Let’s Talk About Sex Baby
Photo Credit to Jeremy Bishop: https://jeremybishopphotography.com/
In today’s online world there are a plethora of articles, blogs, sites, podcasts etc. on the topic of sex. Whether it’s talked about by psychologists, doctors, sex workers, comedians or sexologists, sex is a subject that we just can’t get enough of. And why shouldn’t we? Its healthy, natural and of utmost significance in our lives. After all, we’re all here because of it.
I explored what sexuality and sexual empowerment meant to me a lot last year; experiencing many things from longer-term celibacy to causal and fast-paced open-relating and these experiences helped me a lot, as did listening to the stories and advice of others. Trying new things out, pushing my boundaries, having both fantastic and less than ideal relations and reflecting on these events gave me a lot to think and talk about. I’m now in a committed relationship, however, I don’t think I would have been ready for this; mentally or emotionally, if I hadn’t gone through such formative experiences. It’s important to note that I’m not an expert and I still have plenty to learn. I’m just a 23 year old trying to figure all this shit out, just like all of us are. Nonetheless, I believe the lessons I’ve learned and am still learning have made me better at sex and made me enjoy it so much more. I’ve also listened to a lot of material by experts in relationships, sex and self-betterment, and approached each piece of advice with a critical eye, taking what I found to be useful and what resonated for me from many different sources. I want to write more about this, and I hope that by sharing 3 of my findings and lessons, they can do somehow assist you in your own journey.
#1: Tinder is your friend
The first step to improving your sex life is making sure you get to know quality people, people who you actually want to have sex with. While there are many ways to do this, one of the easiest in the digital age is definitely through apps. Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble or Hinge are often demonised; often thought of as just a shallow pass time of narcissistic validation. At best, people tend to view it as a way to get passable hookups, or to get ghosted, annoyed or depressed, or if you’re really unlucky, a way to get straight-up murdered and dumped in a ditch. However speaking from my experience, though Tinder had its ups and downs, it also was an extremely quick and simple way to come in contact with loads of attractive and interesting people in my area. Also, though this is anecdotal, it can be said that the vast majority of Tinder dates end with both parties safe and sound; if this was not the case, the app would never have survived so long.
Tinder is superficial, no doubt. The prettiest people always get the most attention, such is life, but I found nonetheless that external appearances were not always everything. People who take some risks and present their strange, unique and interesting sides are generally the most interesting, the most attractive to meet up with, and most fun to talk to and chill with. Even if you are pretty, don’t just rely on looks; show some personality, take some chances, make some jokes, otherwise what’s the point? The app only gets as boring as you allow it to get. If you don’t look at Tinder as a way of getting laid or of finding your ‘soulmate’, but simply as an easy way to meet people, have a laugh and connect with those individuals you vibe with, there’s really not much pressure. Upload some fun photos of yourself (please for the love of all that is wholesome, don’t only use group photos or photos where you can’t see your face)! Put some effort into a short and snappy bio that invites questions and if possible gets a laugh (it’s a great idea to create this with a close friend, make an event out of it). Also, don’t be afraid to make the first move. Open the conversation, make some jokes, be funny and quirky in the way that is most you. When the time is right (for me usually after a day or two of casual texting), ask them to meet. Be safe, organise some meetups during the day in some nice cafe, listen to them and don’t be afraid to also talk about the things that you find interesting, not that you think they’ll find interesting. Also, make sure you ask them about their interests, see if you can learn something new. With any luck, you’ll make some new friends (or more than friends) in no time. If it doesn’t come naturally straight away (or you don’t, haha), keep an open mind, reflect on whether you can learn anything from the experience and remember practice makes perfect.
Alternatively, if you don’t like Tinder or online services, go strike up a conversation the old fashioned way, ask for someone’s number, or give them a napkin with yours. It’s way scarier sure, but it also takes way more guts and most people appreciate that. Taking this approach was pretty successful for me, but only after going through the awkward phase of not knowing what the hell I was doing. It doesn’t work every time, no method of asking people out will work 100% of the time. Nonetheless, if you get good at it and really put yourself out there, that will definitely make you stand out. I was told on several occasions that taking this more daring approach was exactly what made the person say yes to going out with me in the first place. What’s more, on the few occasions that someone else had the courage to approach me, especially a woman (who has to challenge all kinds of gender norms to do so), I’ve found it extremely flattering and attractive. It’s 2020, it’s about time that we forget these stupid rules that a man is the only one who can make the first move.
#2: “Just be yourself” is actually good advice
A lot of us have heard this terribly stereotypical sentence repeated in all kinds of cheesy romcoms and tv shows, and most of the time it honestly sounds like a load of absolute crap. However, the truth is that there’s actually some wisdom to be drawn from this. It just depends on what you consider ‘the self’ to be.
A lot of people hear this advice and take it as ‘just be yourself and everyone, or that specific person you’re interested in, will definitely like you’. That’s just not the case; no matter how pretty, how funny, how smart, how impressive you are, no person is attractive to everyone. Even models of human sexual attractiveness like Brad Pitt, Rhianna, or Harry Styles have encountered people in the world who just weren’t interested in them. Of course! Preferences are incredibly diverse! Imagine what a disaster it would be if we all liked the same kind of people! Therefore, don’t get offended at rejection, shrug it off and let go, and if you go to a date with ‘being yourself’ in mind, don’t consider this an automatic pass to jumping in bed, or even getting a second date with someone. Also don’t be discouraged if you arrive there, are yourself, and it just doesn’t click. This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. This just might mean that you’re not compatible, or that you are both dealing with stuff that gets in the way of you connecting right now. What a lot of people do in this situation, and this is somewhere I went wrong a number of times, is that after finding that you don’t click with some dates, you try and present a version of yourself which you think THEY will find attractive. Therefore you play a part, presenting yourself as some great jock when you’re actually a bit of a dork, as rich when you’re actually just getting by, or as a world traveller when you’ve really only been to Bali on holiday with your parents. We might present versions of ourselves which we hope to be true one day, or personas that we have seen in others, or even in movies, which we think will make us more likeable; but the one thing these have in common is that they’re fake. It’s not you, and the more not you it is, the less happy you’ll feel. Even if it works and the person likes your other persona, now you have to keep it up; something which becomes even more difficult if you’ve lied about details or made things up. Sure, this might get you laid, but at what cost? Real satisfaction from sex, really feeling satiated, comes from connection, not from just getting off. If a person who you’re with doesn’t even see the real you, how on Earth can you expect to connect with them?
So you gotta be yourself, but that’s a terrifying prospect because you don’t think there’s much attractive about plain old you. This was the way I used to think about it. How I got out of this was quite simple, but not necessarily easy – before I could really present the best version of my true self, I really needed to like myself. I realised at some point that I really didn’t believe I was attractive, in fact, I realised that underneath the surface, honestly quite unconsciously at that point, I thought I was fundamentally unattractive and that no one would want me, that I was essentially undesirable. This was a terribly self-limiting belief, and I began to understand why I’d had quite a long dry spell after my ex-girlfriend. I realised that I would not present myself the best way, wouldn’t hold myself with confidence or would wimp out on opportunities to talk to people because I thought I was undesirable. More than this, I realised I’d even rejected people who I realised were into me because my self-limiting belief was so strong that I thought there must be something wrong with them if they liked me! It was a horrible situation and one which I overcame through practices of shameless self-love; meditation, positive affirmations in the mirror, counselling, and working to start loving my body (work which including but was not limited to physical exercise, persuing my favourite artistic/creative outlets, nude photography to learn to appreciate my shape, eating well, and masturbating in a more conscious, self-oriented way, avoiding stimulation from external things like porn). It wasn’t immediate, and results didn’t show for a little while, but by committing to changing this view of myself I found that I began to love myself, my body, who I was, more. I was no longer of the belief that I wasn’t attractive, and sure enough, the dry spell ended and I wasn’t surprised when it did, because suddenly I wasn’t someone desperate for sex to satisfy the hole I felt within my heart. I was someone who was quite satisfied with myself, quite sure that I was worthy of love and affection, not entitled to it from anyone in particular, but sure that sooner or later someone would be excited to give it to me. There was no longer desperation, self-doubt, or neediness in the way I approached romance; I was certainly keen and defintely not distant, uncaring or unappreciative, I was simply clear within myself that if this didn’t work out, it wasn’t the end of the world and that even if I was disappointed and it didn’t, I’d survive it, it wouldn’t crush my self-confidence or self-worth, and I’d be sure that there were still plenty more fish in the sea.
Therefore, ‘being yourself’ is a good basic dating principle to go by; so long as you understand that for anyone else to fully appreciate you and see the best in you, you need to appreciate and see the best in yourself. If you make loving yourself your number one priority during your time dating (which includes not seeing people who make you feel shitty), or even take a step back and wait for the dates to come to you while focusing on loving and improving yourself, then I have no doubt that you can find somebody to love – or if you’re more casually oriented, someone to just give you some lovin’ 😉
#3: “Don’t catch feelings” is a bullshit mantra
This is true even if you’re not looking for commitment. In my view, it is naive to think that one can have meaningful sex without developing and exploring feelings. That does not mean there needs to be commitment, attachment, or jealousy. It simply means that without allowing oneself to share emotional and psychic bonding together with the physical, one denies themselves the chance to experience any of the contentment, healing and long term satisfaction possible if one allows themselves real, connected sex. I found quite quickly in my experiences that quick and unattached flings, though fun for a while, soon just left me feeling dissatisfied and kind of like I cheated on myself. It was only with committing to ensuring that I slept with people with whom it really felt right, at a time when it felt right, not when it was convienient or just because I could, that was when I felt satisfied with it. This also meant opening myself up to vulnerability; as in my opinion you can’t really know if it’s likely to feel good to be sexually vulnerable with someone until you’re able to be emotionally vulnerable with them. If you’re not ready for that, honestly sex might make things worse. This doesn’t mean that you need to go on 17 dates before you fuck them, but that you should maybe get a read on whether you’d be comfortable telling them about a childhood trauma, or something you’re afraid of or having struggling with right now, before you let them in your bed.
Feelings are not the issue. Connected with what I wrote above, the issue is not being open to your feelings. If you’re going into sexual encounters purely for the physical pleasure that’s totally fine, but don’t expect that you’ll always walk away from it without any strings. Sex is a powerful bond-forming exercise. This is one reason why, no matter how free and emancipated you want to be about it, its really worth carefully considering who you want to sleep with. You’re going to be opening yourself up, quite literally, to another person in a way which they would never usually get to. There are a lot of sex experts who say that sex opens you up to share emotional connections and melds your minds, bodies and spirits. Even if you don’t believe in this more occult side to sex, it’s undeniable that unexpected and sometimes unwanted emotional connections can be formed from sex. It’s extremely rare, especially with repeated sexual contact, that both parties can walk away from it without any attachments or residual feelings. Since this is the case, one would really be letting themselves down to assume that this won’t be true for them. One would be letting themselves down even more if they do so and begin having sex with someone who they know is bad news, or who they dislike, but whom they want to bang anyway just because they think they’re hot, convenient, or familiar. I feel like this is where often go wrong; we think just because we can be promiscuous with relative safety; from having babies and STI’s, that there are thus no consequences to it at all. This isn’t the case. There will always be consequences from sex, good, bad, or, mostly, complicated. To live in a truly sexually empowered way, what we need is not the rejection of feelings, but the embracing of them, and the emotional vulnerability that comes with them, and carefully choosing the people who we want to share them with. After all, though it sounds incredibly corny, to really feel alive; in sex or anything else, sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone, push some boundaries, and most importantly listen to our heart when we feel it calling us to new adventure.
Find your voice and speak your truth my erotic earthlings,