How to: Talk About Sex

Hey!  HEY YOU GUYS!  So remember that one time I wrote about kinks, and about how some people give crappy advice to people when they come up?

My girlfriend and I went out to eat the other day, and I picked up a copy of The Onion.  In the back, they run Dan Savage’s column, Savage Love, and  as I was reading this particular issue, I noticed that people seem to 1. have a disturbing love for this book, 50 Shades of Grey, and 2. apparently have no idea how to talk to partners about sex.  Savage’s response to one of these women actually made me pretty annoyed, and almost angry.

And then, as if things could not get any more timely, a close friend of mine said that he and his partner were having some issues in the bedroom.  I did the, “Well, did you talk about it?” line of questions, and he kept balking, talking about how he did not want to hurt his partner’s feelings, how he didn’t want to cause trouble in the relationship, blah blah et cetera.

Talking about sex is a lot like talking about kinks.  The biggest difference is that usually, sex is not quite so shame-ridden as kinks can be.  There’s a larger number of people having sex in general, versus however many people might share a kink.  With a difference in numbers and with “everybody doing it”, you’d think it would be a hell of a lot easier to talk to one’s partner about sexytimes, right?

Well…. No.  It’s not.  And it’s not easy because of the reasons my friend brought up.  Hurting someone’s feelings probably is going to make you less likely to get sex from them, at least in the immediate future.  This isn’t necessarily a fact, but if you make someone feel bad, like, say, where sexual prowess is concerned, it doesn’t seem likely that that person will turn around and go, “Okay well how about we fix that RIGHT NOW?!” (however if you do have a partner like that, you have won at life)

Telling someone they’re not doing sex with you right is really difficult.  There isn’t a way to sugarcoat it, but there are a few ways to make it less awful for everyone.  You can always go with the direct approach.  Being as straightforward as possible and saying, “Look, this is something I have noticed in the bedroom and here is how I want it to change, can we work something out?” leaves practically no room for losing.  A similar way of getting your point across is by, in the heat of the moment, saying something like, “Hey, you know what would be hot?  If we ___________”, and then you let them know what you want.  This works especially well if it’s asking for a tweak in a sexy routine, e.g. who gets to be on top?

Another thing that works pretty well is a nonverbal approach.  If it’s a matter of one partner not getting off (and this being a problem), take some more direct control, if you know what I’m saying.  Move the other person’s hand to where you want it, and see where things go.  If they don’t go the way you want, either try again or talk it out.

Now, these tactics are all contingent on one thing – your partner agreeing with your suggested change.  If this does not happen, then a few things need to happen: you have to figure out how important this change is to you, you have to be absolutely certain your partner understands this is an important thing, and/or you have to start reconsidering your relationship with this person.

But wait – why did I bring up Dan Savage?  Because his advice sucked.  And why did his advice suck?  Because, if you go and read the third letter of the link above, he suggested that a 43-year-old housewife use a time machine to solve her problems.  I know this has a little more to do with kinks and fetishes, but a lot of Savage’s advice to women seems to be to DTMFA (dump the motherfucker already), especially if they are writing to him about their sex lives.

This is kind of unacceptable.  It’s funny that he has no problem talking to some cops about semi-public (male) masturbation, but when a woman wants some advice on bringing her husband into her experiment with BDSM, he dropped the ball.  The answer is not to go back in time and not dump the weird kinky guy she may or may not have dated twenty years ago.  The answer is to talk it out.  Bring up reasons she wants to try it.  Say things about how hot BDSM might be, give the husband an out and say, “Let’s just try it a couple of times and see if we like it.”

The one thing I want you all to take away from this is to not be afraid.  The absolute worst-case scenario of getting dumped because you want to improve your sex life with that person probably will turn out to not be a worst-case scenario.  And who knows?  Your partner might even surprise you, agree, or say, “I’m SO glad you brought this up!  I was wondering about this!”

Don’t be afraid to talk about sex!!!!

The Trouble With Being A “Nice Guy”

Hey y’all!  No attractive ladies this time, unless you count ME.  But for serious, this is gonna be a pretty intense post so STRAP ON YOUR SEATBELTS!

Someone I have been chatting with online has recently completely exemplified Nice Guy Syndrome.  What’s Nice Guy Syndrome, you ask?  It’s the affliction many young men seem to have, where apart from being a totally nice guy, the dude in question might be using nice guy tactics to gain something FROM whoever is the target of his niceness.

There are whole websites devoted to discussing the ins and outs of Nice Guy Syndrome, and this one in particular has a great definition all laid out…

The technical definition of the nice guy syndrome, simply states that this is a set of behaviors and characteristics that certain guys possess and perform. These include things such as: going out of your way to please people; overly focusing on giving other people what they want; offering unreciprocated favors and gifts; as well as avoiding confrontations and disagreement at all cost.

Now here’s the tricky part about Nice Guy Syndrome… If you’re using any of these tactics to move yourself out of The Friend Zone and into someone’s pants, you’re being a problem.  It’s not cool.  Stop it.

Back to my acquaintance – when discussing people in a position of authority, he declared all of the women to be horrible, harridan-like bitches, but most of the guys were more than fine.  He also fails to understand why essentially being a doormat doesn’t land him knee-deep in ladybits.  These two things are connected and I’m going to come back to this.

In checking out NGS on the internets, I discovered there’s an ENTIRE wiki for geeky feminism!  SO COOL!  But the best part is that they have a fabulous set of reasons why this is problematic for all involved parties.

The biggest issue is that Nice Guys see themselves as a gift to womankind, and get really resentful when women don’t view them similarly.  For instance, a guy stuck in the Friend Zone with a particular lady will end up resenting her for rejecting him, and she’ll have no idea why.  This won’t end well for anyone involved, and that’s crazy and sad.  What you have to remember, everyone, is that just because you aren’t boinking a friend doesn’t make the relationship with that person a complete failure, or any less special.  In fact, I really enjoy having friends without the awkward added pressure of sexytimes interfering.  Maybe that’s just me, but I really just like having good buddies I haven’t seen naked.

Here’s another important thing to remember: rejection happens to EVERYONE.  Literally.  At one point or another, people get turned down for a number of things, be it sex, a date, an audition, an application for a job, an apartment, or even if a stray cat won’t come near them.  This shit happens, and instead of blaming everything else, pick yourself up and move on.

Now, what do these things have to do with my Nice Guy acquaintance?  Here’s the thing: his resentment of some (or a couple) girls who have rejected his romantic advances has bled over and tainted his view of all womankind.  This is especially true for the women who have some sort of authority over him, which explains why he hates all his female bosses.  Long story short, he hates them because they’re extensions of people who won’t have sex with him.  With me so far?  Good.

Here comes the really REALLY important part.  What do you do if you think you might have some issues with Nice Guy Syndrome?

First, take a look at why you feel the way you feel about people around you.  Do you think, if you have friends you want to date, that whoever they’re dating is a douchebag?  Why?  Because they’re succeeding where you think you’re failing.

You might actually be a really, really nice dude, and that’s totally fine.  Actually, that’s more than fine – usually when you’re nice, people think you’re a good person.  Here’s the thing, though.  Other people are nice, too.  Other people are good people who feed strays and pick up litter and listen to female friends’ problems they’re having.  And you know what, they don’t get a medal for that, and they don’t feel they need one.  It’s a good feeling to be a good person, and usually that’s reward enough.

Step back, take a look at why you’re being good.  I guarantee you’ll feel a lot better about your life (and maybe even end up knee-deep in ladybits) if you start being a nice guy for the right reasons.

How to: Survive Victoria’s Secret

The vast majority of women in America wear underthings.  Of that majority, a lot of them seem to like having really nice underthings.  You know, there’s just something super-swell that makes me feel great when I wear nice underthings.

Enough about my underpants.  Women sometimes go to places like Victoria’s Secret and are bombarded with 8,000 kinds of bras, and about 7 options for underwear styles.  It’s gonna take them some time to get through all this stuff, even if they thought they knew what they wanted before you even left the house.

I went on one such excursion not too terribly long ago, and I wasn’t flying solo.  Yes, my ladyfriend needed new undergarments, and of course I would never pass up the opportunity to see her picking out attractive yet comfortable and functional underthings!  However, this meant that I was the awkward person near the fitting rooms waiting for her to be done.  It’s weird when you’re a girl, because the store employees are super nice and they keep asking, “do you need help with anything?”  I wish I could say, “Nope, just waiting to see how great my ladyfriend’s rack looks when she comes out of that little room!”

But it gave me a new perspective on what guys must go through being the waiter-onner for someone trying stuff on.  More likely than not, most gentleman-friends aren’t interested in the wares of Victoria’s Secret (unless you’re helping pick things out), so you can’t even claim the pretext of “I’m just browsing” without probably feeling a little weird.  That’s gotta be rough!  So how do you do it?

The best trick I have learned in my not so long life is that it’s very important to always look like you know what you’re doing.  It’s part body language – stand up straight, be alert, and walk with confidence, my friend! – and part not looking like an overwhelmed lost puppy.  This means don’t hang out like a creeper by the fitting rooms.  It’s okay to wander around the store and look at other things.  Your ladyfriend can help you by letting you know what size she wears, so if you wanted you could pick things out for her to try on.  Everybody wins that way!

The other really important thing to remember is that it’s okay to touch the merchandise.  I’m not saying you can necessarily go fondle the cups on all the bras (and definitely don’t fondle any of the employees, that’s just a bad idea all the time), but you can pick things up and take a look at them.  Go one.  I know you have probably wondered what the difference between a regular bra and a push-up bra was.  Take a look!  You might be a little bummed out to find that thongs look uncomfortable just sitting on a table (and maybe you can draw the conclusion that although they’re pretty, they’re probably really uncomfortable in real life on a body too!)  But go ahead, look around and check out all the patterned underoos they have everywhere.

One other great distraction that Victoria’s Secret in particular has is a HUGE wall of lotions and smelly things.  Go smell them.  Yes, I’m totally serious.  If you haven’t, you’re missing out.  Find something delicious and ask your ladyfriend if she wants to smell like that sometimes, because she’ll probably be really glad you’re taking an interest in this store, and in how she smells!

Last but not least, if for some reason your lady won’t tell you her size and you feel super awkward, you can always reserve the right to agree to meet somewhere else after a given amount of time, possibly at another store.  That’s part of the wonder of cell phones and watches – instantaneous contact means you don’t really lose people in malls.  I would vote this as a last-ditch effort, though, because I think it’s important to get out and do stuff with your significant other.  And that’s what I think is really Victoria’s Secret.

Kinks and Fetishes

So let’s talk about sex.  I know, I know, I’ve been cruel to you by teasing you about this for awhile now.  Let’s get down to business.

Kinks are little twists that someone has, a little bit of an unusual thing someone likes to do in sexy situations.  This can range from something as simple as light spanking to full-on bondage and potentially a taste for BDSM.  Let’s be clear though, there’s a separation of kinks and fetishes.  I’ve been preparing this post for awhile, so I’ve done some homework here.  There IS actually a difference!  What is it?  Some students at the Connecticut College Voice had the following to say:

“Sexual fetishes are sexual responses to objects, or objectified body parts, that are not usually considered sexual in nature… Kinks on the other hand, are enjoyable activities that do not have to be practiced for sexual gratification (however, if you always indulge your partner’s kink, they will probably be eternally grateful). They can involve objects or objectification, but certainly don’t have to, and don’t have to be the main focus of a sexual encounter.”

I really couldn’t have said this better myself.  A fetish is a sexualized response to any non-traditional thing – feet, latex, certain fiber materials, bodily fluids not normally associated with sex – take your pick.  People might have a fruit fetish or something.  Whatever, that’s their thing.  Like I said before, kinks are just like the icing on the cake – sex is awesome but sex with kinks is even better.

This all being said, it’s important to know how to discuss a kink or fetish with a sex partner, but especially with a ladyfriend.  With the advent of the internets, it has become oodles easier to find people with common sexual interests.  You can google your particular kink or fetish and probably find at least one other human being that’s into the same thing.  In fact, a certain nameless friend of mine says he’s more likely to talk to people that are more open about their kinks.  That makes stuff a whole lot easier for finding a partner to play with, but what do you do if you’re dating someone and she doesn’t know?

Columnist Dan Savage tackles questions like this on practically a weekly basis (seriously I checked the archives), and by and large he gives the same advice to people: be up-front about it and if the don’t like it, dump them.

However, I don’t think things ever get to be that simple.  It sucks, I know, but here comes the explanation.  If you’re with an awesome lady and you haven’t discussed the potentially odd particulars of your sexual appetite, then you do need to drink a glass of water, take a deep breath, and dive into that subject.  It might end up being a really, really difficult conversation.  You may have to endure an upset girlfriend, and it may even be that she’s weirded out by your particular interest.  She could very well call you a pervert, depending on how depraved she thinks your interest might be (your kink or fetish could also be illegal in your state, you might want to check that out first too).  I really think you should err on the side of a better sex life.  Because really, aside from companionship and emotional bonding, why do we get together with other people?  It’s the sex.  It’s always the sex.

Disclaimer aside, how do you actually sit down and have this conversation?  Well, I polled the advisers, and two responses really stuck out to me.  Rachael said that it all comes down to trust.  “It’s tough because it’s a trust thing, so if you’re not confident in your relationship or comfortable with your partner it’d be tough”.  I responded that it can be like admitting you love a horrible song (which in some ways, it is – you can endure the laughter and ridicule for that too!)

Once again my awesome ladyfriend came to my rescue with a great little “how-to” for this conversation.  So here it is, boys, the Gay Girl’s Semi-Definitive Guide to Talking About Kinks and Fetishes.

1. Be absolutely certain you need this thing for a better sex life.  If it helps you get off, great, but if it’s standing between you and an orgasm and thus disabling your sex life, then you should probably have the talk.

2. Discuss this in a totally non-sexual situation.  If you’re in bed and could be in a sexy situation soon, I’d say don’t do it.  This could cause confusion and be seen as a creepy way of forcing her into trying whatever you’re talking about, and that is just NOT cool.

3. Follow the script.  Be sure to make a point of starting out the statement with, “If you’re not into this, I am willing to work on that, but…” This helps take that confusion and pressure off the lady, and lets her know that she is free to make the choice to say no.

4. Be prepared to accept a negative answer.  I’m not talking about a drink thrown in your face or a break-up, but be prepared for the woman to say “no way, Jose!”  If she doesn’t want you sucking her toes or doesn’t want to poop on you or tie you up or whatever, let her have the room to say so.

5. Have a back-up plan.  Obviously the ideal outcome is that she accepts your kink or fetish and is willing to try it.  In the unfortunate event that she doesn’t, have a back-up plan.  Is it a dealbreaker?  Can you work around it?  (Notice this ties in with step 1…)

The extreme negative response (being called a perv, screaming, a break-up, etc.) is going to be a harsh thing to deal with, but fear not, there are other people out there.  Chances are you’ll find someone just as willing to get freaky as you are.  It’s really important to not be bitter about that; always remember that your kinks aren’t going to be some other person’s kinks, just like your fetishes aren’t always going to be another person’s fetishes.  And that’s all okay.

There’s a ton of trust that goes into a relationship, and talking to another person about your innermost sexual desires and secrets is a big nod to how much you trust them.  If you know them well enough to trust them, hopefully you can gauge their reaction.  I mentioned before that there’s the option of dumping.  Well, yes, but if she’s cool enough to have earned your trust and you’ve talked to her about this thing, and she respectfully and politely declines, what do you do?  Do you dump her anyway because you can’t get off with her?

Psh, no way.  You already have the fetish, why not go ahead and have a talk with the lady about multiple (safe!!!!!) sexual partners?  At this point, if your thing is your thing and you can’t work around it any other way, follow the script again, only with the concept of taking lovers so that you can all stay happy and get off and such.  It IS possible to have a stable relationship like that – just give it a chance.

Remember guys, that there is always an alternative, and always a way to be happy.  It might not be traditional or “right” in some people’s opinions, but hey – fuck ’em, it’s your sex life.