It’s essential that we learn to communicate about our needs and desires and elicit this from a partner, especially when what brings us pleasure is changing with the years.
Negotiating Better Sex
Sometimes sex is a negotiation, especially with a new partner. What do you like? What do you need to reach orgasm? What is uncomfortable for you physically or emotionally? What is absolutely off-limits? What are you nervous about trying, but maybe you’d be willing?
“Straight people should take from gay people these four magic words: “What are you into?” That question, when two guys are going to have sex, is always asked. When it’s a man and a woman, all too often, consent is granted and then all communication ceases. What’s happening next is assumed: if it’s heterosexual sex, it’s penis in vagina.
“We don’t have that default assumption in gay land. When two guys say yes to sex, it’s the beginning of a whole other conversation. Everything has to be discussed and negotiated. Asking “What are you into?” is so empowering, because at that moment, you can rule anything in and anything out. It’s a sexy negotiation. Straight people sometimes say to me, I wish I could have more sex. I say, ‘You could, if you had a broader definition of sex.’”
If you can ask for what you want, you’re more likely to get it than if you keep wishing that your partner could read your mind. Likewise, if you don’t ask or encourage your partner to share what feels good, you’ll rely on what used to work, without ever discovering how sensations and erogenous zones might have changed.
- “I’d love it if you’d touch me this way.”
- “Could we try…?”
- “What would you like?”
- “Show me what feels good to you.”
- “Show me how you pleasure yourself.”
If You’re Starting a New Relationship
If you and your partner are new to each other, you’ll have additional considerations. How and when will you bring up your sexual needs and limitations? If intercourse will be problematic or not an option, how and when do you put that on the table?
Rather than frame your need or desire for sex without penetration as a sad limitation or an apology, word it in a positive way, such as some variation of these statements:
- I’m very attracted to you. Intercourse is not possible for me, but I’d love to explore all the other ways we can enjoy each other.
- I’m excited about where this is leading. Can we explore how to make love to each other without the goal of intercourse?
- I have to tell you that we might not be able to have intercourse. But, if you’d enjoy it, I’d love to use my mouth and hand to satisfy you.
Exploration is Sexy
“For many queer and disabled people, sex without intercourse isn’t about broadening our sexual repertoire but acknowledging the varied kinds of sex we’re already having,” Bianca Palmisano, sex educator, medical consultant and owner of Intimate Health Consulting says. “Only a small percentage of our intimacy involves inserting tab A into slot B. Sometimes that’s because we don’t have the ‘right’ equipment or enough energy for penetration, but frequently it’s because there’s plenty of other avenues keeping us entertained. We have fingers and tongues and dirty thoughts and pretty underwear. It’s not a loss when we have sex without penetration, we’re just busy exploring all the other beautiful pieces of our sexuality.”
And as one of my readers, age 65, told me in an email, “Once I realized what real sex was, I realized the goal is the journey, not the destination. It is all about the two beings connecting. It is only secondarily about the bodies. The basic building block is the connection between the two live beings.”