Tie me up, maybe, if you wanna -
Normalizing conversations about sex, desire, and limits
I grew up in a family that preached abstinence-only and virginity until you are married. Even to this day, I still struggle with being open about sex in my personal life. I'm more comfortable having these conversations, but the sense of shame and guilt is sometimes still there.
Sex work is something that taught me to be more comfortable and open. It’s normal though, in a world where we’re shamed for sex and desire, that most of us are uncomfortable beginning conversations about sex or expressing our fantasies and preferences.
I’m sure almost everyone has had this experience on some level. A lot of us might blush at the first conversation about our most basic history and interests. Others perhaps are afraid to tell our partners that they aren’t performing to our expectations or about the kink you want to try - or you may be afraid to say that you just aren’t into their kink at all.
So how do we start these dialogues with one another? How do we continue them through shame or fear if it gets tense or embarrassing? First, know that it isn’t unusual to feel like this; Dr. Justin Lehmiller, social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, and author of Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, says that many of us feel ashamed of our fantasies because we think they’re weird.
But the saddest part of all this shame? It’s unnecessary; it’s a product of all those societal norms telling us that sex is bad and desire makes us bad people. 97% of us have sexual fantasies and most of them fall into the same categories. The vast majority of us have fantasies about multiple partners, rough sex, or adventure play (which can mean toys, new positions, and new partners, among other things). Other very common fantasies include taboo sex (such as fetishes, voyeurism or exhibitionism, anal sex), non-monogamy, passion and romance (meaning both men and women fantasize about the love, contentment, and appreciation that comes with sex in a healthy relationship), and erotic flexibility, which includes same-sex and gender-bending fantasies for people who identify as heterosexual.
If the conversation you’re afraid to have involves any of these fantasies, especially the first three, chances are your fear is baseless and your partner will be all ears (and other parts!) once the conversation starts. And the best news yet is that expressing your desires and getting comfortable with these talks is going to exponentially improve your sex life.
But in a world where sex education revolves around learning to just say no but not around healthy and productive communication about wants and needs, the things we enjoy before we get to the edges of our boundaries, where do you begin? Here are a few ideas to get the conversation started:
Try sexting. You’ll both gain more confidence as it gets steamier and you’ll feel braver to reveal those secrets - and your partner will likely surprise you with their response because they’re turned on too. When the passion has passed, you’ll feel much better about saying, “So, that thing we talked about...when are we going to do it?”
If you aren’t comfortable with sexting either and don’t know how to kick it off, try “I really
liked last night, especially when you…” Before you know it, the conversation will turn to
when you plan to continue the festivities and how you’re going to build upon them.
Point out the hottest moments in the movies you’re watching. If the characters do or talk about something you want to try or are curious about, you can say, “That’s hot; have you ever tried that?” and let the conversation (and possibly the activities) go from there. The biggest bonus of this is that if you aren’t comfortable or your partner shoots you down, you don’t have to let them know how you feel until you’re more comfortable - it was the movie’s idea, not yours! On the flip side, it’s a great time to bring up boundaries too; if it’s something you aren’t into, you can volunteer “No way would I do that” or ask questions.
Respond enthusiastically when your partner does something you like. Sexual exploration frequently wanders off course when passions are on high; you may find you don’t have to make an entire conversation out of everything you’re nervous about if your partner takes the initiative. Moan, scream, ask for more, say yes, tilt toward your partner - whatever feels natural at the moment to express your enjoyment; and ask for it to go further.
Talk about sex more freely! If you’re nervous about conversations outside of your comfort zone, then build up to them by being very open about what you’ve done so far. If it’s a new relationship, you can talk about positive memories from your past - favorite experiences, for example - or what you’ve liked so far with this one. Gradually you’ll become more comfortable.
Is it still not enough because you can’t shake the idea that what you want is just a little freaky? Here’s an idea - watch porn together! You can be as open or as discreet about your plan as you like - tell them outright “tonight is porn and chill!” or you could say “hey my friend told me to watch this and I thought it would be fun to do with you.” Find something beforehand that depicts what it is that you’re into but afraid to talk about, and suddenly you have a steamy night ahead!
If your partner isn’t into it, you have the space to ask why and talk about it without giving away that it’s what you’re into. You’ll probably hit on some ways to compromise or build up to it. Most likely though, they’ll be into it too or at least willing to try it, and it’s going to lead to a great time!
So let’s say your fantasy involves an anal orgy - I’m using an example here that involves some of the most common but taboo interests that you might be afraid to verbalize. Head over to AP Clips and look for a film in the Tag Search that piques your interest involving both. Download the movie, prepare for your evening, and let the conversation and the fun unfold!
If you’re so nervous about sexual conversations with your partner that you don’t know how to start, remember that you aren’t alone; we’ve all been trained to keep our urges and desires as deep, dark secrets because we’re supposed to believe they make us bad people. It isn’t true though, and most of us have the same sexual fantasies. You deserve to be satisfied, and so does your partner! Only by having these conversations can we make sure we are fulfilled and that we’re truly sexually compatible with our partners. Have the conversations, write the sexts, watch the movies - and welcome lots and lots of orgasms for both of you!