Believe it or not, this post title has been in my ideas list for ages… and then Exhibit A said almost exactly the same thing in one of his Smutathon posts! So this forms my final post of the day (probably, unless this is quicker than I think it’s going to be and I end up rattling off a sixth one). If you still want to donate to our fundraiser for Abortion Support Network, you’ve got time!
I get asked this question surprisingly often. “Doesn’t group sex mean you can’t be satisfied with one on one sex any more?”
The short answer is no. The long answer is…
Things, and people, don’t work that way. Are you no longer able to enjoy a simple but delicious meal simply because you occasionally go to fine dining restaurants? Are you unable to appreciate quiet drinks with friends because you’ve also experienced wild, dancing-on-tables nights on the town?
No. Because people don’t work that way. Sex is exactly the same. The idea that things always have to get more and more and more extreme in order to keep a person satisfied once they’ve had a taste of the “exotic” just doesn’t stack up. Sex isn’t a drug – you don’t need a bigger hit every time to get the same high.
I love group sex. Love it love it love it. The tangle of bodies, all the hands and mouths and cocks and cunts and… oops, sorry, got a little carried away there. Point is that it’s brilliant. No matter how many times I do it, and how often and in what combinations, it’s still fucking amazing. I honestly don’t see that ever changing.
But you know what? One on one sex works exactly the same way! We might have had nine-person orgies (that was a great birthday party) and group spanking parties and kinky threesomes and wild nights with other couples… but none of that takes away from the simple, perfect loveliness of my partner’s lips on mine and his cock inside me. Enjoying four or six or eight hands on me doesn’t mean I can’t still delight and find bliss in the same two hands that have known and loved me for years.
It’s the same with kink. I have done some wild kinky shit in my life, and loved every second of it. But it doesn’t mean every session needs to be wilder and more extreme than the last! Despite what some scaremongers would have you believe, spanking is not a slippery slope to being strung up from the ceiling on meat hooks. (Hook suspension exists, don’t google it if you’re squeamish, #YKINMKBYKIOK!) The intense stuff I’ve done has been brilliant and I’m sure it will continue to be brilliant. But it doesn’t mean I’m always seeking harder, crazier, more. A light spanking can still thrill the hell out of me exactly as much as it did the first time I experimented with it. A good old vanilla-ish shag with my partner is still super satisfying, too!
Sex is not a drug. You cannot “ruin” yourself for one-on-one sex by having group sex. Liking kink is not a sign that your desires are getting out of control or that you’ll end up doing something dangerous to get your rocks off. Enjoy what you enjoy, and don’t stress – you’re not going to lose control.
You’re a good guy, right? You care about your sexual partner’s pleasure, and her orgasms. You even eat pussy! When DJ Khaled’s comments surfaced about “different rules” for men re. oral sex, you probably tweeted furiously “I’M A GUY AND I LOVE EATING PUSSY”.
Well, okay. But slow down. I want you to read this with an open mind, and try not to feel attacked. That’s not my aim.
However, please – please – stop making your female partners’ orgasms about your ego! Let me explain.
When I started having partnered sex in my mid and late teens, my boyfriend compelled me to tell him I’d never had an orgasm before I met him. He’d decided this was the case. Telling him it wasn’t seemed like it wouldn’t achieve anything but bruising his ego. He was very into the fantasy of me as the perfect innocent. So I went with it.
I think a lot of young women have similar experiences. Their (also young and often inexperienced) boyfriends want to feel like sex gods who introduce them to a world of pleasure they never knew existed before. They don’t want to hear “I’ve been having orgasms by myself for years”. This narrative is a big part of the Fifty Shades of Grey fantasy. Ana has not only never masturbated or had an orgasm. She’s never even thought a sexual thought until Christian “I-Don’t-Make-Love-I-Fuck-Hard” Grey deigns to deflower her.
How this played out for me was thus: he didn’t really know what I liked. I knew what I liked, but couldn’t tell him because then he’d known I’d – gasp – had sexual feelings and even touched myself before he showed up. So a long time was spent with him trying to get me off, and either getting pissed off that it took so long (when I got there at all) or me faking it because dude, it’s been two hours, my clit is rubbed raw.
This is, of course, a sex education problem. We don’t teach young women that exploring their bodies is okay. We don’t teach boys that girls masturbate and hey, she might know a thing or two about her own body! Instead, we glorify this notion of “I’ve never felt anything like this before!” even when you’ve totally felt something like that before… a lot.
A big part of the problem, though, is that these attitudes don’t really change as we get older! I remember reading in a glossy magazine (it was probably Cosmo?) advice along the lines of “when he whips out a new move in bed, tell him you’ve never done that before, even though you totally did that with your ex”. (That’s how Cosmo speaks, right?) The point is that women are still supposed to coddle our male partners’ egos to the point of straight-up lying to them, in order to pretend they’re the only person who has ever unlocked our sexuality.
This also plays out in other ways. I hang out on the Sex Toys forum at Reddit and also similar groups on Fetlife, and time and again men will post: “looking for a sex toy for my partner, but it needs to not be too big or powerful. Don’t want it to replace me!” But what if that big dildo or power-tool vibrator could give their partner the best, most explosive orgasms of her life? I guess it doesn’t matter – what they’re thinking about is not her pleasure, but being upstaged.
Men: women’s sexuality does not exist to stroke your ego! If your partner has a rich and fulfilling erotic life with herself, and/or had a rich and fulfilling erotic life with other partners before you came along, this doesn’t imply anything about you! When she uses toys, she’s not replacing you!
If you want your partner to never have masturbated (or to pretend she’s never masturbated,) or if you want your partner to have never had good sex with anyone else until you came along, you are not being sex positive. You are not being a good lover. You’re making your partner’s sexuality a receptacle for your ego.
And this brings me on to the Great Pussy Eating Debate of 2018, and the problems I see with it. Obviously, what DJ Khaled said was gross, as are all the other ridiculous thingsstraight men have saidabout going down on people with vulvas. However, a lot of the responses pissed me off too. A lot of men felt the need to weigh in on how THEY always go down on their partners. Which… might seem harmless but is actually indicative of a particularly insidious form of virtue signalling that often comes into play around (particularly heterosexual) sex.
Prioritising your partner’s pleasure isn’t something to brag about. It’s the bare fucking minimum.
The other place I see this kind of ego-tripping manifest is around the issue of whether or not a woman orgasms during a sexual encounter with a man – and how that orgasm happens, if indeed there is one.
Too often, I hear “I want to make her come from intercourse, no clitoral stimulation, what am I doing wrong?”. What you’re doing wrong, my dude, is prioritising your fucking ego over her fucking orgasm. The vast majority of people with vulvas don’t experience orgasm from penetration alone. This is normal. What you need to do is realise you don’t actually have a problem that needs solving. Talk to your partner, and stimulate her fucking clit the way she likes.
Basically: sex is much better when you take your ego out of it. I promise.
Everyone deserves to feel gorgeous, sexy and desirable. And one way to achieve this is through wearing beautiful lingerie. Long-time fans of the blog will know that, until a few months ago, I didn’t think lingerie – in the traditional sense – was for me. I’m a curvy girl with an hourglass shape, currently a bit on the chubby side, with large boobs. My go-to knickers were less “sex kitten” and more “shapeless”. But after being sent some beautiful pieces to review, I realised that lingerie is just as much for me as for anyone. I’ve learned to love wearing it, and feel amazing when I do.
So here’s some top tips I’ve internalised that always help me to choose the perfect piece.
Know your measurements and aim for a perfect fit
If you wear bras, it’s really important to get properly fitted! Wearing something that fits you perfectly will make it look and feel so much better. For corsetry, you’ll need your waist measurement. Sizes vary between brands, of course, so don’t be afraid to go up or down from your usual size if you need to.
That babydoll might be perfect for wowing your lover in the bedroom, but it won’t work so well under your business suit for secret everyday glamour. Consider where and when you’re going to wear the pieces you’re buying, and shop accordingly. You’ll shop differently if you’re looking for the perfect wedding lingerie than if you’re after a showstopper for a night out at the BDSM club.
And don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Whether online or in person, store staff will be delighted to assist.
Shop smart online
Shopping in person is great if possible, but brick-and-mortar stores aren’t available in all areas and may not carry all lines. I buy the vast majority of my lingerie online and have never had an issue.
Begin by simply browsing catalogues for inspiration. Of course, looking at a picture doesn’t tell you how something will look or feel on you, but knowing what you’re drawn to is a great start. Bookmark the pieces you like and come back to them later with fresh eyes before you make your choice. Reputable shops will also have a solid and transparent returns policy so if something doesn’t fit right or doesn’t quite work for you, you can swap it for something that will.
But don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
Don’t discount trying something that you would never normally choose! Pick up something risque, daring or different, or even just try a colour that you wouldn’t usually go for. You might surprise yourself!
Try this fun game: ask your partner, friend or personal shopper to pick something out for you, and try it on – whatever it is. You never know what you might discover.
Seek a second opinion
Taking a partner or lover with you to a store, or browsing online catalogues together, can make for a wonderfully sexy shopping experience! I love trying on pieces that make me feel a million dollars and then showing them to my partner and watching his expression change. If you’re single, shopping with a trusted friend is also a fun option.
You could even consider a private shopping experience. Baby Jane Lingerie offer a personal shopping VIP experience where you have a staff member’s undivided attention as they help you find the perfect look for you in a no-pressure, body-positive environment.
This week: tweet or comment and tell me about your favourite lingerie!
This post was kindly sponsored by Baby Jane Lingerie, a new women-owned business who are committed to helping you find the perfect lingerie. Check out their extensive lines for all bodies and all occasions. All opinions, as ever, my own. Main post image is from Pixabay, logo is property of Baby Jane Lingerie.
I am in my late twenties. In my country, people with cervixes are offered cervical smear tests (often called “Pap Tests” in the USA) every three years from the time they turn 25. These tests detect abnormal cells on the cervix and act as an early screening for cervical cancer or warning signs thereof. Until this week, I’d never had one, despite being several years overdue.
The reasons for this are varied, but there are two main ones. The first is practical: I moved house a lot prior to moving in with Mr CK (11 times in 9 years by my count) and as such had to register with a lot of different doctors in different cities. I’m not sure one of the letters inviting me to book in for a smear even found its way to me until I was at least 27. The second reason is that I was scared. I had a horrible experience when I got my IUD put in about 3 years ago – pain that rendered me entirely unable to function for three days and very much struggling for over two weeks. Therefore, understandably, the idea of anything going near my cervix elicited a strong and visceral NOPE reaction from me. So I just kept putting it off.
What eventually pushed me into going for one was a person in my extended poly/swing network having something flag up on their screening. I realised that by not knowing my status, I am not only putting myself at risk (and there is some history of cancer striking young in my family) but also putting my lovers at risk. And I couldn’t do that. I made the appointment.
On the morning of, I asked Twitter how much pain I should expect. Answers ranged from “none” to “maybe a bit but it’s over quickly” to “you probably wanna book the day off work”. (It was a little late for that, of course). I popped a couple of ibuprofen, just to be sure. Had I not been driving, I might have gone straight for the codeine, which my doctor gave me for the severe pain when my IUD acts up.
So what happened?
I went in and the lovely nurse introduced herself and asked if I was happy to have a student nurse present for the test. I said I’d rather not as it was my first time, and they were both fine about that. She asked about my STI testing history. I said we test every three months and had in fact been the week before. She asked if I knew about HPV, and I said yes.
I went behind the curtain, took my knickers and jeans off, and got comfortable on the bed thing. (I’ve never understood the point of a privacy curtain when they’re literally about to look at your insides, but there you go). The nurse explained that she would open my vagina with a speculum and do a quick swab of my cervix. She said I might feel some pressure, but it shouldn’t hurt.
Having one’s vagina opened with a plastic speculum is never comfortable. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Which I actually am when it’s with a sexual partner in a roleplay scenario. But dear god, fun medical play is a MILLION MILES from an actual medical exam). I winced a bit but remembered to breathe. I braced myself for severe pain.
“There you go, we’re done”. And the nurse was removing the speculum from my vagina and taking off her gloves.
“What, that’s it?” I could hardly believe it.
Wow, I thought. That really was nothing.
The whole thing took less than five minutes. I felt no pain and only the mildest discomfort. A tiny price to pay indeed for knowing my status, protecting myself and my sexual partners, and possibly avoiding cervical cancer in the future.
So why am I telling you this non-story?
Honestly, I was fully expecting to have to tell you a horror story involving immense pain, shitty judgemental clinic staff, an unplanned day off work or all three. But none of this happened.
So instead I thought I’d share this story in the hopes that, if you’re afraid of getting your cervical smear, this will put you at ease. The staff should be kind and understanding. You shouldn’t feel any pain – even if your cervix is extremely sensitive and grumpy, as mine is.
Please – if you have a cervix, get your test. It takes five minutes, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s a tiny thing that could potentially save your life. Just go. I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t go three years ago!
If my writing is helpful and/or enjoyable to you, please consider supporting me on Patreon to help me keep doing this work!
Sometimes, play sessions or scenes will go wrong. Mishaps, mistakes, and even the occasional genuine crisis can happen to all of us. It’s an unfortunate fact of this thing we call kink, sex or play, and we would all do well to learn better how to handle it when they do. Anyone who has been playing for any length of time and tells you they’ve never had a scene go wrong is either astoundingly lucky or lying.
I’ve had three scenes go wrong in relatively quick succession (a period of about 3 weeks). The first time, the equipment we were using at the club malfunctioned and dropped me. Thanks to Mr CK’s quick reflexes, we were both shaken but there were no injuries. The second time, there was somebody else at the party who I hadn’t expected to see, and who makes me feel profoundly unsafe. I tried to play in the main party space anyway, thinking I shouldn’t let him ruin my good time, but unfortunately I badly misjudged my own mental state. The third time, I let my head convince me that a situation that was actually most likely completely safe wasn’t.
To be clear, none of these was a disaster (though the first could have resulted in much more serious consequences than it did). Even so, they were all unpleasant and left both of us rattled. The after-effects could be felt for the next few days, both individually and in our interactions together. Luckily, we managed to have a spectacular play session a few days ago and I feel much better about it all as a result.
So let’s look at some techniques to get things back on the rails after something goes wrong.
In the immediate aftermath
I’m assuming that, at this point, you’ve moved away from the play area to somewhere safe if possible, and that anyone who is injured has received appropriate medical attention. I am also assuming good faith from all parties and that there were no malicious intentions or consent violations.
First of all, both/all players involved are likely to be shaken up. This is a really good time to be very kind and gentle to both yourself and each other. Sit somewhere comfy. Drink a glass of water, cup of hot tea or other comforting beverage. Maybe have a snack to get your blood sugar back up. Have a massive fucking cuddle, if you’re in the kind of relationship where you cuddle.
Don’t beat yourself up. If the problem was because of a mistake you made, you can and should apologise, but one genuine apology is much better than self-flagellation. This should go without saying, but if there was fault on the other person’s side, don’t be mean to them about it! You can absolutely say what you perceive happened and what you wish they’d done differently, but don’t harp on it more than is necessary and try to gracefully accept an apology, if one is offered. Again: be kind. This is a great time to reaffirm that you still love/like/fancy the pants off each other.
Don’t feel the need to discuss what happened in depth there and then if you don’t want to. You can, if you’re both up for it, but it’s often better to focus on caring for yourselves and each other initially. The debrief is often more productive if it comes an hour or two later, or even the next day.
Later that day/the next day
Check in with the other person. Ask them how they’re doing and be prepared to offer what comfort or support you can. Be honest about how you’re doing and ask for their support in return.
This can be a great time to have the debrief conversation: you’re over the initial shock/upset, but still close enough to the incident to analyse it effectively. Discuss what went wrong, your respective headspaces (and physical states, if relevant) at the time, the factors that contributed, and what controls you’ll put in place to try to mitigate the risk of a similar incident next time. This is also a good time to discuss what you need in the aftermath: do you need some cuddle time, verbal reassurance, some hot sex? Or just some alone time to process? Ask for it! If you can, give your partner what they ask for.
When it comes to processing, if you’re struggling with difficult feelings following the experience, this is a great time to consult a kink-friendly therapist, reach out to other kinky friends, or write in your journal.
It’s also worth remembering that you might experience sub-drop or Dom-drop. Even though you didn’t finish your scene, when something goes wrong you’re yanked out of your headspace very quickly and abruptly, which can actually be worse. Check out my list of self-care tips to try if drop, depression or anxiety hits.
Try to view a scene gone wrong as a learning experience. It doesn’t need to spell disaster for your relationship, your future as a kinkster, or even necessarily your night/day/week!
Next time you play
Re-acclimating to your partner and your play together after a scene gone wrong can be a challenge. It’s a good idea, before you next play, to touch base with regards to where you’re both at emotionally and physically following your incident. It can also be wise to negotiate your next scene or two very explicitly in advance, especially if miscommunication or misunderstanding contributed to the problem. This also applies in very long term relationships where you know each other incredibly well. It’s not a failure to spell things out upfront if relying on your knowledge of each other and nonverbal cues doesn’t feel safe right now.
Sometimes, verbally affirming consent can be really reassuring the next time you play, too. Our first really good scene after the string of issues started with Mr CK asking me to very explicitly state my consent to what we were going to do.
You can also ease back in slowly! You don’t have to go straight to a 10 on the intensity scale if a 4 feels more comfortable right now. Even if you were hanging upside down from the rafters when something went awry, you can dial it back to a gentle spanking next time you play. The only thing that matters is that you play at a level that’s comfortable for you both. A less intense scene isn’t a failed scene. The only criteria for success is that you are both safe, gave free and enthusiastic consent, and had fun.
There are basically three main things I want you to take away from this post. When a scene goes wrong, remember:
Practice kindness, patience and forgiveness. To yourself as well as to your partner.
It happens to everyone sometimes and does not mean you failed as a kinkster, Dom, sub or partner.
You CAN move past it, learn from it, and use the experience to strengthen both your skills and your relationship.
And if you’re reading this because you went Googling in a panic after your scene went wrong? You’ve got this. I believe in you. It’s okay.
You will be unsurprised to know that, as a writer, books hold an extremely important place in my life. There are many things I am grateful to my mother for (she’s a pretty awesome lady) but one of the biggest is instilling a love of books in me when I was very young. Through the toughest points in my life, I’ve turned to reading for information, for comfort, for that priceless feeling of not being alone.
But this is, after all, a sex blog. So today I want to tell you a little about five of the books that profoundly impacted my sex life.
Come As You Are – Emily Nagoski
I read this one on a flight to Italy. Goddess knows what the people around us thought, when I kept reading out interesting snippets to Mr CK!
Nagoski’s message is, in brief, that we are all normal and we are all fine exactly as we are. She explores concepts such as spontaneous vs responsive desire, and the congruence gap between reported mental desire and genital response. (If you haven’t watched her recent TED talk on this very thing, please do so, it’s fucking brilliant).
Come As You Are taught me how to stop worrying so much about being “normal”. It taught me how to stop saying “I should feel X,” and start saying “I feel Y, and that’s okay”. And perhaps most important, it approaches these concepts through actual, hard science that cannot be argued with. It’s a warmfuzzy affirmation of your deepest desires wrapped up in a blanketof irrefutable evidence, and it’s perfection.
“Even if you don’t yet feel that way, you are already sexually whole and healthy. The science says so. I can prove it.”
The New Topping Book & The New Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy
Okay, I’ve cheated here because these are actually two books. But I kind of conceptualise them as two halves of one whole, so they’re getting a shared entry.
These were the first two books I ever read about BDSM, when I was barely nineteen and only just coming to the realisation that I wasn’t the only person in the world who got aroused from being spanked and verbally degraded.
As a new submissive, I devoured The Bottoming Book. I absorbed all its lessons on how to get horrible things done to me by wonderful people in a safe and respectful way. I credit it, in large part, with quelling the rising sub-frenzy and preventing me from spiraling too quickly down a path I was ill-equipped to handle. Even now, I throw it at new and young submissives frequently. I’ve lost count of how many people have borrowed my copy.
I’ve actually read The Topping Book twice. Firstly, from a purely academic perspective – as a submissive, I wanted to understand the Dominant perspective better. It fascinated me, but I didn’t feel any pull to do those things. Much later, when I started exploring my switchy side, I read it again with a more practical application in mind.
These books are, even all these years after their initial release, still the best 101 guides on the market, bar none.
“We bottom in order to go to places within ourselves and with our partners that we cannot get to without a top. To explore these spaces, we need someone to push us over the edge in the right ways, and to keep us safe while we’re out there flying.”
I debated long and hard about including this one. It is not actually a book about sex, kink or any of that good stuff. But actually, it had such a profound impact I couldn’t not include it.
I first approached this book, a dense academic text, at twenty-one and barely out of my first long term abusive relationship. I’ve since referred back to it countless times, especially over the last three years as I try to recover from the worst abusive dynamic of my life.
What this book taught me is that my response to the trauma I’ve suffered is normal. It reassured me that I’m *allowed* to struggle with PTSD even though I’m not a military veteran or childhood sexual abuse survivor. It spoke so profoundly to what was going on in my head, and in my life, that I was frequently reduced to sobbing reading it. I usually couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time. Through Dr Herman’s words, I learned that I could recover with time and the proper support… but that it was and is 100% okay to not be fully “there” yet.
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”
There are a lot of how-to books on polyamory on the market now. However, amidst all of them, Opening Up stands out to me as the most rational, sane, compassionate and balanced of them all.
What I love about this book, which I read when I was relearning how to do polyamory after escaping an abusive situation, was how many options Taormino presents the reader with. She doesn’t dictate, as so many how-to books do, that Relationship Anarchy and The Church Of No Rules is the only way to do things right. Instead, she treats relationships as a create-your-own-adventure story, and offers us a smorgasbord of possibilities to pick and choose from. Amidst all this, there are practical tips on time management, communication skills, jealousy busting, and more.
This book came into my life at the perfect time. What it taught me is that I do not have to live up to anyone else’s idea of The Perfect Poly Person, no matter how many books they’ve sold or how many events they’ve spoken at. Instead, all I need to do is collaborate with my partners to create something that works for us.
“Nonmonogamous folks are constantly engaged in their relationships: they negotiate and establish boundaries, respect them, test them, and, yes, even violate them. But the limits are not assumed or set by society; they are consciously chosen.”
Ah, virginity. Has there ever been a topic to provoke so much judgement and angst and stigma? A long time ago, the man who I first had PIV sex with (I don’t believe “losing one’s virginity” is a meaningful concept) made it clear that my value was in my “purity”. I was precious to him because no-one else had touched me, like an expensive work of art you keep behind a glass case lest anyone else get their dirty fingerprints on it. A while later, the second man I had PIV sex with berated me for not having “waited for him,” because – being the youngest woman he’d ever fucked – I represented the closest he’d ever come to “taking a girl’s virginity”. A right, he believed, that I had denied him by shagging someone else three years before I met him.
As a result of these experiences, I’ve dealt with a lot of shame around my level of sexual experience. I fuck a lot of people, and have a lot of casual sex, and 90% of the time I’m more experienced than my sexual partners regardless of their gender. This book showed me how the “cult of virginity” has been manufactured by the patriarchy in order to control women’s bodies, and by extension women’s lives. It showed me that virginity is a medically meaningless concept, and that the only value it has is that imbued by sex-negative, patriarchal, anti-woman culture.
Valenti’s book gave me the permission to go “yeah purity is a bullshit concept”. It helped me to fully embrace my sexual experiences, past and present, as part of the rich tapestry that make me who I am. As a feature, if you like, not a bug.
“The idea at play here is that of “morality.” When young women are taught about morality, there’s not often talk of compassion, kindness, courage, or integrity. There is, however, a lot of talk about hymens.”
Today’s advice question comes from one of my wonderful Patreon supporters, who has been very patient in waiting for me to get to it. I’ve also, I must admit, been sitting on this one a bit because knowing how to answer it was tricky.
The reader in question is a woman, in case that wasn’t clear from context. Let’s go…
I like girls but am very nervous about flirting, in part because they’re so cute my brain melts, and in part because I want to be polite and respectful.
What are your tips on approaching cute humans in public places (cafes, bookshops, etc.) in a respectful way, to tell them their shirt is nerdy and cool, and to maybe indicate I want to start flirting with them?”
Oof. My dear reader, if I knew the definitive answer to this one, I’d date a lot more girls. But I will do my best, writing from the perspective of a woman who likes women and is maybe open to being flirted with by them.
A cool thing I learned about flirting a long time ago, which has always served me well, is to consider treating it as an end in and of itself. Flirting is a joyful activity as long as both parties are fully on board with it, and it does not necessarily need to lead to sex/a date/a relationship in order to be “successful”. This mindset will both help to guard you against crushing disappointment if that cutie you’re chatting to turns out to not be interested in taking things further, and helps to prevent you coming across as “creepy” or having an “agenda”.
To approach or not to approach?
When it comes to deciding whether to approach someone in public, it’s important to look for visual clues as to whether they may be open to being approached or not. If they’ve got headphones in, for example, or are hiding away in a corner behind a book or laptop, they’re probably either super busy or wanting to be left alone. Body language and general demeanor are important too. Does she look sad, stressed out, pissed off? That person is unlikely to be in the mood to chat. But someone who seems chilled out, happy or content is more likely to be open to meeting new people.
What to say?
A good way to approach someone and gauge if they’re interested in chatting to you is to offer an opener that they can either pick up and run with, or answer quickly then get back to whatever they were doing.
“I love your shirt! Where did you get it?” is a great one, especially if they’re wearing something that reflects a shared interest. You can also substitute “shirt” for bag, item of jewellery, shoes, cute notebook, etc. etc. Anything that clearly reflects an interest or personality trait. The key is to be genuine in your compliment. That way, if she’s not interested she can say thanks and you’ll have made someone smile. If she is open to more conversation, you’ve got a perfect first thing to talk about.
“Oh, I love [Author Name]” is also a good one if, say, you’re browsing the bookstore and see a cutie checking out one of your favourites.
Then, if she seems open and receptive, you can maybe tell her your name and ask hers, and see if you can get a conversation going. Ask if she wants to sit with you, or if she’s up for company at her table or would prefer to be alone. If you’re scared of backing her into a situation where she feels unable to say no, try the ball-in-her-court approach: “I’ve got to go meet my friend, but I’m [Name] on Facebook if you fancy looking me up. I’d love to get coffee and geek out over [shared interest] with you sometime”.
The “is she even into girls?” problem
Of course, you can’t usually tell by looking at someone if they’re queer or interested in your gender. There’s no easy way around this unless they “flag” in some way. Many people prefer not to be openly queer until they know they’re in a safe space to do so. This is particularly true in small or conservative communities.
There’s not a super easy way around it. Often, you’ll find out if someone is queer or available in the course of conversation and getting to know them. But one way to show that you’re a safe person to be open around is to flag queer in public, however subtly or overtly you’re comfortable with. This also makes it more likely that other queer folks who think you’re cute will approach YOU! Consider a rainbow bracelet, a “queer” or F/F symbol pin badge, a bi pride necklace, a risque phone case, or an LGBTQ/sex-positive tee.
Other ways to meet people
It’s probably also a really good idea, if you don’t already, to try to join some activities where people like you will congregate. Is there a feminist book club, a queer women’s social, an LGBTQ+ film group, a board game geeks’ night, anywhere near where you live? Go along and make friends, not with the specific intent of getting a date, but with the intent of meeting other people who share your interests and making friends. One of these people could be the next love of your life! Or they could invite you to a party, where one of their friends will turn out to be the cutie your heart desires.
In these environments, you’ve got a huge advantage over just meeting people in public. Everyone is, presumably, there to socialise and meet others to a certain extent. Not to mention you’ve got a ready-made thing to talk about! If you’re nervous, “I’m new, how long have you been coming?” is a fine opening gambit.
Most importantly: give yourself credit
Meeting people is hard. Saying hi to someone in public is even harder. This is all amplified by a thousand when you’re a queer person trying to get by in a heterocentric world. So if you say hi to someone cute, congratulate yourself! Maybe you’ll get knocked back, maybe you’ll make a friend, maybe you’ll get a date. The result isn’t the only point. The point is you put yourself out there. Confidence, coupled with a healthy respect for other people’s boundaries and comfort, is sexy as hell. So go you!
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Whew, it’s been a while since I had an advice question from a lovely reader. This one, I must confess, has been sitting in my inbox for a while. Thanks to the person who sent it in, both for the excellent question and for waiting so patiently for an answer.
NOTE: For those who don’t know, a “unicorn” is a person (usually a woman or AFAB person, though not always) who gets into some kind of relationship with an existing couple. So called because this type of person is almost as rare, precious and highly sought-after as the mythical horned horse. “Unicorn hunter” couples get a bad rep because so many of them approach this type of relationship from a fantasy-fulfillment perspective without due regard for the third person’s feelings, needs or, well, humanity.
Let’s dive in…
So my primary and I have suddenly and quite unexpectedly acquired a unicorn! We love them so much (we’ve been friends with them for years). So far we are all three having a delightful time. We are, as much as possible, using our polyamory skills to continue this state of affairs.
But I am nervous. Obviously being a unicorn is a terribly vulnerable position and so many unicorns end up really hurt. So: can you give me some tips from your own experience on making sure we keep our unicorn as gloriously happy and safe and secure as they deserve, while also making sure that we look after our own needs too? Because, my goodness, they deserve all that is good and wonderful.
Dear Nervous Unicorn Handler,
Okay, first of all, I LOVE this one. Not only because you say you are all having a wonderful time in your newfound triad, but because you are obviously as invested in your new partner’s happiness as you are in your own and your Primary’s. So, yay for you! You’re already way ahead of the curve here.
You’re also doing the right thing in realising that being a unicorn is a vulnerable position. Your unicorn has a certain level of advantage in that they’ve been your friend for a long time, but you and your Primary will still have tonnes of shared history, intimacy and knowledge that your unicorn has not been privy to.
I find myself wondering if you’ve talked to them explicitly about this? Even something as simple as “hey, we understand that being a unicorn can be a really vulnerable position, and we want you to know that we love and value you so much and are really invested in your happiness in this relationship.Please don’t be afraid to tell us what you need and let us know if something doesn’t work for you” can go a really long way. Then, obviously, follow through on that with actions such as listening actively, consulting them on things that affect them, and not getting upset with them for expressing needs or emotions.
Balancing multiple people’s needs is tricky in any relationship. It does, of course, become somewhat more difficult the more people are involved. However, there’s no reason you can’t keep all of you safe, secure and happy for a long time to come!
Communication, as ever, is key. It sounds like you’re well aware of that and all making efforts to communicate well. Keep doing that!
I also advise, in so far as it’s possible, each of you having one-on-one time with your third partner sometimes as well. Just as the two of you need alone time together in order for your relationship to flourish, your relationship with your unicorn and your partner’s relationship with them needs the same to a certain extent. But, of course, lots of lovely all-three time is also really important to schedule and prioritise.
Looking after your own needs is vital in any relationship. So, try to keep a good handle on where you’re at internally. Ask your partners to look out for themselves similarly. Have you considered a periodic check-in meeting for all three of you? This can be by Skype or phone if you live far apart, or around the kitchen table over coffee, or even snuggled up in bed together. It doesn’t have to be serious. It can just be, “how are we all doing? Anyone got any issues they want to raise?” Then if anything comes up, you talk about it. If it doesn’t, you carry on doing the snuggling/coffee drinking/kinky fuckery. Obviously, you can react to things as they arise. But don’t underestimate how useful it is to have a designated time to check in with everyone and focus on your three-way relationship.
Beyond this, the things that spring to mind seem obvious and I’m sure you’re doing them/not doing them already:
Don’t try to control/limit who your unicorn can date. Having a secondary relationship with them while being in a primary relationship with your existing partner is A-okay, but don’t try to make them be exclusive to you or make it difficult/impossible for them to date others.
Discuss, with your Primary AND all three of you together, what will happen if someone feels jealous or left out. “We’ll close down the relationship and kick the unicorn out” is not a valid answer to this.
Keep your promises and honour your commitments. Emergencies happen, of course, and a degree of flexibility is important. But your partner should feel that the two of you are reliable and will do what you say you’ll do.
Related to the above, don’t make promises you may not be able to keep.
Never, ever, for the love of all that is sexy and good in the world, throw your unicorn in the middle when you and your Primary have a disagreement.
Try not to set rules on who is supposed to feel what for whom. This is a recipe for disaster because the heart doesn’t obey rules. Expecting your new partner to feel exactly the same way about each of you, for example, is unrealistic at best and straight-up coercive at worst.
I just want to finish by saying this seems like a really positive, healthy relationship. I’m not getting any of the red flags I so often see in a couple+unicorn situation. You’re doing everything write, Letter Writer, and I wish you all the best for a long, loving and wonderful relationship.
It makes me cringe when I see toys advertised as “gay sex toys” or “lesbian sex toys”. Toys do not have a sexual orientation or a gender! However, today I want to talk about a different type of queer toys – that is, those adorned in rainbows and pride flags and ridiculously bright colours!
Look, I acknowledge the problems with the way Pride celebrations have gone in recent years. I am, for the most part, firmly in the “Pride is a protest” camp. However, as a queer person living in a queerphobic world, I feel that it is my right to take joy and fun where I can get it – and one of the places I get it is through outrageous, brightly coloured, flagrantly queer-coded sex toys.
Therefore, for your reading and shopping pleasure, here is a round-up of some of my favourite “gay sex toys” currently on the market.
Anal toys are perhaps the most frequently coded as “gay sex toys”, which is clearly nonsense. Anyone can enjoy anal pleasure if they want to – it’s not an activity reserved for gay men! (And, straight dudes, listen up: liking having your ass played with means literally fuck all about your sexuality or masculinity).
Thankfully, the Official Bisexual Colour is purple (because, apparently, gayness is pink and straightness is blue and we’re a mix? I don’t fucking know, but it’s a good colour). And there are a LOT of purple sex toys out there. That’s why I hereby declare that all purple sex toys will now henceforth be coded as Bisexual Sex Toys.
Companies: rainbows are great, but get it together and make bi themed toys, please! In the meantime, it’s lucky the love of my life comes in purple really, isn’t it?
Affiliate links appear in this post. Using them sends me a small commission and helps me keep doing this work . Header image is from Pixabay. Other images are either my work or property of the retailers and used with permission. Don’t steal my pics, thanks.
I always listen to Loving BDSM Podcast the day it comes out (Fridays), usually on my way to work. They’re always insightful, frequently hilarious and often make me think. Today’s episode was all about the different safety philosophies within the kink community. Kayla and John discussed why they personally practice SSC – Safe, Sane and Consensual. As always, they’ve got loads of great things to say and I highly recommend you take a listen.
As I was listening, I realised I’ve written about safety tips for kink, but I’ve never actually written about my own personal safety philosophy before.
In kink, the three safety philosophies you’ll mostly hear cited are:
SSC: Which states that everything we do must be Safe, Sane and Consensual.
RACK: Which urges us to practice Risk Aware Consensual Kink.
And PRICK: Which asks us to take Personal Responsibility (in) Informed Consensual Kink.
Each of these has their merits and I will never knock anyone else’s safety philosophy as long as it’s based around the cores of safety and informed consent. Personally, though, I practice RACK. Let me tell you why.
What is “safe” anyway?
Very little in life is completely safe. We take risks in our life every day. It would be absurd to think that sex or kink could be completely free from risk. I take a risk every time I use a sharp knife to chop vegetables. I take a risk every time I get in my car (driving, when you think about the size of the machine you’re in and the speeds at which it moves, is fucking terrifying). And I definitely take a risk every time I let someone spank me, string me up in ropes, or get into edgy and emotionally fraught places in my psyche. (Yes, not all risk is physical. Mental risk is just as real).
Risk Aware, for me, doesn’t just mean knowing the risks are there but taking active steps to reduce them. We know driving is dangerous, so we wear seatbelts, don’t drive drunk, and don’t text while we’re driving. And in kink, it’s exactly the same.
Being risk aware means letting a partner know about any physical issues I might have that could impact our play, and keeping an eye on them during. It means letting my partner know about a pinched nerve or pins and needles in my hands. It means, when I’m Topping, getting proper education on the acts I want to do to another human being and not playing beyond my competence level.
So: nothing we do is, or can be, completely safe. Even vanilla missionary position sex with the lights out carries some degree of risk. By being informed, we can meaningfully mitigate risks to the best of our ability.
Who gets to define “sanity”?
I, like approximately 1/4 of the adult population (conservative estimate,) suffer from a mental health problem. Does that mean I’m incapable of doing kink responsibly? No, absolutely not. As a person with mental health conditions, I find classifications of “sanity” to be intensely problematic.
As long as I’m aware of where my mental health is at, and can communicate that to a partner, it’s generally reasonably safe and completely healthy for me to play. Which… circles us back around to that risk aware piece, doesn’t it?
At best, sanity is nebulous and difficult to define. What feels “insane” to one person might be “average Saturday afternoon” for another.
My unease with PRICK
PRICK is a fine philosophy, in so far as it goes. But it makes me feel a vague uneasiness whenever I hear it, and today I finally put my finger on why.
I’ve been involved in various ways in anti-sexual-violence activism for 6+ years. The phrase “personal responsibility” has been thrown at me and so many of the survivors I know more times than we can count. In those instances, unfortunately, it is taken to the extreme of meaning that you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens to you.
This means that a generally good philosophy (“look out for yourself, take responsibility for your actions and the impact they have on yourself and others around you”) has been co-opted and twisted to mean “if someone harms you, it’s your fault”.
It’s not that I’ll never play with someone who practices PRICK, but I would need to make damn sure that their meaning is closer to “we are responsible for taking care of our own and each others’ safety and wellbeing to the best of our ability”. That’s what a good philosophy of personal responsibility would look like.
Sadly, I just know too many people who say “personal responsibility” when they mean “if you get raped, what were you wearing how much did you drink why were you out late how did you not know that guy was a rapist?????”
It all comes back to consent
Whichever you practice, you’ll notice that the one thing all these philosophies have in common is consent. Consent is at the core of everything we do. However, it occurred to me today that there is one key ingredient which none of these philosophies explicitly address…
The missing piece
Kayla and John so often come back to the importance of communication in their discussions on Loving BDSM. I often find myself nodding along, and am in absolute agreement with them that effective communication is at the core of everything we do. You cannot have safe(r) kink and sex without communication. You cannot have a good relationship without communication! And I don’t think we can meaningfully discuss good philosophies of safety without also discussing the importance of strong communication.
Therefore I present to you my new philosophy, adapted from RACK, which you are all welcome to use if it speaks to you: