Being on Team O’a has lots of perks (including learning about the latest developments in female pleasure) but one of the best is the all-access pass to having a conversation with your lady friends about sex. Working here sometimes feels like a slumber-party after the witching hour, when filters have fallen away and we feel safe enough to talk deeply about naked-time fun that isn’t part of a usual happy-hour conversation.
And we wish you could be here too! We know not everyone has this experience at work (or even during normal fuzzy-slipper-wearing-hours) so when a member of the community reaches out with a thought, question, or comment, we love to help suss out what’s what.
The topic today is from one of those email conversations that starts innocuously, with a community member we’ll call Saffron, who wrote to chat about her thoughts regarding one of our recent posts.
I wish they’d teach [about variety] in sex-ed. When every piece of media says sex is supposed to work one way (not to mention Freud’s 2 cents on the subject), it’s nothing short of debilitating. And, it got me thinking that we have such a limited scope of experiences to compare with and learn from. It’s frustrating. Like, you can’t “learn” a lot from watching porn – it’s a fantasy. And there are a million books on how to get better at sex, but half of them are bunk and I wouldn’t even know how to begin sorting through the other half. I just don’t know how monogamous couples are supposed to be able to improve their sex lives.
Saying I should ask for what I want is like taking me out to a restaurant blindfolded, handing me a menu, and not even telling me what the place serves. All I can say is “well, I know I like mac n’ cheese, do you have that?” And that gets me lots of mac n’ cheese, which I like, but I might never know there’s foie gras profiteroles. And even if I did know there was foie gras profiteroles, because I saw them on a website, I sure as hell wouldn’t know how to tell the kitchen how to make them.
This is what life is like when you’ve had 1 sexual partner in the last 10 years. It’s the blind leading the blind. Well, poorly-sighted at least. You put two inexperienced people together, then have them mate for life, and then expect them to figure out how to be sexgods? Yeah right!
The good news, Saffron and any other long-term-monogamous-relationshippers out there, is this:
You can absolutely discover how to prepare and order “foie gras profiteroles” if you (and your partner) are willing to put in some work, and are okay with more than a little bit of fumbling, awkwardness, and earning participation awards rather than gold medals right off the bat – because truth be told, you’re going to have to practice. Here’s how:
Think back to a time in your life when you weren’t sure what you wanted – or even what you didn’t want (maybe choosing a major in college, or a career path). What did you do? Well, you explored your options, gave anything appealing a try, and checking in with yourself after to see how you felt about it.
And the same can be true for finding what interests you in bed.
So go ahead! Crack open erotic literature – even some that you don’t even think you’ll like or haven’t tried (we’re presently obsessed with Rachel Kramer Bussel and you can get her anthologies discounted through our Indiegogo campaign by selecting the perk “all tied up” perk. Watch some saucy adult films (a few of our favorites here) not with the sole intention of getting off, but like a scientist tinkering in a lab would (the experiment, of course, being what you might want to try). As you take all this content in, ask yourself, “Does that seem like fun?”
Consider working with a sexpert – there are some seriously amazing sex coaches out there these days! Kit’s interviewed many of our favorites, including Layla Martin, Ashley Apple, and Psalm Isadora for the Pleasure with O’actually podcast. (And you can get a wild discount of 25% OFF Layla’s EPIC LOVER Course through the Indiegogo campaign and Ashley’s amazing videos are all donation based!)
Field trip destination: a comprehensive, pleasure focused, adult store.
Grab your beloved’s hand, skip the novelty adult store and check out somewhere like SheBop, Good Vibrations, or Babeland, While you’ll be tempted to giggle together, again, approach this field trip with the same curiosity as you do reading and watching erotica – with the mindset of “Could we find a way to use this together?” With your research before, you probably have some ideas now.
Take notes – and make a list.
As you read, watch, and learn, take notes. Seriously, grab a pen and paper (or screen and stylus) and jot down anything that piques your sexual curiosity as you explore. Maybe it’s fan-fic vampire erotica, maybe it’s a remote controlled vibrator for date night, maybe it’s wanting to make out to NPR (true story, one O’a team member loves this – nothing like learning and getting off at the same time!).
As you review this list, you can start to make connections as to what you’re interested in – it might not be exactly what is listed, so look for broader themes. To use the examples above, enjoying vampire fan-fic erotica translates well to role playing in bed; a remote controlled vibrator suggests one of you likes being in control while the other likes being surprised (hello, exploring BDSM!); and yes, even NPR can be related to simply knowing you like having your mind stimulated while fooling around (another member of Team O’a is slightly obsessed with dirty-game night – like taking all the Jenga pieces, writing naughty to-dos on them, and then building the tower).
A few notes from the tried and true.
Our resident Team O’a long-term relationshipper said she and her manfriend like mixing up locations. Sometimes the bed you’ve been sleeping in for years isn’t really a bastion of creativity for sex – but going to a hotel, a weekend away, or your backyard can change your mindset.
Now the harder part: trying it all out!
It’s one thing to explore and say “Yes, I like that!” It’s a lot like furniture shopping. You might know you love the picture of that mid-century modern bookshelf – heck, you might even love it in person and know the dimensions are just right. But sometimes you take a piece home, place it where you imagined it going, and think “Ooooooooo. No.” And it can be disappointing – there was so much build up and anticipated joy. So you might have to move it around the room, try other places, or even just let it sit and see if you start to enjoy it.
Okay, extended metaphor aside, what we’re trying to say is that it’s not easy to discover what you like. There will be some trying and practice required – but if you go into the discovery with an open mind, a willingness to laugh, and accepting you might not like it now but think about it later or even like it ever, then you’ll be on the right track.
Remember: this isn’t a competition, or in the end, even about anyone else. It’s just about you and your partner, and experiencing pleasure together.
Finally, have an open commitment to sex.
When lives are busy with the day to day grueling schedule of kids, work, household chores, dog walking, social obligations, and yard-work, sex can feel like an unnecessary waste of time. But it’s not, and it can often go a long way into maintaining an intimacy and sense of fun in your relationship that lets you escape that mundacity for a while.
Having an open commitment to sex means you work to not let it feel like a chore, but do process how important it is to the intimacy and health of your relationship (as well as your own personal well being!). Even when you might not necessarily be completely jonesing for it at the beginning, it probably won’t take long for you to be having a blast (and if ten minutes in you’re not, then it’s a-okay to stop. This is about your pleasure).
Saffron, we know this sounds a teeny bit like work – and that’s because it does require effort and yes, sifting through some of those sex books (our faves are The Guide to Getting it On and She Comes First). But know that this is the sort of work even long-term single folk go through: exploration, trying, and laughing. And ideally, this discovery process is actually pretty FUN.
Readers, do you have any other advice or tips? We’d love to hear them in the comments – it’s for the benefit of the community!