Tagged advice

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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “my partner and I have a Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell agreement, and it’s starting to feel a little weird”

we're on "don't ask don't tell" for our sorta open relationship. I want to be more open about my feelings toward others, but he doesn't, even after suggesting it. I don't mind necessarily, but it's starting to feel a bit secretive.

This is not a question, it’s just a scribbled-down statement about how things are (or were) for someone in the Smut Slam audience, but I felt like I wanted to address it anyway, because there is a question in there: "what should I do?"

If I’m recalling correctly, there were a lot of polyamorous people in the audience that night and when I read this part, a murmur rippled through the crowd. The whole room expressed a sort of “yup, been there” and then sighed one collective sigh.

Many of us have been there. Oh my lord. DADT as a policy statement for open relationships is super common, especially for folks new to open relationships who think it’s some sort of training-wheel approach, just to get started. I know I did, with both the first and second partners I tried an actual opening-up with. I had asked about it, and my partners reluctantly agreed to it, but on terms: “I don’t want to know anything about it.”

And the thing is, that works, on a purely theoretical level, in a world where all you wanna do is scratch that itch and get laid, in and out and back to your “real life” and your “real partner.” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell works there, in that world where all you want are discrete bits of time with people who aren’t asking anything from you except some time with your particular and very discreet bits. DADT works fine, in an ongoing way, when you have a perfectly compartmentalized life and psyche.

In reality, very very few people have that kind of life and/or psyche. You may say you can do it, because good lord, that person is hot and you really wanna scratch that itch! But the reality is, life bleeds out all over everything. You develop feelings for that person who was supposed to just be a no-strings-attached fuck. Or at least you like them—hopefully—so you wind up watching a movie with them that you really love and then you go back to your primary partner and say, hey, I want to show you this movie, and they love it too and they say, “Wow, that was amazing! Where did you find out about this movie?” and you’re suddenly like, eep. Can I say?

What do you do if that happens with a sex move?

No couple magically match up their free time without discussion, sometimes a lot of discussion, depending on the couple and their already existing schedules. Carving out time for other people, without mentioning those other people, is really difficult.

And yeah, those feelings. They do happen, and if you’ve already set down a DADT policy about such basic things as “no mentioning dates with other people” and “I don’t want to know their names,” you’re suddenly going to be in an even more untenable position when the feelings come up.

This is not to say that your boyfriend doesn't have the right to say, "I don't want to hear about what you and your date did in bed last night" or "I'd rather not be the sounding board for any relationship problems you're having with your other partners." Those are pretty common boundaries; hopefully the two of you can hash those out together. But it sounds like the embargo is laid down pretty hard and pretty low, so... yeah. How much of your life/time/attention/heart is wrapped up in these other relationships, and how important is it that you can be open about that?

This person isn’t asking for advice, but for any readers who may be in the same situation, I encourage you to use the Sheelzebub principle, named after a Captain Awkward reader who had some sage advice for anyone wondering what to do in a challenging relationship situation:

Can I live with this for another month? Another year? Another five years? Ten years? The rest of my life? How long?

Maybe you’d be okay with it. What about your partners in DADT-ness? That might feel a bit shitty for them too. You’re feeling a little bit constrained now. How will that feel after five years of it? I can’t answer that question for you, but as someone who tried “don’t ask don’t tell” once, I can tell you I would never go back.


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ADVICE FROM A PHONE WHORE: making room in hard conversations with “slow talk”

I’ve talked about silence in dirty talk before, where we leave spaces in the narrative stream to let the heavy breathing and grunts and sexual tension do some of the work. But before we even get to the juicy bits, there are often other conversations that must be had, with silences that aren’t nearly so sexy and are, in truth, a bit scary for most people.

These are the conversations that make the juicy bits even possible, the ones in which we bring up opening the relationship for the first time, or asking to close the relationship temporarily because we need to catch our breath. We are asking our lover to prioritize our relationship in the middle of crisis, or telling them that we are a little or that we like their boots way more than we let on, or that actually we are asexual. We are telling them that things felt weird at the dungeon last weekend, and we don’t want to go again until we figure out why.

I have had so many of these conversations in my life. Sometimes I think I would be happy if I never again had to have another one, because they are tiring and time-consuming and yes, terrifying. And yet, that is the cost of being a person in deep connection with other people: tough things sometimes need to be said. This means that we need to leave room for those things to be said.

I am not ashamed to say that I got some of the best training in how to do this from taking long calls with one of my most challenging clients, Rollercoaster Man. He was very uneasy in his own fantasies, and incredibly cautious in picking his way through them. He was sometimes depressed to the point of death ideation, and brought that to our calls. And when he was in either of these headspaces, he left silences that you could drive a truck through.

At the beginning of my time with him, I remember talking a lot. The long silences made me nervous. But the more calls I took from him, the more I saw that filling in those gaps only made him talk less. If I wanted him to participate in some way, I had to just shut up and wait.

I got reasonably proficient at sitting with silence, and then I learned to take that to my own tough conversations with partners because dealing with polyamory and touring and distance, and individual and mutual life dreams is tough. Oh, how I wanted to push all kinds of words and counterarguments and banal encouragement and my own sadness and guilt and fear into those spaces. But those conversations were not only mine; they were for my loved ones as well.

So I held my tongue, or tried to, and just focused on slow, deep breathing, if it felt like the person I was talking with had more to say. I checked in occasionally with “how does that feel?” and “do you want me to stay here?” or “that sounds awful, I’m sorry.” The slow pace kept me more present, kept me from flying off the handle or running away from the discomfort or making assumptions. The conversations stayed good, or at least friendly and workable.

"Slow talk" can work in both face-to-face and written exchanges. During our first year or two of long-distance relationshipping, my partner and I had limited real-time face-to-face communication, but lots of texting; we also had a lot of challenging relationship stuff to work with. Thankfully, we developed a convention to “ask for asterisks,” which means we put an asterisk at the end of our comments when we are done with that thought, and then, and only then, can the other person start talking. The asterisk allows the person expressing to get their whole idea out, but it also is a gift to the person listening: even if parts of what our partner says are challenging, we get time to take it all in as a whole. (We have occasionally found ourselves saying “asterisk” during face-to-face conversations as well, it’s that useful.)

I should mention that slow talk doesn’t really help with the fear in the short run; those long silences can stretch out to seeming infinity. But in the medium- and long term, I find it builds trust and space for all the explorations and feelings that otherwise have no place to go. So give it a shot, the next time your partner turns to you and says, “There’s something I want to tell you.” Breathe deep, exhale, and give them room.


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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: how to convince myself and partners that safe oral sex is totally fun and not paranoid and uptight?

Seriously, how to convince myself and any partners that safe oral sex, i.e. using a condom or dental dam, is totally fun and not paranoid and uptight and just no fun?!

Do not google "dental dams" in your quest to sexify them. Unless you have a distinct medical kink, the search results will not be sexy.

FULL DISCLAIMER/DISCLOSURE: you are talking with someone who has rarely used protection when either giving or receiving oral sex. Back when I was younger and wilder, I just didn’t think about it because you can’t really think about that when you’re drunk and deep-throating; there are other, more urgent things going on. More recently, when I was being actively polyamorous, I still didn’t use protection for oral, but at least I thought about it. I weighed up the relevant risk factors and decided that it wasn’t for me.

But I'm not going to discuss whether safer sex practices for oral are paranoid or uptight. In the scope of sexual behavior, it’s a choice that everyone needs to get informed about and then make for themselves. What you are asking about is how to make that fun.

Before I pull some ideas out of the play box, I think you may need to spend a little time with yourself on the question. If you don’t believe that this is just a normal thing to do before fun oral times, then I would imagine any tips and tricks you try to pull are going to look and sound and feel a little forced. So maybe you could be asking yourself things like:

  • Where have you gotten these words that you use in this mental soundtrack? “Paranoid.” “Uptight.” Where did those come from?
  • Do you remember anyone ever saying those actual things to you? If yes, what was that sexual encounter like? Or did it close down? What happened there?
  • What are you really worried about, if your partners think that you’re paranoid and uptight? What’s the worst that could happen, if they think that?

You can and should also have this conversation with partners, or at least question them, if they ­­do use that judging language. This is very much a part of negotiating around sexy times, and if this is one of your hard boundaries, then you are better off without people who want to break it. I know that sucks, because yeah, that fucker was hella hot, but you know it’s true.

An important step toward keeping the stress out of using protection during any kind of sex seems to be NOT MAKING IT A BIG DEAL TO HAVE IT AVAILABLE. Keep your condom/dental dam supply well stocked and close at hand, for example, and not something you have to rummage for, or god forbid, run down to the corner store for.

And then, bring out the item(s) that you would like to be needing, BEFORE you need them, and just keeping it chill, you know, “I just want to be ready.” Then you can keep on with your making out, get back into the zone in case one of you fell out of it, and then, when you do need the protection because things are about to Go Down (see what I did there?), there’s not a big fuss.

NOW, on for some thoughts around the Safe-Sex Sexification Program! Lucky for you, people have been wrestling with this for decades, I would say, since HIV popped up its head. You can google this shit and find decent tips all over the place, things like

  • take turns getting the protection in place
  • try out different varieties of condoms and dams
  • incorporate role play scenarios into it (wearing gloves while putting the protection in place, a la Doctor)
  • learn that whole putting-it-on-with-your-mouth thing
  • go to TOWN on food play, like drizzling caramel sauce on their cunt. If you’ve got enough coverage with the dental dam, you can build a whole fucking sundae down there, with all the toppings. (Don’t forget the tarp.)
  • SAY HELLO BONDAGE AND BODY ENCASING, like gimp suits and plastic wrap and cock sheaths.

Yes, staying healthy is the main point, but our brains seem to resist being told to do things for our health. I think my own personal inclination would be to experiment with the safer-sex supplies as props, as toys that you can play with, rather than health supplies.


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ADVICE FROM A PHONE WHORE: four quick ways to step into a new-to-you role

Before I did phone sex for a living, I would have told you that I didn’t have a dominant bone in my sexual body. Didn’t want it, and didn’t think I could do it. But then I started phone work and I had to learn it, because that’s what women with my kind of voice (“mature”) get slotted into with phone sex.

Fortunately for me, I discovered a few approaches that worked to get me in that head space.(Read about some of my early domme strategies here.) Fortunately for you, these approaches work for any kind of role play. So if your partner wants to try something that just “isn’t you,” give these a shot to help get you there:

Take traits that you already have and BLOW THEM UP. Really push it out to extremes. As I mentioned in the linked post, I found that some of my clients really enjoyed it when I would get super articulate on their ass, teasing them, fencing with my words. It was one of my favorite fem-dom things to do, because it wasn’t really removed from my usual self so it was easy, and if a challenge ever did come up, I could respond well because I was really grounded in my own self.

Find some traits that you don’t have and PLAY. These could be psychological traits or just facts. Are you a nice girl in real life? Try on being a Steel-Toed Bitch for a night; really let loose with some viciousness. Are you a sub with a slutty streak but not a stitch of bad-girl clothing to your name? Take some time with your dom/me to describe your fantasy wardrobe in excruciating detail. 

Get or give information in character. Start your playtime before the playtime starts by getting in some kind of character before asking your lover for details. If you are the boss, have the conversation about what you want to do, while your lover is in a computer chair and you are sitting on the desk above them. If you are a slutty house-wench in the queen’s castle, pull your blouse down a heap and try talking with your face always downcast.

Respond to uncertainty in character. If you’re playing a student in a role-play game, and you don’t understand what your teacher dom/me is asking you to do, ask for clarification as if you actually were a student: ask for permission to speak, maybe raise your hand, make sure to use the correct form of address. Stay in character!

Of course, you should deal with the important details—safe words and who has the bedroom with the thickest, most soundproof walls—before the scene, face to face, as two consenting adults. But once you’ve gotten that stuff down, you can learn and internalize the ropes surprisingly quickly if you just step into it and calibrate your exact shade of role-play both to your own personality AND to the character itself.


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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “how do I get this glitter out of my cervix?”

The quandaries of festival sex: HOW DO I GET THIS GLITTER OUT OF MY CERVIX???!!!

If you’re having painful penetrative sex post-festival, and you feel pretty sure that extreme intra-vadge glitter is the culprit, I would get thee to a doctor and ask for their opinion. My general understanding is that vaginal douching is a terrible thing—it would just push glitter further up, for starters, and irritate the membranes—but I imagine that it might be medically necessary in some specific instances, and the doctor would be able to advise on best practices, if not actually do the procedure for you.

If you’re NOT in pain, and you’re just worried that every time you wipe after peeing you’re getting glitter on the TP, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. Burlesquers and strippers have been living with glittery bits for ages. A well-functioning vagina has mucous that will keep the glitter moving along.

This question made me think of all of the other challenges of festival sex, and what are some preventative measures that festival-goers should take:

  • MUD IN ORIFICES (or playa dust, for Burners). This is kinda unavoidable, when you’re doing the deed out in nature. However, you can minimize the impact by reducing the exposure of your fucking area to the elements (e.g. a tent) and keeping a wash cloth or sponge and a bit of clean water aside to wash up before and after, whatever your bits are. If you have a good way to keep your garbage together, there are wipes for before/after that work. I will say that the idea of having certain kinds of sex, like butt sex, out in festival conditions makes me feel a little queasy—like there is no way to be as clean as I need to be—but you do you, darling. Just remember that you’re not going to have running water anywhere near you.
  • Drink enough water for a number of reasons, not the least of which is keeping your pussy in proper working order (natural lube!). And normal pounding sex can be exhausting under normal conditions, never mind when you’re tired and hungover and layering more booze or drugs on top of that.
  • 99 percent of festival goers the world over agree: clothes are a pain in the ass when it comes to fest-sex. They get in the way, and if they don’t get lost or left in a stranger’s tent, they get juicy spots on them that are not going to smell or look nice after 72 hours of not washing. Consider going commando, and definitely pack in skirts, whatever your gender, if you know you want to be fooling around. Skirts or kilts are the ultimate easy-access sex attire.

Y’all, these are clearly a very specific set of circumstances that I will, god willing, never be in again (I went to Burning Man in 1999 and 2001). I am not a neat freak, but I do like a shower nearby for freshening up as and when needed, and that is not something one can really expect at a festival. So all I can say, when I look at the issues of glitter vadge and spoogy fest clothes is: good luck, and isn’t that the sort of thing you like to tell stories about anyway?


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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “I want to get more involved in kink event, but I’m too anxious”

I want to get more involved at kink events, but I'm too anxious and self-conscious. What can I do to ease myself in?

It’s not clear from this question if today’s fuckbucketeer means involved, like, being on the senior prom committee or involved like getting their frequent flogger card stamped at the local dungeon, but both interpretations call for more or less the same approach, with a bit of fine-tuning.

If "involved" here means getting to play more, or feeling more comfortable about showing up at active kink events and getting some action, then we can turn to the last fuckbucket for the answer. That advice-seeker wanted to know how to find the fun events in the first place, and my main point was simple: it’s very difficult to find play on its own. You can't just insert yourself into a sex party without knowing people non-sexually first.

The more connections you have with people—real, person-to-person connections—the easier it is to be aware of play environments and be invited into them. Show up at the munches regularly, make a deal with yourself to talk to the people on either side of you at the pub table (give yourself a reward afterward, too!), participate thoughtfully in online discussions… these are just a few ways to get more involved in and connected with the kink community or communities where you live.

Once you have made the connections and gotten into the kink events, those awkward feelings will still come up. If you’re not used to public kink—and most of us aren’t, at first—you will not know where to look. This is okay. Many dungeons have orientation sessions, and some kink communities offer workshops, for new folks. General etiquette: don’t stare too much, don't touch without asking, and if you see a person whose look you like, just talk with them for a few minutes and then pop the question.

Now, if you’re talking about getting involved in the kink community in a more social sort of way, like wanting to get “into the club,” the same basic rules apply. You need to have people get to know you as a person. Show up and don’t worry about whether anyone is going to want to get with you.

Other things you can do:

Volunteer your ass off. Be of service. Pick an event that you are curious about, and check out volunteer opportunities. If they don’t have anything listed on the web site, just drop them an email. Offer for positions that you have skills in, or even in areas where you want to develop skills (sound equipment or dungeon safety or whatever). Bonus: this is also a great way to get into an event for a reduced rate or for free!

Skip that whole “fashionably late” game. The times when I’ve tried that, I just ended up feeling more lost, because everyone else had already met and were already getting their game on. Get there on time, and ask what you can do to help, because even experienced party hosts will have last-minute party crises.

Put down your phone. I know. It’s difficult. At kink events like play parties, probably phones aren’t allowed out beyond the cloak room anyway. But even at munches or other non-play events, if you are looking to make connections with people, you have to be present for them.

Find the other people by themselves. You will not be the only one feeling self-conscious. But if you make yourself a social director with an assignment—talk to other soloists for a few minutes a piece—it will a) feel like you’re being useful and b) take you out of your own misery for a little while. And part of what feels awkward for me about being at events is the idea that other people will see me off by my lonesome and they will think I’m a loser. (I know, sometimes we are still in high school.) But if you are out there talking to people you’re not alone.

NOTE TO THE REGULARS AT THESE EVENTS: See how people stress out about this shit? Make it easier on them: be welcoming, introduce people to other people, let new folks help. Even if your kink social awakening was effortless, be aware that not everyone’s is. Most people’s aren’t. Besides, socializing new folks well is one of the ways that we can help make kinky community safer and more awesome for everyone, ourselves included.


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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “how does one get invited to a sex party?”

How does one get invited to/find out about a sex party?

Step 1
Network your ass off, that is, make friends with people who might throw sex parties, or who know about sex parties. Don’t make friends with them only because they might be party-throwing- or knowing-about perverts; that is super exploitative and creepy. But if you are feeling like everyone in your current circle of acquaintance might judge you if you mentioned anything about going to such a party, now might be a good time to broaden your friendship networks a bit.

Best places to meet these people are munches or sloshes: social gatherings for kinksters. Generally munches are held in places that aren’t focused on booze, and sloshes are held in pubs and bars, etc. Just about any online swing/kink site will have some kind of listings for this, but Fetlife.com is the first place I would recommend for finding munches. Like most communities online, it has lots of assholes, creeps, and people pretending to be people that they aren’t. However, when you drill down into the places category, the regional and city groups on Fetlife are pretty reliable ways to find people in your area.

There will be announcements about munches, as well as… wait a minute, there are some sex parties listed here, too! You could just skip the munches and head straight out to the parties, right?

WHOA THERE, BUCKEROO. You could just go to the sex parties and the monthly dungeon play parties, just pay your money at the door or buy that membership or whatever. But you’re going to show up at those things and not know anyone, and you’re still gonna feel left out of the loop. Take it from me: being a wallflower at a play party, when you really want to play, is one of the worst kinds of wallflower to be.

Step 2
Take the time to get to know people in your community first, even if, hell, especially if you don’t want to have sex with them or flog them or anything. Munches or sloshes are good, as are workshops at dungeons or local sex toy stores. If you’re lucky enough to have a sex/sexuality convention or sex-geek convention within easy traveling distance, that’s a bigger step to take, but you will definitely have the opportunity to meet lots of people at once, if you’ve got the personality to handle all of that interacting.

Step 3
BE CHILL, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Don’t get all wrapped up in finding this party that you want so bad. The right party will emerge when you are putting in the effort to socialize properly and you’re ready for it, whether it’s a commercial dungeon or a hotel room orgy at a con, or a Cards-against-Humanity game that went right off the rails.

In the meantime, do not keep pestering your new-found friends about whether they know of any sex parties. Do not have that be the only question people see you posting about on the private FB group. Do not ask that question continually at munches. This shit is creepy; don’t do it. Asking everyone the same question over and over—“do you know where the party is this weekend?”—makes you like one-track and desperate, and that is not an attractive look on anyone.

Generally, people want to meet and befriend other people who have at least a little bit of a personality. You want to show that you are capable of being entertaining and friendly, because most sex parties have a lot of downtime and you want to show your potential hosts that you can do more than suck dick or make happy porno noises.

Step 4
Go ahead and check out the commercial offerings that are out there. Again, Fetlife regional groups will frequently have posts for the clubs and dungeons in those areas. Whatever else you do, I encourage you to go with someone you trust, whether that's a partner or a friend. And do the research for these clubs before you get there. Different parties, both private and commercial, have different codes of conduct; some allow only non-penetrative BDSM-oriented play, others are fine with whatever. Most have some sort of dress code to follow as well. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Finally, I want to put out there a radical Step 5:
Talk to your existing friends about your interest! Maybe not everyone, maybe only one friend. This might feel scary, but listen: if you are not in the habit of talking with your friends about your sex life, you have no way of knowing what their sex lives are like, either. They may have a monthly Groupon for orgies! Or their friend may be the dungeon master at the play party down the road. You don't know unless you put yourself out there a little. Again, you gotta be chill and not just dump it on unwilling listeners; that way is truly Creepville. But if you have people in your friend circle already who you feel are already close enough for this conversation, give it a shot. You really never know.

Good luck!


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