How to Disclose Your Non-Monogamy on a Dating App

While I’ve been “non-monogamous in theory” for years, I have limited experience being non-monogamous in practice. I recently started dating someone who has been polyamorous for a while, and has two steady partners other than me – and while it’s been difficult, I’m viewing it as an invitation to step up to the plate and take on the challenge I’ve claimed to want for ages. I am finally going to learn some real-life poly skills and see if I can hack it.

One of the first challenges I’ve come up against – other than my old friends, jealousy, greed, and anxiety – is figuring out how to pursue other dates ethically and honestly. I don’t want to downplay or lie about the existence of my boyfriend, but I also don’t want to make new potential beaux feel like there’s no room for them in my life. I don’t want to spend too much time and energy explaining polyamory to diehard monogamists, nor do I want to exclude people who’ve been monogamous thus far but are curious about their other options.

So many considerations! So let’s start with something small: how to communicate on your dating profile that you are, indeed, polyamorous. Here are some suggestions…

Choose your venue wisely. OkCupid and Tinder are full of young and/or socially liberal people, so you may have better luck with those than you would with services geared toward older folks seeking a marriage-track relationship, like Match and eHarmony. If you want to skip the hassle of disclosing your non-monogamy altogether, you could join a dating site designed specifically for non-monogamous people, like SwingTowns.

Consider what level of privacy you need. Whether because of your career, your family, or some other factor, you might not feel comfortable telling the entire internet that you’re non-monogamous. If that’s the case, it might be best for you to use dating sites where your profile isn’t publicly visible, or that have that option (on OkCupid, for example, you can check “Only allow other members to see my profile” in the settings panel). You could also try mentioning your relationship status within your first few messages instead of disclosing it publicly on your profile, though this is likely to be a lot of extra work on your part when monogamous folks decide to respectfully (or not-so-respectfully) ghost you afterward.

Use the app’s built-in relationship status feature, if it has one. Some dating sites allow you to set your relationship status alongside other relevant info like your gender and sexual orientation. Indicating your non-monogamous status makes it easier for monogamous people to filter you out of their search results, and communicates your “deal” to any profile-lurkers at a glance. However, some people don’t read this info (and some dating apps, like Tinder, don’t even have a structured way for you to provide it), so you may still need to do the legwork of explaining yourself in messages after all.

List your important identities upfront. Lots of people I asked on Twitter said this is their main strategy in online-dating while poly: they roll out their most vital identity words in the opening paragraph(s) of their profile. This might look a lot like my current Twitter bio: “Cis bi kinky non-monogamous femme feminist.” I think these are all important things for people to know, especially if they’re considering dating me. Front-loading this info makes it likelier that your potential paramours will actually read it, and will hopefully spare you some grief and lots of time and energy.

Define your terms. Some people don’t have a precise idea of what “polyamorous” means (let alone other non-monogamy terms like “swinger,” “polyfidelity,” “solo poly” or “primary partner”), so it’s helpful to explain exactly what you mean. For example, my Tinder bio currently includes this: “I’m poly: dating someone rad, and looking for dates/adventures/potential relationships with other cuties.” This hopefully reduces some of the stigma, anxiety, and confusion that might fill someone’s head when they read the word “poly” and aren’t sure what it means. It’s a succinct summary of how I am currently doing poly, and what that might mean for my partners.

Be prepared to explain yourself. Even if you think you’ve been clear in your profile text, folks still might have additional questions. Of course, you don’t have to answer missives you find rude, invasive, or exhausting – but it is part of ethical non-monogamy to ensure people know what they’re getting into before they get into it. (Informed, enthusiastic consent, and all that!) These convos might happen in your first few messages, or on your first few dates, but they should happen at some point. Set boundaries, establish expectations, talk about feelings. It’s all part of the process!

Unmatch ruthlessly as needed. Some people will be jerks about you being non-monogamous. That’s just a fact of life as any kind of “sexual deviant,” unfortunately. But you don’t have to put up with it. Hit “unmatch” or “block” or “report” or whatever the site-specific equivalent is, and move on with your day. Fuck the haterz.

Non-monogamous folks: what are your best tips for disclosing and discussing your non-monogamy on a dating site/app? Got any horror stories or success stories to share?

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

5 Ways I Flirt As a Submissive

1. Unprompted service. Three weeks ago, we went out to lunch and you ordered a Mill Street lager. Tonight, I show up for our scheduled fuckdate at your house, carrying a six-pack of Mill Street lagers. If you were a vanilla boy, maybe you’d seem surprised, or embarrassed that you didn’t get me anything in return. But you’re a dom perv who gets off on my diligent service, so you just take the beers from me, put them in the fridge, and say, “That was very good of you.” I quiver in my boots.


Halfway through explaining to a customer how a particular vibrator works, you accidentally drop its instruction manual on the sex shop’s tile floor. Without speaking, interrupting your pitch, or even giving it any thought, I kneel down and scoop up the booklet from under the toy counter where it fell. “Oh, you don’t have to –” you start, but then I hand it to you from a kneeling position before you, we lock eyes, you set your jaw, and you murmur with a small smile, “Thanks.”


2. Complimenting your dominant qualities. “Time to sweep and mop,” you bark, when there’s an hour left til closing time. Then your tone softens: “Sorry, that was bossy. Time to sweep and mop, please.

En route to the supply closet to grab the broom, I retort over my shoulder, “It’s okay; I like it when you’re bossy.” I hear the pause as you process this, and then you reply, “I’m not sure how to take that…” I grin. And then I get to sweepin’.


Your cat is being an asshole: scratching at the door, yowling incessantly, fucking shit up. You say his name sharply, in the tone of a dad who’s just walked in on his kid drinking chocolate milk straight from the carton.

“I’m really weirdly into it when you get dom-y with the cat,” I enthuse swoonily. Your eyes slide over to me and narrow in mild confusion. “Yeah?” you say, and I nod, wishing you’d speak to me sometime with the sternness you reserve for misbehaving calicos.


3. Alluding to past experiences. At her request, you hit our friend with a leather riding crop so she can see what it feels like. “Wow! I’m surprised that didn’t leave a bruise,” she says, minutes later, as she examines the spot in a mirror. “Crops don’t usually bruise that much,” you and I both start to say, in different words but echoing the same sentiment. Our eyes meet. I feel a hot pop of recognition – the electric familiarity that clicks into gear when kinksters spot fellow kinksters. Oh, hello.


My friend finishes our lengthy spanking session, and I push myself up off the sex club’s gorgeous leather spanking bench, freshly and darkly bruised. “How was that?” you ask. “A good warm-up?” It’s a joke, but it’s also a challenge, a barometer, a test.

“I’ve had worse,” I reply with a saucy shrug. And then I take the paddle my friend was hitting me with and place it in your hands. I don’t know what you’ll do with it, if anything, but I’m curious to find out.


4. Honorifics. We hug goodbye outside the diner after a cozy breakfast. “Be good,” you tell me as we part ways. I shout back, “Yes, sir!” and watch the bemused smile bloom on your face.


We’re at a party, and I make a dumb joke that doesn’t land quite right. Someone calls me an awkward turtle, and I shake my head and inform them, “I’m not a turtle. I am an awkward bunny.

You look at me with cool appraisal and say, “A bunny, huh? Yeah, I can see that.”

How did you know that “bunny” is one of my kink honorifics, despite the totally vanilla nature of the conversation in which it appeared? I have no idea. You have sub-dar, apparently. And it’s working. I attempt to swallow the sudden dry lump in my throat, and reiterate: “Yeah. I’m a bunny.”


5. “Is that an order?” We tread water in the heated pool under the stars. “Is the deep end really deep?” I ask conversationally, and you say, “Nah. You could definitely swim to the end and back, no problem.”

I bite my lip. “Are you telling me to do that?”

“No,” you say immediately, “you don’t have to,” and I exhale the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I do it anyway, like it’s a dare from the dom you unfortunately aren’t.


Plotting a threesome via text, I mention that multiple orgasms aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse. “What if you took a break from masturbating for a few days beforehand?” you posit. “Maybe we could get 3 out of ya ;)”

I pause, stare at my phone screen, try to breathe. And then I type a phrase so loaded for me, I’m almost scared to make it real by committing it to text. “Is that an order? ;)”

There is a minute of silence during which I become convinced I have scared you away forever by wanting too much from you, climbing too high on the kink ladder while you’re still meandering through the vanilla wilds below. But then your reply comes back: “That is an order. Are you gonna be a good girl and wait a few days for my cock?”

I scream at my phone, throw it across the room, and cover my face with my hands. I am going to be such a good girl for you, sir.

How Meta-Communication Can Make You a Great Flirt (Even If You’re Shy)

For years, I said, “I’m a bad flirt!” when what I really meant was, “I’m too shy to flirt!”

Then I got better at it, but I still said, “I’m a bad flirt!” when what I really meant was, “My flirting style is dorky and non-traditional, but still charming!”

Nowadays, though, I’ve learned more about flirting and the various ways it can be done – and I finally recognize that my approach to flirting is both valid and effective. My eyes widened when I first encountered the term “meta-communication” – i.e. communicating about communicating – with regards to flirting, because that is totally what I do. It has worked for me, whether I was engaging in monogamous or polyamorous dating, and I think it can work for you too!

Here are some of my favorite tips for flirting via meta-communication…

Acknowledge your flirting as such. This is effective for the same reason that it works well to use the word “date” when you ask someone on a date: it makes your intentions crystal-clear, sets your flirtee’s anxieties and uncertainties at ease, and – when done well – makes you come across as a smooth, bold, fearless flirt.

Examples:
“Is this a good time to flirt with you?”
“I’m really enjoying flirting with you; maybe we could do this more later?”
“Sorry, I get really flirty when I’m [tipsy/happy/super into someone].”
“Can I try out a ridiculous pick-up line on you?”
[cartoonishly over-the-top eyelash-batting, smouldering glances, etc.]

Acknowledge how you’re feeling. Flirting is so often portrayed as a performance, where you have to be an actor or a puppeteer – but it can be even more delicious to let your flirtee see what’s behind the curtain. You come across as more human and real when you cop to your emotional processes – and this also helps build rapport and trust, because your flirtee knows if you own up to your feelings, you’re likely to also tell the truth about other things later on.

Examples:
“I get really nervous around you ’cause you’re so cute!”
“If I wasn’t so shy, I’d make a dirty joke about what you just said, but…”
“I really wanna flirt with you, but I’m not sure I’m getting that vibe from you, so I’ll back off.”
“If I wasn’t so [tired/anxious/busy], I’d be flirting so hard with you right now… Maybe next time?”
“Sorry if I seem unfocused; I just can’t stop thinking about how good-lookin’ you are!”

Propose a hypothetical. This is a low-pressure way to gauge your flirtee’s reaction to things you want to do or say, or just to you in general. You’re giving the other person space to turn you down if they want to – but also giving them space to respond positively if that’s how they’re feeling.

Examples:
“What would you say if I told you you look super handsome in that suit?”
“What would you do if I said I wanted to kiss you right now?”
“I wouldn’t be mad if you gave me your phone number… In fact, I might even be thrilled!”
“If someone wanted to flirt with you but was really shy, what would be the best way for them to do that?”

Give them an opportunity to take things further. Consent is just as important in flirting as it is in sex, and you want to give your flirtee the same freedom to express or revoke consent that you’d give them if the two of you were bangin’. Much like the first-kiss technique advocated in the movie Hitch (“Go 90% of the way, then let her come to you“), this type of flirting clearly expresses your interest in the other person but leaves them room to decide how far they want to take things.

Examples:
“There are a lot of saucy things I want to say to you right now, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate…”
“If I have another drink, I’ll probably get reeeal flirty with you… Think I should?”
“Let me know if you’d ever want to go out on a date sometime; I’d love that!”
“I bet you’re an excellent kisser. Maybe I’ll find out someday; who knows?”
“I have to go [talk to another friend/do something else], but come find me later if you want to be shamelessly flirted with some more!”

Here’s what’s important to keep in mind with all of these suggestions: flirting is very dependent on context, environment, and preexisting rapport. A lot of these lines won’t work if you just bust ’em out unprompted. But if you already have a good connection with someone, they seem potentially into you, and you want to express your interest in them without overwhelming them, some good meta-communicative flirting can be just the ticket!

Extra resources for flirting keeners:
• Reid Mihalko and Cathy Vartuli on being a better flirt, how to flirt when you’re shy, “the innuendo game,” and building rapport.
• Reid Mihalko talking about flirting on a swingers’ podcast.
• The School of Life on why, when, and how to flirt.
• Bex on being a flirting fetishist.
• Social anthropologist and “flirtologist” Jean Smith on the science of flirting.

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

10 Fun Ways to Indirectly Stimulate the Clit

You know that OkCupid question that’s like, “How much communication is ideal during sex?” and two of the answers are “A lot!” and “Just enough to get things right”? This question always throws me for a loop, because for me, “enough to get things right” is often “a lot.”

My clit, you see, is a diva, a snob, a picky toddler throwing a tantrum. It requires things to be just so. If you were to count up the words I’ve expended on instructing sexual partners over my lifetime, I’m sure at least half of them would be clit-focused. “Higher, please.” “A little softer.” “Can you go slower?” “Here, let me move your hand…”

The problem is that my clit is exquisitely sensitive – too sensitive, some might say, though I’m usually quite happy with its sensitivity level. But many of the cis men I bang, being accustomed (one can assume) to their own less-sensitive sexual response, go straight for my exposed clit like it’s a button they can mash until they win the game. They mean well, but they lack the nuanced know-how to please my delicate clit without overwhelming it. And I know I’m not the only one this is happening to: I’ve commiserated with many vulva-having friends about men whose clit-stim techniques are more painful than pleasurable.

Here, then, are some methods of indirect clit stimulation. Try them on your partner(s), or yourself, if a super-sensitive clit is part of your sex life. As with any new sexual exploration, be sure to communicate, check in, and adjust your touch according to its recipient’s wishes. And for the love of god, don’t skimp on the lube.

Dry-humping. Unf. Is there another sexual act so underrated as this one? I looove the process of getting turned on together by grinding body parts against other body parts while kissing, groping, and giggling. This endeavor is the sort of thing that often falls by the wayside as relationships become more established, but if I had my way, dry-humping would be a part of my sexual repertoire forevermore.

While makeouts and other fun things are happening, you can tease a partner’s clit by grinding your thigh, hip, or boner against it, while naked or clothed. Some people can even come from this friction alone. If spanking’s on the menu, the over-the-knee position is fantastic for indirect clit stim: your sub can writhe against your lap while you spank them, making them the filling of a delicious pain/pleasure sandwich. *sexually frustrated sigh*

Rub it through the hood. This has been my standard, go-to, failsafe masturbation technique for over a decade, so it seemed almost too obvious to include – and yet, many men I’ve been with have found this notion confusing, so I’m including it just incase.

The clitoral hood functions much like the foreskin of an intact penis: it serves to protect the underlying structure, keep it moist, and assist in frictionless pleasure. Like rubbing the foreskin up and down over the head of the penis, rubbing the clitoral hood over/around the clit stimulates all those yummy nerve endings without being as overwhelming as direct touch would be.

I like to have little circles rubbed on my clit hood; some people like up-and-down or side-to-side motions, or some combination thereof. Some people have a particular side of their clit that likes to be touched more than the other. Experiment, communicate, and see what works.

Squeeze the outer labia together. Using two or more fingers, do what Reid Mihalko calls “the Vulcan”: sandwich the clit between the two outer labia. From there, you can apply gentle pressure, squeeze your fingers together, roll ’em around, and so on.

This stimulates the head and shaft of the clitoris indirectly, and also puts pressure on the clitoral legs, an oft-ignored portion of the internal clitoris. This can be a fantastic warm-up/foreplay technique before you move on to more direct forms of stimulation, or it can be a delight all on its own.

Rub the mound. The pubic mound is the fleshy part above the clit. Rubbing this area – especially the spot toward the bottom of it, where it dips and starts to turn into the clitoral hood – can be a great way to stimulate the clit super indirectly. I like mine rubbed in big, firm circles with the flat of a partner’s palm, maybe while the heel of their hand is digging into my external G-spot. This makes a lovely warm-up for more intense stimulation.

Squeeze the inner labia together. You would think this wouldn’t feel all that different from doing the same with the outer labia, as mentioned above, but it can feel much more intense and targeted. Gently squeeze-‘n’-roll the shaft and head of the clit between the inner lips. Vary the pressure and location of your touch. See if you can feel the legs and bulbs of the internal clitoris under the skin.

Rub the vulval vestibule. The vestibule is the part of the vulva in between the clit and the vaginal opening. I just think of mine as the underside of my clitoral shaft. Know how blowjob guides always say that the underside of the shaft is the most sensitive part of a dick? Yeah, that’s true for many clitorides as well.

Very important: because this area is extremely sensitive for many folks, I would recommend using a lot of lube and a very light touch. I like mine stroked in a gentle, slow, up-and-down motion. Also make absolutely sure your hands are clean before attempting this, because the urethra is in this area and you do not want to get bacteria in there.

Jack it off. This technique can be affirming for folks who have vulvas and don’t identify as female, so I’m told. As for me, I just like it because I like clitoral shaft stimulation. Gently hold the shaft of the clit between your thumb and forefinger (this is easier to do when the clit is already aroused and engorged) and move the labia and hood up and down over it like a little foreskin on a little penis. Keep in mind that you probably don’t need to use as much pressure as you’d use on a penis, though, as always, check in with your partner if you’re not sure.

I’ve had some partners manage to jerk off my clit between two knuckles while they also had two other fingers inside me at the same time… but that takes some next-level coordination and dexterity. Practice and maybe one day you’ll get there!

Palm it. Lay your whole hand flat over the entire vulva. You can experiment with placement as per your person’s preferences, but I usually like the heel of the hand to rest just above my clit. Deep pressure in circular or up-and-down motions feels really good here; I find the warmth and weight of a partner’s hand on my junk both sexy and comforting.

Depending on the placement and size of your hand, you may also be able to penetrate the vagina with a few fingers while you do this, resulting in some great blended stimulation and maybe even a blended orgasm.

Vibrate it through clothes. This is my go-to recommendation whenever I talk to someone who owns a Magic Wand (or another super-powered vibe) and finds it uncomfortably strong. Each layer of clothing adds a little insulation between the vibrations and the nerve endings of the clit. If I’m wearing jeans or underwear with a defined seam up the centre of the crotch, applying vibration to that seam can feel direct and focused without overwhelming me with sensation. Plus, hey, there’s something satisfyingly lazy about not even having to disrobe to get off.

Vibrate beside it. If you place a decently strong vibrator on the pubic mound, vaginal opening, or one outer labia, the vibrations will stimulate the clit indirectly while also rumbling the parts of the internal clit that reside under whatever part you’re vibrating. It’s a delicious way to build arousal and engorgement in the area, and to tease a partner before giving them what they really crave.

Have you been with (or been) a person with a super-sensitive clit before? What are your favorite methods of indirect clit stim?

How to Deal With Pre-Date Nervousness

Oh, I can just picture it now. It’s almost every first date I’ve ever been on. My anxiety swells. My heart pounds. I obsess about my outfit, hair, and makeup – like I’m trying to dress as a “cool girl” for Halloween. I debate whether to text my date upon leaving the house; maybe a “See you soon!” text isn’t chill enough, but maybe radio silence is too cold. So many choices!

As I walk up to the bar, my mind races. What if we start talking and he mentions that he thinks feminism is a waste of time? What if he only wants to “find some easy pussy” or “grab local slags here” and doesn’t actually find me interesting at all? What if – horror of horrors – he thinks Adam Sandler is funny?!

The thing is, while my anxiety disorder runs me through the wringer before every date, it doesn’t have to. The dates themselves are never as bad as I worry they will be – and this whole nervous rigamarole could be avoided, or at least mitigated, if I had a great pre-date ritual solidly in place. Here are 10 of my best tips for shaking your jitters before you walk out the door to meet a new potential beau!

Have some go-to date outfits on hand. This just makes everything so much easier. Prepare a “uniform” of sorts (or a few different ones) that you can grab in a hurry when getting ready for a date, so you won’t have to waste precious mental energy on outfit composition. Oh, the geeky sartorial bliss of it!

This ensemble should have a silhouette that flatters your shape and makes you feel babely as hell, and maybe one or two “conversation pieces” – unusual garments or accessories that a date is sure to ask about. (“Oh, this old thing? I bought this from a loud, flirty man on a beach in Gozo just before we leapt into the Mediterranean sea…!”)

If you want to get extra nerdy about it, you can have different date uniforms for different types of dates. For example, I’ll often wear a low-cut dress and a cardigan if I’m going on a fancy dinner date, or a tank top tucked into a skirt if we’re just ducking into a dive bar. If you show up at your date feeling hot and neither overdressed nor underdressed, you’ll have won half the battle already!

Listen to great music. So basic, yet so effective. I have a Spotify playlist of all my favorite pump-up tunes – mostly a lot of up-tempo pop and hiphop – and it helps ease me into a foxy, energetic brainspace. I love to shimmy into my panties and stockings to a sexy Drake jam, bop around doing my eyeshadow while One Direction croon at me, and fluff up my hair while Frank Sinatra sings compliments in my ear. Ah, what a dream.

Prep your bod. Whatever body-prep makes you feel attractive, desirable, and ready for sex (if that’s a potential item on your to-do list for the evening), do that. For me, this would involve showering, shaving, and moisturizing. When I’m all clean, smooth, and soft, I feel practically unconquerable.

Breathe. “Fear is just excitement without the breath,” according to psychotherapist Fritz Perls. I don’t know how much of this is hippie-dippie psychosomatic silliness versus an actual effective treatment (and, let’s be real, sometimes they are one and the same), but I find breathing deeply helps circulate my anxious energy all around my body and thereby diffuse it. Shallow, fast breaths are a classic sign of anxiety; you can trick yourself into calming down by elongating and deepening your breath. Oxygenate your body and brain!

Load up on conversation-starters. My conversational skills drastically improved when I went to journalism school, and I’m convinced it was partly because I had to read the news so often at that time, so I had plenty to talk about! Still to this day, before a date, I’ll take a look at trending stories before heading out the door (if I haven’t already encountered them that day on Twitter or in podcasts I listen to), so that if my date’s discussion skills leave something to be desired, I can pull out a fascinating new topic at a moment’s notice.

You can also glance at their online-dating profile again (if that’s where you met them) and mentally note a few points to ask them about. (“I see you went to school for English lit; how does that help you in your current job?” “You said you like The Office, but what did you think of the finale?” “Is that dog in your profile picture yours?!”)

Tell a friend what you’re up to. Before leaving on a date, I like to text the following info to a friend: my suitor’s full name (if I know it), phone number, any other relevant info I know about them (what they do, where they live, and so on), where and when I am meeting them, and what time I anticipate I’ll be home. I’ve been lucky enough that a date has never made me feel unsafe, but it certainly helps my anxiety if I know I have safety measures in place. And if the date’s not dangerous but just boring or awful, you can have your friend call you and fake an emergency you need to go attend to immediately.

Channelling my inner pinup girl.

Choose an alter-ego. This is not to say you should be inauthentic on your date, of course – but pretending you’re someone else can help you play up the best parts of your personality while banishing the parts that hold you back.

Sometimes I like to pretend I’m Amanda Palmer, Zooey Deschanel, or Rosa Diaz. How would they get ready for a date? How would they walk into a room? How would they greet a person they found attractive? Usually I hold my “character” in mind for the first little while, just until I get settled, and then I cast ’em off and let the real me shine through, unencumbered by anxiety.

Remind yourself what a catch you are. Glance at your most smokin’ selfies. Look through compliments people have given you in the past (I keep a file of mine!). Think about the best dates/makeouts/sex you’ve had, and remember that you are, at least partially, what made those experiences so fantastic!

This kind of mental reflection – whether you do it in a journal, out loud to a friend, or just in your head – can also help you get some perspective. This probably isn’t the last or most important date you’ll ever go on. If it doesn’t go well, it isn’t the end of the world. There are so many more people out there, and so many more experiences you’re gonna have. Go into every date with the attitude that it’ll be a fun adventure, and anything else that comes of it will just be a bonus.

Admit to your nervousness! This can be super charming and disarming in some contexts. If you and your date exchange some texts before meeting up, maybe tell them you’re a bit nervous because you find them so cute. Or, after you’ve showed up and talked for a few minutes, you could mention, “I get so nervous about first dates!” Good people will often try to reassure you when you make admissions like this – and at the very least, you’ve just backhandedly confessed that you find them attractive. Everyone wants to feel attractive. See – nervousness can be a plus!

What are your favorite tricks for mitigating pre-date jitters?

 

This post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!