Here is a paradox for you:
When I do any kind of online dating, or even (gasp!) in-person dating, “I have a sex blog” is one of the first pieces of information I always reveal about myself. It acts simultaneously as a conversation starter and a filter, scaring away the people who are intimidated by open sex-positivity while pulling in those who are intrigued by it.
But it also starts the interaction on a wacky, imbalanced note – because everyone has different notions about how they “should” talk to a sex blogger, and it’s rare that that notion is just “treat her like a regular person.”
I recently made the not-entirely-thought-out decision to link my Tinder account to my Instagram page. Naturally, a sea of dudes immediately followed me. The number of messages in my Tinder inbox, and the intensity of their creepiness, shot up.
This shouldn’t be surprising. And some people would say, “What did you expect? Why do you put that information in your profile if you don’t like the reactions it gets you?”
This feels like borderline victim-blaming, but I’m not even 100% comfortable making that claim. Because, yes, I am a sex blogger and should therefore theoretically be okay with receiving sexual attention. It’s what I’ve “signed up for,” especially when I’m interacting on already-sexual platforms like Tinder.
But, ugh. I don’t mind if people get sexual with me sometimes – it just has to be consensual, and for fuck’s sake, polite.
I think it surprises some people to discover that although I am a sex blogger, I am not actually a nymphomaniac. (There’s nothing wrong with having a super high libido or with pursuing lots of sexual experiences and/or partners. That’s just not really who I am or what I do.)
I have always had an interest in sexuality as a topic. It’s almost a theoretical or academic fascination for me. I know a lot about it, I think a lot about it, I find it compelling to talk about and learn about – but my life doesn’t actually revolve around the act of sex itself. I, like most people, am way more complex and nuanced than That One Thing you happen to know about me.
When someone learns about my sex blogging right off the bat, too often they put me on a weird pedestal where I’m supposed to perform the role of the “sexy lady.” I feel boxed into explicit conversations, high expectations, and being “up for anything.”
And let’s be real: I am definitely not sexy 100% of the time. I am goofy and strange, shy and awkward. I have interests and hobbies (so many!) that have nothing to do with sex. And if I’m going to date someone – or even just fuck them – I want them to know that. I want them to see the totality of me, acknowledge me, accept me, approve of me.
I’ve been dating a lot lately (ugh!/yay!) and have encountered two dudes who illustrated polar opposite ends of the “how (not) to treat a sex blogger” spectrum:
One guy fixated on my sex-related work. He asked me endless questions about my personal sexual tastes, which is pretty inappropriate for someone you’ve just met. He took my work as an invitation to fast-track our relationship toward sexytimes, even as I was pretty clearly pumping the brakes.
I tried to introduce other aspects of my personality, and other hobbies of mine, like I would do with anyone I was getting to know. I mentioned my journalistic work, my music, my improv background. I also asked him about his work and hobbies, scrounging for anything to talk about other than sex. But he kind of ignored me and kept hounding me about my sex life, fantasies and desires, as if there was literally nothing else of value in my whole brain.
The second guy, thank goodness, treated me like an actual human. We talked about my work, and he clearly found it interesting, but he didn’t press me for details and we didn’t get too personal. He’d periodically make a comment like, “We can talk about something else if you want; you probably get tired of talking about this stuff,” giving me an opportunity to change the subject if I wanted to. But because he was being so respectful, I actually loved our sex chats. He understood my fascinations with things like sexual ethics and the origins of kinks, and we talked for literal hours about sexuality in a way that was neither boring nor creepy. We also talked about other interests and pursuits, mine and his.
This guy was hesitant to make a move – not that it’s always the man’s responsibility to take initiative, because it isn’t – and it turned out he was worried I’d think he was creepy if he assumed I’d be DTF just ’cause I’m a sex blogger. I was DTF, but it wasn’t because I write about sex – it was because I loved spending time with him, felt totally comfortable with him, and found him incredibly attractive. (Amazing how sex bloggers’ attractions work just like other people’s attractions, huh?!)
This has all been pretty rambly so far, so here are some actionable items if you want to interact with someone who blogs about sex or works in some other sex-related field. (Keep in mind that these suggestions are based on what I prefer and value; as always, everyone is different so your mileage may vary.)
- Ask me about non-sex-related stuff too. Remember that sex blogging is my job, not my whole life. Would you ask your dentist friend to look at your teeth on the daily? Would you ask your lawyer friend to explain tort law to you when they’d just worked an 8-hour court day? Probably not. I have other shit going on, which I will gladly tell you about if you ask me what’s up. Listen, pay attention, follow the natural flow of the conversation like you would with any normal human.
- Give me an “out.” Despite what I just said, I actually do like talking about sex – in the right context, with the right kind of people, some of the time. I work in this field because it fascinates me. If you’re getting the sense that I might be uncomfortable or bored with our current conversation, give me an easy opportunity to shift topics. I will if I want to.
- Don’t get too personal. Unless we’re close friends, fucking on the regular, or maybe slightly drunk, I probably don’t want to tell you about my kinks and fantasies in too much detail. They might come up in the course of a conversation but please don’t badger me for specifics and examples. If I feel comfortable with you and it feels appropriate for the type of conversation we’re having, I might open up, but I’m not required to.
- Likewise, don’t dump your TMI sex secrets on me. Or at least, don’t assume it’s okay to do this. There are definitely contexts in which this is okay and feels natural… but please oh please read my non-verbal and verbal cues and stop that shit if I seem uncomfortable. (Or just ask, “Is this okay? Do you want me to stop talking about this?”) I may not feel able to straight-up tell you, “I’m not comfortable talking about this,” either because I don’t know you well enough to know if I can trust you or because I am trying to be sex-positive and avoid shaming you for the desires or experiences you’re expressing to me.
- When bringing up stuff you’ve read on my blog, my social media, etc., start small and see how it goes. It is gross if you immediately say something like, “That selfie you posted today gave me a boner,” or, “Reading your review of that dildo made me wish I could use it on you.” (You would be surprised how many guys think it is okay to open with lines like this!) If you want to talk about something you saw me post online, bring it up subtly, tactfully, and in such a way that I can easily navigate away from the topic if I’m uncomfortable.
- Don’t assume I want to fuck you. It is okay to flirt with me, respectfully; it is okay to have a crush on me, and to express those feelings; but please don’t take my sex-blogger-ness as a substitute for the positive signals you would normally look for when flirting with someone. If I’m talking about sex a lot, it may or may not be an indicator of my feelings for you – but if I’m laughing at all your jokes, blushing, giggling, maintaining eye contact, leaning in close, making excuses to touch you, and doing all the other things that smitten-and-flirty people do, then you can take that as a green light, same as you would with any kind of person. ‘Cause guess what? I am a person!
Sex bloggers and other inhabitants of sexual fields: how do you navigate the dating world while being true to yourself but also discouraging creeps? Non-sex-world folks: is there anything else you’d like to know about how to approach dating/courting/fucking people like me, in a respectful way?