Posts Tagged ‘advice’
1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?
Don’t give more of yourself than you’re capable of giving. There have been a number of situations in my open relationship which have made me very uncomfortable, but I felt as though I shouldn’t feel that way for one reason or another, and so I would say I was okay with whatever the issue was and hoped that I would eventually become comfortable. I didn’t, and, in fact, it only got worse until it reached the point where I would consistently be reduced to tears and laden with anxiety. Both individuals have to develop and evolve together, and expanding the open aspects of the relationship need to be guided by the least open/comfortable person, not the most.
2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?
The hurting. It is inevitable that at some point both individuals in the open relationship will get hurt. Whether it’s jealousy, misunderstandings, insecurities, STD scare, or any number of other issues, being part of an open relationship exposes you to a plethora of tribulations and pain that will need overcoming. Overcoming being hurt isn’t possible — which is important to remember when considering your ROI vs cost — but you can address each issue as it arises (or before, if you can foresee it) to minimize future hurting.
3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?
I won’t lie, the sexual variety has been pretty fantastic, but I suspect that’s the more obvious benefit, so instead I would say the resilience of our relationship. My mate’s brother once asked him, after discovering that we were open, if he was worried that I might leave him for someone I was having sex with. His answer was, “No, because if our relationship is so bad that it can be ended by good sex, then it wasn’t good in the first place.” Because we’ve expanded our sexual experiences as a couple to involve other people, we’ve removed an emotional weak point that is often exploited in traditional couples.
4. Anything else you’d like to add?
- Don’t sleep with your roommate(s).
- Never compromise your morals, convictions, or safe practices for anyone.
- Remember that the health and emotional wellbeing of you and your mate is paramount.
- Don’t use an open relationship to fill the gaps in your current relationship, or to transition to a new person.
- Don’t have sex with a lot of people just because you can. An open relationship isn’t an invitation or an obligation to be promiscuous.
- Don’t use an open relationship as a way to compete with your mate sexually. If you’re having vindictive or equalizing sex, you’re gone astray.
- Always be completely open with your mate. This will save you so much strife.
- Always play safe.
- Remember to put your relationship first, and playing with others somewhere down the list.
- Be mindful of playing with people who are, for one reason or another, emotionally vulnerable. Don’t play will people who will get attached, or angry for one reason or another, or jealous, or otherwise be unable to handle being part of your open relationship. This will take some practice, but trust your gut and learn from your mistakes.
- An open relationship isn’t accountable to anyone but those in it with regards to what you’re comfortable with. Just because other couples or individuals are comfortable with something, that doesn’t mean you need to, or that your open relationship is somehow inferior to theirs, even if you never become comfortable with a given practice. Whatever you and your mate are comfortable with in any given moment is what’s right for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that moving more or less open.
Following up Episode 1, “I Want to be Taken”, Kristen and I answered another question for y’all, this time about threesomes.
Raven asks, “Any advice for occasionally bringing in a third? While still maintaining full commitment to one another and with no one getting hurt?”
Hope it’s useful!
Megan Andelloux, who runs the Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health in Pawtucket, RI, and is one of my favorite sex educators, just launched a new project called What They Are Asking which features questions from students to sex educators, and some answers, too.
This project is a bit more 101 level than the things I usually focus on—butch and femme identity, radical masculinity, feminism and kink, topping and bottoming—but regardless, I’m looking forward to being part of this great selection of educators, which includes Buck Angel and Charlie Glickman, among others.
The press release:
Megan Andelloux, also known as “Oh Megan”, is proud to participate in a new project and website aimed at increasing awareness of the state of sexuality education in the United States, titled “What They Are Asking”. Born out of the experiences of adult sexuality educators, WTAA serves as a collective, community-driven response to the question, “Why do adults need sex education?” WTAA seeks to respond to important questions concerning the necessity of comprehensive sex education and highlights the ways that the United States’ lack of comprehensive sex education in youth leads to sexually misinformed adults.
First and foremost, the “What They Are Asking” web project involves the daily posting of three question cards, each featuring a question submitted anonymously during various adult sex education lectures and workshops throughout the country. These cards represent the vast multitude of concerns, issues, and questions adults have about sex and sexuality. According to Megan Andelloux, founder and director of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health and co-founder of WTAA, “Sharing [these questions] with a wider audience will let these authentic voices demonstrate the importance of our work as sexuality educators and the true need for quality, comprehensive sex education.”
The second component of WTAA is a fun, interactive educational component: viewers of WTAA will be able to vote on the question they would most like answered that week. Once the votes are tallied, a sexuality educator with relevant expertise will write or upload a video in response to the question with the most votes. The WTAA project will feature educators from many different components in the field of human sexuality, with specialties as gender, sexual medicine, relationships, self-esteem, and more.
Sexuality educators involved in “What They Are Asking” hope that this project will eventually go on to be used by policy makers to advocate for comprehensive sex education within both primary and secondary school systems.
Check it out: What They Are Asking.com
My girlfriend totally knows how to get me off, but I’m nervous that I’m not doing enough for her sexually. We’re very honest with each other, but I worry that she’s not saying anything because she’s afraid of hurting my feelings. What kind of sexual activities would you recommend for the relative novice? What did you “start” with when you were just beginning your sex life with women? I think my biggest problem is (lack of) confidence.
I think you’re probably right, that more than anything it is a lack of confidence. My best advice for building confidence is: a) come up with a small script you can say when you get nervous, where she will reassure you in a way that makes you feel more confident and builds you up (this also might involve a post-fucking script with lots of praise over what you did); b) ask her what she likes, let her direct you until you get it right; c) fake it till you make it—not with the moves, but with the confidence. Just pretending you have confidence will get you pretty far, since usually confidence is actually about a mental state rather than any physical action that you do (or don’t do).
This also kind of depends on how toppy or switchy you are—it’s harder to fake topping, I think, and harder to let her direct you if you’re also trying to build dominance too. But you said she knows how to get you off, so perhaps that isn’t a factor with you two.
You also wrote: “We’re very honest with each other, but I worry …” See if you can work on that. You can flat out tell her, “Hey, I know you said it’s okay, but I have the impression for some reason that maybe you just don’t want to hurt my feelings. Now if you tell me that I’m wrong and just worrying too much, I will believe you, but I also want you to know that I can take it, and I’m interested in getting better at fucking you, so I hope you’ll help me do that.”
And if she tells you that it’s okay, then you can choose to believe her. (She can also choose to change her mind later, and hopefully you won’t take that as an affront, or that she was lying—just accept that sometimes feelings about things change, and that she’s being as honest as she can be right now.)
Another issue at play here might be the difference between how many times she wants to touch you vs how many times she wants to be touched (or how many times you want to be touched vs how many times you want to do the touching). Conventional lesbian wisdom says I-do-you-you-do-me, but that doesn’t necessarily jive with everybody. I, for example, am a top bordering on stone, so I don’t want to be touched, barely ever. Maybe 1 time out of 20. But perhaps you are a five-out-of-ten person, or an eight-out-of-ten person. It sounds like her desires—to be the one who mostly touches you—is driving your sex life right now, but that can (and should) be co-created by the couple to figure out what’s best for both of you. Maybe you want to do more of the touching, but your confidence is holding you back? Maybe she’s not so good at asking for what she wants, or giving you permission to just explore and play? Maybe you are both too goal-oriented here—just because you don’t know how to get her off in two seconds, like perhaps she does to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good idea to touch her, kiss her all over, make her feel good.
And yes, it’s possible that she’s overcompensating because of your nerves, being more of the actor than the receiver because you aren’t stepping up. So if you want to step up, do it. I would TALK to her about it—out of the bedroom, on a random afternoon where you’ve had a lovely morning together and you are both feeling loose and open. Say, “Hey, I know I haven’t been stepping up in the bedroom much, but that’s because I’ve been kind of nervous, but I’d really like to work on that. Can we talk about ways we can play so I can try to build my skills?”
And, speaking of skills. You asked for advice on activities for a sexual novice. Ultimately, it all depends on what you like, and what she likes. There are activities that I think are kind of basic and beginner that other people think are really advanced and edgy, and vice versa. Like cunnilingus—going down on a girl—that is something that I do not do with a new lover, mostly because it’s so intimate (and the whole fluid-bonding thing, since I much prefer it without a dam). It takes time to build up to, for me. But then again I can top someone and be dominant on a first date, spanking or using restraints or pulling hair, which some people would think is a much more advanced thing to do.
But, generally? I think to be a good lover, you should be good at these things: 1) kissing, 2) finger fucking, 3) going down, 4) toys, whichever toys you might be in to, be they vibrators or strap-ons or bondage equipment, 5) quickies.
Of course, there’s plenty more things to get good at—anal, bondage, squirting (if either of you tends to do that—or if you don’t, you can experiment and see if you can make yourselves do it), percussion play, penetration, dirty talk, role play … but generally I think those take longer to learn and experiment with, and if you get those others down, you’ll be golden.
Kissing: check out Violet Blue‘s book Seal it With A Kiss (or her ebook, How To Kiss) if you doubt your abilities. Go slow, make it luscious, make it last, don’t use too much teeth or tongue or saliva. You probably know the basics.
Finger fucking: Practice on yourself. I assume you’re good at getting yourself off already. Watch her masturbate so you can see what she does to turn herself on: does she always have her fingers on her clit, and never go inside? Does she start with a lot of fingers in her cunt and only put her fingers on her clit at the very last second? Does she use tons of force, or very light strokes? Are the strokes long and circling, or slow and jerky? Watch closely. Take notes. Try to duplicate it. Ask her for help—”There?” “No, lower, lower—YES. Harder. Left-right instead of up-down. Like that. Don’t stop!” (And then, whenever a lover says don’t stop, for goddess’ sake, DON’T STOP.)
Going down: Check out Going Down: How to Give Her Mind-Blowing Oral Sex which has some excellent tips, or Violet Blue’s Ultimate Guide. I have a whole class on this, so I have more things to say than I will go into here.
Toys: Consider adding a vibrator to the mix if you are worried that your skills aren’t getting her off. Have her hold it and use it while you fuck her, while you kiss, while you talk dirty in her ear, while your fingers are inside of her. I am not huge on vibrators myself, but I do love the Hitachi, and there are a lot of really beautiful high-quality high-class vibes out there these days. Experiment! Ask your favorite sex toy store for advice, I’m sure they can help. I just noticed that Babeland has 20% off of Jimmyjane vibrators this month—that might be worth looking into, those are beautiful (and expensive).
Quickies: For lots of reasons, this is a great thing to work on, to be able to do as a couple. For one, it says to her, “I can’t wait, I have to have you RIGHT NOW, I don’t care if we only have ten minutes,” which is flattering and good for the bond between you. But also, it is good practice for getting her (or your) arousal up to the point where you can come quickly. It takes skill and practice and enthusiasm! If it was me, trying to get better at something like quickies, I would lay it out directly: “Hey, I really want us to be able to fuck quickly. Are you game to try that? Say, every day this week we’ll try to just work in a really quick fuck somewhere other than the bed (or maybe in the bed, too, if that works). Are you up for that?” And see how she feels about that kind of thing. Maybe daily is too much, but maybe it could be daily over a three-day weekend? Or every other day? I like setting specific guidelines or goals around things like that, because then if we both consent to it, it makes it easier to follow through with. But—your milage may vary, do what feels good for you.
Last but not least, you asked how I got started, when I started fucking women. I went to a women’s erotic workshop, one of those that I have been pimping out lately because I’m now coordinating the workshops, before I’d ever slept with a girl. That most certainly helped.
But, thought I had (quite a bit of) experience fucking guys, I didn’t have much confidence and I wasn’t sure what I was doing. The first girl I slept with hadn’t actually slept with a girl ever either, so in that we kind of figured it out together. I remember very vividly how nervous I was, how we both knew what was coming, but neither were sure how to start or, once we’d started, how to proceed. She actually said, “I don’t know what to do,” which, for me, was the permission slip I needed to just go for it, to follow my instincts and to stop holding back what I wanted to do to her, how I wanted to touch her. When she admitted she didn’t know, well, then, there wasn’t much I could do that would be wrong, would there?
We only dated for about a month and slept together only about three times, partially because my mom was in town for a week and partially because I got my tongue pierced the day after our first date. Um, whoops.
Well—that was longer than I intended, but I hope that is helpful!
And now, what about you all out there? What’s your advice for this babybutch? How do you build confidence in the beginning? What were your early experiences fucking women like?
Where did ‘Sugarbutch’ come from? Is it a nickname? A term of endearment? A random word paired with ‘butch’?
And, because I’m feeling greedy/generous, another question, this one a little more serious. What is one piece of advice you’d give to a newly identifying butch. Would it be something about relationships? Or maybe fashion related? Something deeper about identity, gender and sexuality? And if you don’t want to be limited to one piece of advice, go for it.
I’m not sure I have explained “sugarbutch” before. It is a term my first girlfriend used to say, as in, “You’re not really butch, you’re kind of sugar-butch,” as a way to soften the “butch” part. When I started this site I knew I was butch, but I was still having trouble claiming it without any qualifiers or clarifications, which is why I used the “sugar” part. It makes it sweeter (ha ha), less harsh. Five years later, I don’t think “butch” needs to be made sweeter or less harsh, or rather I think the stereotype of butch may need to be, but that I don’t need to present it that way. I can let the complications of butch identity come through just by being who I am rather than qualifying my language.
Secondly … advice. Actually I have a somewhat recent performance poetry piece called “Unsolicited Advice to a New Butch” (also known as The Butch Poem) which I’ve been performing a bit, I did it first at Butch Voices Portland last year (which is why I thought for a second that that was a trick question, Kyle, since you were there! But you couldn’t stay for the spoken word performance, I think you were already headed back to Seattle by then). I haven’t posted it online yet. I’d like to post it as a video instead of as text, but I haven’t had the chance to record it yet.
One piece of advice is hard. I could have one piece of advice on all the topics you mentioned—relationships, sex, fashion, identity. But I’ll just jump into it by saying: Examine your identity alignment assumptions. Examine your misogyny and masculine privilege. Make the label conform to you, don’t conform to it. Gender should not dictate your personality, hobbies, emotional landscape, or interests, so like what you like and don’t worry that it’s not “butch enough.”
Ultimately: do what feels right to you. Deconstruct societal restrictions and listen to your own inner self. Date who you want to date, sleep with who you want to sleep with, keep your hair how you want to keep your hair, wear what you want to wear. Give yourself permission to experiment (especially with fashion and adornment—hair and clothes are very temporary!). Don’t be afraid to expand the definition of a label if you feel like it has some resonance. Don’t be afraid to experiment, collect the data, and then change things as needed in the future. Whatever or whoever you are right now, it could be the same in five or ten years or it could be completely different, and that’s okay. Don’t take it all so seriously. There is more to you than just this identity, this is just one part of who you are. Work on all the parts (like in the integrated life matrix) and commit to evolving into your Self over and over.
I’d be curious to hear other folks’ answer to that question, though—what advice would YOU give to a new butch? What advice do you wish you had? What’d you learn the hard way? What was the best piece of advice you received?
So … what are you doing for Valentine’s Day this Sunday?
“My Hands Are My Heart,” Gabriel Orozco, 1991
Remember what Kristen and I did last year? I planned a little surprise trip up to a winery, which was lovely. This year, though, I’m broke and Kristen doesn’t like spending money, so we’re taking swing dancing lessons through February (which we both LOVE) and staying in this weekend, cooking and holing up with each other.
All I really want to do lately is get lost in her, talk to her, touch her, explore her. I’ll probably make a little card or love note too … I’d love to write a perfect poem for her, one of these days. I ran into this lovely haiku the other day, and you know how sometimes you read things and they are just like so fucking perfect that you feel like you’ll never write something that good? I kind of love that feeling. And I really love this haiku.
I have never felt
more completely like myself
than when I hold you.
Not that I’ll stop trying to write her a perfect poem. I will, I am. Just that I keep running into things that are so perfect. Like this: “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there, leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” — J.D. Salinger (posted on my tumblr media log recently). Maybe I just need to do some sort of collage or compilation.
On a related note, I was listening to Dan Savage’s podcast Savage Love, which, if you don’t listen to, I highly HIGHLY recommend, he’s sometimes a bit of a jerk, yes, and occasionally has some bad slips of the tongue about plenty of hot-button things, but he’s honest, and very sex-positive, and I’ve learned a LOT from his work over the past ten years. Last week, at the beginning of his podcast, he had this to say:
Valentine’s Day is a week and change away, and when you’re a sex advice professional, as I am, you get a lot of calls on the run up to Valentine’s Day, asking for boiler-plate love and romance advice from bullshit publications that the rest of the year pretend that sex doesn’t really exist. And what they want is usually this bullshit deep-fried funnel cake sugar coated romance crap, and not real romance: you know, “how do you sex up your Valentine’s? How do you make it more erotic?” And what they want to hear is candles, and dinner, and wine, and flowers.
What’s crazy about all the standard Valentine’s Day gifts is that they all have narcotic effects, really! Go out and have some wine, and eat a big rich meal, and you’re really not going to want to fuck when you get home! You’re going to want to fall the fuck asleep. And then you get all these letters—if you’re a sex advice professional, as I am—the day after Valentine’s Day, from people who are worried about the health of their relationship, or whether their partner is really attracted to them, because they went out and had this big romantic Valentine’s Day date and dinner, and then they didn’t fuck because they fell asleep, or he fell asleep. Well of course he fell asleep. He had a gut full of steak and booze and rich crap.
You know, if you want to spice up your sex life, on Valentine’s Day, stay the fuck home, do something that gets your blood pumping, like move your ass, don’t feed your face, and then bone each other! Done! The end, right? Don’t make reservations. Don’t fall into the restaurant industrial chocolate complex conspiracy that is Valentine’s Day, and think you have to mark it by pouring money into … whatever! You need to pour your own bodily fluids into each other (if you are fluid bonded, if not please use condoms and barriers and whatever)! And you can do that best if you stay the fuck home!
You know what you should do, if you do go to the restaurant—and you probably should go the restaurant, waiters gotta eat, I put myself through school waiting tables, I don’t want to like kill the restaurant industry (I don’t think I have that power)—FUCK FIRST. Fuck at four o’clock, if you have dinner reservations at eight. Fuck twice if you have dinner reservations at eight, then go to the restaurant. And toast the awesome relationship you have, and the amazing sex you just had, and then go home and collapse into bed, and fall the fuck asleep.
—Dan Savage, Savage Love Podcast episode 172 (transcribed by me, errors are probably my fault)
Now, I’ve always been a sex-at-night kind of person, probably because I like staying up late, but my days are often so jam-packed lately that I’m finding Kristen and I do this quite often—we go out to some awesome event, or for a great meal, then we end up crashing. This definitely made me think about planning the evening (and the sex play) with a little bit more intention.
I know, I know, Valentine’s Day is a cheesy corporate and capitalistic holiday, and we shouldn’t need excuses to show our loved ones that we care. But, to be honest … I’m a romantic, and I like the excuses. I also fight with my tendency to over-shower, over-give, over-love someone, and an event gives permission to channel those tendencies into gifts or romance.
So the question remains: what are you doing for Valentine’s Day this Sunday? What do you wish you were doing? What’s the romantic Valentine’s Day that you will always remember?
Dear Mr. Sexsmith:
Can you recommend a company or a website that makes strap on dildos for plus sized women? i’ve seen this one on adameve.com, but it’s not aesthetically pleasing at all (i’m not really a fan of the leather diaper look) plus the dildo it comes with is purple, and I would much rather prefer a more realistic looking cock. If you can recommend anything, please let me know. I’m a size 24/26 if that will help you at all. Thanks so much!
There are definitely some harnesses out there that would fit & be comfortable, much better than a “leather diaper.”
I tweeted your question the other day and got a lot of ideas. Responses were:
- @SarahSloane Terra Firma, definitely
- @EssinEm Large spareparts or any Outlaw Leather harness (up to 60″ I believe) – I like the Syd cause it’s punk rock :)
- @hotmovies4her Spareparts Joque is great, as well as Seduex Divine Diva Plus Size Harness, tho you might have to modify it; The Make Me Blush combo is pretty nice too
- @lsblakk try this one
- @TheresaIkard “Spareparts” harnesses come in two sizes and I am pretty sure that the larger one covers that.
- @silentsyren I’m a size 26/28 in womens, and I have a Spareparts B harness. Fits wonderfully! And it’s machine washable!
- @CurvaceousDee the Missy-G Harness. Am a sz 26 NZ and it had plenty of room.
I can definitely speak to the Joque (aka Spareparts) – that’s the one everybody loves these days. it’s not my favorite personally, but it’s extra comfortable and really easy to use, and machine washable. Lots of good things. Outlaw is a fantastic company, they make both the Syd and the Missy-G, and those are kind of feisty, lots of personality.
Eden Fantasys has very good data on all their products in the “overview” part in the left-hand sidebar, including the maximum waist size.
Hope that helps! And hey, readers: what’s your experiences with harnesses for folks who have a bit of extra girth? Got any recommendations, or comments about the harnesses that were mentioned?