23 Things I Learned About Sex & Relationships At Age 23


Today’s my 24th birthday! It’s a good day to reflect on the past year, because I think 23 was my most transformative and educational year yet. I banged and dated a bunch of different people, and it was essentially a crash course in emotional maturity and sexual confidence. Here are 23 of the most valuable lessons I learned about sex and relationships over the past year!

  1. I have a DD/lg kink. I first noticed these feelings back in late 2014 when a hot lawyer inspired some surprising fantasies in my bad little brain. In November I started seeing a dude who was muuuch kinkier and more kink-experienced than me, and when I disclosed to him that I had burgeoning DD/lg fantasies, he knew exactly what to do with that information. I still vividly remember the time I sassily asked him why I should follow his instruction to jerk off for him and he said, “Because you’re a good little girl.” It was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that to me before, and my vagina did cartwheels.
  2. Terrible mental health days are terrible kink days. At least, for me. If I’m already feeling extremely shaky, anxious, or depressed, kink tends to just worsen my mood. I learned my lesson from the time in January when an intense spanking on an already-anxious day made me burst into tears and sob deeply for several minutes while my confused partner tried to comfort me.
  3. but, kink can help with mental health. Paradoxical, yes – but for me, there’s a fine and important line between “too distraught to submit” and “just distraught enough that submitting will actually help.” Pain, punishment and praise can help shake me out of a poor mental health day, used judiciously with a trusted partner.
  4. I can have casual sex… with people I don’t really like. Sex tends to open up my emotional floodgates, intensifying any burgeoning crush-y feels that already exist there. I was able to have some casual, feels-free fuckbuddies this year, but only because we didn’t click romantically. This is useful info for me to know going forward, though it does mean I’m incapable of being “chill” with anyone I even remotely like.
  5. I like pain (in some places). I’ve dabbled in spanking over the years, but it wasn’t until age 23 that I really grasped how much pleasure I can get from pain. Getting my tits and/or ass slapped has become one of my favorite foreplay activities. I even like getting my hair pulled, a proclivity that used to mystify me.
  6. I love giving blowjobs. HOO BOY, this was a big theme of my year. My previous blowjob experience encompassed only one partner, and while he was lovely, his dick and my mouth just didn’t have chemistry. In broadening my BJ horizons, I’ve discovered how much I can crave having a cock in my mouth when the right one comes along. (I’ve gotten pretty damn good at it, too.)
  7. I’m more of a size queen than I thought. Remember when I first started this blog and dildos over 1.5″ in diameter were a stretch for me? That is certainly not the case anymore… Just ask my Eleven, Double Trouble, and Seaside Steamroller!
  8. I need to trust my intuition more. My anxiety is excellent at talking me out of what I know, deep down, to be true. When I let myself listen to my hunches, I can usually tell when someone is flirting with me, likes me, or wants to get in my pants – and it happens more often than my anxiety wants me to realize.
  9. Aftercare is important. Coming from a pretty vanilla history, I never thought much about the importance of aftercare until I really needed it. Fortunately, all my kinky partners this past year (and even the vanilla ones) gave me the post-sex cuddles and reassurances I needed.
  10. Most men like thigh-high socks. They just do.
  11. Sex is grown-up playtime. My favorite sex is the goofy, unstructured kind. I love trying stuff, experimenting, playing around. I’m happiest in sexual partnerships with people who are similarly fun-oriented, rather than goal-oriented.
  12. I like being pinned down. Have you ever had a moment where, suddenly and all at once, you noticed a kink of yours that you never knew you had? That was me last summer when a partner put a firm hand on my upper chest and held me down while finger-fucking me. I went from “huh, that feels pretty good” to “holy shit, I am coming right now!” in about three seconds flat. I’ve been pinned down during sex a bunch of times since then, with similar outcomes. Now that I know I like this, I want to get better at asking for it!
  13. Threesomes are fun, but not really my jam. I’ve gained a reputation among my friends for constantly having threesomes. I’ve only had two, but I guess that’s still more than the average person? In any case, while I enjoyed myself both times, I still prefer the intense, focused connection of a standard one-on-one encounter. (Talk to me in a month, though… I have a rather epic threesome coming up on my calendar that might get me more on board with group sex.)
  14. When you’re sad, sometimes you just gotta feel your feelings. A couple of painful rejections left me in emotional shambles at times this year. I spent a lot of time crying on friends’ shoulders and saying things like, “I’m just so sad! I don’t know what to do!” My friends are fantastic and a lot of the advice they gave me boiled down to this: it’s okay to be sad when sad shit happens. Don’t try to run away from those feelings or distract yourself from them; just live in them for a while. It’s so much easier to move on when you’ve processed your feelings properly.
  15. You can like someone very, very much and they can still be wrong for you. You are not obligated to try to “make things work” with someone who’s a deeply bad match for you. Even if they’re a good person. Even if you adore them in many ways. Even if they don’t understand your reasoning.
  16. Platonic kink is a thing. I learned so much about kink this year, including that it can exist independently of sex. I have friends who fuel me by calling me a “good girl” when I finish my work; I have friends who phone me and speak to me in commanding, daddy-dom tones to calm me down when I’m anxious; I have friends whose kinks I know intimately and (consensually) use to guide them into healthier and happier behaviors. Kink is more than a sexual interest; it can be a psychological tool, a powerful motivator, a framework in which to understand yourself and your place in the world.
  17. Twitter is a great place to meet sexual partners. Half of the new people I banged at age 23 are folks I met on Twitter. Obviously it’s a problematic space and women receive a lot of harassment and abuse through tweets and DMs, but I’ve also built an audience there of clever, compassionate sex nerds, some of whom are pretty great sex partners.
  18. When you like someone, it’s okay to act like you like them. My anxiety makes this tricky, because even the smallest braveries feel like ballsy overtures to me. But I’m working on it. More people should know that they’re cute, and I should tell ’em.
  19. Don’t stake your mood on other people’s behavior. Most of my miserable-est days this year were the result of me believing, “If [person] would just [action], I could be happy right now.” I learned that I need to either change my expectations, or try to make things happen myself; waiting for someone else to read your mind and do what you want them to do is a fool’s errand.
  20. Anxiety-friends are invaluable flirting sherpas. This is no joke: I owe most of my romantic and sexual success this past year to Bex. Any time I didn’t know how to interpret a romantic interest’s flirty behavior, or couldn’t parse a cryptic text, or needed a push in a flirty direction, I went to them for advice. I have other “anxiety-friends,” too, who are willing and able to answer texts like, “[Person] said [thing], are they into me?!” and “What do I wear to a date-that-might-not-be-a-date?!”
  21. I like anal sexI wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, because my past adventures with butt plugs and anal beads had been inconsistently pleasurable. But, holy fuck, I was into it and I want to do it more.
  22. I don’t need (or want) monogamy, but I do need to feel special. I don’t mind having partners who have other partners. (Yay, #PolyLyfe and compersion!) But I do need my partners to make me feel valued, seen, and focused on when we spend time together. I received a few propositions this year from folks who date/bang a lot of people, and I learned that that only ever feels okay to me if they clearly like me for me – not because they like dating/banging whoever. I’m definitely not anti-promiscuity and there’s nothing wrong with being slutty! I just need a side order of emotional connection with my sluttiness.
  23. Life is too short for bad sex. I believe there are two main ways to be bad at sex: you can be bad at technical skills (“He kisses like a snake!” “Her fingering rhythm is inconsistent!”), and you can have a bad attitude about sex (“He refused to use toys on me!” “She got all sulky when she couldn’t get me off!”). I’d rather be with an enthusiastic newbie than a mopey pro any day. If you’re fun to bone, I’ll probably gladly teach you how I like to be fucked so you’ll know for next time – but if you’re a sad and draining lay, there probably won’t be a “next time.” I’ve raised my standards enough to say no to bad sex – because, frankly, I’d rather just masturbate.


Here’s to another sexy, educational year!