50 Hot Ways to Ask For Consent

Amazing images via my fantastic Twitter followers @KiaFlausch, @FuusPrivateArea, @Galia, and @LouJanae

In the wake of all the recent discourse around #MeToo, assault, and harassment, many questions have been raised about consent.

Some folks on social media shout that they don’t know how to interact romantically or sexually when there’s a perceived rape accusation around every corner, that they’re terrified to make a move now, or that – *melodramatic gasp* – the human race will surely die out as a result of this increased focus on consent.

Nope! The truth is, and has always been: asking for consent is neither optional nor difficult. And though some people whine that direct consent-asks “ruin the mood,” they’re really just demonstrating their own lack of finesse and creativity when they say that. There are dozens of smooth, fun, and hot ways to ask for consent.

I recruited some of my sex blogger friends – Taylor J Mace, Mx Nillin, Sugarcunt, Taryn, and Suz – to help me brainstorm 50 hot ways to ask for consent. I hope these give you some ideas!


1. “I’d really love to…”

2. “How would you like it if I…?”

3. “How would you feel if I…?”

4. “May I?”

5. “Can I please…?”

6. “What do you want?”

7. “Do you like…?”

8. “What would feel delicious to you right now?”

9. “It’d be so hot if…”

10. “Would it make you happy if I…?”

11. “Does that feel good? Do you want more?”

12. “Is this okay?”

13. “I can’t stop thinking about [kissing/touching/spanking] you…”

14. “How can I make you feel good?”

15. “Where would you love to be touched right now?”

16. “Have you ever…? Would you like to?”

17. “Lately I’m curious about…”

18. “What’s your favorite [sex position/way to get off/way to be kissed/etc.]?”

19. “How do you feel about…?”

20. “I bet you’d look gorgeous/hot/cute [kneeling in front of me/pinned against a wall/holding my leash]…”

21. “Right now I’m wondering [how you taste/what you sound like when you get spanked/how hard you like to be fucked/etc.]…”

22. “Could we try…?”

23. “What do you think about [spanking/swallowing/etc]…?”

24. “Where do you like to be touched?”

25. “Call me _________. What do you want me to call you?”

26. “I really love it when you…”

27. “How hard/rough do you want it?”

28. “I have this fantasy where… Would you want to try it?”

29. “What are you in the mood for right now?”

30. “There are so many things I want to do to/with you that I don’t know where to start. Thoughts?”

31. “If you want me to ____, you’re going to have to beg for it.”

32. “Show me how you want to be touched.”

33. “It doesn’t seem like you like this, should I stop?” (If they seem uncertain but are at least partially sending “this is good” signals)

34. “Do you want me to ____ before ___, or ____ and then ____?” (e.g. “have you suck my cock before I finger you, or should I tie you up and then spank you?”)

35. (Teasing tone) “Hmm, what should we get up to first/now/tonight?”

36. “We could do [thing the other person suggested], but I’m really fantasizing about ____…”

37. “I was thinking about buying/bringing a [type of sex toy]. Would you like to try that with me?”

38. “I would really like to ____ right now, [if that’s okay/how does that sound to you?/if you would enjoy that].”

39. “How do you want to get off?”

40. “Tell me what you’re fantasizing/thinking about.”

41. “What do you want to do to me right now?”

42. “You know what really turns me on?”

43. “So, I had this really hot dream the other night…”

44. “I found this sexual fantasies checklist; want to fill it out with me?”

45. “What are your limits/boundaries?”

46. “Are you ready for another [finger/spank/slap/flog]?”

47. “I have this [sex toy], can I show you how I like to use it?”

48. “I really wish I could [kiss/make out/sex act] with you right now.”

49. “I’m not interested in [X sex act] tonight, but I’d really love to…”

50. “Wow, you make me [wet/hard], would you want to [feel/taste]?”

What are your favorite ways to ask for consent?


Contributors to this post (ordered alphabetically), all of whom are rad as fuck and whose writing you should check out immediately:

Mx Nillin is a queer, non-binary, non-monogamous kinkster who blogs about sex, gender, relationships, and much more. Their “Mx Nillin Fucks” series of blog posts is a hilarious and fascinating adventure where they attempt to stick their girl cock into various inanimate objects, ranging from a warm apple pie to a pool noodle to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and review the experience.

Sugarcunt is a non-binary, kinky, queer switch who is legitimately one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met. Their review of misogynist instructional book “Jack’s Blowjob Lessons” is the stuff of legends, truly. They also recently wrote about how to enhance a hookup with pre-sex sexting and it’s excellent advice.

Suz is a queer femme who blogs about sex toys, dating, consent in the age of social media, and more. She’s one of the foremost Tinder experts I know, so her online-dating advice is top-notch and actionable. She also recently wrote about defining casual relationships for Elite Daily.

Taryn is an asexual and biromantic sex blogger who writes about sex toys, asexuality, and (usefully for anyone interested in getting into the blogging biz) SEO for sex bloggers. She does important work, busting myths about asexuality while also providing balanced, entertaining reviews of sex toys.

Taylor J Mace is a genderqueer trans boy who teaches informative workshops about kink and communication, makes super hot porn, and blogs about sex toys, kink, and more. They’re also really, really good at planning group sex, which we discussed with them on The Dildorks podcast.

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.

Links & Hijinks: Tinder Troubles & Fisting Femmes

• I love this comic about how toxic masculinity fucks up your sex life. “Sex is not something you do to somebody, it’s something you do with somebody.” Amen!

• This article is about femme fisting covens and you don’t need any other reason why you should run-don’t-walk to read it.

• Apparently T-rexes may have engaged in foreplay. This article says that the T-rex was therefore “a sensitive lover,” but I don’t think prioritizing foreplay is necessarily something you do only for your partner’s sake: it makes sex better for you, too!

• After the above article came out, Tracy Moore wrote about how to fuck like a T-rex. Amazing.

• This article about bionic penises is fascinating. C. Brian Smith is one of my favorite sex journalists, and he shows why here: he went above and beyond reporting on the scientific/mechanical story of penis reconstruction and found, in addition, some conflict between his two main subjects (apparently they hate each other). What a story!

• Here’s an interesting article on why rapists rape, and how our cultural ideas about rapists’ motivations have shifted over time.

• Consistently good sex with a partner takes consistent work, practice, and conflict resolution, according to a new study. So next time you have bad sex with a new partner, don’t think of it as proof you’re not meant to be with them – maybe view it as an opportunity for growth and improvement instead!

• I found it cathartic to read women’s responses to straight-dude Tinder clichés. God, why are most straight men on dating apps so dreadfully boring?!

Is Tinder the new meet-cute?

• And while we’re talking about Tinder… Here’s why people are getting bored of it and what might come next.

• Okay, one more Tinder thing… I loved this essay about dating-app fatigue, particularly this revelation: “Just knowing that the apps exist, even if you don’t use them, creates the sense that there’s an ocean of easily-accessible singles that you can dip a ladle into whenever you want… the apps’ actual function is less important than what they signify as a totem: A pocket full of maybe that you can carry around to ward off despair.” YUUUP.

• A very sweet and smart reader of mine wrote this response to my post about the orgasm gap. It explores these issues from a (cis-het) male perspective: the frustration of not being able to get a female partner off, and some ways to center female pleasure without being overly pressure-y or goal-oriented. I wish more men had this attitude!

• The great Alana Massey wrote about how the internet never forgets anything. Here she is, mirroring my own childhood back at me: “A born adventurer and a blossoming pervert, I regularly pretended that I was a hot and bothered 19-year-old, and lured men away from group chat rooms to private chats where my digital captive and I would proceed to have cyber sex…”

• On porn sites and encryption. I’m not as savvy as I would like to be about this kind of stuff, so this article was illuminating for me.

• Many people have written about why you should watch porn with your partner; here’s the case for why you shouldn’t. This made me think long and hard (har har) about my own porn preferences and how a partner might interpret them.

• I know why men announce when they’re about to come, but this article on it was an amusing read nonetheless. “So we agree this is a very useful behavior in men and women, gay and straight. Cumming must be announced, and should be announced. Declared, even.”

• Two of my current favorite writers, Helena Fitzgerald and Alana Hope Levinson, both wrote about the “boyfriend shirt” and why we love/want/crave ’em. (I am guilty of this. And admittedly not just with boyfriends.)

Catcalling and sexual harassment are normalized in our culture and nobody knows how to “properly” react to them. Ugh. Fuck the patriarchy!

• Nicole Cliffe wrote fanfiction about what life would be like if Benedict Cumberbatch was her lover, and it’s divinely funny. “I had decided to play Irene Adler, of course.” “Such a brave choice, considering you are not particularly attractive, and have never acted nor shown any aptitude for it.”

• Ever wonder how the concept of a fetish came into being? Here’s a psychological history of the fetish. Particularly interesting to me: sexually progressive physician Havelock Ellis was apparently an impotent virgin until the age of 60, when he saw a woman peeing and realized he had urolagnia (a urine fetish). Brains are so cool!

What should you do with a condom after sex? “You can also tie the condom off before tossing it to work on your career as a balloon animal artist,” Tracy Moore reports. (God, I love her.)

• The science is in: what makes a relationship last is good talkin’ and good fuckin’. This does not surprise me, but it sure is affirming!

• Timely: last month I got fucked with a penis extender and this month there’s an article on MEL about them. I, for one, always celebrate there being more options in the “toys for penises” category. I can also vouch for the fact that you don’t have to be insecure or have a small penis to derive some enjoyment from using these; the partner of mine who wanted to try an extender with me is quite well-endowed as is, and just wanted to explore a fantasy and try something new. Yay, sexual freedom!

Strength, Courage, & First Impressions: An Illuminating Tarot Reading

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In mid-February, I couldn’t stop crying about boys. All in a row, I’d crossed paths with a series of people who I adored, who felt almost mystically perfect for me, who nonetheless couldn’t or wouldn’t date me for various reasons. Such is life, I suppose. And although I knew I’m worthy of desire and would find someone awesome eventually, and although I kept telling myself “This too shall pass,” tears still kept pouring down my face as I sat in bed wailing along to Missing Ember.

“It has been a year and a half since the end of my last relationship,” I wrote in my journal, “and whereas that break-up initially made me feel wonderfully free and independent, now I just feel weirdly unmoored. I miss the emotional support and consistency of having a primary partner.”

After writing some more and effectively soaking my journal with tears and snot, I fired off an email to Carly from Tiny Lantern Tarot. (Carly uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, so I’ll be alternating between those.) I had read an interview with Carly on Up, Down & Out and loved her nonjudgmental, intuitive and queer-friendly approach to tarot, and since my emotions were so tumultuous at that time, I felt I needed some direction. Some types of emotional turmoil call for a visit to a therapist, or a long phone call with a best friend, but for some reason I craved advice from someone wise and witchy. “I have some concerns around romantic and sexual relationships in my life that I would love to get some guidance on,” I wrote in my initial email to Carly.

A few more emails and a couple weeks later, I headed to Carly’s home office for my reading. They made me tea and we sat on their little couch. We talked a little bit about my concerns around romantic relationships, and then she drew some cards.

Carly uses the Collective Tarot, a deck whose illustrations are bursting with queer people, people of color, and a diverse array of bodies. This immediately felt right to me. Tarot cards are usually traditionally gendered and free of flagrant sexuality, and my life is… not those things. Carly’s calm manner, and the cards themselves, affirmed to me that this was a safe space for me to talk about my queer/sexy/kinky life, if need be – and that’s important, when you’re getting a reading about relationships!

Two of the four cards Carly drew were major arcana cards and the other two were face cards, which they told me meant the issue at hand was an important one to me. It certainly was!

The card at the center represented “the heart of the matter,” and it was the Seeker of Feathers. Carly explained that this card is about communication and assertiveness. “It’s more important that you say the thing,” she explained, “than that you say the thing nicely.” I’d gotten into a habit of downplaying my needs, of telling people I was okay with my romantic and sexual entanglements being “chill” and “casual,” when actually I wanted something more. This card told me to be more honest with potential beaux about what I want – and I interpreted that to mean honesty about not only my feelings but also my desired relationship structure (non-monogamous) and the kind of sex I want to be having. I’m not always good at communicating my needs if I think they might ruffle feathers, so this card reminded me to do so regardless.

The card on the left represented “what to do.” It was the Code, which features what appears to be a queer kinky person flagging red for fisting. (So, so, so awesome.) Carly told me that this card refers to boundaries, borders, and communities, and recommended I consider the communities I run in: in what ways do I fit into them, and in what ways do I stand out? In the places where I stand out, do I want to accept that and be proud of it, or do I want to adjust my approach so I fit in better?

This card made me think about how often I feel like a baby/newbie/impostor in the sex-positive communities I’m in. Though I’ve been running in these circles for years, it’s still hard for me to accept that I’m a valued member of the Cool Kids’ Club. I’m well-liked and respected by the members of that “club” who know me; there’s really no reason for me to feel like I don’t belong. This card reminded me that I should dive even deeper into that scene, unapologetically and enthusiastically.

Naturally, given the kinky content of the illustration, this card also refers to power dynamics. As we talked about my issues with anxiety and feeling out of place, Carly suggested that maybe I need to develop a power dynamic with myself: be my own dom, so to speak. This might involve bossing myself into doing stuff that is slightly uncomfortable for me, but will help me grow and meet potential partners – like attending social events that make me nervous, talking to new people, and entering new social scenes. I found it strangely helpful to have my anxiety re-framed in this way – as something I can challenge bravely if a cute toppy person tells me to, even if that cute toppy person is me.

The next card represented “what to think,” and it was the Apprentice of Bottles. Carly explained that this card usually evokes a person who is very charismatic, charming and shiny, but then turns out to be shallow and disappointing. They weren’t entirely sure what the card was trying to tell me, but it made a strange kind of sense to me: a lot of my emotional upheaval at that time had happened because I was idealizing people I had a crush on. Some of these people appeared to be my perfect partner, but of course, they weren’t actually perfect, and in many ways we would’ve been a bad match if we’d gotten together. I felt like this card was telling me to take people off the pedestals I’d put them on – and also to consider what qualities I actually need in a long-term partner, rather than just the dazzling qualities that capture my attention in the short-term.

Carly told me that this card can also refer to first impressions: making a big splash, and then retreating. We talked about how I often worry that the first impression I make is misleading. “I’m a sex blogger” is usually one of the first things I tell new people about myself, and I think it gives some people an incorrect impression about my personality, my priorities, and what kind of relationship(s) I might be looking for. Carly encouraged me to experiment with the way I talk about myself – which I started to do later that night, by removing the phrase “sex blogger” from my Tinder profile. I figured it’ll be easier for me and potential matches to discover each other organically if I roll out information about my sexuality more slowly. (Preliminary results: Tinder dudes have indeed been less skeezy and more curious about me since I did this. Innnteresting.)

The final card represented “what to avoid,” and it was Strength. Carly told me this card refers to strength not in the traditional/brawny sense, but in the sense of emotional bravery and vulnerability. At first, she was puzzled that this card came up in the “what to avoid” slot, since obviously, these traits are usually a virtue in relationships. “The only thing I can think,” they said, “is that maybe you have a pattern in your dating life of being too vulnerable and open, of letting too many people in too quickly.”

I almost started crying when she said this, because it was so amazingly true and there’s no way Carly could have known that. I give far too many people the keys to my emotional kingdom, and it results in me getting hurt a lot. When I choose to invest emotionally in someone I’ve just met or barely know, at first it feels like an exciting rush, but it quickly gets heavy and painful, with very few exceptions. “Vulnerability is necessary,” Carly told me, “but not everybody deserves your vulnerability.” They were so right, and I made a promise to myself to be more careful about getting invested in people who haven’t yet proved they deserve my heart.

I left Carly’s house with an immense sense of clarity and inspiration, like I’d just been given the road map to my next stop on life’s path. The despair of feeling unloveable had lifted. I was still just as single, my life just as devoid of serious romantic prospects, but that felt less important and less permanent than it had before.

Now, here’s where shit gets weird. Two days later, I met a boy on Tinder. We went out. We hit it off. We started dating. I leapt headfirst into a relationship with him, before knowing if he even ticked all the boxes that matter to me (“Is he a feminist?” and “Is his sex drive compatible with mine?” being the two key ones in this case). I was so desperate for a boyfriend that I viewed this dude idealistically, filling in the blanks and paving over problems to round him up to a person I could date.

I should have communicated my needs more clearly, more quickly. I should have held out longer before calling him my boyfriend and pinning my hopes on him. I should have remembered that first impressions aren’t everything and people change as you get to know them better.

These are all things that Carly told me in my reading with her. But it was like the universe wanted to hammer these points home. And hammer, it did.

In the end, I learned these lessons the way I learned so many math and science concepts in school. Someone smart explained the lesson to me – and then I had to put what I’d learned to use in the real world.

Well, I sure learned quick. I won’t make those mistakes again. And if I do, maybe I’ll pull a few tarot cards to learn how to fix it.

It’s Okay to Break Up Because of Sex

It’s funny how you can entrench yourself so firmly in positivity and still get sucked into the vortex of shame from time to time.

I’m a sex-positive person. I live and work and socialize with almost exclusively other sex-positive people. So I know that having sexual desires is normal and acceptable.

And yet it only took a few weeks of constant sexual rejection to send me back to square one: profound embarrassment about being a sexual person.

Let me explain. I dated someone recently who was way, way lower on the sexual-desire-o-meter than I am. In fact, he seemed to conceptualize sex in a totally different way than I do. He talked about it as if it were a favor he did for me, that gave him no direct pleasure except in the way that it’s satisfying to give a loved one a backrub or make them dinner.

In my lifelong path of learning about relationships, one trick I’ve picked up is that it’s usually a bad idea to use “blame language.” It would be fallacious of me to say that this man “made me feel bad about myself,” since he wasn’t actively, maliciously choosing to do that. He was just living his truth – which happened to involve a far lower libido than what exists in my truth – and that took an emotional toll on me. I certainly don’t blame people with low desire levels for being that way. I just think that folks should be paired up with partners whose frequency and content of desire is roughly equivalent to their own.

When my relationship actually started to make me feel ugly and unsexy, that’s when my friends drew the line. “You have to break up with him,” they all told me, one after the next, when I shared my story privately on coffee dates or nights out at the bar. They saw my situation with the clarity and objectivity that I could not. I kept making excuses: “I like him so much, other than this one little thing!” “I think I can get him to come around!” “We’re non-monogamous, so I can always get sex elsewhere!”

I see now that part of me believed it’s not okay to break up with someone over sex. That it’s too small a reason, too unimportant a factor. That “the actual relationship” should be weighted more heavily in your decision than the sex ever would.

That is such bullshit, though. Sex is part of “the actual relationship.” Because it’s a fucking huge factor – for some people. And if sex is important to even just one person in a relationship, it matters in the grand scheme of things. Don’t let anyone tell you sex “isn’t a big deal” or “shouldn’t be that important” if it is to you. Only you get to decide the role and significance of sex in your life, and in your relationships.

The language my boyfriend used about sex started to creep into the way I thought about it, too. His go-to initiation (the rare times he did initiate) was, “I think we should get you off tonight.” The way he phrased it, it was like he didn’t view sex as a shared experience, a mutual delight, a bonding tool; it was merely a means to an end, and the end was my orgasm. Basically so that I would be satisfied, shut up about sex and quit bugging him for it. Or at least, that’s the feeling I got from him.

There’s nothing wrong with giving orgasms, or with wanting them. But this paradigm started to make me feel like it was selfish for me to want sex, because the only end result of our sex together was my pleasure. Viewed in that light, it seemed ridiculous for me to end the relationship in search of greater sexual compatibility. Did I just want to get my rocks off wherever I could? Was my nymphomaniacal hunger so great that I would throw away an otherwise good relationship to get that need met?

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized how wrong this view is. For me, sex with a partner isn’t just about getting off – if it were, I’d simply masturbate instead, since that’s a more reliable way to make that happen. No, sex is one of the main ways I connect with partners, express my affection, and feel that affection mirrored back at me. It is absolutely crucial to my experience of romantic intimacy. Without it, I just don’t feel that I’m truly giving love, or receiving it. You can flood me with attention in all four of the other love languages, but without sex, it feels to me like a portrait that’s missing its subject. All of the pleasant peripheral details, with no central focus to hold the image together.

Viewed this way, it seems obvious that my relationship needed to end. Our problem was more than a fixable breakdown in communication; it was a full-on, hard-wired mismatch in the way we communicate. If we stayed together, “giving me” sex would continue to make him feel resentful and awkward, and being chronically denied sex would continue to make me feel rejected and unattractive. A pairing like that is destined to shatter. No one can or should suppress the ways they express and experience love; they should just seek out other people who express and experience it in similar ways.

Through this whole process, no one ever actually said to me, “Sex isn’t a good enough reason to break up with him.” In fact, my friends continually pointed out that sex is a good enough reason, even if there were no other reasons (and there were). It was just the slut-shamey voice inside my own head that parroted this sentiment at me – and, to a lesser extent, the words of my boyfriend, when he said judgmental things like “It seems like sex is the most important thing in a relationship for you” and “I wish you wouldn’t make everything about sex all the time.”

Since I’m conventionally unattractive (i.e. chubby and kinda weird-looking), there is a part of me that believes I should “take what I can get.” That a good-enough relationship is good enough. That I shouldn’t push for all the things I want in a partner, because there’s no way I’ll get them. That I should feel blessed when any man is attracted to me, even if our relationship is a daily trainwreck.

It was only once I surfaced from this shitty relationship, and looked at my life with fresh eyes again, that I remembered: Oh yeah. Lots of people are attracted to me. Many of whom are pretty damn compatible with me, including in the way we think about sex. And I do deserve good sex. And it is okay to make that a priority. And that doesn’t mean I’m a pathological perv – it just means I’m a human with a sex drive.

If you’re thinking about breaking up with a partner because the sex is bad, infrequent, or otherwise unsatisfying, I hereby give you permission to do so. Consider it carefully – because, as my slightly shamey ex-boyfriend told me repeatedly, there are other factors to consider besides sex – but also consider that a bad sexual connection can be the bad apple that spoils the barrel. If sex is a baseline need for you, you’re not going to be truly, fully happy in a relationship where the sex doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean you’re selfish or fucked-up or have a one-track mind, so don’t let anyone tell you it does.

You are allowed to want sex. You are allowed to want a partner who wants the same kinds of sex that you do. You are allowed to pursue that kind of partner, even if it means making a radical shift in your life. Like Oprah says: live your best life now.