Sluttier in Theory: Swinging, Casual Sex and Me

I have recently been dipping a cautious toe back into some swinging spaces, albeit almost exclusively very queer ones. These adventures have brought up some thoughts and realisations about the ways that I operate in sexual spaces that I’ve been thinking about a lot. So, because blogging is cheaper than therapy, let’s talk about them shall we?

I’m not sure I was ever really a swinger, to be entirely honest. Years ago, I wrote about things I disliked about the mainstream (read: hetero) swing community, from the weird prevalence of sexual racism to the casual kink-shaming. And I don’t think I’m really a swinger now, either. Or at least, claiming that label feels disingenuous when the last time I did anything more than hand sex with a stranger was literally years ago.

I’m a polyamorous and consensually non-monogamous person who also enjoys some casual sex with lovely people every now and then. (Exactly where the dividing line between “swinger” and “whatever the fuck I am” lies, I am truly not sure.)

Thing is, I’d really like to be sluttier than I am. In theory, at least, I’m a huge Ethical Slut. I love flirting, giving and receiving sexual attention and interest. I love making connections, making plans, making out, that slow but certain escalation when it becomes apparent that yes, this thing is ON. And I love sex. I’m a high sexual desire person (it’s not a drive!), and in an ideal world I’d be having sex several times a week at least. Yes, I’m a horny fucker.

So why do I find it so fucking hard to actually make that leap and do the things in a more casual context?

I’m envious of people who can just dive in. People who can pull a stranger or leap into the centre of an orgy without thinking too hard about it. I wish that could be me. So why don’t I and why isn’t it? Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to untangle.

My Sexuality is Complicated

Being very sapphic certainly complicates things. The overwhelming majority of people in swing and casual sex spaces are cis man/cis woman couples, most of whom – as is typical in that community – do things exclusively together. This is tricky when I don’t fancy very many men, though.

I’m not going to fuck a guy I don’t fancy just so I can play with his partner, and I’m not going to tolerate hands wandering after I’ve set boundaries about who can and cannot touch me and where. Realistically, I’m also not going to fuck a woman for a man’s enjoyment. Performative queerness does nothing for me. Less than nothing – it’s an active turn-off.

So where does this leave me? Probably limited to playing one-on-one with other women, playing with very trusted friends, playing with couples where the guy will happily accept “I’ll fuck your wife with you but I’m not going to fuck you”, or waiting for the cases where I am attracted enough to both/all parties to also fuck the guy(s.) The last two scenarios on this list? Well, they’re rare. In practice, my sexuality limits who will be interested in me and how I can play simply because I don’t typically offer much for the guys.

Hitting on women is hard, too, for a simple reason: I don’t want to make other women feel the way that creepy men make me feel. (Yes, there’s a whole other post in this, too.) More than once I’ve noticed an attractive woman at a party and then totally failed to even talk to her. I always kick myself afterwards, of course, but I haven’t figured out a way to overcome this one yet.

Sexual Health Fears

There’s also the sexual health angle. I got an STI about a year ago (ironically, during a particularly non-slutty phase) and it really rattled me. Though it was dealt with, I have no desire to ever repeat that experience. I feel like I’d be absolutely furious with myself if I inadvertently contracted something and then passed it on to one or both of my partners.

I preach open communication about sexual health constantly, but in reality it can be really hard to be the person saying “hey when were you last tested?” when no-one else in the room has raised it.

The reality is that, if we are going to be sexually active, there is a risk of STIs. This is even true in monogamy, because people can cheat and people can have symptomless infections for years without knowing it if they’re not testing regularly. There is no way to be a sexually active human and totally eliminate this risk. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care. If anything, it gives us a greater responsibility to take the reasonable steps we can to mitigate the risk to ourselves and our sexual partners.

In some ways, this is probably the easiest issue on this list to solve. This one can probably be solved with practice and giving fewer fucks about seeming like a buzzkill for being the person to open the conversation.

“I Shouldn’t Be Doing This”: Internalised Shame

On a less practical and more cerebral level, I think I’m probably still dealing with some internalised shame around casual sex. Like so many of us, I grew up in an intensely sex-negative society and “slut” was one of the worst things someone could call you. (I got called it for having sex with my one boyfriend of well over a year when I was sixteen, but that’s another topic for another day.)

“But Amy, you’ve been polyamorous your entire adult life!” I can hear some long-time readers saying. And yes, I have. However – and this is also going to be the topic of another post soon – the polyamorous community has a massive slut-shaming problem.

Hang out in polyamorous spaces long enough and you’ll often hear phrases like “it’s polyAMORY, not polyFUCKERY” to deride casual sex. You’ll also hear derisive language used towards swingers (and anyone sluttier than the name-caller approves of), as well as assertions that casual sex “ISN’T REALLY POLY.” Mainely Mandy did a fantastic video on this subject. It’s over an hour long but I really urge you to watch it all if you can. Mandy is insightful, engaging, hilarious, and just so right about this topic.

I suspect there’s still some internal work – and probably work with my therapist – to be done on unpacking this shame. I find it so easy to celebrate others getting all the hot sex they want with all the partners they want, as long as it’s ethical and consensual. I’m not sure why I am finding it so hard to extend that to myself. But I do know that once in a while, I get hit with this overwhelming feeling of “I shouldn’t be doing this”. And that’s a mood-killer if ever there was one.

Vulnerability is Fucking Hard

Finally, there’s also the fear of making myself vulnerable. I know not everyone will agree with me here but to me at least, there’s an inherent level of vulnerability to sex (or at least to good sex.) If I stay completely detached, there’s just no point. I’m not going to enjoy it and will probably end up feeling used rather than fulfilled.

But as the title of this section says: vulnerability is fucking hard. Vulnerability, in my experience, often leads to pain.

Of course, on the flip side, vulnerability can also lead to some trancendently wonderful experiences. Vulnerability has brought me beautiful relationships, deeper communication and intimacy with my partners, hot sex, leg-shaking orgasms, the kind of memories that still get me wet when I recall them years later.

But it’s really, really hard to be truly vulnerable and it does not come easily to abuse survivors in particular.

So… What Now?

I don’t really know, to be honest. Maybe I need to just be brave and take bigger leaps into the things I want before overthinking gets in the way and stops me. Or maybe some things do need to remain “in theory.”

I sent a draft of this post up to this point to my girlfriend, having no idea how to finish it. Because she’s brilliant, she made this suggestion: “Imagine someone has written that post and sent it to you asking for your advice.” A lightbulb went on instantly. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The conclusion of this piece will take the form of an open advice letter from me to me.

Open Advice from Me to Me

Hey Amy. This sounds legitimately complicated and like there are numerous different factors at play.

First I want to validate something for you: this stuff is complex. I’ll also let you into a secret: it’s complex for almost everyone! Those people you see at parties, who seem to be having all the casual sex all the time without a care in the world? That’s probably not their reality. Behind the scenes they are likely thinking things over, considering their boundaries and desires, perhaps discussing things with their partners. They probably have many of the same insecurities as you, and plenty of their own unique struggles too. So first, please don’t think you’re alone or weird for feeling conflicted about this. You’re not. What you see at parties is, in all likelihood, the smallest tip of the iceberg.

Next I want to tell you that your sexuality is perfect as it is. We live in a deeply, aggressively heteronormative world and it can be hard when you fall outside of that. You never, ever have to have sex that you don’t want to have. If you want to have sex but only with a certain gender or genders? Awesome! If you’re open to other genders but only occasionally, sporadically, or circumstantially? Great! If some types of sex appeal to you but not others? Excellent self-knowledge, well done.

I would advise simply being very upfront with potential playmates about who you are, what you want, and what you can offer.

Will this mean some people aren’t right for you? Yes, absolutely. And that’s okay! No-one is everybody’s cup of tea, and having incompatible needs with some people doesn’t mean that your needs are wrong (or that theirs are.) If someone isn’t into what you’re offering, you can wish each other well and move on to more fitting connections. If someone deliberately breaches boundaries you’ve set or oversteps your consent? Get up and leave. You deserve better.

I hear your frustration that suitable connections seem to be relatively few and far between, possibly due to your low interest in men. But a small number of great connections is vastly preferable to a lot of bad ones. You seem to be doing this already, but continuing to prioritise explicitly queer and queer-positive spaces is much more likely to get you the kinds of experiences you want.

Your sexual health concerns are also valid and understandable. They particularly make sense with the context that you’ve had an STI in the past and do not want to repeat the experience. Sexual health is a sensible thing to be concerned with. Most STIs are not a big deal – they are treatable, curable, or manageable. However, some can have a significant or even life-changing impact, and antibiotic-resistant strains of certain infections are a growing concern in the medical community. Even easily curable STIs are, unfortunately, still heavily stigmatised.

I know you know this, but you are not being a buzzkill for raising this topic. If someone rejects you or gets annoyed with you for discussing it, they’re not right for you. By having this conversation before hooking up, you’re being a responsible partner and caring for both your own and your partners’ sexual health.

One possible way to become more comfortable with this conversation might be to have it in advance where possible. Are you chatting to people online prior to meeting them? If so, raise the topic during your pre-party flirtations. Are there online spaces, such as forums or Discord servers, where party or event attendees hang out? If so, why not get a sexual health discussion thread going in those spaces? This takes the “in the moment” pressure off. It also normalises the conversation and allows you to get a feel for people whose risk tolerance aligns with yours.

As a general rule, sexual health practices should default to the boundaries of the most cautious person. If you want to use a barrier, for example, then your prospective partners can either use that barrier or decide not to hook up with you under those conditions. What they cannot – or should not – do is try to talk you out of your boundaries. Trying to change your mind about sexual health protocols is a major red flag, and one you should not ignore.

Internalised shame and fears around vulnerability are, unfortunately, harder to overcome. You’re right that we live in an intensely sex-negative society. It also sounds like you have some personal experience of people weaponising sexual shame against you. Shame is complex, multi-faceted, and unpacking it can be an ongoing (even lifelong) process.

Next time they arise, I invite you to sit with those feelings of shame and ask yourself what they are telling you. Then hold those ideas up to your values and beliefs about the world. Do they align? And if not, where did they come from?

For example, perhaps you realise that your feeling of shame is telling you “people who respect themselves only have sex in committed relationships.” Do you really believe that is true? Presumably not, since you accept and embrace the fact that casual sex can be a positive and joyful thing (and that sexual behaviour is not correlated with self-respect.) Okay, so where did that belief come from? Perhaps it was your parents, your peers, school, the media, or the religion you were raised in. By unpacking the things shame is telling you, you can take more control over which of those beliefs you internalise and which you choose to consciously reject.

On your fear of vulnerability, I want you to know that it makes perfect sense. Existing as a woman or femme in this patriarchal society is hard, and doubly so for survivors of abuse. When vulnerability has been used against you or resulted in pain in the past, it can be incredibly difficult to let yourself go there again.

This fear is your body and brain’s way of keeping you safe. Try to remember that when you’re feeling frustrated with yourself. All those positive things you identified that allowing yourself to be vulnerable has brought to you? What do they all have in common? They all had to happen from a place of safety. This likely meant coming to vulnerability in your own time, not forcing it from yourself. If getting to that baseline of safety takes you longer than it takes other people, or takes you longer in some circumstances than others, then that’s okay.

One vital thing I want to invite you to do is just to listen to yourself. Your body is deeply wise and intuitive. Try to tune into what it’s telling you in any given situation. Try to learn what your personal “yes, more, this” feels like, as well as your personal “no” or “ick” or “I’m not sure about this.” What does safety feel like? What does it feel like when you truly, deeply want something?

Learning to follow those intuitive clues will teach you to trust yourself. It will also help you to come into a deeper understanding of what you really want and don’t want, both in the big-picture sense and in any given moment. In time, you’ll learn how to move towards your “yes” and away from your “no” more authentically.

Finally: remember that there’s no right or wrong here, and you’re not in competition with anyone. You are not less of a non-monogamous or sex-positive person if you’re slower to warm up and get comfortable with being sexual. It’s okay to be a “yes” on one occasion and a “no” on another. It’s okay to be choosy, to be selective, to make sure any given situation is right for you.

It is okay to explore, try things out, surprise yourself. To like things you weren’t sure you would, and do dislike things you were sure would do it for you. And it’s okay if some things need to remain “in theory,” for now or forever.

Breathe. You’re doing fine.

Amy x

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How Wand Vibrators Helped Me Reclaim My Sexuality When Antidepressants Killed It

I’ve been on antidepressants for the majority of my adult life, in three separate stints (having come off them most recently earlier this year). I’m very pro medication for those who need it which, at the times I was taking it, I absolutely did. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those meds saved my life on more than one occasion.

Wand vibrators - Honey Wand from Honey Play Box
Honey Wand by Honey Play Box

But like any medications, antidepressants often have side effects, which can range in severity from mildly annoying to seriously debilitating. One of the worst side effects I experienced on two out of the three antidepressants I tried was a significant change to my sexuality. This manifested in different ways on each drug.

On Fluoxetine (Prozac), I pretty much lost my sex drive entirely for months. Anything that had been pleasurable just felt like… nothing. This wasn’t limited to sex, either – I also lost my appetite and all ability to derive pleasure from food. On Citalopram, I lost my ability to orgasm while my body adjusted to the meds. While this did have some pleasant results (particularly discovering that I have an orgasm denial kink), it was also upsetting and frustrating. Feeling like I had no control over my body and like I’d lost one of my greatest sources of pleasure was so damaging that I seriously considered coming off the meds that were otherwise helping with my depression.

Trying Sex Toys

The first time antidepressants killed my sex life, I was so thoroughly miserable (both from the depression and from the side effects of the meds) that I wasn’t even interested in reclaiming it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have sex or masturbate for about nine months at one stage. In hindsight, this probably made things even worse, because my sexuality has always been one of the key ways that I access pleasure and joy. At that time, I didn’t own any sex toys, and any touch from either myself or my partner left me cold.

The second time was a different matter, though. This time, the antidepressants actually took the edge off the worst of the sadness and hopelessness, and I still wanted sex. I just couldn’t orgasm, either with my partner or by myself. Though orgasm is not necessarily the goal of sex, this quickly became frustrating and then enraging. I felt like my body was betraying me. Like I had to choose between having a properly functioning brain and a satisfying sex life.

The turning point came when my then-partner pulled out a wand vibrator after about a month of this issue. That thing finally broke through the orgasm block. And, once that dam broke, it became easier and easier to get there again. I invested in a wand for myself pretty quickly after that, and it became my go-to toy.

Breaking Through the Depression-Haze

Even now, when I’m not currently on any psychiatric medication (though I accept I might be again in the future), I’m most likely to reach for my wand vibes when I’m in the middle of a bad depression funk. Contrary to popular belief, it’s still possible to feel horny at the same time as being depressed. Sad people need pleasure and orgasms, too! There have also been times when I haven’t felt horny, but I knew intellectually that an orgasm would make me feel better.

Sometimes, when I’m very very depressed, I feel as though there’s a kind of fog around me. The fog keeps me at least partly disconnected from everything and everyone around me. At its worst, it creates a sense of being somewhat outside and detached from my own body. In this state, many types of touch that would normally be pleasurable struggle to penetrate the fog. When that happens, I need intense stimulation and lots of it. It’s times like this that I might crave certain BDSM activities even more than usual. It’s also times like this when knock-your-socks-off powerful wand vibes are a Godsend.

The thing with my favourite wand vibes is that ultimately, they can wrench an orgasm from my body with very little active input from me. This has a lot of fun potential (forced orgasm scenes anyone?) It’s also extremely useful during periods of significant depression. If I want to orgasm at my own or a partner’s hand, or with a lower powered toy, it can be fun but often requires significant effort, mentally if not physically. With a powerful enough wand, I basically just put it in the right spot and wait for the orgasm to happen. In this way, I can access pleasure and the positive physical and mental health benefits of orgasm even when I feel so low I don’t want to leave my bed.

Sexual Pleasure Matters

When someone is dealing with severe health issues, either physical or mental, it’s often tempting to see sexual pleasure as trivial. Certainly when I spoke to my doctor about the side effects of my various medications, they dismissed my concerns. Did I want to be able to orgasm or did I want to not be sad? Because I couldn’t have both.

Except I actually could, and I needed and deserved to have both.

If you’re struggling with pleasure or orgasm due to health issues and medication, I want you to hear this: sexual pleasure matters! It’s not trivial and it’s not unimportant. If it’s important to you, then it matters. And you deserve to have what you need to feel sexually satisfied – whether that’s a change of medication, a super powerful vibrator, or just to change up what you’re doing.

Thanks to Honey Play Box for sponsoring this post. All views and experiences are my own!

Empty Spaces

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I recently ended my relationship with the person I referred to as The Artist. As with the ending of any long-term relationship, the reasons were complex and I won’t be going into them here. Please respect my/our privacy and don’t ask me to spill details, because I won’t. Please don’t make assumptions or demonise them, even under the guise of being supportive.

When you end a relationship, especially a long-term relationship, it inevitably leaves empty spaces behind. People think that us polyamorous folks can just brush off a breakup. “You have other partners, right? So what’s the big deal?” they ask. To that, I want to say this: if you lose a dear friend, do you just shrug it off because you still have other friends? Of course you don’t.

Yes, I’m in the fortunate position of not being alone. Yes, Mr CK has been an absolute fucking rockstar in all this, supporting me through making an incredibly difficult decision and caring for me through my heartbreak. But you know what? I broke up with someone I loved. It still hurt like absolute fuck.

When you love an artist, you inevitably accumulate a collection of their work over the years. The choker-definitely-not-a-collar they made for me is still hanging on the back of my office door as I write this, wondering what the hell to do with it now. There are empty picture hooks on my wall where the paintings they did for me used to hang. I took them down and packed them away because looking at them was a visceral reminder of the loss and grief in the immediate aftermath. Memories shoved into a closed drawer, maybe to be revisited someday when the pain is less immediate. Empty spaces, a fitting metaphor for the total obliteration of everything we had.

After I finished taking the paintings down, I automatically picked up my phone and scrolled through messages, my fingers tingling with unsaid words. That little green bubble by their name showing they’re online, and the do-it-don’t-do-it battle not to send the message. I still love you. I’m sorry. I wish I’d had any other choice. Typing and untyping, writing and deleting, imagining them seeing the little dot-dot-dot next to my name, all the things we both said and didn’t say and probably should have said and definitely shouldn’t.

I have had a tendency, in the past, to jump from one serious relationship directly into another. Though this hasn’t always gone badly (Mr CK and I hooked up very soon after I left my abuser, after all,), I don’t think it is a healthy pattern overall. The result is that I end up basing my worth and my sense of self on my romantic relationships.

That’s why, in the wake of this most recent breakup, I decided to take a long break from dating new people. I don’t know yet quite how long this break will last or what it will look like. At the moment, I’m tentatively considering getting back on the dating apps after the new year. But right now, even thinking about it is exhausting. The idea of sitting across the table from a stranger and trying to figure out if there is any chance of us fitting together, the idea of having to disclose that I’m a survivor and have a history of mental illness and oh by the way I have a sex blog, fills me with dread.

So I’m hitting the pause button.

As a polyamorous ethical slut, there’s sometimes an internalised sense that I should always be dating new people or at least open to dating new people. Isn’t closing myself off to new connections just a holdover from monogamous culture? Well, no.

I need to get to know these empty spaces inside me that I have filled or attempted to fill with one relationship after another after another since I was fourteen.

I’m still a polyamorous person. Just having the one serious partner (as well as a couple of casual or not-sure-yet-it’s-early-days connections) doesn’t negate that part of my identity. Just like being bi isn’t dependent on the gender of my partners, being polyam isn’t dependent on the number of them there are.

I’m just doing things differently this time. Instead of trying to fill the empty spaces with another new relationship that is probably not a great fit in the long run, I’m filling them with other things that nourish me. With hobbies and friends, with self-work and self-compassion, with therapy and writing and fitness and literally anything else.

I’m lucky to be able to do this from the position of having a secure, stable nesting relationship as a base, and I am immeasurably grateful to Mr CK for providing that base. But the ending of any relationship still leaves empty spaces behind, and I am both excited and terrified to explore those spaces and see what I want to fill them with next.

I’ll think about dating again when doing so fills me with excitement.

This post was written as part of Smutathon 2021! You can check out all our work and learn more about the challenge on the Smutathon website. Please consider donating to this year’s charities, Gendered Intelligence and Trans Lifeline.

Reunion

Have you ever just fallen into someone and held onto them as if you would drown if you let go? That’s how it felt to me when I saw my boyfriend for the first time in sixteen months this last weekend. Throughout the 30 hours or so we spent together, I had to keep touching them just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The last year has not been kind to many people, including us. We’ve survived many things in the four and a half years we’ve been together, from a terrifying car accident to my mental breakdown in 2019. But a pandemic that separated us for almost a year and a half was a different beast entirely.

Of course, our relationship wasn’t on hold during all this time. We couldn’t see each other physically, but we kept in touch with Skype calls and sexting and app-controlled sex toys and online theatre and movie dates. But it’s not the same. Sometimes I wanted to hug them so badly it hurt. Often, actually.

Even so, I went into our reunion not really knowing how it would go. So much has changed in the last year. Life is not the same. I am not the same. I’ve changed not just my hair and my body, but also my career and my relationship with myself in the past year. In some ways, I am far better. My self-esteem and my relationship to my work are both hugely improved. But in other ways, I am carrying the inevitable scars of the last year. I am jumpy and scared of things I was never scared of before. I don’t always know how to people any more, after almost a year in such isolation.

So no, I wasn’t sure if we would still fit. Because when people and circumstances change, relationships do, too. I think it’s fair to say they were more sure than I was, but I think they also had their doubts. How could we not, after all this time?

The doubt dissolved the moment I saw them, the moment we clung to each other and I buried my face in their shoulder and I remembered all the ways we fit together. Every time I looked at them, I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. Because yes, it still works. The love is still there. Our connection was tested but never severed. Our hearts and our bodies remember each other, and that matters more than days or months or distance.

Sometimes, in the sea of everything changing, you just need something that still feels right. You just need someone who will hold you as though they felt every damn second of all the months you were apart.

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Masturbation Monday: Discovering My Denial Kink

Eventually, my Masturbation Monday pieces will probably move back into the realm of erotic fiction. But for now I’m not really feeling it so much. While thinking what to write this morning, I realised – I can’t believe I’ve never written the origin story of my main, ultimate, One Kink To Rule Them All fetish! So let’s talk about how I learned I have an orgasm denial kink.

Content warning: this one talks about mental health and makes brief mention of abuse in a relationship

An unfortunate side effect…

SSRIs can be brilliant. They can also be the fucking devil. For me, they were both. I was 21 and in my final year of University when my mental health took an extreme downturn, almost entirely – I realise now – as a result of being with a seriously abusive partner.

After a couple of weeks on citalopram, it actually did help. Somewhat. It mellowed out my extreme anxiety and took the edge off the worst of my depression. But it also had another effect: it made it impossible for me to orgasm.

I didn’t own any sex toys at that point, and always masturbated with my fingers. I first realised that something was wrong during a solo session where, whatever I did, I simply could not get myself over the edge. The same thing happened when I had sex with my then-partner. Things that usually worked just… didn’t. It was like there was a thick blanket between my cunt and anything that touched it, dulling sensation and making things that had previously been reliable orgasm triggers just feel… sort of nice.

Discovering denial…

I eventually broke through this orgasm block with a high-powered vibrator, and things got better after that. (Temporary anorgasmia is, it turns out, a known side effect. And I’m sure that part of the problem was psychological – worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to come is hardly conducive to great orgasms.)

But the weird thing was that, on some level, I kind of enjoyed it.

I didn’t enjoy not having the choice. I didn’t enjoy the fact that my body seemed to be betraying me. But the lack of orgasms itself? Yeah, I realised a few times that I was definitely getting a kick out of that. The frustration was, in and of itself, powerfully erotic. Finding myself constantly horny, almost always thinking about sex on some level, my cunt getting soaking wet so damn easily. The way that I’d still be aroused and unsatisfied after a sex session, and have to stop myself from squirming too much as my Dom slept peacefully next to me. Feeling my clit twitching, demanding attention that I knew wouldn’t be satisfying.

I vividly remember the first time I reached a hard edge. I was rubbing my clit harder and harder, feeling the wave of orgasm rising, sure that this was the time I’d be able to get myself over the edge. But it just… hit a certain level and then stopped. There was no peak, no satisfying spasms or clenching, no relief or release. I did it again and then again, trying in vain to push myself over the edge. I had to stop eventually because the overstimulation was starting to hurt. But that awakened something in me right then. Something that has played, to a greater or lesser extent, into the overwhelming majority of the sexual fantasies I’ve had in the years since then.

After breaking through the SSRI-induced orgasm issue, I mentioned this to my then-partner and asked if we could play with it. We did. I’m not ready to write about sex things I did with him in a positive way – honestly I’m not sure I ever will be – but suffice to say that getting to explore this kink was one of the few good things that came out of that time.

How did you discover your favourite kink?

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The Love Stories That Weren’t

I don’t believe in “The One”. I’m a hopeless romantic, yes, but I’m also something of a realist. The mere fact that there are nearly seven billion people on this planet makes it absurd to me to think that there is exactly one person designed for everyone to love. I mean…

“It’s just mathematically unlikely that at a university in Perth
I happened to stumble upon the one girl on Earth
Specifically designed for me!”

– Tim Minchin, “If I Didn’t Have You

Aside from the sheer numerical absurdity of the idea, my own experience shows that “The One” just isn’t a meaningful concept. I’ve loved a number of people in my life. Not all of them were healthy for me – some were pretty terrible – but the love I felt? That was real. And it isn’t retroactively less real because I don’t love them any more.

I say that Mr C&K is one of the great loves of my life, and that’s true. One of. What we have doesn’t mean he’s the only person I’ve ever loved or could ever love. It doesn’t mean I think we were somehow predestined to find each other and be together. It means that in this chaotic world, we did find each other and he’s the person I have chosen to spend my life with – to walk hand-in-hand with along the path of life, hopefully until one of us runs out of heartbeats.

Don’t you think the idea of choice, of choosing each other again and again every day, week, month and year, is more romantic that a notion of some pre-determined fate? I do.

I’m also very aware that, for all the people I’ve loved or been in relationship with in my life, there are others which could have happened, and didn’t for whatever reason. So this is for the almosts, the maybes, the “right person, wrong time”s. The love stories that weren’t.

The “what if?”

There was the one who was my first “what if…?” We were seventeen and I was already in a relationship. I didn’t have any kind of language for non-monogamous feelings, so I thought I was bad and wrong because I couldn’t stop thinking about someone while in a relationship with someone else. I don’t think he ever realised his crush on me was reciprocated. We’re friends to this day and he was one of the first people I ever came out to as bisexual.

The fundamental incompatibility

There was the one who was significantly more fundamentally-monogamous than I am. We knew it had no long-term potential, but we were powerfully drawn to each other anyway. He and I danced around each other, kissing and pseudo-dating and doing kinky play and pretending it was all very casual, for the better part of two years. At one point, we were talking on the phone almost every night. He used to call me Kitten. I used to say “I love you” after he’d hung up.

The one night stand

There was the one I got on a train and traveled six hours, on little more than a whim, to meet. This woman who looked like a 1950s pin-up model and kissed me with lips that tasted of green tea. I was recently out of my first same-sex relationship and exercising the age-old wisdom that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. She was curious, and her husband graciously gave her a one-night pass with me. I just wish I’d known the pass was only for one night.

The unresolved sexual tension

Then there was the one with whom the chemistry was so intense and so immediate that I felt the zing from across the room. Though ultimately it amounted to little more than a single very hot scene, it’s a memory I cherish.

The ghost

There was the one who I shared just one incredible date with. I remember looking at him across the table of my favourite Thai restaurant, wishing I could pour the moment into the empty wine bottle, cork it and keep it forever. I never did learn why he ghosted me afterwards. That one hurt for a long time.

…and all the others

I don’t like the concept of “the one who got away”. It has too many weird implications for me – and, again, is too tied into this notion of There Can Be Only One Real Ultimate Love. I prefer to think about it in the sense of how much possibility there is in the world. None of us, even the most polyamorous, could ever possibly explore every single possible love that might theoretically be out there in the world for us.

But isn’t that abundance of possibility just wonderful?

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!

Masturbation Monday: “Blue Dress”

A mostly-true story for Smutathon 2018: Smut for Choice edition. There’s still time to donate and enter the raffle!

“No, keep your dress on.”

The order is sharp. His voice is low – our hosts are asleep in just the next room, after all – but there’s no mistaking the do-as-you’re-told, no-arguments tone. I pause from unzipping the side of my blue silk dress.

“Bend over the bed and keep quiet.”

I lean over the bed, my face buried in the duvet, the wooden frame digging in to the front of my thighs. He lifts the hem of my dress, flipping it up over my back, and runs a hand over my ass. He saw me put on the red knickers I know he likes this morning, and I’m sure he’s been thinking about them ever since as we’ve been terribly well behaved at the family wedding. He’s pulling them down until they sit around my ankles. I’m still wearing my sparkly dancing shoes, and my hair is still somehow, unbelievably, tamed into the impossible style that took the miracle-worker at the salon an hour and a half this morning.

I’m not really completely ready for him when he starts to push his hard cock into me. I wasn’t expecting this and we didn’t bring lube with us. But the humiliating position and the feeling of him fucking me with my dress still on are getting to me. It hurts just a little bit, but I like that. My gasp spurs him on and he buries the full length of his cock in me.

“Keep quiet,” he tells me. I bite my lip and bury my face further into the bed. The sensation of being used is unbearably erotic and I can already feel myself edging closer to orgasm. Perhaps he can feel my telltale spasms, because he says, “cum for me. Just do it quietly.” The order is enough to push me over the edge and I cum hard around his cock. In response, he thrusts harder.

When I cum a second time, it pushes him over the edge too. He releases into me with a low groan.

My beautiful hairstyle is ruined, my makeup smudged and my best knickers stained with his cum. The perfect end to the night.

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Masturbation Monday is created and owned by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what’s getting everyone off this week. (I’m the prompt!)

I Had My First Smear Test and…. It Was a Complete Non-Event

I am in my late twenties. In my country, people with cervixes are offered cervical smear tests (often called “Pap Smears” in the USA) every three years from the time they turn 25. These tests detect abnormal cells on the cervix and act as an early screening for cervical cancer or warning signs thereof. Until this week, I’d never had one, despite being several years overdue. 

The reasons for this are varied, but there are two main ones. The first is practical: I moved house a lot prior to moving in with Mr C&K (11 times in 9 years by my count) and as such had to register with a lot of different doctors in different cities. I’m not sure one of the letters inviting me to book in for a smear even found its way to me until I was at least 27. The second reason is that I was scared. I had a horrible experience when I got my IUD put in about 3 years ago – pain that rendered me entirely unable to function for three days and very much struggling for over two weeks. Therefore, understandably, the idea of anything going near my cervix elicited a strong and visceral NOPE reaction from me. So I just kept putting it off.

What eventually pushed me into going for one was a person in my extended poly/swing network having something flag up on their screening. I realised that by not knowing my status, I am not only putting myself at risk (and there is some history of cancer striking young in my family) but also putting my lovers at risk. And I couldn’t do that. I made the appointment.

On the morning of, I asked Twitter how much pain I should expect. Answers ranged from “none” to “maybe a bit but it’s over quickly” to “you probably wanna book the day off work”. (It was a little late for that, of course). I popped a couple of ibuprofen, just to be sure. Had I not been driving, I might have gone straight for the codeine, which my doctor gave me for the severe pain when my IUD acts up.

So what happened?

I went in and the lovely nurse introduced herself and asked if I was happy to have a student nurse present for the test. I said I’d rather not as it was my first time, and they were both fine about that. She asked about my STI testing history. I said we test every three months and had in fact been the week before. She asked if I knew about HPV, and I said yes.

I went behind the curtain, took my knickers and jeans off, and got comfortable on the bed thing. (I’ve never understood the point of a privacy curtain when they’re literally about to look at your insides, but there you go). The nurse explained that she would open my vagina with a speculum and do a quick swab of my cervix. She said I might feel some pressure, but it shouldn’t hurt.

Having one’s vagina opened with a plastic speculum is never comfortable. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Which I actually am when it’s with a sexual partner in a roleplay scenario. But dear god, fun medical play is a MILLION MILES from an actual medical exam). I winced a bit but remembered to breathe. I braced myself for severe pain.

“There you go, we’re done”. And the nurse was removing the speculum from my vagina and taking off her gloves.

“What, that’s it?” I could hardly believe it.

“Yep!”

Wow, I thought. That really was nothing.

The whole thing took less than five minutes. I felt no pain and only the mildest discomfort. A tiny price to pay indeed for knowing my status, protecting myself and my sexual partners, and possibly avoiding cervical cancer in the future.

So why am I telling you this non-story?

Honestly, I was fully expecting to have to tell you a horror story involving immense pain, shitty judgemental clinic staff, an unplanned day off work or all three. But none of this happened.

So instead I thought I’d share this story in the hopes that, if you’re afraid of getting your cervical smear, this will put you at ease. The staff should be kind and understanding. You shouldn’t feel any pain – even if your cervix is extremely sensitive and grumpy, as mine is.

Please – if you have a cervix, get your test. It takes five minutes, it doesn’t hurt, and it’s a tiny thing that could potentially save your life. Just go. I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t go three years ago!

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Me and My Fur: All About Body Hair

I have all my natural body hair. The last time I shaved any part of my body was over three years ago.

The pressure to be hairless begins early.

I first shaved my legs at the age of 11, because a girl at a sleepover told me that no boy would want me if I had hairy legs. I didn’t even like boys at the time! But somehow, even to an 11 year old who had privately decided she was either gay or asexual (not that I had the actual language for either concept then,) the notion of boys thinking I was ugly was impossible to shrug off. Less than a year later, my mum gave me an electric shaver and told me to keep my armpits free from hair at all times. She wasn’t trying to body-shame me – she is, after all, surrounded by the exact same toxic culture that I am. I think she just didn’t want me to get bullied any more than I already did.

I held out on shaving my pubic hair until I was 19. My boyfriend had been increasing the pressure for several years. After we went to an event where he saw naked women apart from me in the flesh for the first time, it became apparent it wasn’t an option to keep my hair any more. So I dutifully got rid of it and for the next five years, I pretty much kept my entire body smooth and hair-free. Whether I actually liked it that way didn’t really enter into the picture. It was just part of the package of having been assigned female, like periods and casual sexism.

Realising I had a choice

It was Mr C&K who woke me up to the idea that I actually had a choice about my body hair. He has made it clear from the beginning of our relationship that he finds body hair beautiful and erotic. But he also emphasised that I had to do what felt right for ME, and that he had no more say over my personal grooming than the people who had pushed me into shaving in the first place.

So I tried going au naturel for a while. Just as an experiment, to see if I liked it. That was three years ago and I have not picked up a razor since. I credit my beloved for reminding me I did have a choice, but the choice I actually made was all mine.

Learning to love my hair

I love keeping my body hair for a number of reasons. The time and money it saves me is not insignificant. My skin is much happier since being free of razors and shaving balms and post-shave rash and ingrowing hairs. And I just fucking love how it looks. When I look at my naked body in the mirror, I love the look of my little patch of pubic hair over my cunt. When I wear my favourite sexy knickers, I like seeing the little wisps poking out. I love lifting my arms and seeing the shadow of my reddish-brown underarm hair. I love how soft and fuzzy my legs are.

If I’m honest, I also enjoy the implicit things it tells people about me. For better or worse, body hair on women is heavily coded “feminist” – because making a choice about how to groom our bodies cannot just be a choice, it has to be a political statement. Thwarting societal beauty norms feels like a simple way to wear my politics on my body.

I have to acknowledge I have a level of privilege here in that my leg hair, at least, is very fine and blonde (my pubic and underarm hair is much coarser, darker and more obvious). Would I feel different if my leg hair was thicker and darker? If I grew hair on other parts of my body? I don’t know. I suspect I might struggle if it was growing on my face, for example, but I cannot say with any certainty as this is not my experience.

The impact on my sex life

Having body hair has definitely impacted my sex life. Mr C&K and I swing together, and a large number of swingers will not have anything to do with people who do not shave every inch of their bodies. Pubic hair, in particular, gets us rejected a lot. (Insert hi-fucking-larious joke about flossing during oral sex here).

It’s been less of an issue in my one-on-one sex life, surprisingly. I don’t actually play with new people by myself that often, to be honest, and when I do the barrier to entry is pretty fucking high. I remember when The Artist and I had first established that we wanted to date, asking them nervously how they felt about women with body hair. The giant smiley face emoji they replied with… well, that was the moment I let out a huge breath I hadn’t realised I had been holding. Until I asked, there was a sense of I really like this person… and I think they really like me too… but are they going to be disgusted by my body when I take my clothes off?

For this reason, I tend to disclose it to potential lovers before the clothes come off. I feel more relaxed if I know they’re cool with it rather than waiting for the reaction. I hate that I have to do this. I’d much rather it not be a big deal. I wish I didn’t have to feel like it was something I needed to disclose. But mentioning it to sex partners before we get to the sex feels preferable to how devastated I’d be if a lover said something disparaging about my body when we were already in a sexual situation.

And it’s a surprisingly good screening device, actually. Misogynists tend to self-select out of my dating pool pretty fast when they realise I’m hairy.  To be honest, pissing off sexist men is one of life’s simple pleasures for me. Having hair is an easy way to do that.

The thing I’ve actually found most helpful is sleeping with lovers who actively like body hair. I currently have four lovers who I know are extremely into it. The way they look at me when I take my clothes off,the way they run their fingers through my fur or bury their faces in it, reminds me that I can be beautiful and desirable like this. They’re not settling or putting up with it. They actually like it, and me!

Fear of judgement… and sometimes actual judgement

Sure, I’ve been judged for being hairy. I’ve had gaggles of girl whisper and point and take pictures on the Tube because I had the nerve to get my legs out in public in 30 degree heat. I’ve had disgusted, sidelong glances thrown at me in the gym locker room.

I’ve had couples cancel dates with me and Mr C&K at the eleventh hour because they had assumed that of course I was going to shave, and then realised I actually wasn’t. I’ve had guys comment on my pictures on Fetlife, saying “if you were mine you’d shave!” (Good job I’m never going to be yours then, isn’t it, dickbag?) The implication is there that Mr C&K is somehow less of a Dom for allowing his sub to go unshaven.

The fear of judgement used to go with me everywhere. Sometimes it still does. When we start messaging a new person or a new couple on the swinger dating sites we use, I worry they’re going to pull out the “ew, pubes are gross” schtick. When we go to new clubs and I run around naked or in lingerie, I’m bracing myself for the “you’d be so pretty if you’d shave!”

Every summer, I weigh up the choice between being unbearably overheated in my oven of an office, or the daily fear of being pulled into a manager’s office and told that my natural leg hair is unprofessional. I sit there quietly while a female colleague bemoans being a woman and having to shave your legs every day in summer. I do not shout “YOU HAVE A CHOICE YOU KNOW!” even though I want to. It’s a constant fucking balancing act between asserting my right to exist in the world with my natural body, and just being tired of it all.

I don’t think I’m good at responding to the judgement yet, when it happens. I usually just want to cry or shrivel up in shame. I’m trying to be better about not letting it get to me, but as someone who grew up bullied, brushing it off is really hard.

Amazingly, no-one has ever actually shamed me – to my face, anyway – in a sex club or kink event. But I’m waiting for it. I’m always waiting for it. Because at most events, I’m the only one – and I see the looks I sometimes get. I see the “ooh, hot girl, nice boobs… oh, never mind” eye-swoop over my body.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “If the judgement bothers you, just shave!” But if you’re thinking that you’ve missed the whole point of what I’m trying to say. The problem doesn’t lie with me. I’m not doing something hugely out there and subversive and wild just by having my body on display in its natural state. I should not have to change it. Nor should I have to constantly defend my choice not to change it.

I like my body like this. The world does not get a say.

Femme identity and body hair

My relationship to femininity has been fraught and complex over the years, but I now sit fairly happily with my femme identity. It’s been a healing way for me to play with my aesthetic and my presentation. To find ways that reflect who I am as both a woman and a queer person. However, for a while I wrestled with the question: can I be femme if I don’t remove my body hair?

Ultimately, I approached this from the same angle as the question about whether you can be femme without wearing, say, lipstick or high heels. There are many trappings that are culturally coded feminine, and femme is about reclaiming these things (which society has often deemed frivolous) and playing with them, making them our own. For me, femme is a way to pick and choose the pieces of feminine presentation I want to embody. A way to escape the rigid codes society enforces about “what a woman should do/be”. To say “in order to be femme you must do X, Y and Z” is just trading one kind of oppressively strict standard for another. Femme is about fun and happiness within your own skin, not following the rules.

For a while, I jokingly referred to myself as “#lazyfemme” for not shaving and for sometimes going out without makeup on. I stopped this, though, because I realised it’s actually playing into the patriarchy to continue coding myself (and by implication other women) who choose not to do these things as “lazy”. As I once furiously ranted online “I have worked sixty fucking hours this week, but sure, I’m LAZY because I’m not wearing lipstick.”

So yes. I am a happy #sparklefemme who chooses the aspects of feminine presentation that work for her, and has decided that shaving is not her thing.

So do I think women who shave are just pawns of the patriarchy?

No! I believe in the absolute right to bodily autonomy for everybody. That includes the choice to shave/wax/tattoo/pierce/adorn/decorate your body in whatever ways you like, or not.

What I wish is that it was a more free choice. I wish there wasn’t such immense societal pressure on women and AFAB people to present themselves in a certain way. That razor companies weren’t constantly trying to sell us the solution to a problem they’ve convinced us we have. That wider representations of beauty were common in our media.  I wish, to be honest, that shaving or not shaving wasn’t such a politically loaded and socially fraught choice.

And I wish we were not teaching little girls at 11 that the most important thing in the world is whether or not boys find their bodies aesthetically acceptable.

Oof – that was a long one with a lot of emotional energy behind it! If you enjoyed it, please consider buying me a virtual coffee!