Tag Archive: relationship


Our guest post today comes to me from a very articulate and intelligent blogger; Bydarra@hotmail identifies as a heterosexual, male, middle aged, kinky, poly, and a tech geek residing in central Texas.  There are other labels he embraces but they aren’t as relevant.  Much thanks to him for providing this person insight into practicing polyintimacy.

I think his post is incredibly important in the way he describes the ordering of our important relationships- whether they be with friends, romantic or sexual partner, or something else entirely.  It echos what Forever the Queerest Kids has always stressed- knowing what works for you in your relationships and going for it.

When I was young (20ish), I read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.  This turned out to contain the seeds that would germinate over the next 25 years and eventually result in my abandoning romantic monogamy (after the end of a 17 year marriage) and seek to put my thoughts in order.  This was, in part, an academic exercise but  even more it was an attempt to figure out how to implement relationships that would be meaningful and authentic for all involved.

I identify as polyintimate which I define as pursuing relationships in which participants strive for intimacy to whatever degree they are able. A sexual component may be included but not necessarily.  Some may have more emotional depth. Whatever elements come into play, these relationships encourage us to be our authentic selves.  Polyamory is but one avenue of this philosophy. Whatever the model of relationship, the one true thing is that time and resources are finite. As such, some relationships will receive more than others. Some people play a greater role in our lives. Sometimes that’s by chance. Sometimes that’s by design.

My involvement in the online public polyamory community revealed that my thinking diverges to a degree from many practitioners.  I think this is because of my nature.  I’m a geek who can be a bit OCD about order and trying to get concepts to fit together in a consistent fashion.  As a result, I’ve figured out how polyintimacy can work in my life.  A part of those thoughts are laid out in the following paragraphs.

Unlike many who practice polyamory, I see a validity in identifying the priority of a relationship. The terms Primary and Secondary are valid as long as we have some way of defining them for ourselves and those we are involved with know where they stand. For me, these terms go beyond polyamory. My son is a Primary relationship. My brother is not. He isn’t even on my radar in this. A very close friend could be Primary though not remotely romantic. So how do I define these gradations of intimacy and commitment? Those are the key elements for me. Let me stress that these are not specifically romantic. These frameworks should be applicable to any type of relationship from professional to personal; from platonic to romantic…

A Primary relationship is one where I see the other person as a long term participant in my life and vice versa. I consider them in my long term plans. I may not completely change those plans to accommodate them but I will modify my plans to maintain our relationship as best we can. This relationship is the kind where families exist… We sacrifice what we want when the others’ need is greater. Maybe we sacrifice what we need for our Partner(s). How far we go is up to each of us to decide. I love these people in some context. They’re my family of choice.

A Secondary relationship develops from a Tertiary. In some cases, it may be a negotiated relationship such as Mentor/Apprentice, Dom/sub, etc… Sometimes it may be more egalitarian and organic. In any event, participants have an expressed commitment to each other and the relationship. There is a much greater degree of intimacy that has been achieved over time. In a romantic context, I see this as the beginning of polyamorous involvements. Love is not necessary but it is a probability that it might develop.

A Tertiary relationship occurs when I’ve met someone and see a potential for growth beyond the casual acquaintance. I’ll spend resources in getting to know this person better. There will be a lot of conversations about philosophies, interests, plans, etc… to determine if there is a basis for increased intimacy. This takes me beyond the basic chemistry/’shiny’/appealing stage. If the growth of this relationship is mutual, I’d define this as the place where it has begun. At thispoint, we discuss what’s happening, decide to move forward or not, and begin negotiating future involvement.

Beyond this are acquaintances, buddies, strangers, and the rest of the world. Not all relationships fit easily into one of these ‘levels’. Many of mine fit somewhere in between. Some move between one level and another.

As a closing thought, I think it is profound to note how Bydarra also acknowledges the fluidity in the way that we relate to ourselves and our partners.  Our relationships were not meant to stay stagnant, but to evolve the way our personal identities do.  I find his story affirming and encouraging, so thank you again for writing!

Stay true to yourself, and be cool, queer kids.

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One of the unfortunate things I’ve run across in some sex-positive communities is the idea that there’s a “right way” to do a certain kind of practice.  There’s a “one true kind of D/s play,” the “real kind” of (insert meaningless garbage here).  And I think that’s really hurtful, to people who are still trying to figure out their identities and sexual practices without feeling judged.  For those of us who feel confident in our preferences, it’s just bloody annoying.

I’ve seen this most often in the polyamorous community.  I’m not going to hypothesize why this is, but it really upsets me, considering how difficult it already is to identify as poly in our society.  Taking flack from within your own community about the different ways people perform polyamory is a burden no one needs.  ((BTW: If you want a refresher on what polyamory is: check out this Q and A with XeroMag))

So what are some of the bogus arguments you may come across?

Poly isn’t about the sex.

Bullshit it’s not about sex.  I strongly dislike polyamorous people who lord the sanctity of their emotional bond over people who have casual sex.  Yes, the idea behind poly is that you can not only have sex, but also a loving emotional connection to more than one partner, but when poly people use love as a prerequisite for the identity, they are doing everyone a disservice.

understanding nonmonogamies book

Boring book cover, great book. Click through to buy on Amazon!

There is a great book, called Understanding Non-monogamies, which is a collection of essays on different types of non-monogamy (yes, my nerdiness is showing) which has a really amazing section on how poly communities use “love discourse” like the “Poly isn’t about sex” line to reinforce monogamous beliefs.  Think about it—conventional, monogamous marriage is all about prizing one emotional bond over all others.  It exists to the exclusion of all other sexual partners because their love matters more than the physical pleasure of random sex.  By saying, poly isn’t about sex, poly people are using the same logic of monogamy to exclude people who do relationships and sex differently.  They are saying: you are not as good as us.  Your relationship doesn’t deserve recognition, because it’s not built on the foundation of love that makes ours REAL.

That is of course, a load of crock.  Only you can give your own relationships and hookups and friends with benefits meaning.  A casual sexual partner can often be hugely important in your life, even if the emotional commitment to a long-term relationship is not there, the same way a monogamous person can have a one night stand after they break up with a partner and have it be completely game-changing for them.

You aren’t really poly if you don’t love your other partner- you’re just using them.

B….S….  This is tied right in to the first argument, that poly relationships are about love, and sex is just a side benefit.  By extension, if “real relationships” are about love, then a poly relationship where you don’t love your other partner is really just using them.

I’m sorry, I forgot when it became ok for others to place value judgments on what my relationship means.  If my partner feels like ze ispoly heart: couple in the middle with arms extended to multiple partners on each side not being respected enough, ze can leave.  One thing poly really is about is honesty, so I can understand this argument if a person is lying to their partner, saying ze loves them, but really doesn’t.  However, beyond situations where one partner is obviously lying to the other partner, and those two people are not asking for the same things out of a relationship, there’s nothing wrong.

Swingers are inferior to poly people.  We’ve figured out how to make sex with multiple people meaningful.

Gararrarrrawrrrrr.  (that’s my angry noise)

There’s a surprising amount of ire between poly people and swingers.  Polyamorous people often think of swingers as cheapening non-monogamy by making it all about sex, or by having so many rules or so much jealousy around the issue of sex.  For me, this is kind of a no-brainer.   People are wired for different kinds of monogamy, and different kinds of non-monogamy.  Some people can let their partner have casual sex, but they want no part in it.  Some can let their partner have casual sex, but only if they ARE part of it.  Some people aren’t wired for jealousy.  Some people can have emotional attachment to multiple people.  Some partners don’t want that.  You have to work within the context of your own needs, your own limitations, and those of your partners.  The hardest situation to navigate is when an established, monogamous couple contains one partner who wants to open up the relationship.  There are a lot of degrees to which this can be done, and swinging is one of a variety of options.  There’s no reason to look down on couples that swing, because that is what works for them.  It respects boundaries, is consensual, and the people involved enjoy it.  Isn’t that what we all want?

Two fingers pointing in opposite directions, captioned "I'm with them"

You’re not really poly if you have a primary partner. 

A primary partnership in poly relationships is the pair that stays together for the long-run, that has primacy over other relationships, and should be respected above all else.  Some poly people (often those that militantly advocate group relationships, poly circles, etc) take issue with the idea of a primary partner, because it devalues other relationships with a paired person.  And in a way, that’s true.  If you live with, marry, and spend the majority of your time with one person,  your secondary partner is not going to have the same value to you that your primary does.  It’s right there in the vocab: primary, secondary.

However, that doesn’t exclude you from polyamory, and it’s not abusive to your secondary partner.  If you assume an open structure on both ends (you can have multiple partners, and so can your secondary), then your secondary partner is open to finding a primary of zir own.  That’s pretty darn poly-like to me.

And there’s a reason that the pair-relationship model has lasted so long.  It’s awfully nice to know you can come home to the same person every night, to have someone to depend on no matter what, to be there for you through everything.  But that doesn’t preclude other relationships.  It doesn’t preclude anything.  The coolest thing about relationships is that you can make your own rules for them.  As long as everything is consensual, and you strive to do right unto everyone you spend time with… then love whoever you want.

Go on, I give you permission.

Stay cool, queer kids.

Why I Love Sex in That 70’s Show

I will admit, that only 2 weeks ago, I was sitting down to write the exact opposite of this article, ranting and raving about the dichotomies and false standards that TV and movies perpetuate today about sex.  But I’ve actually found that, somehow, That 70’s Show has a few good things to teach us about sex between teenagers.

For those of you not familiar with the show, the recap is fairly simple: six friends hang out in Eric Forman’s basement in 1970’s po-dunk nowhere, Wisconsin.  They smoke a lot of weed and talk about their lives, which are, for the most part, inconsequential and full of stupid mistakes.  Two of the friends, Eric and Donna, are dating throughout most of the show, and the first two seasons follow their relationship developing into a sexual one.  There’s a lot of ugliness to this progression, which involves Donna tackling the psycho-social “Let’s make this special” complex about losing her virginity, and the show often dichotomizes Donna and Eric into chaste, pure, and virtuous virgin and salivating, uncontrollable horndog.  Thus, why I was originally going to write about how bad this show is.

HOWEVER, things make a 180 degree turn in ethics once Donna and Eric actually start having sex.  The episode where Donna and Eric lose their virginity also includes a great montage of Donna asking adults in her life what their first time was like, and the unanimous answer being that it was terrible…but sex got better with time.

Because when it comes down to it, yes, we do need practice, goshdarnit!  No one is born knowing how to be great in bed.  It’s a skill, and it comes with time, familiarity, and practice.  I’m glad that the show can acknowledge that in a funny, realistic way, while shedding light on the myriad ways that people lose their virginity (to a stranger, immediately after their wedding, with someone unexpected).

The other aspect I really like about the sex ethic in That 70’s Show is how it portrays female sexual desire through Donna.  Before they have sex, Eric is the only one pushing for it, and I had assumed that the same dynamic would persist throughout the show.  Luckily for me, and very true to reality I think, sex completely opened Donna to her own desires.  After Donna and Eric start have sex, there’s equal emphasis on both of their desires for each other, which I find incredibly refreshing.

And again, this makes a lot of sense.  Before I started having sex, I did not think of myself as a sexual person.  I knew that I wanted to have sex, eventually (preferably sooner than later), but my desire wasn’t concrete.  It didn’t have form.  But once I’d lost my virginity, I felt like I understood my body and what it wanted better (obviously this wasn’t really true, because it took almost another year before I realized it kind of preferred girls…lol).

Nonetheless, desire had a direction once it had experience, and thus, a much stronger hold on my body.  I think Donna’s development throughout the season mirrors that exceptionally, and it’s a really good model for how women can be sexually empowered, without feeling like they have to run out and sleep with a new guy every week, become a swinger, or poly, or kinky, or whatever.  Women can take charge of their sexuality within the confines of a very “normal,” comfortable relationship, just by acknowledging that they have needs too.

Now I’m not saying this is a wholesale endorsement of the sex ethic in the show.  The characters in That 70’s Show are obviously just that, characters.  And it is a comedy, which colors their actions in neurotic and unrealistic overtones.  Yet the essence behind Donna and Eric’s relationship is good, and I wish I could see that shown so righteously in other shows being produced today.

Sex and Strangers

I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to blog while I was in Nairobi, but it’s my free day and this helps me decompress (but don’t come to expect it!)

The wonderful thing about the American University study abroad program is the manipulation of group time in the orientation week activities.  There are 12 of us total, and about half of the activities are for all of us together, with the other half having us split into constantly rotating groups of 4, which is meant to help us get to know everyone.  I’m finding that both sides of these group arrangements are very beneficial in understanding where people are coming from, and it also tends to lead to very amusing conversation.

Now you’re thinking, ok, Bianca, that’s cool, you’re studying abroad, but what does that have to do with sex, sexuality, or any of the stuff you’ve been writing about for 4 months?  Well, thing being, when you get a certain number of women together, they’re inevitably going to start talking about sex and relationships- their pains, their triumphs, their dirty secrets and whatnot.  These conversations are also the time when the group seems to bond the most.  And me, being a person who thinks a lot about thinking, can’t quite figure out why that is.  What about sex talk brings people together?

My first thought was universality.  Everyone has either had sex with someone, wanted to have sex with someone, or felt the societal pressure to have sex.  It doesn’t matter who you’re attracted to and what kind of context you interact with that person (or persons) on, everyone’s felt it.  Somehow this universal understanding of a force makes it easier to connect to people, because everyone has a story.

But… being hungry is universal.  As is friendship.  Or school.  All of these are topic areas which have universality, but don’t draw half the conversation that sex tends to.

My second thought was excitement.  You don’t get much of a thrill by talking about being hungry.  What you and your best friend did this past holiday can be amusing or interesting, but it probably won’t send chills down your spine or make your eyes grow wide with intrigue.  Sex, on the other hand, being the taboo and infinitely complex societal interaction that it is, has enough dimensions, twists, turns, and surprise endings to keep people constantly interested.

And yet, that doesn’t seem sufficient either.  There are plenty of exciting things to talk about- the antics that people get into drinking, the sports and travel adventures that others have taken, etc.

I think what it truly comes down to is the depth of the questions involved.  The truly engrossing things- sex, religion, love, philosophy, fate- are exciting and unknown, they’re universal and fundamental, but more than that, they reveal the deepest part of a person’s self understanding.  The way you frame sex can be indicative of the way you conduct your life, or it can be purposefully opposite.  The relationships you’ve had can fundamentally shift who you are as a person, and they will almost always reveal something about who you always were.  Sex is dirty, but it’s evocatively dirty.  It makes us remember that we’re all human and that we’re dealing with similar questions in very different ways.  And I think all of this is compounded by the fact that so many people are telling us not to talk about it.  Because so many of us have had to find answers on our own because of society’s stifling silence, there’s an even greater sense of camaraderie built around the sharing of these struggles, these heartbreaks, these laughable snapshots and the inevitable comparisons we so desperately need in order to validate our own experiences.

I’m open to being proved wrong, though.  I especially would like input from the asexual community- is what I’m saying valid for you?  Does sex talk matter, and is it interesting?  Does it help you bond with people or push you farther away?  Do you have any alternative suggestions, or is this whole philosophical musing a big N/A ?

I don’t have all the answers, you know.

A Degree of Polyamory

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term polyamory, it’s helpful to understand its many manifestations.  The textbook definition (that is, only if you have a really good, progressive textbook) will explain that polyamory is a state of romantic and sexual attraction which involves more than one partner.  However, that’s far from the whole picture.  There are a lot of configurations for polyamorous relationships.  Some poly people desire to be the middle partner in relationship, where the other two partners are not attracted to each other, but only to him/her/zir.  Others prefer to be in a triangular relationship, where all members of the relationship are equally attracted to each other.  Of course, poly interactions are not in any way limited to three people, either, and can encompass all varieties of configurations and interactions.  I know of one asexual person who thought a poly relationship would suit them best because his/her/hir partners could get their sexual satisfaction from each other and their emotional satisfaction from him/her/zim.

However, polyamory takes on an even more unique adaptation, especially in the sphere of college couples, which is much more “mainstream:” The Open Relationship.  I will admit to you right now that last year, I did not understand open relationships at all.  It seemed completely unfathomable to me that two people could claim to love each other and care about each other, but see other people simply because of distance.  Now, the open relationship seems like not only a viable, but a daring solution to the societal pressure to remain faithful and the natural urge to explore variety in sexual and romantic interactions.  Usually I don’t like using Autostraddle for actual, informational articles, but this latest one about why polyamory can work in a relationship is great.

Contrary to popular belief, monogamy and fidelity are not one in the same. Take it from two lesbians – real lesbians – who have both been in serious relationships, both open and exclusive, and are still trying to figure out what exactly that means.

By nature, monogamy is insistent upon jealousy and structured according to what we feel areunrealistic expectations of yourself and your partner. There’s more room to focus on building a secure, lasting relationship when it’s not bound by or founded on obligation or a denial of attraction.”

While I don’t believe that the article hosts a completely unbiased analysis here (monogamy in a trusting relationship isn’t built on jealousy, but perhaps on respect and subsequent restraint), it does present a unique viewpoint- one where being with someone other than your primary partner is not cheating or doing something wrong, but actually a progressive movement towards honesty and a building block for a healthier, more realistic relationship.

Myself, I am still toying with the idea of polyamory.  Conceptually, it makes a lot of sense, but I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to try it in practice. I’m not by nature a jealous person (I mean, at all- when my ex cheated on me, I didn’t care about the action of infidelity, only the secrecy of keeping the information, rather than trusting me with it).  There’s potential for this configuration, although I’m not overwhelmingly drawn to it, either, except perhaps with a sexologist’s general abounding curiosity.  Which is another great point: some poly people are perfectly fulfilled at some points in their life to be in monogamous relationships (although others aren’t…).

What I think interests me most about polyamory though is the comparisons that the blogger Sex Geek draws between non-monogamy and D/S (domination and submission) relationships: transgression, specialization, spirituality, personal growth, and intimacy.  Check the full article out here.

Both non-monogamous and power-based relationships fly in the face of all manner of social norms that tell us who and how to love. So in order to do either, you have to get comfortable with the idea that you’re now beyond the pale of mainstream acceptability….

Have I ever mentioned my fetish for constant improvement? Well, I have one, and it comes into play

in both non-monogamy and D/s relationships because both involve intense trust and deep communication. They often force us to face our demons and exorcise them (or at least learn to manage them well), deal with our insecurities, figure out how to love ourselves better, and do some serious fine-tuning of our communication skills.”

My only note with all of this discussion of polyamory is an insistence on communication- on the necessity of making sure that both your partner and you want what you are pursuing (again, a parallel to important aspects of D/S).  Polyamory has the ability to tear down much more easily than it can build up, so if either you or your partner are unsure about how to navigate the territory, do so carefully and with respect for the other’s boundaries.

Stay queer, cool kids.

Focus on the Family

Every parent wants to raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child.  But sadly, finding out that their son or daughter is gay is rarely “part of the plan.”  When a teen comes out, their parents are generally taken by surprise, no matter how obvious it may have seemed.  They may feel overwhelmed or confused, asking , “How can a child that we have raised become something so alien to us?”  Accepting an LGBT identity dramatically changes the interaction between child and parent- suddenly, the child is the teacher, the one who has come to an understanding of a deep and complex idea without any prior knowledge from the parent.  And the parent is suddenly the student, trying to understand the new needs of their child.  Sadly, there are still households where coming out as LGBT is not acceptable religiously or morally, and worse yet, there are parents who are simply unwilling to learn about LGBT people and accept the role of student to their child.  This switching of roles does not, however, ALWAYS shatter a family dynamic.  In fact, in many ways, I feel that my coming out has brought my family closer.  And there are ways to make coming out and subsequent interactions easier and more beneficial for all family members.

Initially when I came out, my mother was worried, and with good reason.  The world was, and still is, often a hostile place for LGBT people.  I had a lot of Catholic friends whom she (and I) worried would reject me.  Although she accepted my orientation (and has a generally positive view of LGBT people in general), she urged me to stay closeted and never brought the subject up again.  At my request, she told my father, whose reaction was similar, but perhaps even more worried about the societal problems I would face become of sexuality.  Although I was initially relieved that my parents hadn’t been angry or upset, I knew in my heart that complacent acceptance was not what I was looking for from my parents.  I wanted them to better understand my sexuality- beyond just “Bianca likes girls and boys.”  They still clung the hope that I would “fall on the straight side of the equation” when I found a permanent partner.

So this is where my deep and abiding love of dialogue comes from: a lot of long, painful, sometimes tearful car rideswith my father, desperately trying to explain why I wouldn’t “grow out of being bi” and why his hopes for my marrying a man were hurtful, even though he only wanted the easiest life for me (one without the societal pressures of a lesbian relationship).  I can’t say we’re in a perfect place regarding that, but after 10+ months with my most amazing and supportive girlfriend, he is beginning to see that a relationship with a woman can be equally healthy and wonderful.  We’ve had several exchanges, but the most touching of which was an email I received telling me how happy he was to see me enjoying my time with Beth.

My parents have come a long way- my mum reads this blog as often as she can, which makes me infinitely happy, and my dad has reached out to Beth and her family in every way he is able to show his support.  Point being, there’s room for everyone, even the most accepting of parents, to learn more about you and your sexuality, if you’re willing to put yourself out there.

On the other side of the spectrum, though, I know many teens that are still closeted at home because of their family’s strong religious beliefs or simple blatant prejudice.  I don’t have much in the way of advice for you, sadly.  At the end of the day, you have to decide if sharing your true self with your parents and family members is worth the hurt and anger you may encounter.  I truly believe that any parent worth the air they breathe would still love their LGBT child, even if they are hurt, angry, confused, or conflicted.  But I have been proven wrong on this point.  And that’s a horrible reality to know.  For those of you living in situations where you fear the backlash of your family, from the deepest part of my heart, I apologize for your pain.  I invite you to search out people and organizations in your area who can help support you in your struggle.  It isn’t a fair one, but it need not be one you face alone.

PFLAG, as I have mentioned before, has chapters across the country and is the best support group I know for LGBT teens who need the love and acceptance of their parents’ generation- they can be a family in their own respect.

There are a lot of local organizations as well- Pittsburgh has a Gay and Lesbian Community Center on Grant Street and they hold youth nights every Friday night.  DC has everything from a Gay Jewish Shabbat service (Bet Mishpachah) to a Brazilian GLBT group.  ((The magazine Metro Weekly has an AMAZING listing of all the groups in DC))  And there are places like this in every city.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you.

I have always believed that family is who you let closest to you.   My girlfriend, my best friend George, my crazy neighbor Sarah, my 11th grade high school English teacher- these people are my family, even though they don’t share my blood.  They are there to support me, to listen to me, to share in my pain and my triumphs.  They are also the people who have accepted me unconditionally for the person I am and have embraced my sexuality as a part of my integral whole.  I hope that each and every one of you finds as good a family.

Ultimate Guide to Sex!

I thought I’d post something I started on when I first thought about the need for sex writing and honest information.  It’s been sitting in a little notebook in my desk for some time, and while it’s hardly everything, it’s a good starting point.  Consider this the sex talk your parents never gave you:

Prelude: Ok, so the likelihood is, if you’re reading this “book,” you’ve got someone in mind and you’re wondering if you’re ready for an intimate relationship. Well, more often than not, the fact that you’ve picked this up means that you’re not.  …But maybe you are.  Let’s find out.

Ch. 1- Mental Mindset

Sex is more than just an act- it’s a state of mind.  A lot of people who have negative emotional experiences when it comes to sex were not mentally prepared for the experience.  So before you even bring up the possibility of sex to your partner, you need to make sure you know what it means for you.

Sex is about 4 things- trust, communication, self-image, and pleasure.  The easiest thing to start with is self-image.

SELF-IMAGE: Put simply, sex means being completely naked (shocker, right?)- both physically and emotionally- with your partner.  If you aren’t comfortable with how your body looks, you’ll be inhibited mentally and you won’t enjoy sex as much.  So how can you work on this?

  • After a shower, look yourself over in the mirror- not at individual parts, but at your figure as a whole.  Make a practice of finding your best assets and mentally focusing on them while letting any perceived shortcomings fall to the wayside.
  • Pay attention to when you feel the best about your body.  Maybe it’s after a workout or when you first wake up in the morning.  Replicate those experiences as often as possible and then try to recreate those feelings during activities that make you feel bad about your image (like eating ice cream or watching TV).
  • Do not rely on your partner to validate your beauty- that fosters dependence, which is terrible for self-esteem and leads to messy break-ups.

As for emotional self-image, it’s important to understand what you are looking for in a relationship and how your personality will affect it.  Is this a fling?  Are you a person who gets easily attached emotionally?  Do you need a lot of physical interaction to make a relationship work?  Understanding what you want will make communicating and relating to your partner much easier.  But how do you learn what your specific needs are?

  • Keep a journal where you record daydreams.  Mention not only the people and the situation of the dream, but also what emotions you were feeling at the time.  Don’t censor yourself.
  • Pay attention to what attracts you to your partner- is it physical?  Emotional?  Do you share interests or communicate on a similar intellectual level?

COMMUNICATION: Once you understand what you personally want from a sexual interaction, you need to talk to your partner about what they want.  If they haven’t thought about it, I recommend that you wait on sex until they have reached the state of mental preparedness that you have.  The most important thing is that both people in a sexual relationship are on the same page.

If you are both at this point, take some serious time to discuss the details of sex.  While movies may romanticize sex as spur-of-the-moment, if you don’t talk with your partner beforehand, major consequences (physical and emotional) can ensue.

So what’s important to talk about?

  • Protection- the most important issue to be addressed is birth control.  If neither of you is comfortable enough to buy a condom or get a prescription for the pill, you should NOT be having sex.
  • General etiquette and preferences- lights on or off?  Any off-limits areas?  Special considerations for pain (especially if one or both of you are virgins or nervous- which often go hand in hand)?  Need for lubrication?  If you are planning on oral, will s/he swallow or should s/he pull out beforehand?
  • STDs.  Awkward to bring up, but it’s important to make sure your partner is clean.
  • Kinks/fetishes- this can be potentially saved for a second go-around (as first times are often better for straight, down-to-basics, get-comfortable-with-each-other sex).  But eventually, you and your partner should discuss what would be optimally pleasurable for both of you.  Do you want to introduce toys?  Role-playing?  Bondage? (Check out our guest blogger’s article on kink for more on that subject!)  Do NOT bring these into the bedroom unless both you and your partner have agreed on them.  Springing fetishes on a partner without warning can be emotionally damaging and unfulfilling for both people.

TRUST: The reason many people suggest waiting on sex in a relationship is to make sure the couple has built up sufficient trust in each other.  Sex can come with some insecurity, so if you do not trust your partner implicitly, you may regret sex afterwards.

Emotional trust is primary in terms of the general relationship as well.  Warning signs of lack of trust include:

  • Fear of inadequacy romantically/intellectually/physically
  • Fear of rejection/being dumped
  • Jealousy
  • Worries about partner lying/cheating/withholding information

If you have any of these problems, put off your plans for sex until you’ve addressed them.  Never let fears of a relationship ending pressure you into having sex.

Things to remember:

  • A relationship should not be contingent on sexual performance- if it is, do NOT have sex.
  • Sex is not a one-shot deal.  It is a learning experience which gets better with each subsequent encounter.
  • Even “bad sex” can still be a good experience if the couple is open and honest about their needs and wants and achieves a sense of closeness from it.

Aftermath:

Ok, so now that you’ve done the deed, there are immediate and secondary steps to take.

Immediate- just because sex itself is over, does not mean the interaction is done.  Don’t flip back on the awkward switch and run for your clothes as soon as your animalistic senses wear off.  Stick around and lay together for a while to assure your partner that sex has not emotionally hurt or changed you.  When you’ve cuddled sufficiently, consider doing something intimate but not sexual to transition, like taking a shower or helping each other dress.  Reinforce the bond that you formed through sex.

Later- Debrief with your partner.  What went well?  What should we work on?  What could we change/add for next time to make the experience more enjoyable?

**Note- Do not let sex replace your relationship.  Undoubtedly, if the experience was positive, you’ll want to repeat the performance.  But try to alternate activities so that sex is a fixture of expression in your relationship, but not its only component.

So that’s what I had written.  Note, of course, that I totally forgot purposefully omitted the section on pleasure, but I think from the rest of the blog, you guys get that already.  Also, this was written from the assumption that the person’s sexual relationship would be ongoing (which it isn’t always- and I’m not here to judge that), but this guide would be a lot shorter if it were only covering one night engagements.  Anyway, what do you think?  Any other advice?

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