Clothes off, off, off. Kiss me there, there, and there until you remember there’s no roadmap for this kind of stuff. Not for us. So much of the queer experience is survival, and healthy platonic/romantic/sensual relationships are a great place to actuallylivein pleasure. However, it’s easier said than done to nurture dynamics where you are affirmed and curiosity is fed; where intensity is not only safe, but also reflected on. Here’s a place to start.
Sex communication starts with self-talk. What type of sex is comfortable for you? What’s the kind of sex you’re used to? Are you performing during that type of sex? Are you sober during that type of sex? Is that what you want? Only when we speak to ourselves about sex can we begin speaking to and with others.
Just like your sexuality and gender, your expectations for sex can be fluid. The pressure to like the same things you once did from clothes to music to people is ever present, but be ready to ask yourself: what benefit do I gain from resisting my evolution in the most private of spaces?
Spend time with yourself to think about what memories you want to make. What movies replay in your head? What were those scenes missing? Make up scenarios and fantasize about what could happen, especially while having sex with yourself.
You’re writing your own story here, folks.
Self-talk aside, sex communication doesn’t have to be a sit-down conversation. Transparency can be sensual and inviting.
Be okay with pausing to speak; these are phrases to incorporate while twirling your partner’s hair, holding their chin, maybe pulling them in at the elbow, or whispering into their ear. Try not to make out. It’ll be fun:
Do you want to have sex?Consent is only one part of communication.
What is sex to you?Sex doesn’t just have to be orgasm-centered, heterosexual, dick-vagina penetration. Let’s reframe to include a definition of sensuality, which is anticipatory, exploratory, and inviting. For lack of better words, anything beyond traditional penetrational sex can be considered non-normative, or queer.
Is there a specific way of having sex you’d like to try?
What about sex with previous partners did you like/not like?
Are there specific phrases or names I should try saying or avoid?
Are there sensitive body parts or movements I should focus on or avoid?
Are you comfortable?(Say this again and again, check in!)
Is there anything about your identity that affects your experience with sex I should know about so we both have a great time?
Do you feel like you're performing at all? If so, how can we change that?
How was that for you?(After dabbing it up, of course)
How does this experience or other experiences change your understanding of your sexuality?This can be a moment of discovery for you and your partner.
To ask more of:
“Oh, you like that?”
“Well, that’s promising.”
To ask less of:
“Hm. Not a fan of that actually. [Do this instead].”
“Mm. That hand/tongue/[insert body part] there isn’t for me.”
“Do something else.”
Good sex is one where we moan and laugh and admire. Where giggles aren’t just distracting yourself from knowing something is off. Where endearment exists now, and minds are not preoccupied with “What does this all lead to? What does this mean?”
bell hooks, feminist scholar and activist, once wrote, “When men and women punish each other for truth-telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving, we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth-telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.”
You don’t have to be in love with everyone you have sex with. But love must be present within yourself, for yourself, to take up the space to announce what you desire, and a love for the life experience to open up space for someone else to be intimate. To be so much yourself, someone else feels safe enough to do the same.
Be ready to listen and demand listening. Sometimes you will have to educate your partner, especially for more casual or newer relationships. Ask yourself if it's worth it. Be open to the possibility of itsometimesbeing worth it. If you’re in any relationship that’s slightly more than platonic, consider incorporating these relationships check-in questions:
What does a healthy relationship look like to you/us?
What are we right now?(Every two weeks or so, or less frequent if commitment is clear in the longer term; just because you were dating each other for the past month, doesn’t mean you can’t go back to just seeing each other or just being friends)
How do you think things are going for us?
What does seeing each other, dating, being in a relationship, being boyfriend/girlfriend/partners/lovers look like to you? What does it mean to you?
Is there anything you’re unsure about?
What would a breakup look like for us?Predict your downfall! You should know each other at least that much.
What is your relationship to monogamy? Thoughts on open relationships? Polyamorous relationships? What does cheating look like?
If you are seeing multiple people: how much about my experience with my other partners would you like to know about?
Is there anything on your mind we can address?Anything?
Have I done anything that hurt or upset you?
Have I done anything that excited you?
How can we be better friends this week?
How to bring something up:
“Hey, there’s something that’s been on my mind lately. Do you mind if I talk it through with you?”(This is a great go-to way to invite conversation for those who hate confrontation.)
“Hi. Brain messy. Please help fix.”
Know each other’s love languages, personality types, attachment styles, BDSM test results... Take all these quizzes together or separately. In the age of BuzzFeed quizzes and Instagram polls, this should generally be pretty fun. Again, nothing has to be purely mechanical (though, of course, it's okay if it is). Seriously, the BDSM test, although often paired with silliness and your Rice Purity score, is actually a great sex communication tool.
Speak in “I” statements and be honest. Have a discussion about what the best medium to communicate for bigger conversations is. In-person, texting, video chat? All personal preference, easy to establish bones. Sometimes, physical distance is necessary for making sure our true wants and needs are communicated properly, without the urgency to comfort the other person at the expense of your own honesty. Texting is also great. You can draft up messages, rewrite them, etc. Don’t freak if they’re taking their sweet time to respond; everyone needs time to think.
Trust me: you have so many nights of floral cocktails to spend out and lips that remind you of poetry to kiss and shoulders that scare you to brush, but you do anyway. If you’re spending those moments that may or may not lead into the next morning twisted under bed sheets, make sure you’re experiencing it all transparently and adoringly. You deserve it.