A quick warning before I begin: if you have come to this blog looking for tips and tricks to make you into a studmuffin, sex princess, or shagdolphin or whatever the cool kids are calling it now (judging by this site and my own exploration of OKCupid it’s the ability to make women “squart” which I’m assuming is like squirting but with more farts?) when they mean “I want to level up at some sort of mythical, generic, catch-all sex that is supposed to satisfy everyone”… you are on the wrong blog. This is more in the vein of How To Date Without Being A Douchebag and How To Write Gay Characters: a collection of ludicrously obvious common-sense advice that for some reason gets overlooked in favour of complicating matters.
This is kind of a checklist to go over before more involved explanations are sought.
- Work out what sexual orientation you actually are. This is the level of advice I’m offering. It may seem enormously logic but given the heavy societal default towards heterosexuality there are lot of people labouring under the belief that they are or ought to be straight or are or ought to be gay etc when they’re neither, and while some people are certain from a very early age of who they’re attracted to, other people aren’t, and it’s always worth checking with yourself to see who actually yanks your crank. It’s also possible that you’re just not into sex at all, which is perfectly okay and a lot more common than advertising would have you believe. Do not think that because you’ve picked an identity based on your attraction that you can’t change your mind. Not everyone’s sexual identity is concrete and finished in their lifetime: you may start out attracted to dudes with penises, become more attracted to dudes who don’t have penises, and later decide that you’re not attracted to anyone any more. Ultimately it’s important to pay attention to your desires rather than making assumptions based on what other people tell you that you want.
- Determine your sexual preferences. This is different to your sexual orientation: orientation tells you what the genitals and gender identity of the people you are attracted to are (or that you’re not attracted to anyone sexually), preferences tell you about your type and role in sex. Some people don’t have any physical preferences of type and are only attracted to people whose personality stimulates them, some people have a very broad range of people they are attracted to, and some people have a very specific set of criteria that they find attractive. All of these are okay. Again, it may sound ridiculous that people don’t know what they like, but remember we live in a society where one standard of attractiveness is held up as objectively attractive and what everyone wants: while it’s entirely possible this is what you’re into (and there is nothing wrong with finding popular depictions of beauty or handsomeness attractive), if you feel there is something missing then it’s worth checking if you’re actually attracted to the people you go on dates with or if you go on dates with them because conventional wisdom tells you they’re “a catch”. For example, you might spend years of your life wondering why sex that makes your friends envious isn’t really doing it for you, only to work out that you aren’t actually so much attracted to Kristanna Loken as to Meera Syal, or not so much to Chris Evans as to Mo Farah. There is no such thing as a “wrong type” of adult to be attracted to.
- Your preferences don’t just cover your “type”. Your preferences can also cover the role you take in sex. Again, there are standard ideas about who should do what in sexual circumstances, often culturally-dictated, and sometimes they don’t line up with what people actually enjoy the most. It’s worth checking with yourself to see if maybe, perhaps, the idea that you have about “who you are” is eclipsing “what you want”, and to remind yourself that the one doesn’t negate the other: you can still be a kind, nurturing, compassionate person and get pleasure out of hitting someone with a belt, for example. Or to go less extreme on it, maybe you’ve always believed that “gay sex” means anal sex, but you would actually be a lot happier with oral sex. Again, as long as your partner is also happy, there isn’t really a “wrong” sexual preference.
- Talk to each other. This is the standard advice everyone gives and with good reason: people are not mind-readers. No one is going to know that you want your toes sucked unless you tell them, and you’re never going to realise that they actually really want a mouthful of foot unless they say so. Strive for non-judgemental conversations about stuff, and you’ll find it’s a lot easier to talk about potentially embarrassing desires/fears rather than allowing the thought “if you would only go a little to the bloody left” to fester. That means not making a ridiculous scene, pulling a face, or baulking if someone brings up something unexpected or undesirable, and it means not throwing a hissyfit if your “best moves” don’t meet with a rapturous reception: what works for one partner you’ve had won’t necessarily work for others. Communication is key.
- Get to know yourself. Fairly self-explanatory: you can hardly communicate to someone else what it is you need or want from them if you don’t know yourself what you need or want. Have a fiddle. At worst you’ll find out you don’t like fiddling.
- Don’t obsess over orgasms. Greta Christina has some insights on this (if you can bloody find them), but it’s worth reiterating that “better sex” doesn’t necessarily mean “endless pornographic orgasms”. Not everyone orgasms with another person around: not everyone orgasms at all. That doesn’t mean that you can’t generally schlub about with each other and have a good time anyway. This is another area where getting to know yourself and what you want can be useful, as you can warn the other person in your sex to either not expect you to come or to expect you to be a giant fountain of fluids, or whatever is most natural to you. As above: there isn’t a wrong way to be. Not orgasming is only a problem if you feel like you want to but can’t for some medical reason.
- Relax. Don’t make me quote Frankie Goes To Hollywood here, it’ll embarrass us all. Being uptight about what’s happening and worrying about how you look or what kind of impression you’re making on each other makes it harder for you to enjoy yourselves. The difficulties adults (particularly British adults, apparently) have in relaxing about sex may account for why “most heterosexual people in this country, and around the world, meet each other, and get together with one another when they’re totally, totally drunk.” [Dylan Moran]. It does help, however, if you don’t sail wildly past “relaxed-drunk” into “amnesia-drunk”, and therefore forget that you’ve had sex at all. You may well scoff, but that was a large part of my sex life for years.
- Eradicate shame as best you can. Feeling terrible about yourself and the things you enjoy unsurprisingly diminishes the amount you enjoy those things. Sex, along with food, is probably the most shame-filled of enjoyable things in Western society, meaning that everyone continues to indulge (because abstaining – as opposed to being simply uninterested – places a strain on one and leads one into obsession and greater temptation than simply “do as thy will dictates” does, as anyone who has ever been on a diet will tell you), and then to self-flagellate and doubt afterwards. Advice columns are filled with worried anonymouses anxiously asking am I normal, when the answer they want is to the unasked question: am I okay? Fuck normal. People have been into all sorts since consciousness and sexuality coexisted in the same bodies. It’s not easy to slough off a lifetime of conditioning to the contrary, but not haranguing oneself for one’s desires – however “strange” or “boring” they might seem to anyone else – is a recipe for instant improvement in sex.