More Sex, Please
Flare, Nov, 2005
A little bedroom civility can lead to some of the most uncivilized sex of your life.
By Josey Vogels
Just a few decades ago, TV couple Rob and Laura Petrie couldn’t even sleep in the same bed. Now we’d barely bat an eye if we saw them tying each other to the bedposts. One-night stands, Internet hook-ups, swinging, open-relationships, polyamory, and S&M have entered our everyday lexicon and, if you haven’t done something sexually out there, you know someone who has, or you’ve read about it or seen it on TV. Heck, gay marriage — another sign of our sexually liberated times – seems almost quaint.
But all this increased sexual activity brings with it new social challenges.
Like what gift do you bring to the wedding of a “Christian leatherdyke and her Pagan female-to-male transsexual Daddy,” as Drew Campbell describes his nuptials in his book The Bride Wore Leather and He Looked Fabulous: An Etiquette Guide For the Rest of Us.
Yes, thankfully, a new generation of etiquette advisors has arisen to help guide us in the rules of conduct in these sexually expansive times.
Because judging from the behaviour I see, hear and write about, even plenty of good old-fashioned vanilla folk – those of us who don’t go in for all the sexual bells and whistles – could use a lesson or two in sexual decorum.
Like the woman who told me about a guy who introduced the idea of anal sex by merely yelling “heads up!” in the middle of things. Really now.
What’s wrong with thanking a one-night stand, even if you’ll never see him again? And it only seems polite to ask a person at an orgy if they want to have sex, rather than assume it.
Some might argue that “sex etiquette” is an oxymoron. After all, as Em & Lo say in their book Nerve’s Guide to Sex Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen: “A little Neanderthal behaviour is frequently a welcome guest in the bedroom.”
But, as I argue in my own book Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy: “Just because we’re sexually liberated, doesn’t mean we have to be unabashed vulgarians.”
Displaying good sexual manners is a way of showing mutual respect, the cornerstone of healthy sex. (Yes, even when humiliating someone is part of the sex. Kinky sex requires especially good manners.) Sex is an emotionally charged, highly delicate operation that requires some ground rules. And, unlike old-fashioned etiquette, which often consisted of sad, retrograde rules to keep women in line, practicing modern sexual etiquette can be liberating and empowering.
In fact, you’d be amazed how far a little directness (delivered with the perfect amount of tact and charm, of course) can go towards rewarding you with some of the most naughty, uncivilized sex of your life.
There’s Got to Be A Morning After
It’s a one-off thing. Chances are, you’re never seeing each other again. Do you still exchange phone numbers? Do you have to kiss good-bye?
Let’s face it. No one’s gonna be calling anyone. And you both have morning-after booze breath strong enough to take an eye out. Lose the pretense. A simple, “Thanks, that was fun, nice to meetcha, take care,” will suffice. Throw in a hug or offer him a cup of coffee if you’re feeling extra civil.
Of course, if you don’t want him or her staying over — the old half-night stand, as we like to call it — be up front. No one wants to shag and then find out that they’re being turfed out into the cold, dark night. You could hang a “Breakfast Not Included” sign over the bed, but setting the rules beforehand is much more polite. Tell your playmate you’d love to have sex but you’re not up for a sleepover — you’ve got an early morning ahead, whatever. He or she will appreciate your honesty. Unless the person’s hoping for more out of the encounter. In which case you need to consider if you should be having your way with him at all.
Asking For It?
As nice as it might be to order up your sexual needs like a dry martini with a twist, telling someone what you do and don’t like in bed can be a delicate task. Egos are at stake. In other words, “What on earth are you doing, you freak?” is a little harsh. At the same time, you don’t want to lie there while he’s giving himself tongue lash, knowing he’s at least two inches off target.
The proper approach depends on how long you’ve been with your partner.
A fresh candidate should be given a little more leeway to figure out what you like. Some strategic hip wiggling, a few well-placed moans — even some hands-on guidance — are all acceptable in the early stages.
You can be more direct with a long-term partner. Still, try to be kind. As much as you’d like to smack him upside the head when he tweaks your nipple in that way that you’ve told him (oh, about a million times) that you hate, be nice.
Are We There Yet?
Because women have (thankfully) become more demanding about our own sexual satisfaction, many couples fall into the “Ladies First,” approach to sex. In other words, let’s get her orgasm out of the way so he can finish up and pass out guilt-free. It’s not necessarily a bad rule, but sometimes it can start to feel like he wants you to come, even more than you do.
Best to tell him if it’s just not happening for you (less chance of a heart attack for him, less chance of chafing for you). That way you can shift the focus back to just having fun. If he comes first, so what? You can catch the next train. Of course, if he comes first, and you really, really want to come, he has to at least stay awake and try to help, even if it just means holding her while she takes care of things herself — yes, with his eyes open!
Bringing toys to bed can be great fun. But it can be sensitive territory when introducing them for the first time. Hauling in a three-foot dildo into bed and saying, “Hey honey, look what I’ve got…mind if I shove it up yer bum? ” isn’t cool. Start small and quiet. And girls, if you’re bringing in your favourite plaything, you should at least try to make it look like you want him to get involved. Let him run the controls while you operate the machinery.
And You Would Be…?
If you’re into year two or three of the relationship and you say the wrong name, you’d better have a good excuse or a comfy couch. Early in the game, however, screaming the wrong name in the heat of passion is a little more excusable. It can even be funny. A clever comeback can help. “No sweetie, I said we should try Ben-WA balls sometime…”
Even if he doesn’t believe you, your quick wit will hopefully charm him. I said hopefully. It might not be a bad idea to follow this up by shouting his name ten times at the top of your lungs.
Spit or Swallow?
You’re happily wowing him with your oral abilities, and suddenly realize you’re heading down the home stretch. You’ve only got a split second to make the decision — spit or swallow? You weigh the pros and cons. Swallowing is tidy. It makes him feel special. It’s also kinda icky and, if you have cuts in your mouth or you’ve just brushed your teeth, it can be dangerous. Given this is a personal choice, there are no hard, fast rules. However, if you absolutely refuse to swallow, at least be nice about it. Don’t spit it out and sprint to the bathroom to gargle. You can always simply pull away and guide him toward a more desirable target.
Periodically, Things Get Messy
You’ve just met someone at the bar, and it looks like you’re gonna get lucky. When do you reveal that it’s gonna be what my friend so delicately refers to as: “car wreck sex?” When you’re still flirting at the bar? Or when your hot new candidate’s about to head south. Best to come clean early in the game.
Once you’ve lured him in, sexily growl in his ear: “I’d love to screw you silly baby, but it might be a little messy, if you know what I mean. Of course, it doesn’t bother me, if it doesn’t bother you.”
Then toss an old towel down to save the sheets and let loose. By the way, it goes without saying, that condoms are a must during all casual sex, be it half-night, that-time-of-month, or the breakfast-included variety.
Some will advise you to ignore it when someone toots during the act, but I just can’t. Come on, it’s funny. Besides, having a laugh about it will ease the embarrassment for both of you and ultimately make you more at ease with each other. Isn’t good sex all about getting comfy? Say something like, “Wow, you’re good — you knocked the wind right outta me,” have a laugh, and move on. Of course, if it’s a real stinker, you might want to take a break and let the air clear before moving on.
Josey Vogels’ top five rules of sexual etiquette:
1. Know thyself.
2. Do unto others as you would like to have them do unto you.
3. Know and respect your own boundaries and those of your partners.
4. Always say “please” and “thank you.”
5. Never point and laugh.
Josey Vogels is a sex columnist and author of the book Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy. Visit her website at www.joseyvogels.com