toys: Can people under 18 go into a sex toy shop in your state? Can you buy them online?
Exploring our sexual desires alone and with our partners can be filled with anxiety and joy. Sometimes things aren’t going to work out like you hoped, but the important thing is being able to communicate what you need and listening to everyone involved. There’s no surefire way to know how things will turn out, but you can’t go wrong with plenty of research, empathy, and kindness. Sending my best wishes to you.
Constance Augusta A. Zaber is a New England writer interested in history, sex practices, libraries, what she’s going to eat next, and Virginia Woolf. She writes about books (particularly those by trans authors) online, sells sex toys in a college town, and is working on an undergraduate degree in Sexology. Her personal, professional, and academic work is based in her experiences as a white, Jewish, trans woman with clinical depression and anxiety. Follow her on Twitter @augustazaber
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Ahhh I brought a girl back to my room! What now?
-Question submitted by Anonymous
Did you type this WHILE SHE WAS IN YOUR ROOM WAITING?!
This question is from like three months ago so, listen… First of all, sorry for the delay. Second of all, I hope it all worked out and you went back in there and leaned casually on the doorframe and said something like, “Well this is weird, isn’t it? Who wants to kiss, am I right?!”
If, however you are still hiding in a corner, crouched at your computer, feeling terrified: you can calm down because she probably left, feeling a little confused, a couple months ago. In which case, GO FIND HER, and show her this post and say, “Kristin said that next time I saw you we should make out and I always listen to what Kristin says so…” Then make a pucker face and close your eyes.
“So I’ve been seeing this girl for about six weeks and I think soon we’re going to get all up on each other, but it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten intimate with someone and I’m really scared I’ll have forgotten what to do or how to communicate during or that I just can’t be sexy anymore. Do you have advice on how to deal with that pre-pants-party anxiety?”
Question Submitted by Anonymous
PRE. PANTS. PARTY. ANXIETY.
Okay, listen. This anxiety has happened to me every time I was about to bang someone new and the amt of time between me sleeping with two people was anywhere from 1 week to a year. I HAVE EVERY SINGLE EXPERIENCE. I’ll have you know it doesn’t actually matter and it’s always scary.
The best bone session I’ve ever had was / is with my current bae and the reason was / is because we talk about EVERYTHING. Every. Single. Thing. I was nervous, I told her. She wanted to try something cool, she told me. I wanted something a certain way, I told her. We wanted do something that was maybe difficult, we talked. That’s how it started and that’s how it continues. If you start out honest, you will always have the best sex.
And maybe it won’t be perfect every single time, but it’ll be so dope when you can just say, “that was cool, I think my favorite part was when you touched my butt a little.” Rather than sit back and just hope they figure it out if you trick them by breathing differently once they get sort of close to what you like… that shit is too difficult to try and keep up with.
It’s also super easy to be the person who starts the honesty. All you gotta say is, “I haven’t had intercourse in 7 months, and I wanna hump you super right, so I’m gonna ask questions to make sure that happens, cool?” And they will be on board. Think about it, anyone on the earth who wants to be humped is gonna be down with their hump partner learning to hump them correctly… you know what i mean?!?!
You can ask them about fantasies, or if they prefer oral or handsy, or if they like toys, or if they want it slow or fast, do they like to jump into humping or would they rather be kissed all over for an hour. Tell them what you’re into. Ask them if they’re into the same things.
Worse case scenario – they think all the sex stuff you wanna do is weird and they’re not open to talking, and they don’t want to try anything. IN WHICH CASE, they are not the right sex person for you, so it’s good that you know that in advance!
“I wanna hump you super right” – Dannielle Owens-Reid, lady killer
I agree with everything up there because talking about what you like is always helpful, but I also want to add one important thing:
Fumbling is always, always okay. As in, mayyybe you told yourself you were going to follow Dannielle’s advice but then you panicked at the last moment and didn’t say what you wanted and just dove right in and then shit was so sexy until her pants got stuck around her ankles and while you were trying to tug them off you hit her head on the wall and then her cat started puking in the other room. MAYBE SOMETHING LIKE THAT HAPPENED. You know? You know.
What I mean to tell you is that your first sexytime is probably going to be the BEST, but even if it isn’t the best… that is okay. Sex can sometimes just be hilarious and ridiculous as your figure each other out (and honestly even way after you figure each other out). Laughing and being open to fumbles of all shapes and sizes makes any sexy experience so much more real, and so much more awesome.
Remember that you aren’t after a movie-scene. You are after connecting with someone and trying to make them feel good while you also feel good, and laughing and talking and fumbling are all part of that experience. Plus, now every time her cat pukes you’ll look at each other with heart eyes and be like ‘awwwww remember the first time…’
You’ve. Got. This.
“Dating is terrifying, I don’t want to do it but I have to because I want all the gushy romantic feelings. I feel like girls move so fast nowadays and I just want to get to know someone first. Why is it always all about sex?”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
OMG IT ISN’T. I PROMISE IT ISN’T.
It’s completely dependent on whether or not you and the person you want to potentially romance are on the same page. I know so many couples who didn’t have sex or even get super frisky until they were very deeply, emotionally, involved. It’s because that’s what they both wanted.
Everything in a relationship – moving in together, marriage, having kids, moving to a city, when to meet the parents, having sex, calling each other pet names, kissing, merging friend groups, etc etc I could go on forever… EVERYTHING in a relationship has to be a decision the two of you make together, which means you gotta be on the same page. You just gotta. If you’re starting to date someone and they’re trying to convince you to have sex earlier than you want, you shouldn’t be dating them. They’re not on the same page as you. If you’re on a first date with someone and they say it’s fucking ridiculous that you never want to have kids, you shouldn’t be dating them. They’re not on the same page as you.
LISTEN EVERYONE: You don’t have to date people that don’t get you. You don’t have to be in a relationship that makes you unhappy. You don’t have to kiss someone you don’t want to kiss. You should never be made to feel ridiculous for having thoughts, opinions, and your own set of internal morals. We are all constantly changing and growing and becoming who we are. If there is a person who is making you feel inadequate for the journey you’re on and the decisions you’re making, fuck that person. OR DON’T FUCK THAT PERSON I GUESS IS MY POINT.
You have GOT to be able to feel good about you in order to even begin to feel good about your relationship. Don’t kiss on someone who won’t let you feel good!
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