This is a post by one of my Spring 2013 interns, Rebecca. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna
Alright! Alright…we know we have gone astray, but how do we get back on track? How do we continue to improve our sex lives? Following are three simple tricks you may start playing with next time you are getting frisky in the bedroom. These tricks of the trade can and will (if you decide to use them) have a huge impact on your sex life. Alright? Alright. First, talk about your body…parts. Second, provide feedback. Third, consider agreeing upon a word, phrase, motion, or set of motions that lets your partner know where you stand.
Talk about your body! That’s right! It is time to let go of the “down there” lingo and actually say what you are referring to. There is a high cost (you know…mediocre sex) for being general when you are referring to your body. You know, because there is a lot down there. I am a huge proponent of anatomically correct language, because why not draw upon an already existing mutual vocabulary that is smashingly specific? However, some individuals find anatomical language: strangely anatomic. Everyone needs to find language that works for them. Now, that isn’t a get out of jail free card! You still need to “find” that language if you haven’t already. If you presently don’t have a label for your “down there,” then challenge yourself to use a label. If you presently have a label for one part of your body try becoming even more specific (i.e. penis, head, shaft). If you are all about the labels, try bouncing around label genres to create different moods (i.e. using anatomically correct when being romantic or slang when being frisky). The labeling process may feel odd at first, but the more you do it, the less awkward it will feel.
Alright, next we want to provide feedback while getting intimate. Positive feedback! Every time you are with your partner sexually, find one thing they are doing that you particularly enjoy, and then tell them, “I like the way you are touching me there,” or “oh yes, keep doing that.” Then the next time you are with them, pick something else they are doing that you are digging and vocalize that. The reason I am a huge fan of this technique is because vocalizing what you like eventually results in well-deserved confidence for your partner (and yourself, if you both practice this) because your partner turns into a pleasure-giving machine. Although they may not start out this way, the more you tell them what you like, they will ease up on the stuff they aren’t getting positive feedback on and hone in on the stuff that you tell them you enjoy. Very quickly your partner will have a menu of all your favorite things. Wouldn’t you like a list of their top ten favorite things? Wouldn’t that make you feel just that much more confident in the bedroom?
Sometimes in the heat of a moment, you get sucked into territory you didn’t expect. What if you unexpectedly feel uncomfortable? Or the moment brings up a history of emotions? Or you just don’t like the way the interaction feels anymore? There is something really nice about have a predetermined words or motion to communicate desires that are may be difficult to say in the moment. A motion, such as a tap on the shoulder, means “I’m not sure how I feel about this. Can we back off for a second?”
As far as words go, many individuals enjoy the red/yellow/green code. Red means stop right there and don’t you move a muscle! Yellow means, I’m not too sure how I feel about this, let’s slow down, maybe talk about it, maybe not and green means Yes! YES! The red/yellow/green code is particularly nice because of the yellow aspect. We often think of sexual interactions as black or white, where we want something or we don’t. In reality, our sexual experiences involve experimentation, which results in grey areas. The yellow allows for that nuance. Yellow says, “Maybe if the licking was done just a little different you would love it,” or “this is too much for me today, let’s come back to it tomorrow.”
Motions are the exact same idea. Tapping their chest could be red, tapping on either shoulder could be yellow, and deep pressure into their upper arms could be green. Having a motion may be an excellent substitute for a word, because sometimes yelling “Oh my gosh! You fierce animal you! Green!” is challenging to make sexy. Then again, sometimes it isn’t.
The code system may be particularly useful for survivors of sexual violence. It is common for survivors to experience emotional triggers during sexual interactions that bring them back to their assault(s). Triggers can happen unexpectedly even with partners they love. Having a word or motion to help a survivor communicate their needs can help a survivor say what they need to, during a highly emotional moment when typical phrases might fail them. Considering the high rates of sexual violence in this country (1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18, 1 in 3 women in their lifetime), there is (unfortunately) a good chance that at some point in your life you may engaged sexually with a survivor, whether you are aware of their history or not. Incorporating predetermined words or motions to communicate one’s desires may provide a safety net for a survivor when traditional phrases such as “stop” or “slow down” may be even more difficult for them to say. Setting up these boundaries may provide extra support to an individual in need without you ever knowing.
These three fabulous tricks (if I do say so myself), of course, only touch base on a few communication skills. Nevertheless, these may be a nice place to start. Challenge yourself. I think you’ll be surprised how just talking to your partner about what you are doing will be both liberating and empowering.