Amy and Exhibit A on… Group Sex!

One of the best things about being a creative person who is friends with other creative people is the opportunity to co-create! This is the third piece I’ve done with Exhibit A (we’ve also covered pegging and penis size!) and it was enormous fun to discuss group sex with him. The ever-so-slightly edited transcript of our Q&A/discussion is below. 

Buckle in and get some coffee for this one, folks – it’s over 4000 words long! (Are you surprised two of your favourite opinionated sex writers had a lot to say!?) Now without further ado, here we go… 

A bed with dim lighting and rumpled sheets. For a post on group sexEA: Right, let’s doooooo this. Where do you want to start?

CK: Yessss. I guess a good place to start is… why group sex? It’s clearly a thing we’re both very into. And I think it holds a lot of fascination for a lot of people. But what’s the appeal? What’s so great about it?

EA: Phew, that’s a huge topic to kick off with! I could write 10,000 words on that last question alone. Short answer though? It’s more. More of everything. More cocks and/or cunts, more arses and boobs, but also more sensation and emotion and connection and chemistry. More combinations of different people and different body parts. For those of us who self-identify as greedy, it’s a no-brainer!

CK: I love that. And I am definitely also in the camp of “greedy.”

EA: How about you? What would be your group sex ‘elevator pitch’?

CK: Hmm. I think it’s a lot about the possibilities it opens up for me. Like, there are things you just can’t do with only one other person, like certain sex configurations or especially certain kink dynamics/scenes. Two people offers a huge number of possibilities, but with three or more it’s pretty much infinite. Plus, honestly, I get to embrace the power of “both” – if I want both cock and cunt, I can have both. If I want to both Dom and sub, I can do both.

EA: Yes, and even when there are things you can do with just two of you (spit-roasting, for example, using cock and toy or toy/toy), it’s so much easier and more fluid with a third pair of hands.

CK: Absolutely! When you first experienced group sex, was it like you expected it to be in fantasy?

EA: Funnily enough, the first time I had what you’d call group sex (a threesome that I wrote about here), it features far less in my fantasies than it does now. So my expectations were…hmm, open-ended, I guess. I’d talked about it a lot in advance with the couple in question, but it was a completely new thing for all three of us, so I guess we kind of figured it out as we went along, rather than relying on set ideas about what might happen. Since then, threesomes and moresomes have ranged from entirely aligned to my fantasies, on the one hand, to wildly divergent on the other. But that’s sex in general, right?

CK: That makes sense. My first time was completely the opposite in a way – entirely unplanned, just happened in the spur of the moment). My early experiences tended to go like that, whereas now there is usually – not always, but usually – at least a bit of pre-planning that goes into it. And sometimes things come out as planned/fantasised about, sometimes they don’t.

EA: Where do you stand on pre-planning group sex? I can see arguments in favour and arguments against, but I’m aware that a) you have more experience in this department, and b) you guys have a more structured approach than we do in general to involving other people in your relationship (in whatever context), so I’m curious to get your perspective.

CK: I’m still torn about it, really, and it very much varies depending on circumstances. I do like the planning/scheming/idea-sharing (and, let’s be real, wild sexting) that comes in the lead-up to a planned session. However, I do feel like it can end up with everyone feeling undue pressure – like it’s going to be a big failure if it doesn’t come off or doesn’t come off in the right way? I tend to thing the pros of pre-planning outweigh the cons, in general, especially because you can easily discuss boundaries, limits, safer sex protocols and all those other important things while everyone’s still got their clothes on. But I have had spontaneous fun that was wonderful, too. The reality for me is most of it has to be somewhat planned – I live in a tiny town with no scene, live with my Primary partner but all my/our other lovers are at least a drive away, and so we have to make plans for people to visit/for us to visit them/to go to the club or a kink event.

EA: All that makes sense! Again, there’s a lot of overlap with general sex considerations – the bit about discussing boundaries, limits etc can apply to any sexual situation, especially one with a new partner. I can see that the importance of those discussions is elevated slightly by the fact that three (or more) people are involved – and that in a lot of cases you’re talking about an established couple inviting a new person into their bed.

CK: Yes, absolutely. A lot of it is general sex concerns, amplified because more people.

EA: The whole porn/erotica trope of something just happening, spontaneously and without any prior indication that you might all end up in bed together, sounds great…but I imagine is pretty rare. It takes a certain amount of boldness to say to someone (or to a couple) “heyyyy…shall we all fuck now?”, unless you’re pretty damn sure they might say yes!

CK: Hah! I have literally never had that happen. My spontaneous group sex has always either been “more than one person I’m already banging happens to be in the same place” or “we’re at a sex party and everyone is here for precisely this.”

EA: Actually, that leads nicely into a question we had from someone on Twitter…

CK: Ooh, go for it!

EA: “Assuming the “couple +third” paradigm, who typically initiates, the couple or the third, and how can folks manage the additional pressure of being approached by or approaching two people?”

CK: Based on my experience, it’s a lot more common for it to be the couple who initiates – like, couples looking for a third is so much of a thing that it’s become a stereotype (“unicorn hunting,” anyone?) But I have been approached, as part of a couple, by a third person wanting to play with both of us. A couple of times actually. It’s always surprising but awesome. Has that been your experience too?

EA: Yes, while you were typing I was thinking back through my experiences, and it’s pretty much always been the couple who’ve initiated things. Though it’s not necessarily one or the other! There’s been at least one occasion when I’ve discussed it separately with my partner and the third person, before my partner and I have then suggested moving things forward. As you said, there’s a lot of fun sexting to be had around group sex, and I suspect it’s not uncommon for two (or even all three) sides of the triangle to have independent, exploratory conversations about all fucking each other. And that’s great actually, because then you at least know you’re all on the same page before someone sticks their neck out and asks the question.

CK: With regards to the additional pressure thing, it’s definitely a concern. If I’m on the initiating-as-part-of-a-couple side, I try to make it very clear that whatever answer the other person gives is A-Okay and there’s never pressure from us to do anything they’re not comfortable with. But I’ve certainly had experiences where I’ve found it harder to say no to two people than I would to say no to one. Especially when I’ve been in their space. What I’ve also noticed is that the couple+third dynamic is VERY different to a couple+couple dynamic.

EA: See I’ve only ever done couple + third, or just general mass of bodies (SO good). We’re yet to play with another couple outside a sex party, so I’m interested to know what you think the main differences are.

CK: Mmmm, mass of bodies… ANYWAY. It feels easier to make the approach with another couple, for me, because there’s a sense of balance that isn’t often there with couple + third. But actually, despite the even number, I’ve found it harder to navigate a situation that makes everyone involved happy when there’s 4 people as opposed to 3. Maybe it’s just more people’s preferences at play all at once? We’ve had so many couples approach us where, essentially, the other husband wants a live lesbian sex show starring me and his wife, and just assumes my partner will be into that too. Which is… fine but not really what we’re after!

EA: That makes sense to me. You’re also talking about two relationships, with all the attendant emotions, history, kinks, interests, and – yes – jealousy that might be involved with them. Of course it would be more complicated.

CK: Yes! Which leads me nicely onto the often asked question of jealousy… does it come up? How do we handle it if it does?

EA: I’ve been lucky enough not to experience jealousy as an issue in the group sex I’ve had – any time I’ve been part of a/the couple, we’ve both been pretty clear in our minds about what the other person is into, what they want, and what might turn them off or trigger jealousy/trauma of some kind. I feel like we say this in every one of these chats, but that’s where good communication is SO important.

CK: Huh, interesting! I’ve never had it come up for me in a group sex situation either, though I have had a partner’s jealousy come up.

EA: Really? What happened and how did you deal with it – at the time and afterwards?

CK: I’m specifically thinking of a time very early on in our relationship where another guy, who I had been into for a while but this was the first time we’d played, asked if he could have penetrative sex with me. My partner had some jealous feelings come up and decided he couldn’t handle that at that moment. It was fine – we reassured him his boundaries mattered, we weren’t upset, and there were hugs, then we continued to do other things. And the next time we played with that guy, there was penetration and it was absolutely fine. We talked in private later, of course, about what he’d been feeling and what had caused it. But that was very early on and it hasn’t come up for either of us in a really long time. I think a big part of it is we’ve got good at checking in with each other during, even non-verbally, to make sure we’re still having a good time. Sometimes just a “hey, I’m here” squeeze of the hand can be all you need.

EA: YES! That’s a really good point! I can’t emphasise enough the importance of non-verbal communication during a group sex scenario, actually.

CK: Absolutely – when you know your partner really well, you can say SO much with just a look or a touch, and it can be so reassuring.

EA: Which makes absolute sense. You’d instinctively/unthinkingly offer that same reassurance in so many situations with your partner, especially one you have a close/longstanding relationship with. Of course you’d do the same thing during sex

CK: I see a lot of people asking if they should have a threesome/swing to please their partner when they don’t actually want to, and my answer is always an emphatic NOPE DO NOT DO THAT THING. Everyone has to be into the idea, otherwise it is almost guaranteed to go awry.

EA: Oh god, yes. Again, true of just about everything, but maybe even more true of something where you’re involving other people. Not fair on them and definitely not fair on yourself.

CK: Definitely. When I wrote my post about being a good couple to have a threesome with, I think the most important point I made was the “have your house in order first.” (link here). So I had an interesting question from a reader…

EA: Shoot.

CK: They ask: what if you’re in a group scenario but you don’t want to have sex with everyone in that group, or only do certain things? (The example they gave was, say, happy being spanked by anyone but don’t want to have genital contact with everyone?) Is that a thing you can navigate? And this also ties in to some thoughts I had about mixed orientations within group settings.

EA: Do you want to dig into those thoughts while I have a go at answering the main question?

CK: Sure! I mean, I’m in a mixed-orientation relationship. I’m bi while my partner is, for all intents and purposes, basically straight (a little bit flexible but that’s usually neither here nor there.) This is quite useful in group scenarios in a way, especially given the high percentage of bi/pan women within non-monogamy. But it’s also something to be careful with… we’ve had a situation with a queer woman and straight man, and both of them were trying to get their hands on me, which led to my partner feeling left out. But I’ve also played in group scenarios with straight or mainly-straight women, and it’s been fine. Sometimes there’s kissing/fondling/light play, sometimes nothing at all, depending on her comfort levels. But that could be a problem for some people if a priority for them in group sex was getting their needs for the-sex-that-their-primary-partner-isn’t-into met.

EA: Regarding your reader’s question, I don’t know that I can give a satisfying solution to this one! The more people you add to any scenario, the greater the level of social complexity – partly because there’s a heightened expectation that you’ll all just muck in. If a stranger approached you in a bar, no-one would expect you to have a conversation with them – if you’re at a cocktail party, where everyone knows someone, and that same stranger tries to engage you, it would seem far ruder just to ignore them. So in a group scenario I can see why that same pressure would be there! But…

CK: That’s a really good point, and I think it is quite dependent on the people involved and their social dynamics. I think it’s mainly important (again!) for everyone to be honest about where they’re at and what they’re trying to get out of the scene.

EA: You just have to be firm and clear about what you want. And look, this is a hard one to simplify, because a (larger) group scenario can be constructed in so many ways. Are you on your own or there with a partner? Are you at a sex club, a private party, or in a hotel room with a bunch of people you know? The answers to those questions will clearly determine how you approach the situation, and how much other people are already likely to know about your intentions. But the basic principles apply: no means no, only do what you’re comfortable doing, and no-one has a right to do anything to/with your body. The clearer you are with people about what kind of fun you’re up (and not up) for having, the less likely you are to run into any awkwardness.

CK: Yes! It all comes back to consent is the bottom line. And, again, I think it’s best if everyone can be really honest going in. “I’m up for anyone spanking me but please ask before you touch my genitals, as I may or may not be up for that” is a fine and useful thing to say.

EA: Ok, let’s spice things up a bit here. What’s your favourite kind of group sex scenario – and/or, what’s been your hottest group experience? Alternatively/additionally, what haven’t you done yet, but would really like to?

CK: Ah, my favourite question! My favourite scenario is a toss-up between “switch-in-the-middle” (usually a man who is more dominant than me and a woman who is more submissive than me) or “co-subbing to two or more people” where I pretty much get ganged up on and they do evil shit to me. The one I REALLY want and haven’t done yet is a gang-bang. Just endless cocks… factory-installed or silicone, I don’t care, just LOTS of them. I’m seriously considering a gang-bang for my 30th birthday in a couple of years if I haven’t done it by then.

EA: “My name’s Amy and I’m #greedy”

CK: I mean… yeah, accurate! Same questions to you?

EA: It’s funny, in theory my favourite is MMF with a guy who’s either bi or at least into some same-sex stuff going down (heh)…and when I’ve done that it’s generally been great…BUT I have to say I’ve probably enjoyed MFF threesomes even more in reality, because they’ve always involved awesome people (whereas the other guy in each of my MMF encounters has been a stranger to me, pretty much). That’s made it much easier to relax and let go of any remaining inhibitions, especially when the focus has been on my pleasure. Having two women suck your cock at the same time sounds (and is) great, but in a weird way it’s also a lot of pressure! It helps to know they’re both lovely.

CK: Hah! That makes sense. It does (often) help if there’s already some connection with the other people. What’s on your group sex bucket list? (Fuck-it list?)

EA: As for what’s at the top of my group sex fuck-it list… ha! Snap! A really hot, no-holds-barred (no-holes-barred?) night with another couple is right up there. Or an MMF threesome where I get fucked by the other guy too – or by a strap-on while I suck his cock. Y’know, little things like that.

CK: Yum on all counts! Any single hottest experience so far stand out for you?

EA: I’d say the threesome we had with a fellow Eroticon delegate after the Saturday social last year! It was sort-of planned, in the sense that she came back to ours when she had accommodation arranged elsewhere, but then it all unfolded really organically and spontaneously once we got here. Fucking her from behind while she went down on Liv was just…hnnnngh… You?

CK: One that really stands out for me is when my partner was dating his last secondary girlfriend and she came over one evening. He and I had discussed that we were up for it if she was, and apparently she’d said she was up for it if I was, and… it all just sort of happened. We went from cuddling to snogging to pinning her down and making her come with the Doxy (and then falling about laughing when she recovered from her orgasm and declared “I’M GETTING ONE.”) And it all just flowed from there.

EA: The chill-out time after a good threesome, when you’re all still high on the endorphins, is definitely one of the best things about them.

CK: Oh, so much! And the three- (or more-) way snuggles are just…. mmm. Yes. Have you ever had a group sex experience go badly that you’re willing to talk about?

EA: Happily both the short and the long answer is no – I’ve been very lucky in that sense. There have been times when group sex has been discussed (or hinted at) and it hasn’t panned out, but I’ve never been in a situation that’s got out of hand in a bad way…or just failed to deliver.

CK: That’s really good! (And probably not a very common experience, I imagine?)

EA: I was going to ask about the voyeuristic element of threesomes with your partner. Is that an active part of the appeal for you? If so, what is it that appeals to you about watching someone you’re in a relationship with fuck someone else?

CK: Funnily enough I was thinking about/discussing this with my partner this weekend. It’s definitely a big part of it for me. When I feel secure in a relationship I feel compersion quite strongly, so watching my partner having fun just fills me with joy in a way that isn’t even immediately sexual. But I am also a huge voyeur, so I guess the appeal is watching two or more people I’m wildly attracted to getting it on. (And knowing I get to join in too just makes it even better!)

EA: Yes, that last bit is definitely something I get too. The anticipation of watching things heat up between two people you really want to fuck…and knowing that at some point you’re going to, y’know, fuck them…is SO good.

CK: Oh yes! What do you think are some of the biggest myths around group sex that people tend to believe?

EA: There’s an odd but pervasive assumption that any threesome involving two cis men and a woman is just going to end up as a bro-tastic spit roast with as little physical or eye contact between the guys as possible. That’s not been my experience of MFM, and certainly there are a lot of self-identified straight men out there who are just as curious and experimental about M/M plat as our various cultural norms would have you believe straight women are about F/F.

CK: Oh, absolutely. In the swinging and non-monogamy communities there seems to be a really pervasive assumption that men are all straight and women are all bi, which is not the case at all!

EA: I think there’s also a belief that threesomes always have to be these big, high pressure ‘Events’ – that they’re somehow different to just regular ol’ sex. And sometimes that’s true! As this chat has made clear, there are considerations with group sex that don’t always apply to sex with just one partner. At the same time, though, there are downsides to putting ant kind of sexual activity on a pedestal – namely that it ends up looking really daunting to people who maybe aren’t that confident or experienced.

CK: I think it also sets people up for disappointment – if threesomes/group sex are held up as this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime thing that represent the pinnacle of sexual achievement, how can the reality ever match up to the hype?

EA: Yep. Threesomes can also feel really easy and natural, or like an extension of the fun and intimacy you have with an existing partner. They don’t have to be a huge deal, and they do sometimes evolve organically, without the need for endless discussion/negotiation beforehand, and without feeling like anything especially significant. Those experiences are 100% valid too, and they maybe get overlooked or downplayed a bit. Next question for you: any practical tips to make sure no-one feels left out during a threesome?

CK: The left out thing is really interesting because I’ve never actually experienced it either from myself or from a partner. I suppose the tips are obvious – make sure everyone in the situation is actually comfortable with everyone else, take turns to be the centre of attention (this can flow very organically!) and as much as possible, come up with configurations that all 3 (or more) can engage in at the same time. Final question from me before we wrap up: what advice would you give a person or couple before they experience group sex for the first time?

EA: I’d tell them to read our awesome Q&A! I dunno – preparing for any exciting/scary new thing is such an individual thing that I’d be loathe to give much super-generic advice. For every person who would benefit from talking through the whole scenario in advance with the two (or more) other parties, there’ll be someone else who needs it all to feel spontaneous and organic. Even saying ‘make sure you really want it before you do it’ feels a little disingenuous: I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely leapt feet-first into new sexual experiences before, without giving them much thought, and not regretted it – sometimes you need to suck it and see (so to speak) before you know whether a particular kink or activity is for you. I guess maybe I’d tell them to practice self-care (whatever that means for them), keep an open mind, and be clear about both their limits and their preferences. You can’t go far wrong doing those things!

CK: Hah! Yes. Our advice is “this entire post!” I’ve definitely leapt into things without being entirely sure or having much of a plan before, too – usually I’m a planner but occasionally spontaneity has been fun! Practicing self-care is a really good tip because that can encompass to many different things, so people can do whatever that means to them. The only other thing I would add is COMMUNICATE DURING! It can be quick, it can be nonverbal, it can even be sexy – but please just fucking communicate.

EA: Thanks, this has been really great! I didn’t think we’d have any shortage of things to say about group sex, and 4,000+ words later, it turns out I was right. Till next time!

Three Great Things About Threesomes

I fucking love threesomes, and at this point in my life I’ve had a lot of them. Many good, a handful bad, and a rare few just explosively fucking brilliant.

A plate of pancakes. For a post about threesomes.Threesomes are, according to a bunch of studies and anecdotal evidence, one of the absolute most common sexual fantasies. The stereotype, of course, is that all straight men want a threesome with two women, but I think it goes deeper than that.

Making threesomes work isn’t necessarily easy, especially not the first few times you have one, but when they work they’re amazing.

Here’s three of the things I love most about the magical, mysterious menage et trois.

1. I get to watch my partner having fun

Seeing someone I love receiving and giving pleasure is fucking awesome. Threesomes allow me to see their pleasure in a whole new way. Through the way someone else touches them, I can learn new things about their body. From the things our Special Guest Star is into, they can pick up new tricks to bring back to their relationship with me. Watching my partner enjoying somebody else and being enjoyed by them just brings up massive feelings of compersion.

And let’s be real – what’s sexier than watching two hot people you’re wildly attracted to getting it on with each other, except watching this and also knowing you get to join in?

2. Getting to try different kinks and roles

There are some kinks and activities that simply need three or more people in order to work. For example, I’ve recently been having a lot of fantasies about having a submissive lower than me in the “hierarchy,” who I can push tasks or punishments off onto. I also generally have a lot of feelings about “Switch in the middle” type dynamics, where I have one person dominant over me and the other submissive to me. I really find group sex situations, especially threesomes with a more-dominant and a more-submissive partner, to be a great way to flex my Dom muscles in a safe way. Then again, I’m also really into subbing for two people at the same time – another one which, by definition, kinda requires three people to explore.

3. The warm fuzzies

No – seriously. This one might sound weird but it’s so true.

There’s the aforementioned compersion, of course, and how close and connected I feel to my partner afterwards. Then there’s the exhausted tangle of limbs in the bed when you take a breather or finally stop for the night. The warmth and cosyness of three-way snuggles. All the giggles and laughter and stupid jokes in between – or sometimes during – the fucking. The sense of awe and rush of deep fondness I usually feel for the person who has joined us, like “you’re so fucking great and I’m so fucking lucky to be getting to share this with you.” My best threesomes have been hot, yes… but they’ve also been happy, giggly, funny, silly, irreverent, sweet and affectionate.

Sometimes one of the nicest things about a really good threesome is in the morning, when your partner goes and makes pancakes for you and the girl you just fucked.

I’m Not Going to Steal Your Boyfriend (For the Girlfriends of My Casual Lovers)

Hey, you? Nervous girlfriend/wife/partner of the guy who just caught my eye? This one’s for you.

I’m not going to steal your boyfriend. Promise.

A fence with padlocks with love messages fastened to it. For a post called "I'm Not Going to Steal Your Boyfriend"I know I’m cute and I know it can be really threatening to see someone else interested in your partner. I’ve been in the position you’re in now countless times, and I am absolutely sure I will be in it again. Social programming and insecurities and all of those things are real and they can be really hard to overcome, even if you ideologically want to.

But what I want you to know is this: I have absolute respect for your place in his life and I would never, ever want to jeopardise that in a million years.

I might flirt with him, because I am a flirt and I often do it for the joy of it without wanting things to go any further. Flirting is fun and makes all parties feel good if it’s done properly. But if that’s not okay in your relationship, I will back off immediately. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I don’t want to make you feel sidelined or pushed out!

If you’re in the type of relationship where these kind of things are okay, I might want to kiss him. Fuck him. Go on dates with him. Fall in love with him, even. But I would never do these things without consideration and care for you.

You see, I know you come first with him. That is the way it is and that is the way it should be. Furthermore, I don’t WANT to come first with him! I have my own Number One, my own person I come home to and sleep with at night and share my life with, and I am happy in that relationship.

I want him to prioritise you above me. Of course I want him to make time and space for me for as long as that’s good for us, but I never want to step into that top spot. That is yours. I want you to feel that your place is safe, because as far as I’m concerned, it is.

I’m not going to steal him. Even if he offered me that option, I would turn it down. But he won’t, because he loves you. I see it in the way he looks at you, the way he talks about you. And I revel in seeing and feeling that love between you. It is beautiful. Why would I ever, even for a second, want to break up something so beautiful?

We’re on the same side. I’m not competing with you, and I promise, you don’t need to compete with me. I’m not out to steal your boyfriend. I just want to love him alongside you for a while.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee. Thanks!

How to Be a Good Couple to Threesome With

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

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

1. No Pressure

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

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

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

2. Have your own house in order first.

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to have a threesome with a third party where the focus is really on the two of you in the couple, consider hiring a sex worker and paying them properly for their services.

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

Your threesome partner, even if the sex is casual, is not a life-size sex toy! They’re a person with their own wants, needs, desires and feelings.

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

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

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

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

5. Openly discuss safer sex.

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

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

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

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

7. Have an aftercare plan.

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

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

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

If you enjoyed this post, you can buy me a coffee to say thanks.

2017 “Top 5” Roundup

Apart from my 1 Year Anniversary post on New Years’ Eve (which is written and ready to go,) this will probably be my last post of 2017. In that vein, I wanted to end the year with a roundup post of sorts, some Top 5 lists from the year.

I hope you are all having a wonderful festive season and I can’t wait to keep the conversation about all things sex and kink going with you in 2018.

Top 5 New Sex Toys

#1Doxy Number 3, simply one of the most perfect things to ever have graced my bits.
#2We-Vibe Tango, the only bullet I will ever need.
#3Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Generation, the toy that made me like suction toys.
#4Come Hither Rabbit, the only rabbit vibrator I’ve ever enjoyed.
#5The Ruby Glow, a revelation in ride-on fun.

Top 5 Sex Blogging Inspirations

#1Kayla Lords
#2Girl on the Net
#3Molly Moore
#4Kate Sloan
#5Emmeline Peaches

Top 5 Awesome Events

#1Eroticon 2017, the one that started it all.
#2 – Autumn CM/nf, where I get to be naked and ogle pretty men in suits.
#3 – Lube & a Laptop, a fun summer social with other sexy writers and creators.
#4 – BiCon 2017, where I got to teach my workshop on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex Toys” for the first time (while extremely hung over.)
#5 – Sex Blogger Christmas, a super fun (and boozy) event hosted by the wonderful EA and Livvy.

Top 5 Books About Sex

#1Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
#2How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net
#3Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett
#4Enjoy Sex (How, When and IF You Want To) by Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock
#5The Myth of Sex Addiction by Dr David Ley

Top 5 Podcasts

#1Loving BDSM, where Kayla and John bring their unique brand of humour, opinions and adorableness to speaking and educating on all aspects of the BDSM lifestyle. #CricketCrew4Lyf
#2The Dildorks, “dorky discourse on sex, dating and masturbating,” with the wonderful Kate Sloan and Bex Caputo.
#3The Guilty Feminist, which makes me cry with laughter and feel better about all the times my life choices don’t fully match my highest feminist ideals.
#4Polyamory Weekly, a very long-standing favourite about all aspects of unconventional love.
#5Life on the Swingset, the swinging and polyamory podcast.

Top 5 Blog Posts

#1The Tyranny of No Rules: In Defense of Polyamorous Heirarchy
#2I’m Looking for Baggage that Goes with Mine
#3“Pretty” is Not My Success – On Being a Swan
#4#SexNotStigma: Using My Sexuality to Manage my Mental Health
#5“Bring the Collar” – The True Story of a D/s Breakup

Top 5 Accomplishments

#1 – Winning the New Voices Award from Molly’s annual list of the best sex bloggers.
#2 – Placing as one of Kinkly’s Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes.
#3 – Starting to earn Actual Money from writing about sex.
#4 – Organising Smutathon 2017 and raising £2,000 for Backlash and Rape Crisis.
#5 – Doing #KinkMonth/30 Days of Ds and writing a post every single day for the month of October.

Top 5 Goals for 2018

#1 – Start a PhD programme.
#2 – Cut down to 4 days a week on my day job and make up the additional income from writing.
#3 – Place in the Top 50 of the Kinkly Sex Blogging Superheroes list.
#4 – Have a piece of erotic fiction published, either in an anthology or as a stand-alone.
#5 – Finish my sexy novella set at a BDSM convention.

So there you have it, friends! What were your Top 5s of 2017?

Affiliate links are used within this post. All opinions my own.

It IS [Mostly] All About the Sex

For today’s #KinkMonth post, it’s all about SEX! As you’ll have gathered (unless this is your first visit, in which case – welcome!) I’m doing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s. Today, Kayla asks:

Have you ever considered D/s without a sexual component? Would you be interested in something like it? How important is sex to your current or future D/s relationship?

So when it comes to me and kink, there is one fundamental thing you need to understand:

I do it because it gets me off.

For some reason, it seems to be a thing to deny that BDSM is mostly, or entirely, about sex. And for some people, this is probably true. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m a bit sick of it.

For me, kink and BDSM are, and always have been, overwhelmingly about sex. Yes, they’re means of connecting with people I love. They’re sometimes spiritual. But for fuck’s sake, the vast majority of the time, I do this stuff because it makes my cunt wet and gets me off.

People have tried to divorce BDSM entirely from sex. I am willing to entertain that there are some people – folks at the far end of the Ace spectrum, for example – for whom this is the case. But at its core, I do believe it’s fundamentally a sexual or sex-adjacent practice 99% of the time.

I don’t fuck everyone I scene with, but I do get turned on during pretty much any good kink interaction. It’s part of my pre-negotiation with new partners: “you don’t have to do anything about it, but you need to be okay with the fact that if we have a good scene, I WILL be aroused.”

What’s wrong with sex anyway?

We live in a world where it’s pretty hard to admit that something we do is mainly or entirely about sex. Sex is not seen as a good enough reason to do something – there has to be a higher purpose, a better reason.

Confession I’m seriously not proud of time: pre-20, I was really judgy about people who have casual sex. “I only have sex when I’m in LOVE,” I proclaimed loudly, as if it made me better than other people. Thankfully, I 1) grew the fuck up and stopped being a judgemental bitch, 2) learned the awesomeness that is good casual sex.

A lot of polyamorous people – and yes, I used to be one of them, much to my embarrassment – go around saying “it’s about LOVE, not SEX!” This often goes hand in hand with, “we’re not SWINGERS!” The problem with this is that it implies being a swinger is a bad thing, that love is inherently superior to sex, and it neglects the fact that sex is a hugely important part of romantic love for a lot of us. In this way, people who are ostensibly part of the sex-positive community fall into sex-negative and sex-shaming patterns.

It’s easy to do and I sympathise with it. We’re taught, more or less from birth, that sex is bad. Dirty. Gross. That sex is only “when mummy and daddy love each other very much and want to have a baby.” A huge part of sex-positivity and the sex-posi movement, in my view, is about unlearning these toxic narratives and trying to do better.

Real talk: I don’t have an IUD to control my period (though that’s a nice side effect.) I have it for birth control.

For evidence of pervasive anti-sex sentiment, see also: “I use birth control for reasons that have nothing to do with sex, like controlling my painful periods.” Again, for a lot of people with uteruses (uteri?), this is entirely true and it’s completely valid.

However, lots of us DO use birth control for sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Saying that it should be freely available BECAUSE it has uses that aren’t sexual is really problematic. It should be freely available because it’s a normal part of healthcare, and lots of people like sex while also liking not being pregnant.

Let’s all just admit that some things ARE about sex

My challenge to you, and to myself: next time you find yourself wanting to defend a part of your life or identity with “it’s not about sex!” …Stop. Think about it. And resist the temptation to jump to this defense. Because sometimes, it is about sex. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the great Oscar Wilde: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

Kinky item of the day: Condoms! If you engage in penetrative sex or share toys in non fluid-bonded relationships, you need condoms to keep things sexy and safe. Buy 2 packs for 20% off.

Heads up: this post contains affiliate links.

Building Your House Together: Using Rules for Good

Did you see that I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project?

Join the discussion on Twitter or sign up for the project yourself – it’s FREE and can be used any way you like. Today’s prompt is all about rules. Kayla and John simply ask:

Do you know what kind of rules you may want or need?

A note about this post: it doesn’t contain much in the way of practical tips. I will do one soon with some more concrete advice on setting positive and useful relationship rules. This one is more a primer on my personal philosophy on the concept of rules/agreements in romantic relationships.

What’s wrong with rules?

A lot of non-monogamous people are against rules in relationships. The thinking goes: if you need rules to keep your partner from hurting you, the relationship is already doomed. I kind of agree with that sentiment, in so far as it goes. But I think it presents an unhelpfully pessimistic view on the role of rules in adult relationships.

Mr CK and I have rules in our relationship. They include things like always using condoms with lovers outside of our dyad, STI testing every 3 months, not having sex with someone new until the other has met the person, and not engaging in ongoing (i.e. longer than a scene) D/s dynamics with other people.

The rules don’t exist to keep either of us in line or prevent us from running amok over each other’s feelings. If we were going to do that, no rules would stop us, in the same way that the “rules” of traditional monogamy won’t stop somebody who is determined to cheat.

We have them because they keep us, and our relationship, happy and healthy.

A better framework

Used properly, rules aren’t a tool to bash your partner over the head with or keep them in line against your will. Used properly, they’re are the walls you build – collaboratively – to contain the house of your relationship.

You can use the word “agreements,” if you prefer, but in this framework they amount to the same thing. They’re limits, boundaries or modes of behaviour that you both (/all) agree to operate within, for the good of the relationship and everyone involved. Good rules should bring a sense of safety and security, like the solid, stable walls of your home. They’re not a prison.

If the agreements of your relationship are feeling like a cage, a conversation with your partner is in order. If your partner is arbitrarily imposing new ones without due discussion and buy-in from you, that’s a major red flag. (Incidentally, you obviously shouldn’t do this to your partner either!) To go back to the shared house metaphor, you wouldn’t just decide to build an extension or divide your living room in half without consulting your partner, would you? (If you would, umm, your relationship operates very differently from mine so please explain to me how this works for you!)

Build your house – together

I was once invited to move in by a partner and metamour. The further into “how will this work?” discussions we got, the more I came to realise a troubling fact. Namely, that their concept was that I would have little to no say in the running of the house. From the colour we’d paint the bathroom to the guests who were and weren’t allowed in the house, I would have very minimal input – while paying half the mortgage, naturally. I realise now, looking back, how fitting a metaphor this was for our relationship. They made the rules and I got no say, both in our trio and in my dyadic relationship with him. We weren’t building the metaphoric (or literal) house together – I was a permanent guest in theirs. I was caged.

I share this anecdote just to illustrate how a framework of rules can be really badly misappropriated. Contrast this with Mr CK and me, who thoroughly negotiate every agreement we make as equals. We leave them all open to discussion of renegotiation at any time, and always consider them with the best possible outcome for everyone involved in mind. Saying all rules (/agreements/boundaries) are inherently bad is like saying walls or doors or windows or grey tiling are inherently bad. They’re not. They’re elements you can pick and choose for your house – your relationship – to make sure it’s designed exactly the way you want it.

Keeping the house clean

You don’t build a house, move in, and expect to never do any work on it again. That’d be ridiculous. You have to sweep, do the dishes, repaint the odd wall and occasionally rip a piece out completely and spend loads of time fixing it. Maintaining the ‘house’ of your relationship is exactly the same. You don’t set the rules once and then you’re done. No. You have to tinker, negotiate

Build your perfect relationship the way you’d build your perfect house, with walls – agreements – to keep you cozy inside. That way, you can prevent the leaking roof of drama, and always have a safe home to retreat to and invite your loved ones into.

Kinky item of the day: Nipple clamps, for squeezy, pinchy fun! I looove clamps so much, both on my nipples and labia. (Pro tip: leave them on for more than 5-10 minutes, and they hurt like hell when they come off!)

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through them, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

On the Same Team? Some Thoughts on Conflict.

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ultimately on the same side?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affiliate links are included above and if you buy from them I make a small commission.

Competitive Submission, or: A Journey Through Labels

For those just joining now, I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project.

Day 3 is about labels. Today’s post is quite vulnerable and also heavily based on a stream of consciousness I splurged onto Fetlife last year. Kayla & John ask:

Beyond the basic title of Dominant or submissive, are there other titles you prefer or are interested in exploring? Are there any that turn you off or don’t seem like a good fit for you?

Some titles for Dominants may be Master, Sir, Daddy, Mistress, Lady, etc. Titles for submissives can be pet, babygirl, little one, boy, girl, etc.

On Fetlife, you have to pick a “role” to list on your profile. There’s the usual Dominant, submissive, Master, Mistress, slave. Then there’s the slightly more specific babygirl/babyboy, Daddy, Mommy, pet, Primal. And then there’s the nondescript and vague Kinkster, Unsure, Evolving.

I’ve flip-flopped between labels over the years. For a very long time, I considered myself the most subby of the submissives. Topping was just not something I could ever see myself doing. So I listed my role as submissive.

Then, at twenty, I found myself pinning a willing submissive man to a bed and fucking him, telling him that he was Mine. And I liked it. Gradually, I explored my Dominant energy and realised I could get off on that rush of power, on reducing someone to a puddle of lust with just my hands and voice. I changed my label to Switch.

Then I realised that being young, hot and listed as a Switch brought out the worst of all kinds of men on Fetlife. The Doms were convinced their Domly dick was all I would ever need to shove myself firmly back into the box labelled “submissive”. The submissives wanted to crawl at my feet and serve me (for the value of “serve” which means “have me fulfill their every sexual fantasy”). I couldn’t be arsed with it. I switched to the vague Kinkster. Something about that nondescript label – possibly along with aging out of the coveted “18-24” age bracket – hugely diminished the number of unsolicited gunk in my inbox. But it didn’t feel like me.

In the midst of my relationship with my ex-Master, I switched (heh) back to submissive. I filled my profile with variations on, “I AM OWNED, LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE”. It worked, sort of, but it still only described a fraction of the rich and complex tapestry of the Amy.

Me and Mr CK occasionally switch with each other. This has been the case since the beginning, and will most continue to be the case for as long as our lives run in parallel. We both enjoy both sides of the slash (him more “D,” me more “). So I changed my role once again to Switch, and that was that.

And then… well. There’s no way to make myself look good here. I got competitive. Jealous. Scared.

My partner started dating someone, you see, who we’ll call The Doctor. She listed herself as 100% submissive. (Having been on the receiving end of her hand spanking my ass, I respectfully disagree with that label, but people have the right to self-identify.) It was this, more than the sex or the romance or anything else, that freaked me the fuck out. My headweasels took over and convinced me absolutely, in the space of a couple of weeks, that:

One: Identifying as a submissive, instead of a Switch, made this person inherently better at submitting than me purely on the basis that they never swapped roles.

Two: Therefore, my partner would prefer playing with her to playing with me.

Three: Therefore, my partner would use all his kinky/sexy/Dominant energy on her, leaving none left for me, start taking her to all our favourite kinky events instead of me, and collar her as his 24/7 submissive despite emphatically telling me he doesn’t want that dynamic with anybody.

Four: Therefore, my relationship would be over if I couldn’t show him beyond all doubt that I was at least as good a submissive, if not better, than this other person.

The thing is, this was all in my head. Neither of them did anything to indicate to me that there was any validity to these fears whatsoever. In desperation, not knowing what else to do to fight the battle against my own mind, I changed my status back to submissive. It took a very long and tearful conversation with my partner, in which all my fears fell out of my mouth and into his lap, for me to articulate what was really going on and say “I’m scared as fuck that you’ll leave me for someone else who’s more submissive than I am.”

That was when I learned that my Switchyness, and the Switching dynamic we share, is a feature, not a bug. It’s one of the things he loves about me. It was also when I began to internalise that:

One: Submission is not a contest.

Two: Being a Switch doesn’t make my submission, when I give it, less real or authentic or beautiful.

There’s a stigma against Switches in a lot of the kink world. Much like bisexuals, we’re told that we’re greedy, that we’re confused. That we need to get off the fence and make up our damn minds.

I tend to date either Top-leaning Switches, or exclusive Tops/Doms. It’s getting much better (thanks, in part, to fabulous partners who embrace ALL of me as I am!) but on some levels I still struggle with the insecurity whispering that, as a Switch, I’m a poor second choice and a Top/Dom would always choose a 100% submissive over me and like a 100% submissive more than me. I also worry, because Mr and I hang out at a lot of fem-sub/M-Dom events, that I’ll be judged poorly or thought less of due to being a Switch.

On the flip side, sometimes I feel like a fraud for identifying as Switch because my interests are so unbalanced. It’s really hard to put a number on it and it fluctuates. At the moment my desires are probably 90% sub/bottom and 10% Dom/Top. On the occasions when I do Top, I worry that my submissive partner is just going to say, “you’re shit at this, I’m gonna go do it with a real Dom.”

So where the fuck does that leave me?

Sadly, there isn’t a role option on Fetlife for “Basically submissive at heart but still gets a huge rush from Topping once in a while because I like the feeling of power and the reactions and the knowledge that I’m giving so much pleasure.”

So… yeah.

Switch.

Remember: a label is the beginning of a conversation, not the end.

Kinky item of the day: Collars by Kabunza. I’m not affiliated with this company in any way, but I could talk them up forever because 1) Aemilia Hawk is a wonderful human being and I adore her. 2) their stuff is so beautiful it makes my heart sing. 3) their customer service is brilliant. 4) we should all support our friendly neighbourhood kinky businesses.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you’d like to support me, please consider buying me a virtual coffee, or shopping with my affiliates in the right hand sidebar.

Sex Educator Interview #6: Dr Liz Powell

Today’s interview is with Dr Liz Powell, who co-hosts Life on the Swingset the podcast as well as doing tonnes of other awesome work. Let’s dive in to what she had to say…

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I’m Dr. Liz from sexpositivepsych.com. I’m a sex educator, speaker, co-host of the Life on the Swingset podcast, and regular guest on several other podcasts as part of my mission to help people have more meaningful, pleasurable relationships in life and work, as well as the bedroom. I’m also a coach and licensed psychologist (CA 27871)  that works with thruples, couples, and singles to help folks be more of who they really are and communicate more effectively with their partners. Because being confident in who you are is the gateway to great relationships and great sex – and great sex can change the world.

Can you tell us (in brief) your “sex educator origin story?”

I’ve been out as queer since I was 17, had my first non-monogamous relationship at 17 (dating quad), and have been involved in kink since I was in college. I was always the person my friends came to for questions about sex or to take them shopping at the adult store. Once I was getting ready to leave the Army in 2015, I decided to transition to full time work with my favorite populations – sexual and gender minorities (SGM) – and issues – sexual problems, relationship issues, trauma. I then started presenting at different conferences and from there went into teaching at venues like sex shops and the Armory here in San Francisco. I love the work I do and I feel really lucky that I get to devote my time to topics I’m passionate about!
 

What came first: sex education or psychotherapy? How do they inform each other?

I’ve wanted to be a therapist since middle school because I loved figuring out how people work and helping people grow and heal and thrive, so I guess in some ways the therapy part came first. However, I did my first informal sex education work in college when I was president of my school Gay Straight Alliance, long before I ever saw any therapy clients, so maybe it’s that therapy was first in my heart, but education was first in practice. Regardless, I love them both and I think they go hand in hand really nicely.

Why do you think it’s so important for psychs and other medical professionals to be sex positive, and how would you like to see the medical community change in this regard?

In graduate school, the entirety of my training in sexuality was a one weekend class. 10 hours. That’s it. When I worked in multidisciplinary teams in the Army as a psychologist, I saw first hand how little education in sexuality and non-mainstream relationship/sexual practices most medical professionals have. In the field of therapy, most therapists never ask their clients about sex, even though most psychiatric conditions impact a person’s sex life. Medical professionals have often balked at the STI testing I request from them, and some of them haven’t had current information about STIs at all. When we, as those holding a position of power in a provider-client relationship, don’t address sex, we reinforce that sex is shameful and not welcome in our room. We prevent our clients and patients from sharing important information with us that is impacting their lives in deep ways.

I think most professionals shy away from sex because they’re worried that a client will view questions about sex as a come on or something inappropriate, but research shows again and again that our clients follow our lead when determining what they can and cannot talk about. If you bring your own shame or judgments about sexuality into your practice, you are harming your clients and patients.

For instance, I recently saw a Facebook post by a psychologist I knew in the Army outright stating that they would never approve someone’s request for gender confirmation surgery because they think trans people are mentally ill. The American Psychological Association has clearly stated that the research indicates that gender dysphoria is a medical concern, not a mental illness, and that the harm is in denying treatment, but this person, because of his own judgments, is comfortable publicly stating his intention to shame and harm any trans clients he works with.

Without sex positivity in our practices, we violate the first principle of almost every code of ethics in our fields – that we do no harm, and maximize benefit. We as providers must unpack our own issues so that we can serve those who entrust us with their well being.

What’s the best thing about being a sex educator, in your opinion? The worst?

I’ll start with the worst because I like to end on high notes. The worst part of being a sex educator, for me, has been how hard you have to hustle to just start getting paid. I did a panel last year with Dirty Lola of sexedagogo.com and Rebecca Hiles, The Frisky Fairy, of friskyfairy.com, called Sex Positive and Poor where we all talked about how broke most sex educators are. Most of my friends who do sex education for their main income are constantly worried about paying their bills. Being a therapist helps with this some, as I can make a decent income from individual client sessions, but building up a private practice is slow and I went into a lot of credit card debt to get my business going. It looks way more glamorous on the outside than it feels on the inside.

The best part of being a sex educator, at least in my experience, is the amazing community of people I get to be a part of. I’ve got people in my life who I can send a message to about the crazy sex I had and they’re there to cheer me on. Or I can message them to talk about the grief I’ve been working through about my lover who died. The folks I’m lucky to call friends are some of the most kind, loving, smart, perverted, funny people I’ve ever met and I am thankful every day to have them in my life.
 

What’s your favourite project that you’ve done/been involved with?

My favorite is one I’m currently working on! Cooper Beckett, one of my Life on the Swingset co-hosts, and I are writing a book called Building Open Relationships. It’s a practical, hands on, nuts and bolts guide for how to actually DO non-monogamy. There are so many great theory-based resources out there (More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, Opening Up by Tristan Taormino, The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy), but both he and I felt like some of the nitty gritty was missing. We’re creating worksheets, conversation starters, checklists, all kinds of nerdy goodness to help people learn from our mistakes and success.

Tell us about a book that completely changed your life/perspective?

I think this would have to be something by Brené Brown, probably Daring Greatly. Something most folks don’t know about therapists in general, and me in particular, is that we can seem super open and vulnerable, but most of us (or especially me) often suck at being really vulnerable. It’s like I’ve got this great facade of openness that keeps folks outside of the REAL walls. In the last couple of years, I’ve been working really hard on moving past perfectionism and self-judgment and developing my skills at vulnerability and honesty. It’s been a really really REALLY hard journey, but I feel like a much better human, leader, therapist, educator, friend, and partner because of it.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

I used to believe that you could use rules in a relationship in a way that could be healthy. Before I go further, I want to clarify that I’ll be using the terms Boundaries, Agreements, and Rules the way they are defined in More Than Two – boundaries are about myself, agreements are renegotiable by any involved party, rules affect parties that do not have renegotiation power.

Back when I first did some non-monogamy, I almost always had rules with my partners about what I would “allow” them to do with others or what I was “allowed” to do. Many of these rules involved sex acts, time spent together, or levels of emotional involvement. I think that most of the time these rules came from a place of feeling afraid or insecure and wanting to create an external structure to prevent those feelings from happening. What changed this for me was lots of failing in relationships to live up to rules I had agreed to or failing of partners to live up to rules they had agreed to. I also think that reading More Than Two and their clear ethically rooted explanations about rules made it really clear why using rules wasn’t within my values.

What’s the one thing that you wish everyone in the world could understand about sex/relationships?  

There is no “right” way to do anything in the sex or relationship realm, only ways that work better or worse for you and those you’re doing it with. Trying to do things by someone else’s rules or standards will only make you miserable. You have to do things the way that fits for you.

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

There are so many! I think the most toxic myth is that there’s one right way to do things, and you know you’ve found it when your relationship lasts until death. By that standard, I recently had the perfect relationship – we never fought, we were smitten with each other, and after dating for 10 days he died. We lived out ’til death do us part thanks to his sudden, unexpected heart attack. We need to find the success and lessons in relationships that don’t end in death (and those that do) and stop saying a relationship “failed” because it ended or because it was different.

What’s the best sex advice anyone ever gave you?

Never fake it, tell them what to do to help you actually cum.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

“Are you analyzing me right now?” As soon as folks find out I’m a therapist, I get this one or its companion “Oh, well I’m not going to talk anymore.” People think they’re being funny, but really, this is just silly. 1) Analyzing folks takes work and you’re not paying me. If you want to shell out some money then I’ll be happy to tell you about yourself, but otherwise, unless it’s flagrant, I’m just trying to be a regular human in the world. 2) Your discomfort around a therapist says WAY MORE than anything else that would’ve come out of your mouth. 3) These are probably the least original things you could say to a therapist. They tell me you’re paranoid, boring, and prone to subtle attempts at manipulation. So if you don’t want me to know things about you, don’t say these things.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink,” do you like coffee and how do you take it?

I’m generally more into tea, but I do like coffee on occasion, generally either sweet and light or a nice blended butter coffee (I know, I know, super hipster).

 
Thanks so much to Dr Liz for her time and expertise. Don’t forget to check out Life on the Swingset podcast and her business, Sex Positive Psych.

Words and image copyright Dr Liz Powell, 2017