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.
Hi sex-havers and non-sex havers! We’re so sorry for our momentary hiatus and are pumped as always to be back with you this week. Today we are going to be broaching the topic of broaching the topic! Trying new things in the bedroom (or Kohlberg classroom, or Science Center showers…or outside) can be super exciting, but can also be intimidating, scary, and even potentially disastrous if not taken seriously (see our “Coming Back From Sexual Mishap” article). We’re here to give you some tips for how to work something new into your sexual repertoire. Let’s get to it!
Joy Gasm: I am extremely excited to talk about this week’s topic because it is near and dear to my heart for a lot of reasons. I think that attempting new things, whether it’s a new position, using a new toy, or even a new location, can be a great way to add dimensions to your sex life. However, as I’ve previously stated in this column, I’m an incredibly awkward but avid communicator, so this negotiation is sometimes silly, sometimes slipping into a completely unrelated conversation, and sometimes just brutally honest. Although, to be fair, there is no right way to broach this topic. If you have a desire, make it known however you want! You never know if your lady is thinking about the same thing, or if maybe she wants to try something new too. The reminder here is that trying something new needs to be a commitment from both parties, not just a one-sided endeavor. If you really want to experiment with anything, it will be so incredibly helpful to find a partner that is just as excited about it (or as excited about getting you off).
Along with making sure that the parties involved are 100% interested in whatever new act will be tried, there are three important guidelines for trying something new: before- care, during-care, and after-care.
Why is this important? I’ll share a personal story. I used to be completely and 100% opposed to having strap-on sex (sex with a dildo and harness). I thought it would replicate masculinity in a way that I definitely wouldn’t like. However, after talking a TON about expectations and accepting the fact that it was probably going to be a really awkward first time, I decided I wanted to try it out.
Turns out, it DID replicate psuedo-masculinity for me, but in a way that I really, really like (like…really). It was incredibly important for me to have the ability to check in with my partner about how this experience was affecting my ideas about gender (constantly changing) and how this kind of sex made me feel. Knowing that you have a partner who you can turn to in the heat of the moment and say “Nope. Ouch. Not feeling it. Can we just kiss?” is sometimes just as sexy as trying the new thing itself.
Sometimes it’s shocking to find out how much you actually like something, but having a partner who is dedicated to working with you and keeping lines of communication open is so important to having a fun time doing something new!
Before-care means checking in with your partner(s) about expectations, making sure that everyone is okay with what is about to go down, and overall planning for the situation. During-care means ensuring that your partner is comfortable, consent is on-going, and that she is overall enjoying the experience! If she isn’t, mix it up! If you aren’t, maybe think about stopping or trying something else? Just because you decided that tonight was going to be handcuffs night doesn’t mean that it has to STAY handcuffs night if someone doesn’t like that.
After-care is also tantamount — it’s important to check in on how your partner felt about the interaction, what worked and what didn’t, and if they want to do it again. This is especially important in any kind of bondage, role play, or even S/M experience, as many of these actions can be triggering for people in ways that they may not be prepared for! Be sure to communicate openly with your partner about what worked and what didn’t in hopes that they will also be honest with you! Overall — If you want something new or different or even something that seems totally crazy to you, ask! Talk to your partner about options, about how they think it will affect them, and if they even think they’d like it!
Annie Choke-ly: As I’ve mentioned in our earlier columns, it took me quite a while to find my confident “this is what I want and this is how I want you to give it to me” voice. It’s not like I ever had partners who intentionally made me feel uncomfortable speaking up or who ignored what I said I wanted, but the idea of my bringing something new that I wanted to try to the bedroom was pretty daunting until fairly recently.
Let’s just throw it right out there: I like kinky stuff. I like not having control (to an extent). I like rough stuff. These were all aspects of my sexuality that I’d been sort of embarrassed by for a while. Sure, it sounds like some guys are pretty into it, but my sense had always been that a girl’s introducing this stuff was somehow “weird.”
Oh, how wrong I was.
In retrospect it seems a little silly that I was so trepidatious, but sometimes this shit is hard! What I think allowed me to pluck up the courage was one of my best friends from home (hi, Lou!). We were talking about similar desires to be handcuffed/tied up by our partners, when she pulled out a pair of handcuffs that she’d recently purchased for herself. I was in awe. These handcuffs were not your typical handcuffs like you see on cop shows; we’re talking black leather straps (soft and fuzzy on the inside for your wrists!) that clasp together between the wrists. For some reason these handcuffs gave me a revelation, call it divine sexual inspiration. These sexual fantasies of mine aren’t weird, and different people can experience these new things differently – however they want! WOW!
From that point on, everything was smooth sailing. I casually mentioned being shown these handcuffs to my boyfriend, and the rest is history. Valentine’s Day was conveniently near, and I soon found myself with a box from the Kink Factory with my very own set of black leather handcuffs. We tried them on in different positions to get a feel for them, and then it was off to the races. Following the three steps that JG outlined, my boyfriend and I successfully navigated having sex with what is our second toy (I would tell you about the other one, but that’s another story entirely — gotta leave just a little mystery!).
Tip for those interested in similar handcuffs: if you have straps like mine, strap one to a bedpost and use the other for both of your wrists. In my opinion, it’s a pretty fun time.
My point in telling y’all this anecdote is that everyone’s journey to trying a new thing, whatever that thing may be, is different! So long as you talk your curiosities out with your partner, the world is your oyster! If it takes having a shared sexual fantasy with a friend or if you happen to find yourself daydreaming in seminar thinking, “That could be fun,” go you! (And I mean hey, maybe your school has a pretty awesome sex article that inspires you, too.) Tailor ideas to what you want, and remember, they can always change, even the first time you try them out.
JG and AC: To close this one out, let’s remember one thing: sex is pretty fucking fun. But sometimes we have ideas on how to make it a different brand of fun! Figuring out what you want can be challenging, sure. But, as we’ve tried to highlight in all of our columns, once you figure out what you might wanna try, communication is key! If it’s your fantasy being played out, remember another person/other people are involved too! Now, whether it’s strap-ons or handcuffs, bondage tape (Lou showed AC that one, too) or trying out that position you heard about the other day, have at it and have fun!
Featured image courtesy of http://www.nonverbal-magazine.com/