Masturbation Monday: Re-learning How to Masturbate with My Fingers

It seems strange to me, now, to think back to a time before I owned sex toys (or when I’d only tried bad or ineffective ones.) Up until Mr CK bought me my Doxy and then a few months later I started this blog, the vast majority of my masturbation was done with my fingers.

Over the last few years, as this blog has grown and I’ve tested more and more sex toys and found a growing number that I really love, I just… stopped masturbating by hand. It was never a conscious decision. But when you have toys to test and write about, you use them. And after a while, it becomes a habit, and then the new normal.

Now, I still love my sex toys, of course! (Some more than others.) But I recently re-remembered just why I used to enjoy masturbating using nothing but my fingers.

It started because I’d forgotten to charge any of my usual go-to toys. I didn’t have time to stick one on charge and wait an hour or two, because I was ready for bed and just wanting a quick orgasm to help me sleep. So I decided to see if I could still get myself off with nothing but my hands.

Something I really enjoy doing is working myself up by watching porn or reading erotica, and seeing how long I can go before I simply have to touch myself. This is partly a way to indulge my denial kink by myself, partly a way to make masturbation more comfortable by ensuring my body is really ready for it, and partly a way to make my eventual orgasm really explosive. So I pulled up some erotica and started reading.

I found a really, really hot story which spoke to my kinks perfectly, and it wasn’t long before my cunt was dripping onto the bed. I dipped my fingers in and spread my wetness all over my labia, circling my clit but avoiding touching it directly. Making myself really desperate. Stroking and teasing my inner thighs, pulling gently on my outer and inner labia, thinking about having a hot sadistic Dominant making me beg to be allowed one little touch where I most needed it.

Flipping to the next chapter in the filthy smutty story, I finally allowed my fingers to drift to my aching clit, rubbing it oh-so-gently at first. I’m very quiet when I’m masturbating – a habit learned from years of living first at home and then in shared housing – but if I’d been playing with another person, this is the point where I would start barely-coherently pleading for them to rub harder, faster, stop teasing me (and yet sort of hoping they continued to tease for just a bit longer.) As it was, I couldn’t help thrusting against my own hand, torn between my body’s need for more friction and my desire to hold back and enjoy the clenching, frustrated ache.

When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I allowed my fingers to move faster, rubbing my clit in circles. It brought me to the edge ridiculously quickly. I pulled my hand away and this time a little needy whimper did escape. My hand grasped at a handful of the bedsheet as I spread my legs wide and forced myself to wait, counting thirty seconds to allow my cunt to calm down and come back from the edge.

I edged myself again and again and then again, sucking my own wetness off my fingers in between each one. Every time I pulled my fingers away just before tumbling over into orgasm, I thought of that same sadistic Dominant, speaking to me in a level, measured tone in perfect contrast to my increasingly frantic whimpers and pleas. “Not yet, Kitten. You can wait just a little bit longer, can’t you? I know it hurts but you want to be a good girl, don’t you?”

I seriously considered not allowing myself to come at all, and going to sleep wet and needy. But I was worried about my ability to sleep, so decided to save that particular self-inflicted torture for another occasion.

Allowing my fingers to drift back to my clit, I focused on circling it slowly and deliberately, bringing myself back to the edge. By this time I was so aroused that even the most feather-light touches were enough to get me close.

“This is all the stimulation you’re getting,” my imaginary sadist told me, as I resisted rubbing harder. “If you really need to come, this will be enough.”

That’s what was in my head when I let myself fall over the edge, my toes curling and legs shaking with one of the most intense and satisfying orgasms I’d had in a very long time.

Sex toys are brilliant, but sometimes I need to be reminded that my fingers were my clit’s best friends for a long time for a reason.

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Masturbation Monday is a blogging meme owned and run by Kayla Lords, where tonnes of amazing writers share smutty fiction, true life stories, and essays about wanking! Click the logo to see who else is having fun this week! If you enjoyed this filthy little true story, please buy me a coffee to show your appreciation!

Love Shouldn’t Be a Game of Mao

Trigger warning: this post contains very frank and explicit discussion of abusive dynamics and brief mention of sexual assault.

There exists, I recently learned, an absolutely horrible card game called “Mao.”

Mao forbids players from explaining the rules, and new players have to figure it out by trial and error… with punishment (in the form of extra cards, when the goal is to get rid of your entire hand) when they inevitably break them. To add to the complication, the rules can be changed and new rules can be added with every additional round.

When my friend explained the premise of Mao to me, I quipped “you don’t know the rules but you get punished if you break them? Sounds like my last relationship!” Everyone laughed, which was my intention (it was a joke!). But the more I think about this, the more I realise how frighteningly true it actually is.

Abusers often don’t want you to understand the rules

My first abuser was an asshat, but a predictable one. Being with him was far from fun, but it was a system I learned how to live within. As long as I did whatever he wanted sexually without complaint, I was safe. When he cheated on me and left me in the end, the thing I was angriest with myself for was not having seen it coming – when I really should have.

My second and more recent abuser, though, was a different beast entirely. His game was almost entirely psychological, and he was damn good at it. What he did, systematically and over a period of years, was break my brain. He rearranged my sense of self and my worldview until I couldn’t trust whether or not what I was seeing was actually happening.

I never want to feel about anyone else the way I felt about him in the beginning. I was barely out of my teens and he made me lose my mind. Because I was so charmed – dazzled, even – I couldn’t think straight and I made stupid decisions as a result. Which was, I realise now, all part of how he reeled me in. Later on, as we were together longer and longer, I lost my mind in a different way.

Because what was so maddening about being in that relationship was the way that I never understood the rules. I wasn’t told them, simply punished for breaking them. Because this particular breed of narcissistic emotional abuser is a master manipulator – and it serves their purposes to have their victim always feel slightly off-balance. It is impossible to feel safe, secure or sane in a system where you don’t know what the basic parameters are and no-one will tell you.

You can’t learn to follow the rules if they always change

Going back to Mao again for a second; what I found the most frustrating about this horrible game (that I played for maybe fifteen minutes before I went “NOPE”) was the way that I would just begin to get a handle on the rules… and then they’d change again.

My abusive relationship was like that, too. Something that made him happy a week ago would suddenly get me screamed at. If I avoided an action I’d otherwise have wanted to take, because doing it had previously been met with punishment, he’d act confused and hurt: “why would you think I wouldn’t let you do that?” Something that had been fine for literally years was suddenly and arbitrarily completely off-limits. And, of course, I wouldn’t be told until it was too late.

He’d set me a task and then, when I succeeded, move the goalposts. My success wouldn’t count or I would suddenly conveniently have “misunderstood” the task.

The. Rules. Always. Fucking. Changed.

This is because abusers don’t want you to succeed.

My abuser is far, far from unique in any of this. Abusers’ entire MO, especially when they’re the kind of person who gets off on gaslighting and manipulation, is to set up unwinnable games. That way, when you inevitably fail again and again and again – because there was never any way to succeed – they feel justified in criticising you, putting you down, screaming at you, heaping judgement on you. The entire point of these games is to put their victim in the position of the “bad guy,” the one who just cannot seem to manage to be good enough no matter how hard they try.

And I can tell you exactly where this leads. This leads to genuinely believing you’re a curse who ruined his life (but shouldn’t leave because then he wouldn’t have a convenient warm body to fuck, the only thing you’re good for.) It leads to cowering in a corner in his living room and sobbing, vainly hoping the neighbours will hear him – this man who is much older, much bigger, and much more powerful than you – screaming at you at the top of his voice and come to check if you’re okay. It leads to still jumping at shadows five years later, because your amygdala still sometimes literally expects that your world is about to come crashing down for breaking an arbitrary rule you didn’t even know existed.

Love shouldn’t be like this

Love shouldn’t be a game of Mao.

A relationship should not be a series of ever-changing rules, unwinnable games and rigged emotional booby-traps designed to throw you off balance and make you crazy.

Your partner should not be a capricious game-master who gets off on waiting for you to break a rule you didn’t know about and punishing you for it.

I deserved better. It took me years to understand that, to get up the strength to throw the cards on the ground and say “I’m not playing this stupid game any more”. But I always deserved better, and so do you.

If you’re in a situation where your lover is the game-master in an unwinnable game, please reach out to someone you trust – a friend, family member, therapist or other professional. Please explore resources in your area and start making a safety plan to leave. You deserve better.

Fuck, reach out to me if you want and I’ll listen to you and help you find the resources you need.

Because love shouldn’t be a game of Mao.

Unlearning Sex Negativity

I’ve been meaning to write this piece for a long time. So today for Smutathon seems like as good a time as any!

I need to start by admitting something that doesn’t make me look good. When I was younger, I engaged in a lot of slut-shaming. I held a very, very strong belief that people should only have sex in the context of Capital L Love. I kinda low-key considered myself better than other girls because of the small number of people I’d had sex with and the fact that I insisted on a strong emotional bond before I would consider it.

To be clear, I am NOT demisexual. Obviously some people are and this is a completely legitimate sexual identity. However, I experience sexual attraction and desire outside of emotionally committed relationships. Definitely not demi. I just… had some very strange moral ideas about sexuality. I would, in my late teens and early twenties, quite often find myself wanting to have sex with someone but insisting I couldn’t because it would be *wrong* because we weren’t In Love. Even when I became polyamorous, I was one of those insufferable “it’s not about SEX! It’s about LOVE!!!!!!” people.

And now? Well, I’m a swinger! I love casual sex! I’ve had threesomes and foursomes and orgies. I’ve been to countless sex parties and facilitated a few. The number of people I’ve slept with is probably still not particularly impressive to some, but I stopped counting at thirty which is way above the national average.

So… what the fuck happened?

The short answer is that I learned. The longer answer is that I took the time to step back and consider my position – really consider it – and couldn’t find any morally defensible reason for continuing to hold it. I also realised that I could be a whole lot happier if I actually allowed myself to have what my heart and body wanted, rather than holding on to some strange morality that didn’t actually stand up under scrutiny.

I have a fairly clear idea of where my ideas about sexuality came from. Though I wasn’t raised religious, I was brought up in an environment where long-term monogamy was held up as the Right Way and sexual promiscuity was shamed. In addition, my first long term relationship was with an older guy who was very clear that he prized me for my Purity. Because I was a virgin when we met (I was fourteen!) he expected me to somehow stay all innocence, naivety about sex, and wide-eyed-inexperience forever. He slut-shamed me for liking some of the sex we had together (I was supposed to put out, but seem reluctant about it – make of that whatever you like!) In turn I slut-shamed myself and internalised the idea that I wasn’t supposed to enjoy sex and that being into it made me less appealing to the men I was having sex with.

To be clear, I don’t think my experience was anything particularly atypical. Girls in our culture are often brought up under the weight of massive sexual shame, in a society that still stigmatises and even pathologises female desire and sexuality. Girls are taught it’s their job to say no to boys, to resist any whiff of sexual activity… but then somehow know exactly how to “please their man” once they’re in a socially-sanctioned relationship. It’s fucked up.

No-one who is brought up in this kind of environment can escape without internalising some of it. It’s almost impossible. Some of us fare better than others, of course, but we’re all swimming in this toxic sex-negativity. To escape from it takes a real effort.

It took me years to unlearn some of these toxic beliefs about sex, and to be honest that work is still not entirely done. I still occasionally have to catch myself when I find myself playing down my eagerness for sex or being tempted to lie when someone asks me how many people I’ve had sex with.

But the actual unlearning was a process. First, it required consciously acknowledging that actually, being promiscuous and engaging in casual sex was something I would enjoy. Then learning how not to judge myself, or others, for these types of behaviours. And that took a lot of reading, a lot of critical thought, a lot of listening and talking to others and questioning questioning questioning my beliefs at every step of the way.

I still vividly remember the first time I had sex with someone I didn’t love. It felt as though an enormous weight had lifted off my shoulders. I’d kinda wanted to bang that particular person, a good friend with whom a romantic relationship wouldn’t have worked, for a long time. But I’d always denied my interest and said no because I had this weird moral conviction that it would be somehow wrong and say something bad about me as a person if I engaged in Sex Without Love.

Sex with love attached is great. And sex without love attached can also be great. Sex, in the context of a consensual exchange between adults, is fucking awesome.

If you want to only have sex with the one person you’re married to for your entire life, I support that. If you want to have gangbangs with thirty strangers every weekend, I also support that. When we free ourselves from arbitrary sexual morality, we can look at the things that really matter (consent, agency, risk-aware practices, pleasure) and stop judging ourselves and each other so harshly for the consensual sex we engage in.

This post is part of Smutathon 2019. Please donate if you can and help us raise lots of money to support abortion access!

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Letting Go Is Not Forgiveness

“You have thrown it all away,
Stand back, watch it burn –
Just watch it all burn.”

(“First Burn” – Lin Manuel Miranda)

Close to a decade ago, two people I trusted hurt me very badly. The finer points of the story are unimportant; the Spark Notes version is that my partner and metamour (who was, I thought, a dear friend) deliberately lied to me and deliberately betrayed my trust in a deep and profound way that had lasting implications for my life.

First I was sad. Then I felt stupid, because how could I have let them take me in like that? Then I got angry. And then… well, then I kinda stayed angry. I raged to my other partner and my friends, and I was still angry. Then I yelled on the internet and I was still angry. I burned everything he gave me that I could put a match to, and I was still fucking angry.

Occasionally I still see them; once a year or so when I go to an event that I love and refuse to be pushed out of just because they’re going to be there. And every time I’ve seen them for so many years, I get this visceral sense of fuck you both.

Honestly, it felt kind of powerful for a while. Because if I was angry, if I was actively hating them, then I couldn’t feel like an idiot. I couldn’t question whether it was my fault – whether by letting my partner sleep with someone else (to whatever extent the notion of “allowing” another adult to do something is meaningful) I had tempted fate that eventually he’d like her more. Whether I’d trusted too easily and so allowed this to go on right under my nose, suspecting nothing. Or whether I’d just not been giving enough, pretty enough, sexy enough to keep him interested in me. Being angry gave me the illusion of having the upper hand. Of “you two might have ripped the rug of my life out from under me, but at least I still have the moral high ground.”

Sometimes I barely think about them for weeks or months. And then something will spark it all over again – a dream, a post on social media that has somehow bypassed my “block them and their partners on absolutely everything” measures, something I see on TV that reminds me of the situation – and there’s that flash of white-hot anger, powerful as ever.

But my therapist recently helped me to realise that being angry really isn’t serving me any more – and probably hasn’t been for a long time. At this point, all it serves to do is to take up space in my brain that those two really haven’t been entitled to for a very long time. All it does is cause me to mistrust everyone who gets close to me – to start from a point of assuming betrayal and harm is inevitable and making them work their way up from there, rather than the fairer position of starting from a place of neutral trust equity.

“I need to let it go, don’t I?” I said, close to the end of one session.

In that way characteristic of good therapists, she answered my plea that she tell me what to do with another question. “What have you got to gain if you do?”

I thought about it. “Space in my head, mainly,” was my answer. There were other things, too, of course. Things which would improve my relationships with others, my relationship with myself, and my ability to trust other people again.

“I can’t forgive them, though,” I told my therapist. “I draw the line there.”

“No-one is asking you to forgive them.”

That’s when I realised that it might be possible to let go of something in a way that doesn’t imply forgiveness. In a way that doesn’t, directly or indirectly, tell the person who hurt you that what they did was okay or doesn’t matter any more. Because it does fucking matter!

Forgiveness, despite what well-meaning people often tell me, is fundamentally about the person who did the hurting in my opinion. Forgiveness, in the context of an ongoing and loving relationship where someone has fucked up (even very badly) is a great virtue and can be what enables the relationship to continue. However, I believe that in order to be meaningful, the person who is being forgiven has to understand what they did wrong and take steps to never do it again. I don’t have that. They still don’t think I did anything wrong – I was just an obstacle they had to clear to get

Letting go, though? That’s for me. That’s all mine. My therapist taught me that letting something go is a gift to myself, not to them. It doesn’t involve them at all! Letting go says that they don’t deserve the space in my head it takes to think about them any more. Space which could be better used for writing, learning, making my current relationships awesome, or honestly even just watching hours of back-to-back cat videos on the internet.

Letting go says “your loss, I’m gonna go live my life now.”

I’m taking a deep breath, and I’m letting all this long-held anger go.

This post was written as part of Smutathon 2019. We’re writing intensively for 12 hours to raise money for the National Network of Abortion Funds. Please sponsor us if you can – we’d like to raise $5,000 to help ensure access to safe, legal abortion is available for anyone who needs it.

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[Guest Post] Anxiety and Sex: How Panic Attacks During Sex Led to Me Getting the Help I Needed by Ruby Bell

I knew I wanted Ruby Bell to guest blog for me the moment I read one of her several brilliant posts for Girl on the Net. Thankfully, she agreed and pitched me this fabulous piece. You know that, here at C&K HQ, we’re all about the filthiest, sexiest smut… but we’re ALSO all about talking frankly about mental health and all the other complications of life. I’ll hand you over to Ruby, who is going to tell us all about panic attacks and sex. – Amy x

My partner has me against the wall. He has me blindfolded and he’s using a very powerful vibrator on my clitoris. These are some of my absolute favourite things… so why am I moments away from having a full-on panic attack? 

Living with anxiety isn’t easy, but it is something we all know a lot more about these days. It’s brilliant that people are talking more about mental health, and most of us are feeling a little less intimidated about sharing our true thoughts and feelings with those we love. Despite all of this progress, it doesn’t make having panic attacks any easier for those of us who struggle with them, and having panic attacks during sex is a part of anxiety not many people talk about. It’s certainly not something I ever expected to have to deal with. 

So, let’s talk about some of the science behind the madness of our minds. The release of oxytocin during sex magnifies emotions as well as promoting trust and empathy with your partner. This suggests that it can encourage a release of feelings that may have nothing to do with what is actually going on in that moment. Maybe you’ve had an argument with your mum recently. Maybe you’ve had a fucking awful week at work or maybe your mental health has just generally been suffering lately. Now you’re in this safe place with the person you trust the most, and all of these things are coming out. It’s quite common for some people to cry during sex, and this can easily go from a few tears to a panic attack if you suffer with anxiety or depression as well. 

The first time I had a panic attack during sex was only the second or third panic attack I’d ever had, which meant I hadn’t yet learnt how to spot the signs of an attack rising or how to calm myself down and prevent it from getting any worse. I barely even knew what a panic attack was! This ended up with me having a pretty out of control, I-can’t-breathe, sobbing-my-heart-out kind of panic attack in front of my (still pretty new at the time) partner… who is standing there enjoying edging me, watching me writhe and squirm with a thick hard cock as he does. 

Fortunately, he dealt with the situation even better than I ever could have asked for. He turned the vibrator off, he removed my blindfold, and when I replaced it with my hands to try and hide my embarrassment he pulled me close to him and held me against his chest. He asked if he had done anything wrong. I sobbed that he hadn’t, that I was enjoying it and I didn’t know why this was happening which actually panicked me even more. He told me it was fine, he told me to breathe and he walked me around the house reminding me to keep breathing. At the time, I thought it was strange and a little comical that two semi-turned-on people were walking around the house together, completely naked for no apparent reason as my face dripped with tears and mascara and my chest heaved with heavy, struggling breaths. I know now that the walking helped to ground me. It helped distract from the panic as well as allowing me to feel close to and loved by my partner. 

I’m lucky – now that I have worked on my mental health and my panic attacks in particular, if one does start to rise in me I know how to calm myself down and can reign it in before the main symptoms begin around 90% of the time. But having panic attacks during sex did two wonderful things for me – although I didn’t know there was anything wonderful about it at the time of course.

First of all, it changed the dynamic of my relationship completely. Up until the point of that first attack, my partner and I were still holding back things during sex and I was being careful not to come across as overly emotional or ‘crazy.’ Looking back, it was probably the reason that first attack manifested itself – I hadn’t been honest with my partner about the feelings I was having in our relationship and I was hiding who I really was, which is never a good thing. This attack led to me and my partner connecting emotionally on a whole new level that we never had before. I learned that my partner was not just the tough guy exterior that came across. Showing my own vulnerability and opening up to him allowed him to do the same with me, and this led to us having a much stronger relationship in the long run. I now know I can talk to my partner if I’m feeling anxious, depressed, panicked or anything else. I can tell him if I don’t even know what’s causing those feelings and we can deal with it together.

The second thing that first attack during sex did for me was make it clear I did have a problem that needed to be addressed. Up until that point I had struggled with my mental health for years without ever really facing it. I had several extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms which were in fact making things worse, and having my partner walk me around and remind me to breathe led me to learning how to deal with these feelings effectively. From that experience, I learned coping techniques that I still use today. Having that outburst in front of another person meant I had to face what was going on. It meant someone else could see that actually I wasn’t okay, I wasn’t coping. This led to me getting the help and support I so badly needed, as well as working on my communication regarding my mental health overall. 

I hope that anyone else dealing with panic attacks during sex – or at any other time – takes it as a sign that they need to deal with the emotions causing these attacks. Listen to the fact that your body has felt comfortable enough to open up fully in front of the person you are making love with. I think we all need to listen more to what our bodies and emotions are telling us. And perhaps if we take the time to stop and listen to ourselves, then there is a good chance things won’t ever need to get as far as a panic attack.

Ruby Bell writes erotica and is passionate about sharing her filthy sexual experiences and fantasies. Her sex-positive writing also includes mental health, self-care, and educational pieces. She wants to spread both arousal and information! She’s a sucker for BDSM, chubby women and growing her own herbs and spices.  

Ruby is a brilliantly smutty writer who has shared her work on Girl On The Net’s amazing blog a number of times over the past few years. You can check out some of her work here (warning – very NSFW) and keep yourself up to date on what she’s doing at @absolutely_ruby on Twitter, where you’ll find upcoming articles, occasional audio porn, and whatever else pops into her head. Ruby is also currently working on her first novel with hopes of publishing next year. 

What Sexual Happiness Means to Me

This week is Sexual Happiness Week! I think that’s a sentiment we can all get behind, no? (If not, why are you reading this blog?) My pals at Lovehoney asked me in an email “what does sexual happiness mean to you?” and, of course, it got me thinking.

A cock ring, a bottle of lube, a mini wand vibrator, a pot of orgasm balm and a bath bomb, all from Lovehoney. For a post on Sexual Happiness week.
Being a sex blogger is pretty great when you get presents like this!

My initial reaction was to give my working definition of sex positivity: “supporting the right of all consenting adults to have sex, or not, in whatever ways work best for them, free from stigma or shame”.

And while I stand by that, I think sexual happiness is something a little different. So I started making a list of some of the things that make up “sexual happiness” for me. It’s different for everyone, so your mileage may vary. Why not tell me in the comments what YOUR definition of sexual happiness is?

1. Feeling in harmony with my body

My body and I have… an uneasy relationship. We haven’t always been friends and honestly, we sometimes still aren’t. Feeling good about my body is something I am mostly struggling to access right now, but in order to experience sexual happiness I do at least need to feel comfortable – neutral, if you will – about it.

I can’t have good sex if all I can think about is how much I hate my stomach and how my thighs are too big. But I can get to a happy place sexually if I can turn off all that noise and, if I cannot love how my body looks, at least appreciate it for the things it can do and the sensations it can feel.

2. Having partners I can really trust

You cannot have really good sex without trust. This is something I firmly believe. For me, trust is more complex than just “you’ll do what you say you’re going to do”. Trust means that I know you’ll show up for me if I need you, outside of a purely sexual space. It means I can be vulnerable with you and know that you will hold space for that and not use it to harm me. It means I can rely on you to show up and keep your commitments to me, not because I force you to but because you want to.

My bar for ongoing sexual partners is now much higher. We might or might not fall in Capital L Love with one another, but if I don’t trust you, we have nothing – not even a casual something.

3. A frequency that works

I’m a very highly sexual person much of the time (duh, you all think as you read my sex blog). This means that, much of the time, I’d like to be having quite a lot of sex. Much as I joke about liking my sex like I like my coffee (“hot and several times a day,”) my actual ideal frequency for sex tends to fall around the 4 – 5 times a week mark, a little more when I’m not busy. (LOL, as if there’s ever a time I’m not busy.)

But the key to sexual happiness for me is a frequency of sex that works with where my life is at that time, and works for the relationship I have with that partner. Right now I probably have sex with The Artist about once a month, but that’s… most of the times we see each other. Whereas with Mr CK, it probably averages out to once or twice a week – but we live together and see each other every day unless one of us is away, so we have days when we’re together but don’t have sex much more often. The key to happiness is a frequency that works for everyone.

4. Exploration and new experiences

At my heart, I am a curious creature with a lust for new experiences and plenty of adventure. Sexually, this can mean a lot of things. New partners, yes – sexual variety is one of the reasons I practice consensual non-monogamy. But also trying a new kink act, a new toy (my job as a sex writer blesses me with the ability to do this frequently!), a new position, or a new sex party or club all fall under the umbrella of “variety”.

Basically I want to try shit out. Being with a person for a long period of time and keeping a sexual spark alive comes quite easily to me, as long as there are plenty of adventures to be shared.

5. Plenty of attention given to my pleasure

I nearly wrote “orgasms!” for this one, but, well… I have an orgasm denial fetish. So I’ve amended it to needing a partner to give plenty of attention to my pleasure, in whatever way that looks. It might mean making sure I come, of course. But it might also include teasing me in the way I like, or spanking me in just the right way, or honestly just regularly checking in to make sure I’m having fun and getting what I want out of the scene. Nothing will turn me off faster than a partner who treats me like a sex toy. (Unless that’s a specific roleplay we’ve negotiated… in which case I’m getting something out of it too, so the point still stands).

Today’s post is brought to you by Lovehoney’s Sexual Happiness Week. Check out the great deals on offer. If you buy through any of my affiliate links, I make a small commission.

WWAD? (What Would Amy Do?)

I’ll be honest with you, dear readers. I’m having a really hard time with a lot of things right now. This is for a variety of reasons, not least that my body image is at its lowest level ever (even lower than when I wrote this,) my day job is…. challenging, and I’m currently working through intense childhood trauma as well as the abuse from my ex with my therapist. Basically, I don’t like the person I am at the moment. I’m a sluggish, grumpy, emotionally unavailable shell of myself.

A woman's face with her hand partially covering her mouth. The picture looks cracked. For a post called What Would Amy Do?

And one of the things I’m finding particularly hard right now is polyamory. Jealousy is biting me hard. Compersion has fucked off somewhere and ghosted me. And I’m forgetting everything I supposedly know about how to handle this shit.

I don’t want to be like this.

In my “real” life (air quotes because this world feels more real to me than my day-to-day life), I have a different persona. Another person I have to be. Let’s call her… Sarah. Sarah is significantly less cool than Amy. She works in an office instead of writing about her vagina on the internet, she wears comfy sweaters and jeans instead of corsets and lingerie, and she plays the role of a straight, monogamous “good girl” in a play called “Small Conservative Town And Judgemental Job”. She’s the person I was for most of the twenty six years of life before I started this blog, found “Amy,” and learned how to be the person I always wanted to be.

Sarah is also many of the traumatised, fucked up, broken pieces of me.

Something that frustrates me is how often I forget how to do the things that I advise other people on all the time. I know how to handle a jealousy flare-up. I know how to own my own shit. And I know how to talk to my partner about a problem without it escalating into a fight. People come to me for advice on this stuff. I run classes on it. And write a fucking column on it! I. Know. This. Shit.

Or at least Amy does.

But Sarah finds it so very hard to tap into this knowledge when I am neck deep in brutal insecurities, non-existent self-esteem and the sense that all I want is for these feelings to STOP.

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with a situation and so deep in panic that I don’t know what to do, I try to ask myself a question: What Would Amy Do? That is, I try to step outside of the immediacy and the pain of the situation, and think: if a reader came to me with this question, what would I tell her to do? What would my advice be? Usually, when I look at it like that, the way forward is much clearer (if still equally difficult to enact in practice.)

So what would Amy do? She’d probably start by apologising to her partner for being an insufferable shit and get her ass back to therapy.

Hey, maybe buy me a coffee to help me keep paying for books and vibrators therapy.

Sexting is a Real Sexual Relationship

A computer surrounded by mobile phones and with a red bra discarded over it. For a post on sexting.

When I was seventeen and we had not long moved in together, I caught my then-boyfriend sexting online with a random woman he’d met on the internet. We were, at the time, in a monogamous arrangement – and to say I was livid doesn’t cover it. I absolutely considered it to be cheating. (This is to say nothing of the fact that they’d been planning to meet and have sex, and only didn’t because I found out before that happened.) But the point is that I considered the online sexual relationship – in and of itself – to be a sexual relationship, and therefore a violation of the boundaries of a monogamous relationship. Of course, every relationship is different and if both parties agree a little digital flirtation is okay, more power to them. But there are certain things that are assumed to be off-limits in a monogamous commitment, unless very explicitly negotiated otherwise.

I stand by my assessment (of those activities as cheating) to this day, some decade and change later. This is because I completely believe that sexting, cyber-sexing and other forms of exchanging sexually explicit content online is a form of sexual relationship. It might not involve physically being in the same room or rubbing genitals together, but it is sex nonetheless.

My relationship with Mr CK began primarily online, as we lived 100 miles from each other. As we tried to work out what we felt for each other and what it meant, we texted day after day and sexted, cyber-sexed and exchanged filthy pictures and videos by night, until we reached the point that we simply had to see each other in person. But by the time we took it “real life,” not only were we already in love but we already had a pretty decent understanding of each others’ likes, dislikes, kinks and curiosities. Such is the power of digital sexuality.

“It’s only online!” I hear this all the time. I hear it from people in ostensibly monogamous relationships who have been caught having illicit cyber-sex behind their partner’s back. I’ve heard it from people who are trying to convince themselves they’re not really into that person they have been swapping naughty messages with every day for weeks. I even said it myself, when I was trying to deny the fact that I was fast falling in both love and lust with the man who blew up my phone with sexy texts multiple times a day.

We live in a digital world. There’s no getting away from it. Whether you’re keeping in touch with your long-distance sweetie via naughty Skype chats, booking private shows with your favourite cam models on Chaturbate, or using sites such as freesextingsites.com to find sexy chat partners, the vast majority of us have engaged with our sexuality online in some form or another. I would venture to suggest that the vast majority of adults around my age have nude pictures – their own or someone else’s – lurking on their phones.

Personally, I think sexting and cyber-sex are brilliant. Many of us have partners who live a good distance away from us – a different city or a different country – which makes regular in-person sex impossible. Online sexting is an amazing way to keep the spark alive in those relationships.

But it has benefits for those of us with more local partners too – even partners we live with. Have you ever received a steamy sext from your partner in the middle of the day, and then just wanted to go home and rip their clothes off their body for the rest of the day? Exactly. And if you’re very busy, or one of you has an illness or injury that is making a physical sexual relationship difficult or impossible, a virtual one can be just as satisfying.

Crucially, I think we need to move away from viewing sexting or cyber-sexing as less “real” sex. There are infinite ways to have sex, and as sex positive people we’re trying desperately to move away from the narrative that sex only “counts” if a penis goes into a vagina. I propose that we also move away from the idea that virtual expressions of sexuality are less valid, less real, or count less than in-person encounters. Let’s stop devaluing sexting and embrace it as one of the infinite possible ways to express delicious, hot, consensual human sexuality.

FYI: this post was sponsored. All views are, and will always be, my own.

Bad at Making Friends?

KATNISS: Yeah, but I’m not very good at making friends.
CINNA: We’ll see.

– The Hunger Games

A group of people putting their hands in a circle. For a post about making friends.

In every single job I’ve ever had, and a number of out-of-work hobby things too (especially when I was younger,) I’ve been very much on the periphery of any social things going on. I’m one of those people who generally gets along with almost everyone, at a surface level, but I’ve never really had a proper Work Friend. Not in the true sense. I don’t really get invited to happy hour or Work Nights Out or whatever it is people who work in offices do when they socialise with each other. (Which, okay, I don’t really care any more – reality is I probably wouldn’t go anyway).

I was thinking about this today, and in particular about the way in which members of my work teams over the years have been (or at least seemed) super close to each other in a way they have never been to me.

My immediate thought was “I’m just bad at making friends”. Then, upon interrogating this a bit more, I realised this cannot logically be true. Because I actually have tonnes of friends. They just exist in a completely different section of my life.

When you compartmentalise your life to the extent that I do, it becomes very, very hard to build meaningful connections in spheres where you cannot be fully yourself. I cannot let my guard down or allow myself to be vulnerable when I know there are so many things about me – things that are real and huge and significant – about which I simply cannot be open. Things like this blog. Like what really went on at that party I went to on Saturday. Things like that I feel a bit off today because the polyam jealousy is biting me hard.

There’s a reason that basically every single person I have a meaningful and intimate friendship with these days is either a sex blogger, kinky, queer, non-monogamous, or some combination thereof. (My definition of “meaningful and intimate friendship” here is someone I’d invite to my wedding without hesitation, someone I’d feel okay calling up in tears if something terrible happened, someone I’d travel significant distance to spend time with). And that reason is simply that I can be fully myself around those people. My queer, kinky, slutty, polyam, sex-writing self.

I’d love to be fully, openly, aggressively out in every facet of my life. But, for a large number of good and valid reasons, that simply isn’t possible. Therefore, compartmentalising is the option that makes the most sense and brings me the most peace and happiness.

But I’m not bad at making friends. I’m just bad at forcing myself into a box in which I do not fit.

Mr CK recently pointed out that if I found myself at a kink event without him by my side, I could bounce up to the nearest group of pervs and make friends, no problem. Same at a polyam social. Thing is, he’s right. But there, I can be the version of me I view as fun and interesting and sparkly. I can connect with people in a way that is meaningful to me – through a shared love of the taboo, the transgressive, the usually hidden. In that space, I don’t have to think “they’d hate me if they knew my secret,” because I know they share the same secret.

The people I spend time with in other compartments of my life are fine, often wonderful people. But they’re not my people. And that’s A-okay with me.

Did you enjoy this post? Maybe consider buying me a coffee to help me stay caffeinated and doing the putting-words-into-sentences thing.

I’m Suffocating in This Closet!

I’m going to break an unwritten rule – one that I set for myself when I started blogging. I’m going to talk about something that happened at my Day Job.

An open closet
Not pictured: me so deep in this closet I’m in fucking Narnia

Now, I love a lot of things about my day job. I work with nice people at an organisation whose mission I care about. I am paid fairly and generally treated respectfully. But Day Job and this life, the life I live when I’m writing this blog, are separate. There is DayName, and there is Amy Norton, and never the two shall meet. I never even tweet as Amy while on work time, though my office is chill about reasonable personal phone and social media use. I am that careful.

At work I am quiet. I keep my head down and I don’t say much. I am friendly, of course, but in that enigmatic way where no-one really knows an awful lot about me. The superficial stuff, sure, but nothing real.

Today my co-worker said they’d watched the new Louis Theroux documentary about polyamory. (Though they called it “polygamy”.) My ears pricked up and I listened to the ensuing conversation, though added nothing to it myself except that it is forbidden to be legally married to more than one person in the vast majority of the world and therefore it was not really “polygamy” in the true sense. Sadly, the ensuing conversation was dripping with judgement. Words like “gross” and “freaky” abounded. Vomiting noises were made at the idea of group sex. I believe somebody even made a comment along the lines of “there’s something really wrong with you if you can’t be satisfied with one person.”

What I felt, in that moment, was shame. I felt that wave of doubt that comes from hearing that something is wrong with me. You’d think by now I would be good at batting away shaming comments about how I choose to love, but every one still hurts.

Of course, no-one knew they were talking about me. No-one knew that the quiet girl across the desk from them is going to see her secondary partner after work tonight, or that she had a threesome with her partner and an amazing woman they both adore at the weekend, or that the thought of the sex party she’s going to in a couple of weeks is getting her though as much as her incessant supply of coffee.

I guess what I’m saying is… be careful in your judgement. When you throw around blanket condemnation of something you do not understand, there might be someone across the desk from you who now feels a little less safe to be themselves, a little more sure they’ll never come out. If my self-protective closets were physical walls, they’d have grown an extra few inches wide today.

Would they have reacted differently if they’d known they were talking about the lifestyle of someone who sat four feet away? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. Would it humanise the concept if I’d said “hey, actually I’m polyam and it’s really not all that freaky! We go on ice-cream dates and have sex and do laundry and walk the dog and argue about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher, just like you!“? Should I have put myself out there, taken the personal risk in the name of sex positivity and fighting the good fight? Maybe. But I didn’t. I felt shame, and I said nothing. I felt judged, and I did not feel able to defend myself because they didn’t know it was me they were judging.  And I felt like a failure to the cause for not speaking up.

Not being out is a choice I make to protect myself from (at best) intrusive questions and weird judgements, and (at worst) from ridicule, loss of professional respect and possibly risking my job. Today I burrowed a little deeper into my closet.

Did you enjoy this or do you just want to help me get through this week? Buy me a coffee! Oh, and please – no advice. Thank you.