Do I Have a Wink Kink?

As with many kinks, it began with the thought: “I just like it. I don’t think it’s a sex thing.”

I’ve always reacted with glee to being winked at. I suppose this is a not-uncommon reaction – they’re intended as an expression of flirtation, humor, or solidarity, after all, so they’re intended to create a positive feeling in the recipient. But the degree of my reaction seems… unusual. I’ve never quite been able to pin down why. Kinks, after all, are never simple.

As with many kinks, too, its unfolding turned me into a bit of a creep. Sometime around the end of 2015, I started occasionally mentioning it while out on first dates: “I have a thing about winks,” I’d ambiguously admit if the subject of flirtation or odd romantic tastes came up in conversation. Sometimes, if I got tipsy enough, I’d just ask outright, “Do you have a good wink?” The question caught my dates off-guard. They’d not considered this before. I see now that I was doing a thing akin to when foot fetishists get a little too curious about my shoe collection or ageplay fetishists call me a “little girl” without asking – i.e. things people do in service of their kinks that aren’t strictly okay without consent – and I feel bad about it. I wasn’t thinking of it as a kink then.

I went out for drinks once with someone I had strong feelings for, and inquired at some point about his wink. He was a shameless show-off of a man, theatrical and broad, so he launched into not only a wink demonstration but also a verbal lesson on how best to wink (“You gotta do it so fast that the other person almost doesn’t see it, and wonders, ‘Did he just wink at me?!'”). My burgeoning fixation crossed paths with my teaching and learning kinks, and the result was a whole lot of giggling and blushing.

That same friend once pounded me with my favorite dildo, mercilessly, masterfully, as hard as I wanted. I squeezed my eyes shut as I shouted my orgasm into the heavy, humid air. When I returned to earth, I opened my eyes to see my fuckbuddy staring at me intensely, a look of lusty concentration on his face – and then he fucking winked at me. I actually moaned. If I didn’t know it was a kink before that, it was that moment which solidified it.

Friends started sending me gifs or YouTube clips of good winks. On days when I felt sad or unloved, I’d put out a call for winks on Snapchat or Twitter, and watch my phone blow up with flirty babes.

I told a new beau he had a good wink, and he kissed me tenderly for long minutes, occasionally leaning back just enough to wink at me between kisses. He held my face still in his hands, so I could not look away. It was like a forced orgasm scene, but more intimate, and more “erotic tease” than “whole hog.” I died a little bit.

I went to a house party, and drank enough to get me into extra-giggly mode. Somehow, word of my penchant for winks got out around the party, and suddenly, random people were coming up to me just to wink at me and see my reaction. “Hey Kate,” they’d say, to get my attention, and then I’d be accosted with a razor-quick one-eyed straight shot of glee to my heart and genitals. It was a strange sensation, strangers and acquaintances knowing this little shortcut; it felt intense, almost boundary-crossing. I felt the way I do when someone spanks me who I don’t quiiite trust enough for that yet: breathless, shaken, turned on but undone. I wasn’t entirely sure I liked it.

One night I went on a first date at a sexy storytelling event, and afterward, the date and I stuck around to chat with my friends. One of them knowingly threw a wink my way, and when I had my predictable giggle/shriek/blush reaction, my pals explained to my date that I have a thing about winks. I was quick to add that it gets strange when people think they can just wink at me willy-nilly. “I’d rather they get my consent first,” I explained. “Ugh, that sounds so weird, doesn’t it?”

My date, an experienced kinkster, shook his head with solemnity. “No, it doesn’t.”

Fast forward a few weeks, and we were dating and fucking and falling in love. One day in bed, after sex, he lay beside me stroking my hair and staring into my eyes. “Do you think we’re at a point yet where I could wink at you?”

The thoughtfulness of the question touched me. I may have cried a little bit. And then a little more, laughingly, when I realized what a silly thing it was to cry about. But it was the gesture that had affected me: the caring about my comfort, the remembering of inane details, the wanting to make me happy but only on my terms.

I nodded. “Yeah, you can.” He did. I giggled, and my heart clenched up in that now-familiar way. But it was a world away from those stranger-winks at the party. Like the difference between oral sex from a random hookup and oral from a long-term partner who knows your body and your brain inside and out, there was a sense of intimacy and mastery to it that pulled me inside the moment, rather than making me want to nervously run away from it. Each wink from him was like a slap in the face – but the consensual, cathartic, kinky kind.

Now that that relationship has dissolved, actually the only piece of that man I still own is his wink. Once, at my request, he offered me the incentive of a short video of him winking if I finished a big project I was working on. Motivated anew, I drudged through it, and sent him the completed file. “Wink, please!”

The clip still sits in my Twitter DMs, haunting me if I scroll back far enough. It’s only three seconds long, but it’s three seconds of someone who loved me, showing me just how much he did.

Kinks are never simple.

5 Things I Learned From Getting an Erotic Massage

I recently had the blissful good fortune of getting a four-hand erotic massage from my friend Caitlin and her partner-in-crime Cosmo. Both of them have trained in the therapeutic touch modality known as Sexological Bodywork, a client-centered approach to erotic education that can help combat all sorts of sexual difficulties.

You can read more about my massage in an article I wrote for Kinkly about it. However, even once I chronicled the whole story in that piece, I still had more Thoughts and Feelings about the massage and what it meant to me. Here are five things I learned from my experience…

Asking for what you want usually works quite well. As someone who deals with sexual anxiety and a frequent fear of “not deserving” pleasure, I struggle a lot with asking for what I want. This is especially true for preferences that are specific and unusual – e.g. “Fingerfuck me deeper,” “Only touch my clit through the hood,” or “I like being spanked but not during sex.”

The night before I was to get my ~sexxxy~ massage, I was talking to Bex about it, and wondered aloud if I’d have an orgasm. “Probably not, right?” Bex hypothesized, “because don’t you need pretty specific things to get off?” This is true. It usually takes new partners several tries before they can make me come – particularly clitorally, since my clit is a princess: it knows what it likes, and it’s loath to respond to anything less.

But during the massage, once I was already super turned on and aching to come, Caitlin asked me, “Kate, how do you like your clitoris touched?” and I found myself motivated to explain in enough detail that I’d actually get what I wanted. “Only through the hood, ’cause it’s super sensitive,” I breathed. “In small circles. A little more pressure. A little more. Yeah, like that.”

It was that easy. So easy, in fact, that I had an orgasm just a few minutes later – which surprised me so much that I almost burst out laughing. “Why don’t I always do this?!” I wondered. “Why do I let partners muddle around down there, instead of telling them what would actually work?!” I think, in most cases, partners would be excited to learn the keys to my kingdom, so to speak. So I’m gonna try to get better at handing those keys over.

Accepting feedback gracefully is an art. Each and every time I gave Caitlin or Cosmo an instruction or a request, whether they’d solicited it or I’d just blurted it out, they responded: “Thank you.”

“I love having my hips squeezed.” “Thank you!” “I think I want something inside me.” “Thank you!” “Can you do that a little harder?” “Thank you!”

In my “IRL” sex life, making this type of request gives me hella anxiety. It makes me wince, sweat, and blush. I’m always expecting a grimace, an eye-roll, a resigned “…Okay.” So to receive a “Thank you” instead was, to say the least, revelatory.

The truth is, when a partner gives you this type of direction during sex, you should thank them. They are trusting you with their vulnerability, their bravery, their authentic desires. That is a big responsibility, and a gift. Even if you don’t actually utter the words “Thank you,” that attitude should come through in however you respond to their request. You should prove to them that you want to please them, and that you’re thrilled by any opportunity to do so.

I’ve been pondering how to bring this attitude into my sex life, both in terms of giving and receiving. I think it is going to make big changes for me, and for my partners.

From relaxation, pleasure comes. I learned from the books Becoming Cliterate and Come As You Are that day-to-day stress actually physiologically inhibits orgasm in women. (I would imagine this is true for some people who aren’t women, too!) If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, angry or sad in your everyday life, it will affect the extent to which you’re able to experience and enjoy pleasure.

I have a high libido and pretty much never say no to sex with pre-established partners unless I’m debilitatingly ill, physically injured, or too depressed to move (and even sometimes then, I pursue sex, because I believe – often correctly – that it’ll make me feel better). But even if my mouth says “Yes please,” my body might not respond with such enthusiasm if I’m stressed. I don’t get as turned on, I don’t get as psychologically immersed in what’s happening, and I’m not as sensitive or as orgasmic. It’s a real disappointment, particularly since sex could be such wonderful stress relief if I could relax into it a bit more!

The first several minutes of my erotic massage were just regular (albeit naked) massage: a combination of gentle and firm touches all over my body, designed to release my tension and get me into a pleasure-receptive headspace. And it worked. By the time we got to the more explicitly erotic touch, I felt I had melted into a pool of hot, sticky bliss. Being so relaxed and receptive made it much easier (and quicker!) for me to get turned on, feel okay about accepting pleasure, and build toward an orgasm. This is useful knowledge for me to keep in mind going forward!

Sometimes practitioners get turned on. I interviewed Caitlin and Cosmo after my massage, and one thing I asked them was – shyly, tentatively, uncertain if I was being rude – “Do you ever get turned on doing this work? I’m sorry if that’s a personal question…”

“Erotic energy is erotic energy,” Caitlin told me. “It’s a beautiful thing. We’re participating with your erotic energy, but we’re not requesting it back.”

“I think anyone who says they don’t feel arousal from playing with erotic energy… I would be surprised. I would be like, ‘You’re lying,'” Cosmo mused.

“And I would question how good they are at their job!” Caitlin added.

Obviously, there are lots of therapeutic modalities where the practitioner getting aroused would be inappropriate, unwanted, and even harmful. But for me, in receiving a Sexological Bodywork massage, I found it reassuring that I could feel the practitioners getting into it. I could hear their breath, smell their sweat, feel their energy intermingling with mine, and all of it was focused on me.

I think if I hadn’t felt those signs of engagement, I would have worried they were getting tired, or bored, or resentful – the same way I worry about exhausting my sexual partners when we’re bonin’ down. That type of anxiety takes me right out of the moment and decimates my capacity for pleasure, so it felt not only acceptable but great for my practitioners to wade into the wilds of erotic energy with me.

Fantasy is an important part of sexual enjoyment. In my post-massage chat with Caitlin and Cosmo, they both mentioned having fantasized sometimes when they were practicing receiving touch in their trainings. At first I bristled, because it’s been so ingrained in me that you’re not “supposed” to fantasize when you’ve got a real live person in front of you, doing stuff to you – but then I realized I had fantasized during my massage too!

Toward the end, when I was starting to get close to coming, I asked if one or both of them could put a hand on my upper chest and press down. This is something I often enjoy with dominant partners: it makes me feel like they’re holding me still, keeping me in place, so I have to take whatever sensations they’re administering to me. There’s no escape. And since there’s no escape, there’s also no room for me to get anxious about “taking too long” to come or being too sexually “needy.” Every moment that they’re holding me down, in my mind, is a moment they want to unfold exactly as it’s unfolding. If they didn’t want this, they wouldn’t be demanding it of me.

I thought about this while Caitlin and Cosmo held me down and fingerbanged me to orgasm. I thought about a partner pinning me in place with one hand while fucking me with the other hand, because my pleasure is paramount to them and they insist I’m not going anywhere until I’ve come at least once. I thought about how delicious it is to be pleasured for someone else’s amusement and not just my own.

Sometime around then, I came – loud, long, and spectacular. It made me think about all the other times I’ve fantasized while receiving sensation from partners. Mostly, it’s not malicious, in the way we often think of it being: “You were thinking about some other dude while I was fucking you?!” For me, I’m often thinking about the person I’m with – just in a slightly different situation. Maybe they’re being a little more aggressive with me; maybe they’re saying filthy shit that this person wouldn’t know to say; maybe I’m even replaying something they did to me a previous time we slept together! It’s all just a mental game that keeps me more engaged, more excited, more interested in my partner, not less.

Now that I’ve pondered this, I think I’m going to feel less guilty about fantasizing during sex in the future. I’ve even been tiptoeing into telling partners what I was fantasizing about after sex – “I was thinking about how hot it would be if you did/said [XYZ]…” – and that’s super fun too, if you can do it in a way that doesn’t feel like a criticism!

Have you ever received an erotic massage? What did you learn from the experience?

Top 10 Reasons You Didn’t Make Me Come With Your Mouth

You didn’t even try. Come on, dude. I blew you for like 20 minutes, and you gave my clit little more than a cursory graze with your hand. I’m not even convinced you’re aware women can have orgasms, ’cause surely, if you knew that, you’d’ve made at least some minimal effort to give me one. Consent is, of course, vital, but you seemed content to touch all my other bits for your own pleasure – you just made no effort to pleasure me. I’m not a Fleshlight or a sex robot. For heaven’s sake. Who raised you?! Who taught you this was okay?!

You expressed zero enthusiasm about giving head. You asked whether I wanted your mouth on me, without indicating at all that it’s something you wanted, too. You approached my vulva with a tentative slowness that made me think you weren’t so keen on the taste, the smell, or pussy in general. (I know it’s not me; my hygiene is impeccable.) Or worse yet, you told me straight-up that it’s something you do rarely and begrudgingly. Once you meandered down there, you neglected to make any noise, grab my thighs or hips, or express any excitement whatsoever. I can’t help but feel like this is a favor you’re doing for me, rather than a mutual pleasure of which we’re partaking together. If that’s the case, why are we doing this at all?

You expressed zero enthusiasm about my body overall. You’ve never complimented my curves, my shape, my bits. You’ve never called me hot or pretty or sexy or beautiful. You’ve never verbally admitted to finding me attractive in any way. Maybe you do, but the verbal admission is important to me; “words of affirmation” is my love language. You might be faceplanted in my vulva with fervor but I’m still wondering if you even think I’m cute. I need clearer signals, bro, or my anxiety will kidnap my orgasm and hold it ransom for compliments.

You ignored my instructions. No, “That’s too intense” does not mean “Double down and go harder.” Yes, I really did mean it when I said “Softer and slower, please.” No, I was not lying when I explained how sensitive my clit is. Yes, “Keep doing that” really means I want you to keep doing that. No, “A little higher” does not mean “Stay exactly where you are.” Are my thighs muffling your ears, or do you just think you know my body better than I do? I assure you, you don’t.

You ignored my nonverbal signals. Hey, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but moaning during sex is usually a sign of pleasure. So is gasping, breathing faster, grabbing at your head/shoulders/arms/hands, grinding into your face, and spreading my legs wider to give you better access. Several times while going down on me, you found a perfect spot, rhythm, or pressure, and I reacted accordingly – but you missed the memo and moved on to something else. There is some value to the “channel-surfing” technique, but once you find a channel I like, I’d love if you could stay on that channel. (And please, for the love of god, if I say “Ow” and pull away, don’t fucking do that thing again.)

You didn’t stay down there for long enough. Sorry, pal – for me, cunnilingus is not a “get in, get ‘er done, and get out” type of activity. You gotta be there for the long haul. It might take ten minutes, twenty, thirty – but I can assure you it won’t happen at all if I feel like the timer’s on. I don’t necessarily need to take a long time; I just need to know that I can. I need to know you won’t be glancing at the clock, rolling your eyes, and sighing dully into my labia.

You have no sense of rhythm or consistency. Okay, I get it; tongue muscles are easily fatigued – but you can exercise them to make ’em stronger over time. Maybe you just have no rhythm; you can practice that, too. The difference between oral sex that feels good but doesn’t get me off and oral sex that feels good and gets me off is consistency. That’s the whole secret. Find a motion and location that seems to be working, and keep at it. Seriously. I’ll tell you if and when I want you to stop.

You attacked my clit too directly. Eight thousand nerve endings, buddy. The clit is surrounded by two sets of labia and a clitoral hood; there’s no reason for you to glom onto my exposed clit directly unless I’ve told you I like that, which I absolutely do not. Drift around the periphery. Lick my clit like you’re coyly flirting with it, not like you’re engaging it in combat. There’s no faster way to desensitize me than to overload my nerve endings with direct sensation; it’s often painful, always uncomfortable, and never results in an orgasm for me.

You didn’t stick your face right in there. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but tongue-flicking from a distance, like they do in porn, is not an effective approach for me. Not only does it feel physically bad, but it makes you seem hesitant to have my clit in your mouth. What are you so scared of? Lower your lips down; close them around the shaft of my clit. Let me feel the warmth and wetness of you on me. Your tongue feels lovely but you have a whole mouth’s worth of other sensations you could give me alongside all that tongue. Besides, when I come in your mouth, I want to feel like I am indeed coming in your mouth.

You put too much pressure on me to get off. Orgasms are fantastic, but they’re by no means a foolproof measure of sexual enjoyment overall. And frankly, the more you tell me you’re definitely gonna make me come, the less certain I am that you’re right. Just tell me to relax and enjoy what you’re doing to me; orgasms do not often result from pressure. Unless we’re talking about the pressure of your lips and tongue on my clit.

10 Questions About That Time I Sat on a Cake

Q. So… Why?

A. A friend invited me to a birthday party her mom was co-hosting. The group of people who would be in attendance are, by and large, queer kinksters, some of whom have an interest in cake-sitting and other forms of “wet and messy” kink play (“sploshing“). I am a sex nerd and a perv so of course I accepted this invitation.

Q. Why are people into cake-sitting?

A. I can’t speak to this from personal experience, because this isn’t a kink of mine – but I asked around at the party, and most folks cited the wet-‘n’-messy quality of the act and its taboo nature as the main draws to this kink.

I also wonder if it maybe has to do with the fact that cakes (and, in particular, birthday cakes) are some of the most exciting objects many of us encounter during childhood: they’re the sugary, candlelit trophy at the climax of every joyful birthday party. A lot of common kinks seem to be related to sources of childhood fear, shame, and/or joy – so it makes sense to me that cake could become a locus of kinky lust, as could the act of destroying such an illustrious symbol by crushing it with your ass.

Q. What did you wear?

A. I wanted to wear something fun and celebratory in colors that reminded me of birthday cakes. My outfit consisted of a hot pink bandana, a turquoise Tarina Tarantino heart necklace with an Alice in Wonderland illustration on it, a pink Gap bralette, a translucent pink striped tank top from Ardene, a pair of turquoise zigzag-striped MeUndies boyshorts, and some pink kneesocks from the now-defunct American Apparel. On my way to and from the party, I threw on some black shorts and a black leather jacket over this ensemble, to make it a little more subdued.

Q. If it’s not a kink of yours, why did you do it?

A. I thought it would be fun. I’m a big believer in the idea that you should make at least some of your life choices based on what will make for the better story – even moreso since I became a professional writer – and this seemed like it’d be a good story to tell. Plus, I was curious whether I would have sexual feelings about sitting on a cake. There are a few minor kinks of mine that I genuinely didn’t know were my kinks until I tried them for the first time.

Q. How did you select what type of cake to bring?

A. I’m not culinarily inclined so I just dropped by a grocery store to grab a cake before the party. I thought a smallish round one would probably be best, since I could crush the whole thing with my ass. My decision was also, admittedly, partly based on what I would most like to eat (and, indeed, my friend and I each had a small slice of this cake before I sat atop it).

I deeply wish I had not chosen a chocolate cake! As you can see, the whole effect is a bit fecal, to say the least. (And I ruined my underwear. Whoops.)

Q. What makes for a good cake-sit?

A. I don’t really know, to be honest. While sitting on this cake/posing for these photos, I was being directed by my friend, who is a photographer, and a pal of hers who was spectating, who is also a photographer but has an actual kinky interest in cake-sitting. As a result, I’m not sure which of the directions they gave me were for the sake of better photos and which were for the sake of a better cake-sit. They told me to face away from them and lower myself down onto the cake in a straddling position, as you can see, but I think that was more for visual appeal than, uh, butt-feel.

I will say that drawing out the cake-sit into a long, slow lowering seems to be the way to go. I’m sure there are people who are into smashing cakes fast and hard with their butt, but for your first attempt, you probably wanna be able to feel every achingly slow nuance of the experience.

Q. Doesn’t sitting on a cake give you a yeast infection?!

A. This was my concern, too. I’m still not quite sure how people do this without getting vaginal infections left and right, especially if they don’t wear underwear like I did.

I’m relatively prone to vaginal infections and didn’t get one after doing this, which I chalk up to 1) wearing underwear, 2) sitting mostly on my ass and not on my vag, 3) washing up almost immediately afterward, and 4) dumb luck.

Q. What did it feel like?

A. You know that feeling when you sit on the ground outside (say, at a park picnic or a kids’ baseball game) and slowly realize you’ve sat in some mud? It’s a cold, gooey, creeping feeling. Cake-sitting reminded me of that, except with an added squishing/crushing sensation as the cake deflated under the weight of my ass. It was a bit like someone with a cold, squishy dick was ineptly trying to fuck me but drastically missing both of my holes.

It made me wonder what it would be like to sit on some kind of warm pastry, like a recently-baked cherry pie. I suspect that would be a more pleasant feeling, though it depends on what you’re going for.

Q. Did you like it?

A. I think I was more into the spectators’ reactions than I was into the sensation itself – which is fine and makes sense, if you think about how many kinks are more about people’s reactions to them than the activity itself. (Spanking and sexual exhibitionism come to mind.)

The wetness/messiness/”grossness” of the experience just kind of stressed me out. I wonder if that would have been less true if I had been wearing underwear I didn’t care about ruining! But overall, I had fun, and I’m glad I did it.

Q. How do you clean up afterward?

A. My friend gave my butt and thighs an initial scrubdown with a damp washcloth. (True friendship, folks.) Then I went into the house and stripped out of my underwear in the bathroom so I could give my butt and vulva a more thorough going-over, also with a damp washcloth. There was more cake/chocolate on my bits than I had expected there to be, but I managed to get it all off pretty easily. Unfortunately, my panties were not so lucky: I washed ’em thoroughly with soap and cold water (hot water locks in stains!) but they still have permanent chocolate stains. So sad.

Have you ever sat on a cake or engaged in other forms of food play or “sploshing”? Is this something you’d be interested in doing? Got any tips for me if I ever attempt it again?

On Being a Slut Without Being a Jerk

“Watch out for Scott*,” my new friend Amanda warned me. “He’s kind of a perv.”

I had slightly zoned out of our conversation, but at this, I snapped back to attention. “Wait, what? What do you mean?” Women warning other women about men usually know what they’re talking about, and have an excellent reason for doing so. Joining a new social group often involves revelations of this sort – finding out the behind-the-scenes secrets is a rite of passage in any new social endeavor. It would be an understatement to say I was interested.

She rolled her eyes and breathed a long sigh, trying to choose her words. “I dunno, he just tries to fuck every girl,” she explained. “We slept together when I first met him and then he got weird about it. Just be careful.”

What Amanda didn’t know was that I’d already fucked Scott. The night before, in fact. My heart skidded in my chest.

This warning tripped some old, old detritus in my psychology. See, when I was a teenager and only fucking women, I was terrified of men. They made me nervous whenever I encountered them in romantic or sexual situations, in person or on dating sites like OkCupid and thesexchatsite.com. I worried sex with them would be bad and I’d hate it, I worried I’d be awful at blowjobs and handjobs and they’d judge me, I worried penises would be scary and gross, and – most pervasively and chillingly of all – I worried men only cared about sex. If I gave my heart – and also my hetero virginity – to a man, I worried he wouldn’t give a shit and would peace out as soon as the deed was done, leaving me regretful and alone.

I see now that these fears were ridiculous, for a few reasons. First off, men’s emotional cavalierness is a gendered stereotype, and therefore isn’t universally true. Secondly, there are plenty of women who are emotionally irresponsible about sex in the same ways I feared men would be. But thirdly: what is so bad about wanting to have sex with people?

Throughout my teenage years, a hard knot formed in my stomach any time I considered that a man might only want to fuck me and not date me. It felt like a humiliating betrayal waiting to happen. I got a taste of that betrayal when my first boyfriend broke up with me after only a few weeks of dating and then fucked four girls at a party the following week, to the gossipy amusement of seemingly the entire student body. I felt cast aside in favor of girls who “put out” quicker than I did, and required less emotional investment before they’d spread their legs. My apprehension stopped OkCupid banter and in-person flirtations in their tracks, because any time I developed crush-y feelings for a man, I’d remind myself: He probably only wants sex. And that felt like a good enough reason to cut it off, rather than risk bad sex and an even worse rejection.

Indeed, I’ve endured many such rejections in the intervening years. The casual hookup who broadened my kink horizons and then disappeared from my life without warning. The long-time crush who fucked me all languid and giggly in his cozy bed, and then took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner a few weeks later to tell me he didn’t think we should date. The fuckbuddy who I spent over a year wishing would ask me to be his girlfriend instead. Of course, he never did, because that was never what he wanted – as he had been telling me all along.

These searing letdowns hurt much more than I could have predicted, but I learned key lessons from them about sex and love and the ways in which those things do and don’t intersect. I learned that sex can be good even if one or both parties have no interest in anything more. I learned that the euphoric highs and romantic cravings for “more” I experience after hookups are mostly illusory, and will pass. I learned that only wanting sex from someone doesn’t have to entail being a dick to them: you can be an emotionally responsible, conscientious slut, by checking in on your partners, making sure they’re okay, talking about any feelings that come up, and being straightforward about your intentions.

There were many times when those old, sexist, scary voices crept back into my head. He only wants you because you have wet holes he can fuck, I’d think, or, No one wants to date you because sex is all you’re good for. These are evil fictions murmured into the hearts of women to make us feel worthless and desperate. Patriarchy and capitalism are in partnership, colluding to destabilize women’s sense of agency and self-determination, so we’ll keep trying and trying to impress men in any way we can. We’re told that if we just work hard enough at being “cool” and “pretty” and “sexy” (but not too sexy!), we’ll be able to interest a man with qualities other than just our sexuality.

Here is the truth, though: some people are only interested in sex – whether that priority, for them, is temporary or lifelong. They may be shaken out of that pattern at some point when they meet someone whose brain and heart clicks with theirs in a beyond-just-sex way, but that type of connection is not something you can force with charm and willpower. It happens, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, that’s not a reflection on you, or your desirability, or your value as a person.

I know this because, in my journeys as a sex-nerdy and usually-conscientious slut, I’ve encountered my greatest fear from the other side of the coin: I’ve occasionally been the person who only wanted sex. There have been friendly hookups and torrid one-night stands who made perfectly good company for a night, but who I would never, ever want to date. Our interests were incompatible, our senses of humor didn’t jive, we didn’t “click” – or maybe, at those particular times in my life, my priorities were just not romantic. And that’s okay.

I truly don’t think there is anything wrong with being the person who “just wants sex” – as long as you’re not an asshole about it. Pursuing someone with false compliments and thickly laid-on charm, just to get into their pants, is a gross behavior regardless of the genders involved. Pretending to want something you don’t, or lying to someone about your intentions, is emotional fraud and cannot be condoned.

It used to cause me a lot of pain that I couldn’t “read” when men were interested in just sex or something more. But now, years in, I know what to look for. Casual hookups and would-be fuckbuddies will often drop phrases like “hang out,” “low-key,” “just for fun,” as they ask me out for drinks at a dim bar, or even straight-up invite me to their apartment. Folks with more romantic intentions will typically pile on the compliments, pointing out my intelligence or humor instead of just my physical qualities, and will invite me on more date-like dates: dinner, comedy shows, fancy cocktails. They often don’t push for sex as quickly, and I can feel that difference of pace somewhere deep in my brain even if it’s not always consciously evident to me. My “gut feelings” about what men want from me are right more often than they’re wrong, these days.

I’ve also learned how to recognize in myself whether I want to date someone or just fuck them. My favorite litmus test at the moment is to ask myself: am I more interested in making this person laugh, or making them come? True, humor is vital to my attractions, including sexual ones, but this question is always at least a good starting point for me to decipher my feelings. Patriarchal scripts still make me feel like I “should” want to date someone I’ve banged, so sometimes I need to step back and ask myself whether that is actually what I want, or if it’s an illusion I cooked up to justify my own “bad,” “slutty” cravings.

There is nothing inherently wrong with sex – wanting it, pursuing it, having it. There is nothing inherently wrong with no-strings-attached, unromantic sex. These things only become problematic when you go about them in a problematic way.

If you’re gonna be a slut, be a kind, conscientious, empathetic slut. Be upfront about what kind of slut you are, and what that means for your partners. Let them decide for themselves whether they want to enter your orbit.

You might still end up the butt of warnings like “Be careful of that guy; he only wants to fuck you” – but hopefully, if you’ve spelled out your particular brand of sluttiness clearly enough in advance, those warnings will simply be met with, “I know. And that’s fine.”

 

 

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

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