Talking About Sex: Part One

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Note: I am working on a lecture series that I will be giving, but I am also going to put the things I am talking about on the blog, because even though it is for vanilla folks, some of it may help you too! 

Figuring Out What You Want

The first step is to figure out what matters to you. This is a big step, because we are all individuals and so we all have different ideas about what is important. In order to effectively communicate with others, you must first look inside yourself and determine where your limits are. That way, you will be able to let other people know. There are several key things that you should determine for yourself when it comes to sex.

1. Do you wish to be monogamous?

This is a question that requires a lot of thought. If you want to be able to have sex with other people, then you also have to be comfortable with your partner having sex with other people. That can be difficult for some people, and so if you think you are curious about polyamory, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your partner and make sure you are not looking for an excuse to “cheat,” but instead have a legitimate interest in both of you perusing loving relationships outside your own.

Good questions to ask yourself:

1.  How would I feel if my partner went out on a date and I was at home alone?

2.  How would I feel if my partner developed feelings for another person?

3.  How would I feel if my partner decided another relationship was more valuable to him or her, and therefore moved me from the primary position to a secondary position in their life?

4. What rules would be have in place to ensure good communication ?

Note: It is okay if you decide to be monogamous. It doesn’t mean that you are not open-minded and interested in sex. Just make sure that you are making a conscious choice to be monogamous or polyamorous. Don’t let yourself be pushed or coerced into anything that you are not comfortable with.

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2. What is your comfort level when it comes to STDs?

Some of you may have grown up before this was a big concern, so let me start by telling you that HIV is a big deal, more aggressive strains of Herpes are going around, and there is also an untreatable strain of Chlamydia that has developed. This means the days of just taking a pill if you get something are over, and STDs are a real concern.

Personally, I prefer to exchange STD tests with potential partners prior to having sex with them. This is not a guarantee of safety since some things can take time to show up on a test. However, it is an added layer of safety that helps me to feel more comfortable with new partners.

Now, this is not always possible for me. My partner and I occasionally attend orgies. In those situations, I have to realize that I am taking a risk, and that there may be terrible consequences. We have decided in our relationship that we are okay with occasionally taking this risk if we are attending a sex party together, and we do try to minimize our risk by using condoms. It is still dangerous because many STDs can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. However, we don’t engage in orgies very often, and we feel that an occasional risk is acceptable for the same reason that we are willing to drive cars and fly in airplanes. Sometimes risk is required in order to have fun, and each person must decide for themselves what they consider to be acceptable risks.

Good questions to ask yourself:

1.  Have I considered all the possible consequences?

2. Have I decided what risk level is acceptable to me?

3.  Have I decided on a plan to make sure that my risk level is met?

Note: Remember that most couples negotiate exceptions so there are not absolute RULES per se. My husband and I trade STD tests with partners before having sexual contact, but we have negotiated an exception for an orgy. This is risky, but it is a risk we have decided that we are okay with on the rare occasion that such a thing comes up.
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3. What kind of sex do I want to have?

Some people are very uncomfortable with oral sex. I have found that comfortable levels actually vary widely about a lot of things. In the kink community, we like to talk about “hard limits” and “soft limits.” So for example, you might be completely uncomfortable with the idea of anal sex, but only a little uncomfortable with oral sex. Hard limits are the things that you will communicate to your partner as unbreakable. You refuse to consider doing those things, and you do not want to be asked or have them try to coerce you into them. Soft limits are the things that you may be okay with sometimes, such as a blowjob on Valentine’s Day.

Good questions to ask yourself:

1. What you are hard limits?

2.  What are your soft limits?

3. What are things you are unsure about?

* Remember that these things change over time, and it is okay to renegotiate if your feelings on something have changed.

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4. What are your fantasies?

Most people have things that they fantasize about, but that they have never done before. Or, perhaps they have tried them before with an ex, but don’t know how to broach the subject with their partner. Fantasies are a healthy part of life, and there is nothing wrong with trying new things that you and your partner may enjoy.

However, please remember that sometimes you have a fantasy, but it might not be a good idea to actually do it. An example might be a gang bang. Maybe the fantasy excites you, but in reality you would be sore and unhappy, and your partner would be hurt. So be honest with yourself about which fantasies you actually want to play out, and which ones are just for fun. You do not have to act on every idea that goes through your head.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. Are you sure that you are comfortable with this?

2. Are you sure it is fair to ask your partner for this?

3. What are the things that could go wrong, and are you willing to accept responsibility for those things?

Example: If your partner has been raped and you ask her to play a rape scene with you, she may agree. However, afterwards she may fall apart in tears. You need to be ready for that possibility and prepared to comfort them. 

Summary

So, now that you have asked yourself some really important questions, you have a better idea of what you want and what you are comfortable with. Great! Knowing yourself is important and some people go their whole lives without ever looking inside themselves and exploring their dreams and desires. You are already ahead of the pack!

There are always different things that each person needs to consider, so take some time to reflect/meditate/thought diagram or whatever you do to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. For example, I excluded the complication of children and pregnancy because it isn’t relevant to me. My son is grown, and I am no longer able to have children. In addition, my husband has had a vasectomy, so I don’t have to worry about him getting any of his girlfriend’s pregnant. Therefore, this isn’t a concern in my universe. But your universe may be different. So make sure you haven’t missed anything before you move on to the next step, which is to communicate your desires.

We’ll talk about communicating in Part Two!

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Bullying

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I am not a fashion buff. In fact, I have lived my entire life in the BDSM scene and I am completely unaware of what vanilla fashion is.

If it involves leather or vinyl, I have got you covered. Need advice on Domme boots? No worries. I am all about which chains look good with which harness.

I know kink clothes.

And yet, if you sat me down in front of some girl magazine with vanilla clothes in it, I would be helpless.

A friend recently brought to my attention that there are apparently things you shouldn’t wear in the the vanilla world after a certain age.

I promptly lost my shit.

There are a lot of reasons this bothers me, and I am going to try to calm down enough to write out those reasons in a rational way.

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So first off, I am not trying to compete with anyone. If you are vanilla then good for you! I am not trying to tell you how to dress, how to have sex, or what to think. I am not trying to make myself feel better than you. I have always said, “You do you, and I will do me.”

Yes, I am over 30 and I wear my hair in pigtails. No, I don’t know how to do it in other styles and I really don’t care. I am going to throw a purple wig on anyway when I get my kink on, so the nonsense grey/brown mess that is on top of my head at the moment is not of any consequence to me. I don’t care. And more to the point: why should you?

If I am dating you, then I suppose you can have an opinion on my fashion sense. But let’s by honest; it’s not likely that even then I will care what you think. I do me. If you don’t like me, then find someone you do like and leave me alone. I have never had trouble getting a date or getting anything I want in life, so I think I am doing fine with whatever I am doing now. It’s working for me.

But then I thought back to a friend telling me that “romance novels weren’t my thing” after she didn’t like my recent book. And then I thought back to another friend telling me she “wouldn’t go out of the house” in the cheap sweatpants I wear to hike in. (Hey, the mud here is red. It stains clothes. I will not destroy my good clothes just to get exercise. Those sweatpants were on sale for $4!)

There is a whole lot of bullshit with women that I am just now learning about, and I don’t like it.

So I just want to throw this out there:

Don’t tell anyone else what to wear. Mind your own business. Don’t tell anyone how they should have sex, who they should have sex with, or what they should do in their private life. Just leave everyone else the hell alone, and do your own thing.

You can not pressure me into conformity. I am not that small-minded. And you shouldn’t let yourself be pressured into conformity either, because life is too damn short to spend your time living for everyone else.

So just stop it, and learn not to judge.

But to be funny, here are some things you actually shouldn’t wear over 30, or at all for that matter.

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Valentine’s Day

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Yes, Valentine’s Day is a stupid Hallmark Holiday. That’s true. But it means a lot to some people, and this can get very complicated if you are poly. So, what do you do when you are in three relationships and everyone wants to be together on Valentine’s Day or go to a Valentine’s day event together?

I wish there was an easy answer to that question.

The truth is, there are no easy answers and it’s simply a matter of doing a lot of negotiation and figuring out how to find a solution that works for everyone.

Basic Tips That May Help:

1. Do not commit to anything until you are sure! If your primary says “Can I go out with someone else for Valentine’s Day?” and you say yes, make sure you mean it. Don’t think you can get a date, not get a date, and then sit alone hating someone who gave you a fair chance to say no.

By the same token, do not commit to going on a date and then back out at the last minute because someone has a meltdown. Honor your commitments, and take care of hurt feelings on the right person’s time.

2. Don’t try to be with everyone at once. I know, it’s hard. Maybe you are on a date and someone else is texting you, and you know they are home alone and sad. Maybe you want to keep checking on them. Don’t.

You need to do your best to be where you are when you are. If you negotiated a date with someone, don’t go out with them and then spend all your time on the phone with someone else.

3. Be mindful of gifts. Maybe that guy you went on three dates with doesn’t need a card. But your boyfriend of a year does, and your primary probably deserves a very thoughtful and creative gift.

Whatever you do, do not just get everyone the same thing!

There’s probably a lot more, but those are just a few basic things that might be good to keep in mind. Remember, if you don’t know something it is okay to ask. You can say “Do you need me to spend Valentine’s Day with you?” or “Do you feel that we have known each other long enough to exchange gifts?” And remember, if you are asked these kinds of questions, please be honest. If you don’t communicate the things you want, you are not very likely to get them.

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To my beautiful Pet:

Thank you for being the very best part of my day, every single day. There are many people that I love, but no one else that I like to be with day in and day out. I never get tired of you.

Happy Hallmark Holiday!

I love you.

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Comfort Levels

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Everyone has really different boundaries.

First, let me use myself as an example:

For sexual contact, I am comfortable with having sex with someone after trading STD tests. I don’t need to go on a bunch of dates or have a complicated set of criteria met. I am happy to have sex with someone I don’t know well if it feels right.

However, for kink I want to know someone better. I want scene negotiations and enough discussions to be sure that we are compatible. Sometimes a person is very easy to talk to, and sometimes I need more time. It varies from person to person.

To be submissive, I need to know and trust someone really well. And, we have to click perfectly on all the things I need. Is that a lot to ask? Yes. But that’s where my comfort zone is.

Where any kind of work or professional relationship is or could be involved, I don’t want to play at all.

Now, that is just me.

Obviously some people will just have sex with a person they met in a bar. These “hookup” types are seemingly comfortable with the risk of STDs, or they don’t care about themselves enough to worry. I respect that they are in a different place than I am, but I could never do that. As someone in a poly relationship, I risk not only my life, but the lives of my husband and his girlfriends. I will never be attracted enough to someone to risk that.

Some people need a lot more time than I do. They want to spend many dates getting to know someone before even going to their home. Particularly for women I understand this, because rape is so common. These women call me “fast” or a “slut,” and I am fine with that.

My point is, comfort zones vary from person to person. I have a friend who thinks psychological play should be easier to consent to than sexual play. Her background makes this perfectly logical, and I respect that she feels that way. For me, I think psychological play is more intimate than sexual play because my mind feels more private to me than my body does. So, on this point we disagree.

However, no one is wrong. We all base our comfort zones on our experience. Since no two people can lead the same life, it isn’t likely you’ll meet anyone with exactly the same boundaries that you have. My advice is always to do your best. Search yourself to determine what is okay for you, and then ask others to respect that.

We’re all kinky in different ways.

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Then and Now

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I started out in the scene in the way-back-when days. The Internet wasn’t really a think yet, and so it was really hard to put out information about events.

Sure, those freaks that were into judging the prettiest goat could just put an add in the paper for their booth at the country fair, because that sort of behavior is okay with society. But not us. The Kink Community was hidden away down scary dark alleys and in disreputable clubs.

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I remember when I first heard someone mention kink at The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was fourteen. I was shocked that it was a thing that existed outside my head! Back then, all the periodicals were hidden behind counters and there was just know way to find these things out easily.

So I overheard the place they mentioned. It was called The Graffiti Shop. When I got there, I realized it wasn’t a kink club at all. It was a music and clothing store. But, it had a board where people could post fliers. Then I understood. The Kink Community in my city had no real way to communicate, so they would leave a stack of fliers for an event at The Graffiti Shop, and you would have to go get one and bring it with you to get in to the event.

The events would always be at really skivvy dive bars down really dark alleys, which was traumatizing. It took a lot of guts and a fair amount of stupid for a young girl to go through with making it into an event.

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I think the people were creepier back then. It might just be because I was a young girl then, but I feel like being pushed into the shadows can make people feel creepy. If society says there is something wrong with them, then they internalize that and act accordingly.

Of course, I could be reading too much into it. I guess I have been to some event even recently where there were a lot of “creepers,” (you know- those guys you do not want to get stuck talking to.)

Anyway I feel like there were legitimately creepier people back then, and not in a good way. It was all so clandestine and secretive, and I think that made it more dangerous. You would never report a rape at a club that was super-secret like that, right?

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So now we live in the future. I love the future! The Internet (for me) completely changed the Kink Community in the best ways possible! Now, you can go to events easily, and there are vanilla events like munches where you can just talk to kinky people without having to go through all the costuming and pageantry.

We have all kinds of resources. There are communities like the BDSM subreddit where you can ask questions and read about kink issues. There are websites for meeting people like Collar Space. There’s fetlife.com, which I think of as Facebook for kinksters. And there’s all sorts of kink porn that you don’t have to sneak behind a beaded curtain and have a very awkward interaction with a checkout guy for.

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The Internet let us come out of the shadows and into the light. It let us create a community, and have enough members in that community to support dungeons and play spaces and meetups.

I often muse at how great everything has gotten and how bad it really was before. And when I think about it, I can’t believe how glad I am that we live in the time that we do and have the resources that we have.

I will never be nostalgic for the past, and I will always look forward to the future.

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