How to Be a Good Couple to Threesome With

I’ve had a LOT of threesomes. I love them. Due to my status of more-or-less-constantly-in-a-relationship-since-I-was-a-teenager, I’ve more often – not always, but often – been one of the members of the more established couple, rather than the third person coming in for playtime.

Three Maine Coon cats sitting down in a row and looking at the camera. The middle one is white with a ginger face and the other two are tabbies. For a post about being a good couple to threesome with.

Playing with an existing couple can be really daunting, even if you’re really into them both. like to think that Mr CK and I are a good couple to threesome with. We’ve been told so, anyway! So I thought I’d set down some things that I believe a couple can do in order to treat the third party in their threesome well, and make sure they have a good time.

1. No Pressure

Pressure is a massive libido killer. It’s a really bad idea to go into a threesome or potential threesome with a very rigid idea of how you want it to go. This puts undue pressure on everyone, and especially on the third party, who may feel that they have (or actually have) less negotiating power than the couple.

Don’t rush things. Don’t invite a potential playmate over To Have A Threesome And Anything Else Is A Failure. Spend time getting to know what makes them tick, what they’re into, what they’re hoping to get out of the experience, what kind of ongoing dynamic they’re interested in with the two of you (if any), and how they communicate.

And for fuck’s sake, when things do progress to a sexy place, don’t make it a rush to get around all the “bases” as quickly as possible! Making out, touching, groping, hand stuff, oral sex, kink play… all of these things can be amazing. Yes, intercourse can be on the table, but it doesn’t have to be… and rushing to get there will just result in a bad time for everyone.

2. Have your own house in order first.

Nothing is more awkward than being in the middle of a couple having a fight… except being in bed with a couple having a fight.

Discuss your feelings. Talk about any insecurities or jealousies you have that might come up. Plan for how you’ll handle it if they do come up – in a way that is kind and compassionate to everyone, including the third person. “Well we can just kick her out if one of us gets jealous” is neither a solid plan nor an ethical way to treat a human being.

Don’t attempt to bring anyone else in to your relationship, whether for casual sex or something more, unless your relationship is solid first. Note I said solid, not perfect – perfection does not exist. It is monumentally unfair to bring a third party into a dynamic that is crumbling or dysfunctional. It is even more unfair to expect that this person, or sex with them, will somehow fix your relationship issues.

“Relationship broken, add more people” is a cliche because so many couples try to do it… and it never, ever ends well.

3. Approach sex as a collaboration, not a service from them to you.

If you want to have a threesome with a third party where the focus is really on the two of you in the couple, and their pleasure is less of a priority, consider hiring a sex worker. Your threesome partner, even if the sex is casual, is not a life-size sex toy! They’re a person with their own wants, needs, desires and feelings.

Sex is a collaboration, a dance. Everyone should give and receive pleasure and the goal should be mutual satisfaction for all parties – not just the couple. Your threesome buddy may not be a fully fledged member of your ongoing relationship, but they are a fully fledged member of whatever dynamic the three of you are creating together. Collaborate to have a sexy time. Don’t use them.

4. Consent first, consent last, consent in all things.

Check in early and often. If you’re not absolutely 1000% sure you have consent for something, ASK. “Ruining the mood” is a myth – a good time will never be ruined by checking on consent for something, but it can easily be ruined by overstepping someone’s boundaries.

And of course it should go without saying that no means no, and you should never push someone to do something if they don’t want to.

Mr CK and I received an email from someone we played with recently, thanking us for how good we were at consent and boundaries, and it is honestly one of the best compliments I have ever received.

5. Openly discuss safer sex.

This is absolutely vital. Ideally, this discussion should happen while clothes are still on, long before any sex happens, but it can happen in the moment if necessary. Everyone should disclose their testing status, their safer-sex protocols, the method(s) of birth control they’re using, and any other relevant information – an allergy to latex, for example.

This is as much your responsibility as a couple as it is the third party’s responsibility! 

6. Have things you’re likely to need on hand.

Have a stash of condoms, lube, gloves and dams easily reachable. Think about, and discuss, what toys you’re likely to want and have them easily accessible too (and charged, if applicable)!

7. Have an aftercare plan.

Will your threesome buddy stay over, or would they prefer to go home afterwards? How will they get home safely? If they do stay, would they prefer to sleep with you both or in a separate bed? (I hereby promise that anyone who stays over at ours after sexy time will get pancakes and your favourite hot beverage in the morning. Just, you know, in case it tempts anyone…!)

Make sure there’s time afterwards to cuddle, debrief if necessary, and make sure everyone is okay and has everything they need. Offer, and ask for, reassurance and affection freely as needed. Check in with your sexy friend the next day to make sure all is well with them.

Aaaaand that’s it. Follow these tips and, while I can’t guarantee you’ll have an amazing threesome, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re treating your Special Guest Star with the respect, compassion and consideration they deserve.

Image is from Pixabay. It’s what came up when I searched “three” and it amused me so it stays. If you enjoyed this post, you can buy me a coffee to say thanks or become one of my sexy Patrons, and access some exciting bonus content!

The C Word: All The Wrong Things I Was Ever Taught About Consent

Are you celebratiing #KinkMonth? If not, you totally should be! Why not treat yourself to something exciting, and enjoy a free lube when you spend at least £30 on kinky goodies at Lovehoney?

I’m celebrating by taking part in Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s programme and writing posts inspired by the prompts. Today… oh boy. It’s the big one. Simultaneously one of my favourite topics, and one that feels too massive to actively delve into.

Today, we’re talking consent. 

Scrabble style letters spell out "yes" on a slate grey background. For a post on consent

Look, I can’t have my say on consent in one post. I just can’t. I’ll probably write a book on it one day (or at least a collection of essays,) but today I have to tell you something meaningful about one of the biggest and thorniest topics out there, in 1,000 words or less.

Something I learned recently: prior to finding sex-positivity, everything I was ever taught about consent is wrong. Everything you were ever taught about it is probably wrong, too.

Let’s go ahead and delve into some of the wrongness.

“Only men need to seek consent. Women don’t need to ask because men are always up for sex.”

If there is one myth that I think could fix so many of the world’s problems around sex if it would just have the decency to die in a fucking fire already, it’s this one.

Newsflash: sometimes, women want sex. Sometimes, men don’t want sex – tonight or this week or with this person or ever. Sometimes women want sex more than men[1] or at different times than men. And everyone needs to seek consent before and while engaging in any kind of sexual activity. (Incidentally, there are more than two genders and not all sex is heterosexual, so there’s that. Consent rules apply the same.)

[1] Source: literally every single male-shaped person I’ve ever dated having a lower sex drive than me, whether only slightly lower or a whole lot lower.

“Consent is unsexy and ruins the mood.”

Fuck this one! Fuck it backwards and upside down with a cactus, seriously.

Consent doesn’t have to be unsexy, awkward or scary. It doesn’t have to be a big sit-down discussion with yes/no/maybe lists (though these are awesome,) contracts and lawyers, for fuck’s sake. It can be straightforward: “I’d really like to kiss you, would you be into that?” “What kind of sex are you into tonight?” It can be playful: “Hey baby, wanna spank my ass?” It can be sexy: “God, I want to fuck you so bad. Do you want my cock?”

And you know what? Even if it IS awkward, even if you DO perceive active consent as unsexy… it’s still fucking vital. Get over it.

“If she says “no” or pushes you away, it might really mean “yes.””

No no no no no no no.

If someone says no or pushes you away, unless it’s part of a very clearly negotiated game (in which instance, you have a safeword, right!?)… no means fucking no.

Playing hard to get is bullshit. Even if you think someone might be doing it (because societal stigma is strong, especially when it comes to women being enthusiastic about sex,) the correct response is to stop what you’re doing and have a conversation with your partner about what’s going on and what you both want and don’t want. The correct response is never to just go ahead and have the sex.

No means no. Pushing you away means no. Freezing means no. Hemming and hawing without giving an enthusiastic “yes” means no. Making excuses means no. “I have a headache” means no. “We really shouldn’t” means no. Say it with me now: anything that isn’t clear and unambiguous consent means no.

“If I don’t ask, they’ll have sex with me! But if I ask, they might say no.”

If you ask and they say no, they were either never going to have sex with you in the first place and would have told you to stop when you got close to a boundary, or they would have endured an experience they weren’t really consenting to, possibly out of fear of the repercussions of saying no.

Is it worth risking maybe raping someone because you’re afraid that asking gives them permission to maybe say no?

(If your answer to the above question is “yes,” fuck off from my blog, ask yourself some serious questions, get therapy and don’t go near another human until you sort your shit out.)

“It’s really hard to know if someone’s consenting or not!”

First: no, it isn’t. Most people’s body language when they’re into an encounter is actually quite clear, and VERY different from the aforementioned “going along with it because you might really hurt me if I say no.”

Second: FUCKING ASK.

Third: if you’re still not sure, it’s your responsibility to not do the thing until you are sure.

See also: this song. [Song is “For the Guys” by Rachel Lark, who is a fucking badass genius. Lyrics include “if you’re not sure that it’s not rape, don’t do it!“]

Tell me in the comments or on Twitter: what lies were you told about consent?

Kinky item of the day is one from my “maybe someday when I have a shedload of money” wishlist: a proper custom-fit chastity belt. (Not an affiliate link and I have no connection to the company.)

Heads up: this post contains an affiliate link and if you buy through it, I make a small commission. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

Communication When Your Partner is Carrying Trauma

It’s #KinkMonth! I’m celebrating by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ fabulous 30 Days of D/s project. #KinkMonth is brought to you by Lovehoney, who are currently offering 2-for-£15 on gorgeous sexy stockings, as well as lots of other exciting sales.

Today, we’re discussing my second favourite c-word. No, not CUNT (that’s my first favourite.) It’s COMMUNICATION. Communication, the experts will have you believe, is the key to life, the universe and everything. (Or was that 42? I forget.)

Anyhow, today, Kayla and John ask:

What is your communication style? What happens when you try to communicate your thoughts or needs?

I can be hard to communicate with. This is a thing I know about myself. I do consider myself to be overall a good communicator, but these skills have been hard won and it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Sometimes I jump to the worst possible conclusion in a single leap, sometimes I find it hard to believe what my partner is saying to me even as they’re spelling it out in plain English, sometimes I look for the hidden meaning behind their words when there isn’t one.

This is all because I am still carrying trauma from past abusive relationships. Of course, it is my responsibility to deal with this stuff, which I am doing with the help of a therapist. However, there’s definitely a role for my partners to play. So here are a few things I’ve learned are helpful in communicating with me. Everyone is different, but if your partner is carrying trauma, here are some communication hacks I’ve found to be helpful.

Be prepared to offer reassurance.

Your partner might need to hear that you’re not mad at them, or that the discussion at hand – even if it’s a conflict – doesn’t mean the end of your relationship. They might need to hear that you still love them, that you value them, that they’re a good person, that everything is okay. Ask them what reassurance is meaningful to them. This is especially important if their love language is “words of affirmation.”

Be prepared to repeat yourself sometimes.

These things might not go in the first time. Or even if they do, they might need repeating the next time a conflict or important discussion arises. When someone is traumatised through abuse, the trauma is drilled into them over weeks, months or years – they’re hit with it again and again. You cannot expect to say something once and have it overwrite a trauma-driven narrative immediately.

Say exactly what you mean.

This isn’t the time for coded messages, hidden meanings or vagueness. Be clear, be xplicit, and don’t play head games where they have to “work out” what’s going on.

Speak and behave calmly.

Don’t shout. Try not to raise your voice. Watch your body-language and make sure it’s not intimidating. Clenching your fists, hitting or throwing objects, or even standing over someone who is sitting or lying down can all feel really threatening.

Don’t succumb to personal attacks.

“I felt upset when I came home late and had to do the dishes, despite you being at home all day” is a statement of what happened and your feelings about it. This is a great place from which to start a conversation! “You’re so lazy” (/stupid/inconsiderate/etc.) is a personal attack. You shouldn’t do this to anyone, but doing it to a person with relational trauma can be triggering and can seriously erode trust.

Above all: ask.

Ask your partner how they want to be communicated with! Ask them what makes them feel safe and heard, and what makes them shut down. And most importantly: listen to the answer and behave accordingly.

Kinky item of the day: This lovely blindfold, which is currently on sale. Sensory deprivation can be sexy as fuck!

On the Same Team? Some Thoughts on Conflict.

It’s #KinkMonth, so I’m celebrating by writing a post a day inspired by the prompts in Kayla Lords’ brilliant 30 Days of D/s, a completely free project that invites you to consider all different angles of kinky relationships. Today’s prompt is all about one of my least favourite things in the world (ranked below “cheating” but definitely above “instant coffee” on the Things Amy Hates scale): conflict.

How do you handle conflict now? How do you imagine handling it in D/s? What do you think you’ll need to do differently in a D/s relationship?

I’m a very conflict averse person. Very very. Having someone angry with me is often really frightening to me and falling out with a loved one can be devastating. Unfortunately, conflict is a necessary part of human relationships – whether romantic or platonic, vanilla or kinky, conflict will rear its ugly head sooner or later.

I’ve learned a lot of things about conflict management over the years, in particular the truism that the ideal goal isn’t to have no conflict, but to process conflict in a healthy and positive way to move towards a resolution.

Today, though, I want to tell you about the one thing that I believe is at the heart of whether conflict resolution ultimately succeeds or fails. Namely:

Are you ultimately on the same side?

I don’t mean “do you agree right now?” because clearly you don’t or the conflict wouldn’t exist. What I mean is, in the grand scheme of things, in the bigger picture, are you on the same team? Do you want the same thing? Are you both seeking, in good faith, a mutually beneficial outcome?

If not, you’re fucked. If yes, you might have a good chance at resolving things and moving forward positively.

Mr CK and I had some pretty major conflicts when we first began living together, as it was – unsurprisingly – a period of major upheaval for both of us and for our relationship. Similarly, we had some doozies as we worked through how we would go about opening our relationship. Apart from a fucking incredible therapist, there’s one thing more than anything else that I believe got us through those tough times:

The knowledge and repeated assertions that we wanted the same thing, were on the same team, were merely seeking the same result from different angles – not after diametrically opposed outcomes that could never be reconciled.

I’ve been in relationships where what we wanted was ultimately completely incompatible. The conflicts were endless and circular because we could never come to a place of resolution… because that resolution didn’t exist. There are some conflicts where the desired outcomes are so completely mutually exclusive that there is just no way for both parties to get what they want. It’s really sad when it happens. But it’s better to realise it than to spend the next however many years of your life locked in a never-ending battle to be right.

This isn’t about small annoyances. This isn’t about the fact that he’s perpetually late while you’re very punctual, or the fact that she always leaves the kitchen cupboards open and it drives you crazy. (Unless those things are legitimate dealbreakers for you, in which case, Godspeed.) What I’m talking about here is big picture incompatibilities, those things that you argue about over and over and over and you never come to a resolution because making both of you happy is impossible.

Take this question, which I’ve seen in various permutations in a million advice columns over the years:

“He’s desperate for us to have a baby now. I don’t know if I want children ever, and even if I do, I’m too focused on my career to want to think about it for at least ten years. How do we both get what we want?”

Answer: you can’t. You literally can’t. You can’t at once have a baby and not have one for ten years or possibly ever. The possibilities here are that one of you drastically changes your desires or perspective (possible but unlikely,) one of you is perpetually dissatisfied, unhappy and possibly resentful (possible but not desirable,) you have this circular argument several times a year into forever (likely, but also not desirable,) or you break up.

Replace this question with literally any massive incompatibility (“she wants to open our relationship but I’m staunchly monogamous,” “they insist I convert to their religion if we’re going to be together, but I’m a happy atheist,” “he’s a right-winger with neo-Nazi sympathies, and I’m a feminist,”) and the answer is the same. If there is a way for two people with such opposing core values or needs to be together happily… well, I don’t know what it is.

Contrast these with something like this: “we’re really frustrating each other because we’re having to adjust to each other’s way of living. But we both really want a happy, harmonious household where we both feel at home.” Or “we both definitely want an open relationship, but we keep getting smacked in the face with insecurities and fears we didn’t know we had.”

The specifics will be different in each case, of course. But what it boils down to, for me, is whether or not you’re ultimately, when push comes to shove, on the same side. Because your partner should be your teammate, not your enemy, even in situations of conflict.

Kinky item of the day: Under-bed restraints, which are currently 30% off at Lovehoney. Perfect for that classic “spread-eagle” position – and, since they fasten only with velcro, they’re quick release and great for beginners.

Note: this post was not sponsored. An affiliate link is included above and if you buy from it, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

 

The Price of Admission

Anastasia: And what do I get out of this?
Christian: Me.
– Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

It is no secret that I am not a fan of those books. I might eventually write more fully about why, but other writers have already done this so beautifully I’m not sure I have anything to add to that particular conversation. However, the above quote captures the essence of this topic perfectly. Hmm… maybe Ms James did have some insightful moments after all!

An admission ticket torn in half

When we’re children, we’re taught that no-one’s perfect. It’s a platitude, though a truism, perhaps to encourage us not to criticise others – or ourselves – too harshly. And because no-one is perfect, I firmly believe there is no such thing as a Perfect Relationship. There are amazing, incredible, wonderful relationships – and I count myself lucky to be in one of these. But perfect? With all our flaws, foibles, beautifully messy humanity and inevitable mistakes? No.

My relationship has imperfections. So does yours, I guarantee it.

We come, all of us, with our Price of Admission. These are the things about us that are imperfect, maybe even problematic, that someone must live with in order to be in a relationship with us. These are the things, be they big or small, that we don’t see eye-to-eye with our partner on. The things that, if you dwell on them, form the end of the sentence “the relationship would be PERFECT if only…

We all have to pay a price of admission to be in meaningful relationships with another human. Whether it’s as relatively benign as putting up with your husband’s snoring, or as troubling as knowing your friend has a serious drug/alcohol problem but being unable to intervene, every relationship has one – or more likely, several of varying degrees of significance. But here’s the thing about prices of admission. We get to choose whether to pay them or not.

One of the major problems in my relationship with my abusive ex was that he believed that no matter the price of admission, I would continue to pay it regardless. And for many years, I did. I was madly – and I mean that in the literal, not-quite-in-my-right-mind-when-he’s-around – in love with the man. As such I felt I had to do absolutely anything to keep the relationship. When the price of admission was putting up with lies and half-truths, I turned a blind eye. The times that the price of admission was him screaming at me for a tiny perceived infraction, I tried to harden myself to the yelling. When the price of admission was an uneven, enforced mono-poly dynamic, I pretended I didn’t want anyone else anyway.

And what did I get out of all of that?

Him.

Which was enough… except that it wasn’t. I convinced myself I was happy as long as I was with him, this person I idolised. But he didn’t meet my needs and he didn’t hear my voice. If I complained the price for the relationship was getting too steep, he might as well have laughed in my face and said, “but you’ll pay it, because the other choice is walking away and we both know you don’t have the balls to do that”. It was years before I finally decided the price had become undeniably too high.

In our final make/break conversation, with all the characteristic arrogance that believed I would never be the one to walk away, he laid out his Terms for continuing the relationship. And for the first time, I refused the offer. The price was too high and I wasn’t buying. It was no longer worth it.

The point of all of this is to say: you get to decide when the price of admission into any given relationship is too high.

However much you love this person, however much you think you absolutely need them no matter what, you do not have to accept the terms they are offering. You do not have to pay a price of admission that includes abuse of any kind, that includes being cheated upon or lied to, that includes a relationship structure that is unworkable for you, that includes sex acts you can’t or won’t consent to, that includes losing yourself or your self esteem, that includes fundamental differences in beliefs or values, that includes anything that makes the relationship unhappy or unhealthy for you.

You don’t have to.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

Ask Amy #3: “Red Flags?”

Today’s question comes from a reader who reached out to me via Twitter. Her question is short and simple, and yet oh-so-complex to answer.

She asks:

“What are the red flags to look out for when starting a new relationship with a Dom or a sub?”

Four red flags blowing in the wind

I have many, many feelings about this question and all the possible ways to answer it. As I often do when I’m mulling over a topic, I took it to Mr CK for a male-and-mostly-Dom perspective (and also because he’s at least as smart as I am!)

His response, I think, was utterly brilliant: “don’t get into a relationship with a Dom or a sub. Get into a relationship with a person.”

What I love about this answer is that it cuts through all the possible answers I was thinking of giving, and straight to the heart of the issue: get to know somebody as a real, three-dimensional human being before you seriously consider them as your Dominant or submissive. Spend time – LOTS of time – talking, communicating and seeing how they interact with you and the world. A good D/s relationship is a place of profound trust and vulnerability on both sides, and these things cannot be rushed. A real-life D/s relationship is nothing like an endless kinky fantasy – first and foremost, it is a relationship.

My partner is so fucking smart, y’all.

As an aside, I really recommend you check out Loving BDSM Podcast, as they’ve got some great things to say about building trust and getting to know someone at the beginning of a relationship, as well as every other kinky topic you can image. I particularly recommend episodes 31 and 83 for this topic.

In terms of more specific and concrete red flags to look for, I have some thoughts there too! I’ve tried to keep these applicable to people on either side of the D/s slash, and relevant whether you’re meeting online or in meatspace. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I would view any of the following with some serious side-eye and a healthy portion of skepticism:

Demanding too much, too soon.

You wouldn’t give someone the keys to your house or ask them to marry you on a first date, would you? Therefore, you shouldn’t be giving or accepting a collar, issuing or receiving orders, or committing to any kind of serious ongoing protocol or dynamic before you fully know someone.

If a Dominant expects you to kneel and call them Master the first time you meet, RUN. If a submissive expects you to invite them to move in and run every aspect of their life when you’ve barely got past coffee… you know what I’m going to say.

Referring to themselves as a ‘Real’ or ‘True’ ANYTHING.

There is no such thing as a True Master, a Real Submissive, or a (*inserts tongue firmly into cheek*) Twue Dominate. Those of us who have been around the (spanking) block a few times call this One True Wayism. It’s frowned upon for good reason. People who think their way is the only way tend to be snobbish, elitist and derisive of others at best. At worst, they can be seriously dangerous – thinking you know everything, refusing to learn and refusing to be questioned is a recipe for disaster.

If you identify as a Dom, you’re a Dom. If you identify as a sub, congratulations – you’re a sub! There is no One True Way.

Using language like ‘if you were really [X] you’d do [Y.]’

‘If you were really a sub, you’d give me all your passwords and your bank account login!’ ‘If you were really a Dom, you’d take care of everything for me so I didn’t have to take any responsibility for my choices!’

Extreme examples, perhaps, but both examples I’ve encountered. If someone questions your identity or tries to use it against you in order to get you to comply with something you don’t want to do, run a fucking mile.

See above: no such thing as a ‘Real’ or ‘True’ anything. You don’t owe anyone proof of your subby or Domly Credentials.

Claiming to have no/very few limits.

EVERYONE has limits, folks. Absolutely everyone. Someone who claims not to have any (or to have “very few”) is woefully unprepared for what BDSM can actually entail. Even if you think you’re the most hardcore true subby who ever subbed, I promise there are things you would never consent to – and this is a good thing! Dominants have limits, too.

Repeat after me: EVERYONE. HAS. LIMITS. The sooner you learn what yours are and how to communicate them, the better your kinky fun is likely to be for all concerned.

Lying. This includes lies of omission.

The absolute foundational basis for any healthy relationship, kinky or vanilla, monogamous or polyamorous, is trust. Without trust, there is no relationship. Therefore, lying is arguably the biggest and reddest Big Red Flag out there. This includes big barefaced lies, of course, but it also includes lies of omission. “Forgetting” to tell you he’s got seven other submissives at home is a huge fucking deal and not something you should overlook.

The person who lies to you in the beginning will lie to you all the way along. Whatever your role, you’re a human being first and you deserve to be told the truth.

Breaking boundaries, including small ones.

Abusive people don’t start by trampling all over your boundaries in huge, glaring ways. If they did this on the first date, after all, they’ll never get as far as a second date. No – predators and abusers often ‘test the waters’ with a new victim to see how much they can get away with.

If they persist in using language towards you that you don’t like, touching you in a way you’re not comfortable with, or even subtly negging at you in small ways, YOU ARE NOT BEING TOO SENSITIVE. They are testing you. They will push bigger and bigger boundaries if you continue a relationship with them. And more often than not, you will find yourself in a full-on abusive situation.

What do you think, dear readers? Did I miss out any glaring red flags that our lovely friend should know about?

Do you want your question answering in a future Ask Amy column? Get in touch!

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

Ask Amy #1: “I’m Jealous of Her Dildo!”

This is my first of what I hope will be a regular reader advice column. If you have questions, get in touch! I will strip away all identifying details, and I will never post your name unless you say it’s okay.

A close up of a bright green eye. For a post about being jealous of a girlfriend's dildo

“I’m jealous of my girlfriend’s sex toys!”

Q: Dear Amy,
I’m a 26 year old straight guy and have been with my girlfriend for a year. I love her very much, we communicate well and the sex is great. The only problem is that she likes to use sex toys, specifically dildos, when she masturbates. She also wants to incorporate them into our sex life together. I have a pretty average sized penis – about 6″ long when erect and average girth. The toys my girlfriend favours are all way bigger than me! How can my very average dick satisfy her when she likes such huge things inside her?

I’m scared that her dildo is going to replace me and she won’t want to have sex with me any more, or that she’ll leave me for a guy who’s bigger than I am! It seems so stupid to be jealous of a lump of silicone but I’m finding myself avoiding sex because I’m so insecure about my penis and my ability to please my girlfriend. She’s noticed and thinks I’m rejecting her, that I don’t love her or fancy her any more. Nothing could be further from the truth. Please help!
– Insecure

Oh, my dear ‘Insecure.’ I have so many feelings on this question.

First, I want to commend you for not suggesting that your girlfriend shouldn’t masturbate, shouldn’t use toys, or should switch to toys that don’t make you insecure. This, I’m sure you know, would not be an acceptable response to your feelings. I’m really glad you’re not going down this route. So good for you.

Look, sex toys are great! Loads of people use them and it’s very normal. It doesn’t reflect at all upon how we feel about our partners. My favourite toy in the whole world is the Doxy wand, but that doesn’t mean I wish my partner’s dick vibrated! (I mean, for real that would be fucking cool, but in no way in the world do I find him lacking because his body is different to my toys.)

Partnered sex is about so much more than just “does your body part satisfy my body part?” It’s about connection, about the feel and smell and warmth of a partner close to you, about the thud of body-on-body, about the rhythm and the dance and the responses between two (or more) people. Partnered sex is in-fucking-credible for so many reasons and a toy can’t fully replicate many of them. Pervocracy has a great article on some of the reasons people might love partnered sex. Maybe read it with your girlfriend and have a conversation with her?

Speaking of conversations, if you haven’t voiced your fears to your girlfriend, please do so immediately. Try some variation of this: “Sweetie, this is quite hard for me to say but I want to raise something I’ve been struggling with. The reason I’ve been avoiding sex lately is because I have some insecurities around my body and particularly my penis. I’ve found myself worrying that I can’t satisfy you because the toys you use are bigger than me. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use them, but it would be helpful for me if you could reassure me that I do please you in bed and that I’m not in danger of being replaced.”

Hopefully, if your girlfriend loves you, she will respond with compassion. Then you can have a conversation that will help you on your way to feeling more comfortable. If your relationship is as good and healthy as you say, I can almost guarantee that your partner loves all of you exactly as you are, including your penis. (Which is fine, by the way. Genitals come in all shapes and sizes and colours and they’re all beautiful and perfect exactly as they are.)

However, reassurance can come from your girlfriend but working on your insecurities is your job and has to come from within. Becoming secure is hard and it really is a process, not a destination – we all have days where we feel really great about ourselves and days when we feel horrible. That’s normal. Techniques you could try include journalling, talking to a therapist, and – don’t underestimate the value of this – mindfulness and learning how to just sit with your feelings when they come up, knowing that they are lying to you and they will pass.

It can also be helpful to step outside the immediacy of the emotion and look at what reality is telling you. Like this: “My fear is telling me that my girlfriend is bored of having sex with me and I don’t satisfy her. However, she frequently instigates sex/usually has an orgasm when we play/tells me she loves fucking me. Therefore, the actual evidence suggests that she loves and desires me as I am. My fear is lying to me.” Repeat as often as necessary. I once spent an hour car journey literally reciting a list of mantras aloud to myself in order to calm a rising panic attack fueled by insecurity. It works.

Lastly, whether you want to incorporate toys into your sex life with your girlfriend is up to you. If you’re uncomfortable with it, that’s your prerogative. However, I’d like to challenge you to at least consider trying it. If you don’t want to fuck her with a giant dildo to start with, how about something like a vibrator? An anal plug? A suction toy like a Satisfyer or Womanizer? Or even a dildo that feels very different to a bio-cock, such as one made of glass or stainless steel?

Toys are not replacements for the things you can do with your body. They are tools to enable you both to feel a wider range of sensations and to give each other pleasure in different and exciting ways. And don’t forget there are also toys that can be used by a penis-owner. Try a Fleshlight, masturbation sleeve, a prostate toy, or even using a vibrator on your penis. I really recommend trying some, as you might be surprised and find wonderful new ways to experience pleasure yourself.

Talk to your girlfriend and keep that communication going. There really is no substitute.

If you liked this answer and want to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying me a virtual coffee. It really does help keep the blog going and keeps me supplied with motivation coffee and sex toys. Again, email me your question and you might appear in a future ‘Ask Amy’ column.  

The image featured in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

Ten Things Not To Do on OKCupid*

*or the dating platform of your choice.

We all know, by now, that our profile picture shouldn’t be a picture of our genitals. (We do, right? Please, God, tell me everyone knows this by now.) But what about the less obvious but equally offputting things people do that sabotage their chances on dating sites?

A close up of a pair of hsds typing on a laptop. For a post about what not to do on OKCupid

I’m a woman on the internet. I get a lot – a LOT – of unsolicited contact on OKCupid and the other dating sites I’ve used over the years. Aside from dick pics, there are a number of things which will immediately turn me off somebody’s profile. And n, it’s not just me: dozens of the other women I’ve spoken to agree with me.

So what should you avoid?

“I dunno, if you want to know just ask me.”

This is the most boring cop-out of an “About Me” section possible. You might as well have written “there is nothing interesting about me whatsoever.” The “About Me” is the first bit of your profile someone will read, so you need to grab their attention and make them want to read on. You don’t need to tell your life story, but a few carefully chosen tidbits that will intrigue a potential match and make them want to know more. “If you want to know, just ask me” sidesteps the process of putting any actual effort in and expects that your theoretical reader will be so blown away by the desire to get into your pants that they’ll put all the work in. Spoiler: they won’t.

“I’m just a normal guy/girl.

What the fuck does this even mean!? There are seven billion people on this planet, what on earth is “normal?” Again, you might as well have written “I’m really boring and can’t think of a single thing that makes me unique or interesting.” You are NOT “just a normal guy/girl.” You’re YOU. Tell me about YOU rather than lumping yourself in with some nebulous category that you somehow think defines your entire gender

“I’m really good at eating pussy.”

Want to know a secret? Of all the guys I’ve dated, the ones who bragged about their superior cunnilingus skills were always, without exception, the ones who left me cold. That’s because every vulva is different and there simply is no such thing as being universally good at eating pussy. That thing that had your past girlfriend moaning in orgasmic bliss that one time in 2004 is not necessarily going to do anything for the rest of the women you will fuck throughout your lifetime. I don’t want a guy who is “good at eating pussy.” I want a guy who is an enthusiastic, curious and attentive lover and who  will pay attention to what *I *like, not what they think “girls like.” Bragging about your skills makes you look clueless at best and rammed with toxic masculinity at worst. Don’t.

“I don’t read.”

That section where you list your favourite films, TV, books etc? Nothing will put me off faster than “I don’t read” or “I haven’t read a book since high school.” You don’t have to be a classic literature aficionado, but come on, you must have read SOMETHING!? Even if fiction leaves you totally cold and you’re a complete computer geek and all you read is technical manuals, say that! It gives me an insight into your interests, which is no bad thing, and it doesn’t leave me going “…what, AT ALL!? How can someone not read AT ALL!?”

“I’m looking for a real man/real woman.”

Again, what does this even mean? What’s the alternative, a ‘fake’ man or woman? It reeks of toxic gender roles – the implication, of course, is that a “real woman” is demure and submissive and wears skirts, heels and makeup, and that a “real man” is a football-loving, beer-guzzling, lawn-mowing, domineering Manly Dudebro. Come on, people, we’ve moved on a little since then. There are but two among a universe of valid gender expressions. (Also, if you’re using “real” to mean “cis,” fuck off forever please and thank you.)

Disregarding someone’s stated preferences.

If she says she’s a lesbian, you are NOT the exception. When her stated upper age limit is 30 and you’re 50, move along. If she says she wants local and you’re in another country, don’t waste your time or hers. When she says she only dates older men and you’re barely out of high school, DO NOT MESSAGE THAT GIRL. There is a certain degree of common sense at play here – if her stated upper age limit is 45 and you’re 46 but you’re a 99% match with loads in common, it’s probably worth a respectful first message as long as you’re willing to accept a no (and no reply IS a no) with grace.

Text-speak.

Are you twelve? No. There’s no excuse. Type in full words that form actual sentences, and use punctuation. Grammatical perfection is not necessary but making an effort is. Srsly m8. K?

“We’re a really low match but hey opposites attract!”

No, that’s not how this works. The match percentages on OKCupid or (insert the algorithm on your dating site of choice) are actually really good if you use the site properly. Mr CK and The Artist are both 99% matched to me and Evil Genius is 80-something percent. If we’re a ~20% match and/or have a high enemy rating, that implies we have hardly anything in common and probably at least a few fundamental differences.

Asking to meet right off the bat.

I get the desire to see if there’s chemistry in real life before you invest too much energy in someone online. I really do, and I share that desire. But – and this applies especially if you’re a woman or read as female – meeting someone from the internet in real life can be a risky endeavour. At best, you’re risking an awkward coffee date that neither of you feels able to extricate yourself from, and at worst you’re risking meeting someone genuinely  dangerous and having a real problem on your hands. Get to know each other at least a little bit first. Exchange a few messages. Don’t say “hey want to meet for a drink?” in the first message. And if you’re in the more powerful/taking-less-risk position of the two of you, respect that they may want to move at a slower pace than you’d ideally prefer.

Mentioning sex immediately.

Nothing tells me “this person doesn’t care about me as a human being” more than them asking about my fetishes, telling me about theirs, asking me to fulfil theirs, asking me to hook up, or even (ew!) sending me explicit sexual fantasies in the first message. Approach someone as a human being. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t say it to someone you were interested in getting to know at a party, then don’t say it online. Would I throw my drink in your face if you walked up to me at a bar and said this thing? Then don’t drop it in my inbox.

What have I missed folks? What else makes you go, “ugh, NO” and click that little X in the corner of an OKCupid profile?

What I Wish I’d Known When I Was Nineteen

Nineteen was a pivotal age for me – in a lot of ways, vastly more significant then eighteen. Among other milestones, it’s the year I started university, met my best friend, came out as bi and poly, went to my first BiCon, experienced my first group sex, and realised kink was ‘A Thing’ and not just me being a freak.

Last night, at a play party, I chatted with a young woman who is currently nineteen. She is also so incredibly brave, smart, self-aware, sensible and fearless that I am a little in awe of her. This started me thinking about what I wish I’d known at that age that I know now, in the hopes that it might help some other young person who stumbles across this site and is as lost and confused as teenage CK was.

So some notes to my younger self…

Everything you’re experiencing now is real. Everything will also change. Both of these things are okay.

I know you think this man is the love of your life, and right now that might be true. What you don’t know yet is that there is so much more love still waiting out there in the world for you; love vastly more rich and complex and beautiful than you can even imagine right now. What you want right now is real and valid. What you want in ten years will be different, I promise – and that will be real and valid too.

Your value is not in your innocence.

There are men out there who will trip over themselves to get a piece of you before too many people have had you. You’re beautiful, you’re very young, you’re somewhat naive and when they look at you, they see a certain wide-eyed innocence that they can’t resist. Run from these men. They will use you and spit you out when they’ve had all your ‘first times.’ (They lack imagination and don’t see that there is a whole lifetime of exploration to do!) They’ll call you a whore the moment you act less than virginal. They want innocent little girls because they can’t handle a fully grown woman who knows her worth well enough to demand that they treat her like a goddamn human being and not a trophy.

Equally, your value is not in your sexual availability.

You will get invited to a lot of parties. You may then stop getting invited when you don’t fuck the host or their friends. People will hit on you constantly. You will go on some dates with some guys you really, really like… and then never hear from them again if they reach for the condom on the first night and you say, ‘no, I want to move slower than that.’ You should say yes to the invitations you wholeheartedly WANT to say yes to, and no to the rest. The people who are worth your time, energy and affection will value you just the same. Your body does not need to be your ticket to acceptance and community.

Sex is morally neutral.

You’re not better than ‘other girls’ if you wait a while before having sex with someone. You’re not a prude, frigid or broken either! And you’re not cooler than ‘other girls’ if you have a lot of casual sex. You’re not a whore, damaged goods or broken either! The only sex you should be having is the sex you want to have, with partners who want to have it too. Whether this is a kinky orgy with twenty strangers every night of the week, or only with your husband once you’re married, or anything in between. I promise it’s okay and it says nothing either way about your morals or character.

Love is abundance, not sacrifice. Love should not hurt.

Right now, you may believe that the more it hurts, the more you love the person. Remember that night your new boyfriend stood you up and you came home, makeup all cried away, to tell your fiancé, “I know I really love him because of how much this hurts?” Love, generally, shouldn’t hurt. Of course it hurts when you argue, if something goes wrong, and that’s normal. But every day shouldn’t be pain and self sacrifice. Love should bring you vastly more joy than hurt. Love should expand your world, not shrink it. And speaking of which…

Nobody is worth changing yourself for. 

It’s a truism that the only constant in life is change. You will change, your partners will change, and relationships do change us in profound ways. But any changes you make should be on YOUR terms and because YOU want to make them. No-one who loves you will demand you change. Someone who values you will not make you contort yourself into a little box you don’t fit in. No-one who deserves you will belittle you or put you down for all the wondrous little things that make you you.

You have a right to walk away.

If someone treats you badly, you can leave. If someone makes you cry at least as much as much as they make you smile, you can put an end to it. When someone fucks with your head, you can choose to stop letting them in. If someone abuses you, you have the right – and you owe it to yourself – to tell them to take a running jump off a cliff and get the fuck out of there. You don’t need anyone’s permission to protect yourself from abuse and mistreatment.

Your body is normal.

If you come from clitoral stimulation only but penetration does nothing for you, you’re normal. If you love being fucked but oral sex doesn’t get you off, you’re normal. If you’re multi orgasmic you’re normal. If you’re anorgasmic, you’re normal (though, if you WANT to change this, there are resources!) If you squirt, you’re normal. If you don’t, you’re normal. Whatever you like and however your body works, it’s okay, I promise – meet yourself where you’re at, give yourself permission to experience ecstasy however it works for you, and accept that bodies, just like everything else, change. Your pleasure may look very different in ten years – and you’ll be normal then too!

And some bonus tips to finish:

  • Life is too short to buy shitty vibrators from Ann Summers.
  • The word ‘no’ is both a complete sentence and your best friend.
  • Get some goddamn lube. (Water based and body safe, please and thank you!)
  • Ask the cute girl out.
  • If someone kink-shames or body-shames you, DTMFA.
  • Getting older is nothing to be afraid of. The power and strength you will come into will blow your mind. 

[Book Review] The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston

★★★★★ – five stars.

The cover of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory - Everything you need to know about open relationships, non monogamy and alternative love by Dedeker Winston.

As a long-time listener of the Multiamory Podcast, I was seriously excited when Dedeker Winston (one third of the hosting team, along with her partner Jase and former partner Emily) announced she was writing a book. She and her co-hosts are funny, wise, insightful and down to Earth on the podcast, so I had high hopes for The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know About Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy and Alternative Love  – a fresh take on the polyamory advice book, with women and female experience front and centre.

The book is grouped into chapters, which are clustered into four sections: Polyamory 101, Pre Reqs, Mastering Non-Monogamy, and Out of the Classroom, Into the World. I read it cover to cover, but you could just as easily dip in and out, picking and choosing the sections that feel most relevant to you.

Polyamory 101 covers what polyamory is (and what it isn’t,) some of the different forms that ethical non monogamy can take, and an absolutely fascinating chapter on the socio-cultural and anthropological history of non-monogamy. Dedeker also talks us through some of the common objections to polyamory, from family and friends or from society at large, and possible ways to counter them.

Pre-Reqs deals with self-knowledge, really interrogating who you are, what you want and what makes you tick, as well as the skills required to live a happy and healthy non-monomous life (it goes beyond just “communicate,” y’all!)

Mastering Non-Monogamy was the real meat of this book, for me. There’s the expected chapter on jealousy, a whole chapter on sex and the various issues surrounding it, advice on crafting positive and healthy relationship rules/agreements, and more.

Finally, Out of the Classroom, Into the World attemtps to take the theories discussed in previous chapters and apply them in real-world situations. Dedeker discusses poly dating, finding community, coming out of (or choosing to stay in!) the closet and how polyamory can intersect with a range of marginalised identities and liberation movements.

This book is not easy reading at times. Dedeker approaches difficult topics with a light touch and a healthy dose of humour, but there are parts that are unavoidably difficult reading. Though she doesn’t actually use the A-word, she candidly describes behaviour by a former partner that can only be labelled as abusive. It’s not all sunshine and light – she gives us the bad, the scary and the unshiny parts of polyamory as unflinchingly as she gives us the love and the joy. And she challenges us repeatedly to be brave, to be unfalteringly honest with ourselves and our loved ones, to do the hard work required to be stronger and better and more compassionate versions of ourselves.

What sets this book apart from the others I’ve read is that women are centred throughout. Dedeker shares her experience on the unique struggles of a polyamorous, queer, sex-positive woman and tackles those challenges head on, and encourages other women to battle outdated gender stereotypes, sex-negativity, slut shaming, rape culture and the myriad other issues that disproportionately affect women and those read as women in trying to live a non-monogamous life. But despite this female focus, the book is consistently inclusive – it makes no assumptions about age, sexuality, gender identity or relationship style. For this reason, I really think anyone interested in polyamory should read it.

Dedeker is also refreshingly non-judgemental. She shares her experiences and wisdom about what tends to work well and what doesn’t, without preaching her way as the only (or even the best!) way. She seems to intuitively understand that everyone’s experience is different and that different relationship styles will work for people, while offering principles (including self knowledge, strong communication, compassion, honesty, good boundaries) that apply in making just about any style of relationship a success.

In a landscape of non-monogamy where current trends carry a hefty dose of “you have to be a relationship anarchist or you’re DOIN’ IT RONG,” I can’t tell you how refreshing this is. [1]

I really hope this book takes its place alongside The Ethical Slut, More Than Two and Opening Up as polyamorous required reading, because it deserves to. In my view, Dedeker Winston has written quite simply the best guide book on polyamory on the market today.

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[1] I have zero problem with people who practice RA. I do have a problem with anyone – poly, monogamous, RA, swinger, whatever – preaching their way as the only correct way to be.