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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sex suggestions

Well, this is it. The last column of the quarter. If I were in a more self-indulgent mood, I’d spend our final inches together musing on exactly what it means to me to be a sex columnist, and how my own sexy exploits have shaped what you’ve read here.

But then I remembered that this column isn’t about me. It’s about you, and your needs when it comes to sex. So, as a goodbye present, I’ve prepared some tips to help you feel comfortable and happy in your sex life. I’ll go into the saucy details of my personal life if you like, but you have to buy me a drink first.

1) Have a conversation (or several): Use your words, or hand signals or text messages or whatever method of communication suits you best. I know the thought of talking about the details of sex makes some of you uncomfortable or strikes you as unsexy. But if you do not communicate with each other, you’re going to have a tough time having good sex. It may be hard at first, but be patient with yourselves and each other. It’s worth it. I promise.

If you really feel that talking about your sexual needs and wants is going to be too difficult in the heat of moment, I seriously recommend setting up a time to sit down and have a formal conversation with your partner. Talk about contraception preferences, STI history, fantasies and anything else you feel it’s important to know about each other. You’ll be amazed at how helpful this can be.

Of course, I caveat the above for one topic: consent. Consent is non-negotiable, and it must be obtained every time you do something sexual.

2) Be knowledgeable: You know that cliché that knowledge is power? This is doubly true in the bedroom. You’re going to have a much easier time feeling satisfied with your sex life if you have a sense of what you want. And that doesn’t mean you must be able to outline the details of your desires in an intricate flow-chart (although hey, that might work great for you).

Knowing what you want can be as vague as “I like slow, lingering movements” or as specific as “I want you to tie me to this chair and lick Nutella off my collar-bone.” And, of course, it’s equally important to know what you don’t want from a sexual experience. But just having a sense of all this can make all that communicating I keep telling you to do a lot easier.

I extend this maxim about knowledge to other aspects of sex as well. Specifically, the ones about sexual health. Knowing your STI status, what kind of protection you prefer and how to use it are all important to a healthy and stress-free sex life.

3) Go exploring: Since I’ve just stressed the importance of knowledge, you may be wondering how to obtain said knowledge. My advice is to explore, both in the digital and physical worlds. There are a ton of resources out there, from info on health (HEP’s website) to info on pleasure and play (Good Vibrations) that can answer any questions you may have about sex. It can also be useful just to learn about different sexual practices, if for no other reason than it will help you keep an open mind or reassure that you are not alone in your desires (plus, you may get a few ideas).

I also suggest exploring bodies, both your own and your partners. A good way to learn what you like in bed is to … play around a little. Use your hands or a toy to figure out what makes you ache with pleasure, then show what you’ve discovered to your partner (or have them show you).

4) Have no shame: There are a lot of messages floating in the cultural ether about what you’re supposed to like in terms of sex. It seems that you’re supposed to only dabble in the really “dirty” stuff to prove that you’re not, like, totally boring. But don’t be too into the dirty stuff, because that’s just weird and icky.

Yeah, no. Be as kinky as you want, be as vanilla you want. As long as you and your partner(s) are safe, consenting and happy with what you do, who gives a damn if someone else thinks it’s too weird or not weird enough?

I don’t. And hopefully, after a quarter of this column, you won’t either.

SAM WALL wants you send any questions, comments or tearful farewells to sewall@ucdavis.edu.

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