Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
In a related note to last week’s column, the only way to figure out what someone wants to do in bed is to ask! When we make assumptions about what turns someone on, we are most likely going to be wrong or, at the least, misguided. But, this doesn’t mean that knowing what to ask is an easy thing. Is it super scary and awkward to ask someone how they like to be touched? Our short answer: maybe not!
Talking about sex can be a terrifyingly vulnerable experience. If you’re the type of person who has no problem looking someone in the eye and saying “I want to roleplay Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the oval office,” mad props to you. However, if even the idea of this honesty makes your stomach flip flop even more than the cute dude from bio lab that you wanna bone does, you’re also not alone. The solace we can offer you is that, in our experience, negotiating and figuring out what kind of sex you like can be an exciting part of the fun!
Joy Gasm: For me personally, communicating what I want is often a double-edged sword. On one hand, I absolutely love open lines of communication; I’m very in tune with what I want and don’t really have any conceptual problem with both complimenting and making sexy suggestions to a pretty lady. However, my one road block is that I have come to recognize that I’m also incredibly awkward. To be perfectly honest, I’m the weak-in-the-knees, stuttering type around girls I really like. This often means that, instead of getting my words out, I’m often too busy bumbling around trying not to absolutely lose my shit when I find a special lady who wants to be naked with me. (This is not a joke, I make weird noises, it’s embarrassing).
But! Rather than allowing this to be a deterrent to good communication, I’ve found a way to work with it. First of all, if you feel like a fool, go with it! There’s not many things cuter than admitting that someone makes you blush. Also, for those of us with a penchant for the awkward, mumbly compliments, there are plenty of ways to let your partner know what you want without a full-blown sit down conversation. Do you maybe want your lady love to be more rough with you, but can’t bring yourself to say “I’d really love it if you tied me up” over a casual dinner or study date? My suggestion: the positive reinforcement game. Next time you’re in the middle of a steamy make-out session and she grabs your wrist and puts it above your head, let her know right then and there.
If she does something that really wets your whistle, you should definitely tell her! There’s nothing like hearing a subtle (or not so subtle…) moan to give your partner a little ego boost. Giving multiple different cues, always along with enthusiastic consent, can help your partner discern how to make you feel good and maximize your sexual experience. In my honest opinion, if I’m having sex with someone, I’m in it to win it. That means that I want to do what you like and what makes you feel good because it makes me feel good! The key here is then that, if someone lets you know that what you’re doing is great, you’re probably making them feel good. And, if someone’s making sexy little noises at everything you’re doing, you should probably keep doing whatever you’re doing.
Annie Choke-ly: Let me just put one thing out on the table right now: I didn’t start communicating what I wanted – and by extension didn’t start actually getting what I wanted – in the boudoir until about a year ago. So let’s start with that. Up until I started hooking up with a certain someone (shoutout to my boyfriend) who actually made me feel comfortable enough to say what felt good, I led a very sadly unsatisfied sexual existence. None of this is to say I didn’t still have fun doing sex things; however, nine times out of ten I found myself trying to come up with a thesis statement for a final paper while getting eaten out rather than enjoying any part of it. Sometimes I also played out scenarios in which Frodo hadn’t destroyed the Ring (I came up with a few). I wish I was kidding, but it really was that bad. Even though having sex was still fun, it was also kind of a drag at times. I couldn’t tell you why exactly I never plucked up the courage to make my needs known, but I also think that as a girl who engages with men I found asking for things that I wanted to be a little intimidating, even when I trusted the person I was with.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Obviously my journey is unique (as is everyone’s), but if you’re with someone who you feel you can be direct with, that’s my bread and better. For me, vocalizing pleasure comes in three ways: indecipherable moans, words of encouragement (“oh YES!”), or explicit directives (think along the lines of “slow down a little” or “don’t fucking stop”). My girl Joy already touched on the subtle positive reinforcement strategy so let me say a thing or two about giving some instruction. Your partner wants to help you reach that climax, and sometimes you have to lay out the roadmap for how to get you here.
Your partner WANTS you to have a good time, and in my experience that means that a direct “No, no, do that other thing you were doing” is appreciated. (If your request is ignored or laughed at, there are some other issues that need to be addressed.) This directive method is so universal, it works even if you’re not completely sure what you want: in the throes of passion, I’ve actually found it easier to say, “Hey, can we try something new?” than I would in everyday conversation. Whether it’s actually your cup of tea is a different story entirely, but you’ll never know unless you try!
AC and JG: So, if you know what you want, shout it from the rooftops (as long as it’s not quiet hours)! Being slightly vulnerable and open to conversation with your partners can be extremely rewarding for everyone involved. And remember, if you’re shy around the ladies/gents/whoever, sometimes a little bit of positive reinforcement can start a great conversation. Personally, we can’t think of many things sexier than marinating in a post-hook up glow and hearing her/him say, “It made me feel really good when you did x, y, and z–we should try that again.” Not only does it make us feel like kings, but it also can make everyone involved more comfortable in talking about their own sensations. The real moral here? Ask and you shall receive, my friends.
Featured image courtesy of http://www.nonverbal-magazine.com/