5 Monogamously-Minded Mistakes to Stop Making

I’m no expert on non-monogamy. Nope. Not by a longshot. Sometimes people try to interview me about polyamory and I’m just like, “LOL, don’t ask me, I’m a baby. Go talk to Samantha or Kevin or Tristan or somebody. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.”

That said, I have learned a few things – mostly from doing shit wrong, and getting hurt by other people who were doing shit wrong. I’ve noticed that a lot of polyamory slip-ups happen as a result of clinging (consciously or not) to a monogamous mindset. We can’t quite inhabit a healthily polyamorous paradigm if we’re still living at least part-time in monogamy-brain, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Here are 5 of the most common manifestations I’ve seen of this problem. If any of these remind you of something you’ve done, maybe it’s time to examine that and think about whether you’d like to change this behavior or thought pattern. I’m definitely not saying my way of doing poly is the only way or the best way, but I do think eliminating these behaviors would help most non-monogamous relationships work more smoothly!

Implying you’re in competition with your metamours. (Just so we’re clear, a metamour is a partner’s partner. So if I’m dating Ben and he’s also dating Sally, then Sally is my metamour.)

I once asked a partner how he felt about another guy I was seeing, because there had been some jealousy afoot. He responded – ostensibly jokingly – “It’s okay; I think I can take him.” Pro tip: do not threaten to beat up your metamour, even as a joke!! Not only did I not find this even remotely funny, it was also hurtful to me; I care about all my partners and don’t like to hear them disparaged. I set a boundary with that person that he was not allowed to talk shit about my other partners unless he believed one of them was being genuinely toxic/harmful to me. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable boundary to set.

This problem can manifest in other ways too: self-pityingly joking that your partner probably likes your metamour better than you; trying to get your partner to admit your blowjobs are better than their other partners’; pouting when a partner opts to spend time with a metamour instead of you… It’s okay to feel your feelings, but you should process them yourself as much as possible, rather than looping your partner into a competition that probably only exists inside your own head. Their relationships with other people are not a threat to you – that’s the whole point of polyamory – and when you imply otherwise, you put your partner in a super uncomfortable position. Don’t do it!

Comparing your partners to each other. This is sort of the inverse of the previous point. If you don’t want your partners to feel like they’re in competition with each other, DON’T FUCKING COMPARE THEM TO EACH OTHER. EVER.

Sometimes there might be occasion to usefully elucidate the differences between your different dynamics, e.g. if you need to designate one partner as a primary and one as a secondary (hierarchial polyamory isn’t my fave, but it works great for some people). But putting any kind of value judgment on one partner over another – whether sexual, emotional, or in any other category – is not cool.

If you find yourself wanting to make an observation like “Partner A is more fun to have sex with” or “Partner B stresses me out less,” that might be a red flag about the overall well-being of the relationship. Or it might just be a signal that there’s an issue you need to address. Can you give Partner B some more explicit sexual instruction, or sit down with a Yes/No/Maybe list together to pep things up? Can you set some useful boundaries with Partner A so they aren’t, say, relying on you for all their emotional needs while you’re trying to spend quality time with another partner? Making unflattering comparisons is a sign that something needs rebalancing, somewhere. And it’s rude to communicate those comparisons to your partner unless absolutely necessary, because you will fill them with insecurity and doubt.

Only telling partners what you think they want to hear. Two weeks into my last relationship, my boyfriend started seeing someone else, but he told me he didn’t think it would get serious and that I would continue to be the “girlfriend” while this other person would just be his “lover.” I breathed a sigh of relief, which was, in itself, a bad sign; I was definitely still stuck in the paradigm that said anyone else entering his romantic life was a direct threat to me and our relationship. (I still feel this way sometimes, admittedly. It’s a process.)

Unsurprising spoiler alert: things did get serious with that other partner of his, and when I found out just how serious they were getting, it crushed me. I had believed I was “safe” from that kind of “intrusion” into our relationship, so I didn’t start processing that shift in our dynamic until it was already way too late. I’m not blaming my partner – I genuinely don’t think he knew things would unfold how they did – but if he had felt relationship-level feelings toward this other person right off the bat, I wish he would’ve told me that upfront, so I could have adjusted to it at my own pace and processed it in my own way.

Similarly, you shouldn’t tell your partner only bad things about their metamour (in an effort to make them feel better about themselves or more secure) or only good things (in an effort to be like, “See?! They’re not that bad!!”). Humanize your partners to each other. That means sharing the good and the bad, when relevant. (This process definitely benefits from metamours meeting each other in person, if they’re comfortable doing so!) Shielding someone from your true feelings in an effort to avoid hurting them usually just ends up hurting them more.

Using superlatives. Ohhh, this is a tough one for me! I didn’t realize this was a problem until there was a discussion about it in a poly group I’m in, and I went: Oh. Fuck.

Superlatives are words like “cutest,” “favorite,” “hottest,” “sweetest,” etc. I tend to use these a lot, in an affectionate way; I’ll call both my best friend and my brother “my favorite boy” (which is true, they are tied for the position of my favorite existing boy) or I’ll sometimes call someone “the handsomest” or “the cutest” when I’m flirting with them. I’ve been trying to be more mindful about this because it doesn’t really work once you’re in a poly situation.

A lot of language we recognize as “romantic” is rooted in a monogamous paradigm, and that includes referring to a person you’re dating as your “favorite [x]” or “the [x]-est” or whatever. This comes back to what I was saying earlier about comparing partners to each other: it’s a shitty thing to do, and also kind of misses the whole point of polyamory. My mom once asked me which of my two beaux I “liked better,” and I honestly didn’t even know how to answer that: I liked them both a lot, for different reasons, and also for some of the same reasons (their intelligence, humor, kindness, etc.) – so how the fuck could I pick a “favorite”? In poly, there should be no such thing. (Unless maybe you’re hierarchical and everyone involved knows that and is cool with that.)

Relying on your romantic partner(s) for all your social and emotional needs. Dean Spade says that polyamorists should treat our friends more like our lovers, and our lovers more like our friends. This has been an incredibly important insight for me – so much so, that I should probably write a full blog post about it sometime. It’s essentially the idea that you shouldn’t put all your emotional eggs in one basket – both because that’s hard on you, and because it’s hard on the “basket” (your partner[s]).

A monogamy paradigm teaches us that your partner is your “other half,” that they should be there for you through thick and thin, and that whatever you need, you can get it from them. This is fine for the people for whom it works, I guess (although I don’t know who those people are; even deadset monogamists often run into trouble when they over-invest in and over-rely on their partner). However, I think it’s safer and more respectful for everyone involved if you view each partner as just one piece of your support network, rather than the entire network in and of themselves.

That’s the “treat your lovers more like your friends” piece, but I’ve found the “treat your friends more like your lovers” piece to be equally important. This is not about sexualizing your friends or making them uncomfortable! It’s about valuing your friendships as much as you value your romantic relationships, putting effort into keeping those friendships healthy and mutually fulfilling, and asking for support from your friends when you need it. My close friendship with Bex, for example, is a foundation that allows my other relationships to thrive. If I didn’t have that intense, reliable, baseline intimacy with them, I would desperately seek that type of intimacy with other, potentially less trustworthy people, which might get me into unwise romantic/sexual situations.

It’s important to note here that people don’t exist to fulfill your needs. They can, but that doesn’t mean they’re obligated to. View people as people, always, and not just in terms of what they can offer you. That goes for friends as well as dates.

What monogamous-minded trope/pattern/belief have you had to unlearn?

My Best Friend Bex: A Dildorky Love Story

Photo via Clitsta Anne.

If you listen to Erin Pim interviewing me on the Bed Post Podcast, you’ll hear her ask me: “Do you have a primary partner?” And you’ll hear me stammer through my nervous answer: “Not right now. Probably my steadiest sexual relationship is a fuckbuddy who doesn’t even live where I live, and is occasionally visiting. He’s my favorite person to bang. But like, right now, I’m not dating anybody.”

It’s a deflection, a half-truth. At the time, I was deep in unreturned love with said fuckbuddy, and struggling with the lack of a romantic label on our relationship – or on any of my sexual relationships.

In contrast to this noncommittal answer, though, toward the start of the podcast, Erin asks me about my friendship with Bex – and I elaborate with enthusiasm. “They’re my best friend in the world,” I declare. “Our friendship is, weirdly, one of the great love stories of my life.”

I have never had trouble defining my relationship with Bex. We’ve been best friends ever since we threesomed with a mutual friend at the Playground Conference in 2015. I’ve never felt so certain about a friendship so fast. It’s their 26th birthday today, so here are a few of my favorite moments from our almost-two-years of best-friendship thus far.


December 30th, 2015. Bex makes the impulsive decision to drive all the way to Toronto to spend New Year’s Eve with me. I scream.

At the New Year’s party at Round Venue, we dance up a storm, drink too much, make out with drag kings. As the clock ticks midnight, someone pops a balloon full of silver confetti over our heads, and we hug – like the platonic (and, frankly, superior) version of a romantic New Year’s kiss. This bodes well for the year ahead.


I ride a bus for 3 hours to go see a boy I have a crush on. We spend that night in his bed, drinking red wine, giggling, and kissing. The next day, I while away my entire 3-hour-long return trip texting Bex every detail of what happened.

The following week, that same boy comes to a party I host, and we flirt all night long. He invites me to have dinner with him the next day. We kiss goodnight, and I panic at the friend who co-hosted the party with me: “Is he going to ask me to be his girlfriend?! Doesn’t it seem like he wants to date me?!”

She thinks so, yes, but she isn’t sure. I grab my phone and type some all-caps concerns at Bex, who’s away from their phone because they’re at work. I know they won’t see my messages for hours – maybe not even until tomorrow – and that feels unthinkable. I need to know their take on this.

“I feel like half my brain is missing,” I whine miserably at my friend. She’s one of my best pals, and I love her. But she isn’t the other half of my brain. Bex is. I need Bex.


On our way to Caitlin‘s house to watch the new Spit porn scene, Bex and I stop in at Starbucks for coffee and snacks. “What are you two up to today?” the barista asks us brightly.

“Uhh, we’re going to a friend’s house,” I hedge.

“Oh yeah? What are you gonna do there?”

Bex and I look at each other nervously. “We’re going to watch a movie.”

“What type of movie?”

We laugh. “We don’t know yet,” I lie. “We’ll decide when we get there, I guess.”

I watch my best friend practically giggle half a scone out their nose, and we shuffle out of the Starbucks, barely containing our guffaws.


I attempt to double-penetrate myself with two giant dildos – while livetweeting, obviously. Bex coaches me through it via text, reminding me when to put a vibe on my clit, add more lube, or move on to the next warm-up toy. Meanwhile, we’re also carrying on a side conversation about movies we love and TV shows we recommend. None of this feels unnatural. All of this feels on-brand. This is true love.


We go out for lunch at 7 West with my new boyfriend. I know he’s kinky, but I’m not totally sure yet how kinky, or in what ways. In the midst of a theoretical discussion of kinks, Bex rattles off some examples: “Teacher/student roleplay, or doctor/patient, or Daddy Dom/little girl…” Boyfriend doesn’t say anything, but noticeably perks up, like an eager little dominant puppy.

Later, I comment, “That was funny, how he reacted when you mentioned DD/lg.” Bex scoffs, “Oh, I 100% did that on purpose to test his reaction, and he 100% passed the test.”

I wish everyone could have a best friend who wants a fulfilling sex life for their friends as much as Bex wants one for me.


In one of our many, many, many conversations about our various internet crushes, Bex and I decide we’re going to have a four-way wedding someday. This seems like the natural conclusion of our strange, incestuous-yet-nonsexual relationship.

It’s a slow day at my customer service job, so I muck around on my iPad and manage to calculate the exact average location between the four cities in which Bex, Bex’s current crush, my current crush and I each live. I scroll around the map and notice the magic spot is right near a town called… Dorking. “It’s settled. We’re getting married in Dorking,” I announce, sending Bex a link.

“Holy shit. Yes. Perfection,” they reply.


Bex never calls the men I kiss/fuck/date by their names – only by nicknames, which are often a bit cruel. Men don’t get names until they’ve earned them by being not-terrible, which most don’t.

The guy I’m interested in around the time Bex and I first become friends is called Good-Dick Garbage Human, because, well, his dick is great but he’s kind of awful. This naming convention becomes a recurring motif in our nicknames for boys: we are both forever questing for the fabled Good-Dick Good Human. Occasionally we meet a Good-Fingers Good Human, or a Good-Dick Okay Human. One step at a time.

We go to visit my fuckpal-du-jour at the store where he works. After some pleasantries and semi-flirtations, we say goodbye, and he shouts after me, “Don’t be a stranger!” We’re barely three steps out of the store when Bex turns to me and says, “That means he wants his dick in your mouth again.” That particular fuckpal is known simply as “Weird Dude” in the Bexicon forever after.

When I start dating a 5-foot-tall dominant, Bex christens him Napoleon, “because he’s short and thinks he’s in charge.”


Bex and I start using a hashtag in some of our text correspondence: #ThingsIdOnlyTellYou.

Some of the secrets chronicled therein: TMI missives about butts and vaginas, petty complaints about my metamours (#Pettymour), arrogant self-praise, suicidal ideations, creepy shit about crushes, slutty accomplishments, and stuff like this: “Help! I sucked off a Mustang while jerking off today, and it helped a lot with BJ cravings. #ThingsIdOnlyTellYou #INeedToGetLaid”

We joke that these confessions should be published in a book someday when we’re both dead, but dear god, no, don’t do that.


As I’m getting ready to go visit sex shops in Minneapolis, my phone buzzes. It’s a text from Kidder. I burst out laughing, a high-pitched giggly shriek.

From two rooms away, Bex calls, “What did Kidder say?”

“How did you know it was him?!” I inquire, mystified.

I can hear the self-satisfied smirk in their voice. “That was your surprised/funny/turned-on sound,” they attempt to explain. Best-friend mind-reading on point.


I find out Bex has never smoked weed before, and offer to guide them through their first time. One night on one of their many trips up to Toronto, we hole up in my bedroom with a vape, a grinder, some bud we just acquired at a dispensary, and a few blowjob porn scenes on tap, because we will need entertainment once we are blazed.

Bex isn’t much of a lightweight when it comes to booze, so they’re not sure how weed will affect them. “I don’t think I’m high,” they say, wrinkling their nose at me quizzically.

“Touch your leg,” I suggest, drawing from my own experiences of what being high feels like. “See if your skin feels weird.”

They run their hand along their calf. “Oooh, furry! No, I don’t think I’m high,” they chirp, and I laugh. They are definitely, definitely high.


Bex and I smoke a bunch of weed before heading out to see a show at Comedy Bar. On the way to the subway station, we both hear – clear as a bell – the sound of a coin dropping. We spend five minutes looking around on the ground, trying to find the missing coin. We never find it, and reach the conclusion that we must just have both hallucinated the same exact sound at the same exact moment. As best friends do.

At Comedy Bar, we run into my ex-boyfriend, a comedian. We’re both way, way, way too high to navigate this interaction, so it goes horribly. After he leaves, I turn to Bex and say, “Did that actually just happen?”

They look just as bewildered as I feel. “I think so,” they say. We laugh nervously.


Trying to come back home from New York in January, I miscalculate my subway route on the way to the airport, and accidentally miss my flight. Rather, I get there an hour before takeoff, but that’s too late – they won’t let me fly.

I break down in the departures hall, leaning against my suitcase for strength, crying, hyperventilating. I was already descending into a post-travel mental health drop, and this development just kicked it into overdrive. I panic. I freak out. I want to die. I text Bex.

They calm me down, like they always do. Slowly and carefully, like they’re addressing a child (because right now, they kind of are), they talk me through the process of investigating other ticket options, finding out what can be done about my situation. When the answer is “nothing,” they go online and buy me a ticket for the following morning. Then they text me detailed instructions for how to get back to their house on the subway, and insist I update them regularly as I go along.

Suicidal ideations gnaw at me even harder as I drag my suitcase back into the subway system. I feel like a senseless failure, a pointless waste of space. I’ve long since exhausted the limited supply of tissues I keep in my purse, and I text Bex, amid scary confessions and depressed rambles, “I want to go to the CVS and buy more Kleenex. Like, so much that I will never run out. I want my next boyfriend to be made of an absorbent material.”

Dissociating from my body a bit, as I often do when severely depressed, I tell Bex, “I might be a ghost. A wet ghost.” Always witty, even at the toughest of times, Bex calmly responds, “Then you can haunt me and make me a better writer.” I write back, “This sentence is too woooordyyyy!” They quip, “Use less commaaaaas!” I laugh a little on the subway and type back, “Fewer commaaaaas!”

When I finally, finally reach the subway station closest to Bex’s apartment, I lug my suitcase down the endless stairs, hollow and empty and dead inside. At the bottom of the stairs is my best friend, my angel, my knight, wearing a Batman pajama onesie and a leather collar, and holding a brand-new bright yellow box of Kleenex just for me.

They put their arm around me and we walk to the CVS, where they make me buy some food I don’t want to eat, and then we go back to their place, where they make me eat the food because I need to. Then they set me up in front of their computer and let me watch whatever YouTube videos will make my bone-aching depression lift even the slightest bit: McElroy brothers clips, Goodbye Honolulu music videos, John Mulaney stand-up. I feel a little better.

Early early early the next morning, Bex wakes me up and helps me to an Uber. I get to the airport hours early for my new flight. I sit in the departures lounge silently, profoundly awed that I have found such a wonderful friend, of whom I often feel unworthy but without whom I simply cannot imagine going through life.

The 10 Commandments of Successful Friendships-with-Benefits

My first-ever sexual relationship was a friendship-with-benefits. So you would think I’d be better at that type of arrangement than the average person, since FWBs have been part of my sexual menu for literally my entire sexual career.

Nah, man. I wish. I have fucked up FWB situations in all manner of ways: I’ve fallen in love with fuckpals or turned the other cheek when they fell for me; I’ve undervalued them, or else heaped all my sexpectations onto them; I’ve ended things unceremoniously or not at all.

These are easy mistakes to make, because we don’t have clear social scripts for how FWB relationships (or, as I sometimes like to call them, “copulationships”) are supposed to go. However, these days, I have a rotating roster of occasional fuckbuddies, all of whom I adore – so I’m feeling much more motivated to do things right. Here are ten guidelines I think will serve you very well in copulationships of your own…

Only do it if you both want to. You’d think this would be obvious, but it isn’t always! Sometimes, people agree to a friendship-with-benefits because they think they have to. Maybe they want a romantic relationship with the other person, and think being their FWB is the closest thing they can get. Maybe they like their friend as a friend, and don’t quite know how to turn down the offer of sex without also severing the friendship. Maybe they’re just not a casual-sex type of person, but feel a social or societal obligation to pursue it anyway.

Before entering a FWB situation – or while the formation of a new one is still recent – give some thought to your reasons for wanting it, or not wanting it. Ask your pal how they feel about the situation as well. As in all things sexual, you cannot overprioritize clear, ongoing, informed, enthusiastic consent!

Set clear boundaries and expectations. You might think everyone shares your exact definition of “friend with benefits,” but they don’t! It’s important to hammer out what each of you expects from the other, and from the friendship in general. Emotional support? Seeing each other weekly or monthly? Are you seeing other people, and if so, are you going to tell each other when you do? Are certain sexual acts off the table, because they feel too intimate for a casual relationship, or for some other reason? If you run in the same social groups, are you okay with people knowing the two of you are sleeping together, or would you rather keep it on the down-low?

All of these factors can complicate a FWB sitch, so it’s best to figure them out before they become a problem. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, ask. Better to risk seeming a little uncool and find out what’s up, I say.

Ask for what you want – and encourage them to do the same. One of the best things about casual sexual relationships is that the stakes are lower, so you might find it easier to be frank about your desires. If they’re fucking you, presumably they want you to have fun and feel good – so ask for the specific things that would accomplish that! This could be anything from a small adjustment in technique to “Wanna put this huge dildo in my ass?”

As always, be prepared to accept a “No” if that’s their answer, and try not to take it personally. Likewise, you should encourage them to open up about what they’d like you to do – it’s important to be a good sexual partner, even if the situation is casual!

Talk about any feelings that come up. Learn from my mistakes: if you develop romantic feelings for your FWB, it feels like the best thing to do is hide that fact from them. But everything will just get worse over time, and then you’ll have massive emotional chaos on your hands instead of a small blip of a crush that could’ve been nipped in the bud.

Personally, I think that if either party begins to have romantic feelings for the other, it’s best to take a break from sex – and maybe even from seeing each other – until that situation is handled. That can feel difficult bordering on impossible, but trust me: it’s better than full-on falling for your fuckbuddy. You do not want that. It is a mess. Communicate and come up with a solution before you get to that stage, if at all possible.

(Pro tip: this was a chronic problem for me until I met my current main FWB, who is emotionally monogamous to his primary partner and who is also just not the type of person I’d want to date, personality-wise. It can be difficult to find someone who you find sexually attractive, enjoy spending time around, and have no romantic desire for whatsoever, but trust me, it is possible. If I, a severely crush-prone sap, could do it, I believe almost anyone can.)

Keep putting in the effort. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have to try to “impress” your FWB, because they’re not a romantic partner. But that’s a bullshit attitude. They’re your friend, and they’re sharing a sexual experience with you. They’re worthy of your respect and good treatment. If you don’t think so, why are you sleeping with them?

Make sure your sheets are clean when they come over. Shower and groom yourself appropriately. Don’t rush them out the door when you’re done. Treat them like a hot date you’re trying to impress, even if they’re the goofy pal you’ve seen laugh beer out their nose a dozen times. Be worthy of the experiences you’re sharing; they may be casual, but they’re not worthless.

Value their mind, not just their body. If you’re both cool with an “wham-bam-thank-you-fam” arrangement, that’s a different matter. But at that point, they become less a friend-with-benefits and more just a booty call. Keep up with their life, their hopes and dreams, their ups and downs, if they seem to want to share that stuff with you. A solid friendship will make the sex better, too!

Be respectful and polite. Don’t be late to your meetups if you can avoid it. Don’t cancel plans at the last minute unless you absolutely have to. Answer their texts in a timely manner when you can. You know, like… a good friend?

Be a friend, even when times are tough. I’ll never forget the time my FWB came over a week after I’d gotten dumped, and told me, “I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough week. You don’t deserve that. If you just wanna cuddle and talk tonight, I’d be totally fine with that. I don’t want to rush you or pressure you into anything you don’t feel like doing.” Admittedly, I wanted him to fuck me, too – but that was partly because he’d shown his true colors as a genuinely good guy! With this simple speech, he proved he viewed me as a person, not just a series of holes to fuck.

It can be awkward to try to emotionally support someone who you usually only see naked, sweaty, and grunting – but it’s nice to offer. They might not take you up on it, but they’ll probably feel better about the copulationship knowing it’s with someone who has their back.

Cultivate compersion. Incase you haven’t heard, compersion is the term the polyamorous community uses to describe the opposite of jealousy: it’s the feeling of being happy for a partner’s romantic and/or sexual happiness with other people.

Assuming your friendship-with-benefits isn’t monogamous (and most aren’t!), your fuckpal will probably date and/or bang other people while seeing you. They may even end things with you to pursue something with someone else. While this can be painful, it’s also an opportunity for you to hone your compersion skills. I have even found FWB situations to be excellent practice for navigating jealousy in my serious romantic relationships. It’s a win-win!

If it’s over, say so. Don’t ghost or fade away; it’s weak and rude. If you’ve been fucking someone consistently for a while, you owe them an explanation if that has to stop. End it like you’d endeavor to end a romantic relationship: politely, compassionately, and definitively. Don’t leave them wondering why you keep canceling plans or won’t answer their texts; you’re better than that.

Have you had successful friendships-with-benefits? To what did you owe their success?

10 Things I’m Looking Forward To At This Year’s Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit

The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit is about a month away, amigos! It’s “like sex blogger Christmas” – we wait all year for it to come, and now it’s nearly here. I hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, you can follow along from afar by tracking the #SFS17 hashtag on Twitter and on Instagram.

There are soooo many things I’m looking forward to at this year’s Woodhull; here are my top 10!

The digital creators’ meet-and-greet. This is a fun opportunity for sexuality-focused digital content creators to meet up, talk shop, and get to know each other. There will be bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, and more. We’ll do skillshares and nosh on snacks – what could be better?! (You have to RSVP to this event in order to attend, so make sure to do that if you have your eye on it.)

Storytelling for Social ChangeI’m fascinated by the way narratives help us teach things, learn things, and feel things. Stories are powerful tools for anyone who has a message to share, and they can be particularly useful in areas where emotion runs high, like sexuality. This panel promises to explain “how storytelling techniques can be used to resolve conflict, reduce stigma, increase pleasure, and change the world.” Exciting!

Suz‘s butt after I spanked her with my Lexan paddle last year.

Spanking babes. I’ve only been to Woodhull once before, but hotel-room spankings there have already become a solid tradition in my mind. Let’s just say I’m packing some impact toys in my suitcase…

Femme As Fuck. This panel, put together by three glorious femmes, will discuss how the feminist movement has often devalued femininity and femmeness in its path toward empowerment and “coolness.” Fuck femmephobia forever, am I right?!

Bedpost Confessions. This yearly event involves sexy storytelling, provocative poetry, and carnal confessions. Then there’s a dance party. What’s not to love?!

Hurts So Good. This panel on pain disorders’ interaction with sexuality looks intriguing. I have some chronic joint pain in my hips and knees that’s often affected my sex life, so I’m interested to hear what folks with chronic pain issues have to say about self-advocacy and boundary-setting around pain and sex. (I wonder if they’ll talk about consensual pain, too?!)

Wearing ridiculous outfits. I feel closer to my “true self” at Woodhull than I do almost anywhere else, because everyone there is chill as fuck and knows me more as my brassy online persona than the awkward wallflower I often am “in real life.” As a result, I tend to dress weirder at Woodhull than at any other time all year. Last year, I rocked princess pajamas, a blue striped rockabilly dress, a sparkly mermaid ensemble, and a dress covered in vulvas. Who knows what silliness this year will bring?!

The Dildorks live recording. I’m absolutely thrilled to report that my bestie Bex and I will be doing a recording of our podcast for sex nerds, The Dildorks, in front of an audience at Woodhull! We’ll dole out our best tips for attending sex conferences, from making friends to absorbing workshop content to taking care of yourself. Come be a part of Dildorks history by watching our first-ever in-person live event!

Keep Giving a Fuck. This panel will discuss how to prioritize sex (or maybe whether to prioritize sex) when you’re going through tough times like health crises, financial problems, or – hell – the current political climate in the U.S. I always love seeing JoEllen speak, and I find her work so encouraging as a fellow sufferer of clinical depression, so I’m excited to hear her thoughts in this talk.

Hanging out with sex blogger friends. Chillin’ with the #BlogSquad was absolutely the highlight of my Woodhull experience last year, and I know this year will be more of the same! I feel so loving and grateful every day to have found a crew of like-minded sex-nerdy weirdos on the interwebz, and Woodhull’s one of the only times all year when we get to hang out IRL. I can’t wait to laugh til I cry, ogle each other’s sex toy collections, make bad puns, livetweet en masse, and feel surrounded by blogger love!

Will I see you at Woodhull this year? (If you spot me, come say hi!) What are you most looking forward to about the summit?

Links & Hijinks: Frumps, Friendship, & Fidget Spinner Porn

• There’s nothing wrong with being frumpy! I feel like I am constantly unlearning the idea that, as a woman, I have to be sexually desirable at all times or I am valueless.

• And on that note: there is nothing wrong with being ugly, like Medusa. Sometimes ugliness can even be a superpower.

• Some people really, really like giving massages. “I think part of the reason why is that you’re doing stuff, but it’s not sexual except for the fact that you have your hands inside someone else’s shirt and they’re making pleasure sounds.” Oooof. This article also contains the phrase “intense butt massage,” which you gotta love.

• On internet-connected sex toys, cybersecurity, and the future of teledildonics.

• It’s okay if you don’t always feel like reciprocating oral sex. Related: I love Tristan Taormino’s concept of distinguishing between sexual equality and sexual symmetry. You don’t have to receive exactly the same sexual favors you give to your partner; both of you just have to get roughly equal amounts of what you want.

• I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch “2 Girls, 1 Cup” but I found this history of that video interesting nonetheless. It’s certainly an artifact of the internet age!

• Why do I love the shrug emoticon so much?! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

• Bex gives good sexting advice. “A thumbs-up emoji is not an appropriate response to my ass. Seriously. I have an exceptional ass.”

• Sarah wrote a beginner’s guide to sexting, and it’s full of A+ tips.

• “These feelings will be over soon” is a great anti-anxiety mantra. (Or, as I’ve seen it alternatively phrased before: “No moment is unendurable.“)

• The one-night stand is so passé; we are in the era of the several-night stand. These have sometimes been exactly the type of “relationship” I needed, at times when I wasn’t willing or able to commit to anyone and neither were my paramours – but gosh, it’s frustrating when you keep ending up in casual arrangements while desperately craving something more.

• Helena Fitzgerald, one of the most beautiful writers I’ve ever encountered, explains why socializing on the internet isn’t distancing us from each other but actually making intimacy easier to achieve.

• What if you like someone, but you’re pretty sure you only want to be friends?

• I’d rather make good art than answer emails in a timely manner. Sorry-not-sorry.

• Useful to me as a person whose best friend lives hundreds of miles away: how to keep a long-distance friendship alive. “Treat it like a long-distance romance. (Because, in a way, it is.)”

• Sooo, fidget spinner porn is a thing now. Good god, what a world we live in.

Be your best self with the people you love, because “relationships are stronger and more satisfying when they make you feel like the best, most aspirational version of who you can be.”

• More people are exploring consensual non-monogamy, and more research is finding it has many benefits (“lower jealousy, higher trust, and higher sexual satisfaction,” to list a few). But stigma still exists, and we have a long way to go before these relationships will be considered normal, valid options anyone can choose.

• Here’s a pep talk for picky daters. Sometimes you just gotta round that 0.67 up to “the one,” as Dan Savage would say.

Queers can totally have long nails. Sometimes even in queer porn!

• Here’s several couples explaining why they opened up their relationship. I love so many quotes in this piece! Like: “We never place limits on emotions other than love, like we don’t say you can only be sad or happy about this one thing, but with monogamy it’s like only one person is allowed to feel your love. And love is such a crazy emotion, so why not experience it with a bunch of people?” And: “I no longer have the desire to control my partner. Control is just an illusion anyway.”