The Sexuality Advisor, Issue #10

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Column #10 - October 8, 2000

Welcome to The Sexuality Advisor! Every other week, we'll answer a few questions about sex, love, and relationships submitted by our readers.

Regretfully, we cannot answer every letter individually. Whether or not your question is answered in this forum, you can be sure that your email address and question will be kept strictly confidential. We reserve the right to edit the letters we publish for readability and length.

Bondage and Spanking for Beginners

My girl is interested in bondage and I'm sure a little spanking to go along with it. However, this is a whole new game for me. She is not experienced, but she is interested. I am older and more experienced, but apparently not enough!? Any suggestions?

Mister, have you come to the right place! This very web site is chock full of information about BDSM-- that is to say, bondage and discipline (BD), dominance and submission (DS), and sadism and masochism (SM).

The prospect of edging into kinky sex play sometimes makes people a little nervous, and I think I catch a whiff of that in your letter. That's not particularly surprising. BDSM is really charged stuff--which is exactly why even a little kink can really rev up your sex life.

The first thing to realize is that Not All Kinks Are Created Equal. There's a reason why the acronym "BDSM" frequently gets broken down into those overlapping two-letter abbreviations in my first paragraph: kink covers a broad spectrum of actions and intentions. It's wise to remember that experienced kinkyfolk recognize a difference between purely physical techniques (bondage and discipline [spanking, etc.]), the psychology of power differentials (dominance and submission), and the pleasures of giving and receiving pain (sadism and masochism). While some folks may enjoy mixing these components to a greater or lesser degree, they are not inextricably linked. That is to say, someone who's turned on by getting tied up may not necessarily want to be dominated, or someone who enjoys taking total control of the scene may not necessarily want to hurt the person they're dominating. In fact, it's not uncommon for serious BDSM partners to just get off on the pain (or the power play or the bondage or whatever) and not be explicitly sexual with each other at all.

So before you get started with your girlfriend, it's worth doing a little exploring to see what, precisely, she's interested in. Does she want you to spank her because that sweet sting just feels really hot, or does she want to feel like a naughty girl who's being punished? Does she want a few little swats on the behind, or does she want ten of your best thwacks? Negotiating beforehand may feel a little awkward, but it's strongly recommended. Remember that you're going into some touchy territory, and it's better to outline what's OK and what's not beforehand or else you can wind up with some really unpleasant misunderstandings. Agree on a "safeword" beforehand, a mutually-understood word that, when uttered, means STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW. Pick one that's totally out of context--"grapefruit" or "venture capitalist" or something--so you feel free to say "No! No! No!" to your heart's content, if that's part of the thrill. Then honor the safeword when you're playing.

Physical safety is another big concern, ESPECIALLY with bondage. Wrists and ankles are usually the first points novices consider restraining, but these are actually very complicated and delicate parts of the body and it's easy to accidentally hurt your partner badly if you don't know what you're doing. Handcuffs, silk scarves, and clotheslines are all bad choices for the novice. Get yourself some thick, wide, padded restraints that distribute the pressure over a wide area so your bedroom play doesn't finish up at the emergency room. Also, it's an incredibly bad idea to start out tying someone up so that they're suspended in any way, or in such a way that parts of their body can go numb (such as hands above the head).

If all this whets your appetite for further information, we highly recommend getting a good beginner book. Two we like are Screw the Roses: Send Me the Thorns, by Philip Miller and Molly Devon, or SM101 by Jay Wiseman.

Have fun and play safe!

What Is A "Virgin", Anyway?

I received this poignant and thought-provoking--not to mention hot--letter in response to my last column, about what the big deal is about intercourse. I'm incredibly heartened to hear from another young man who has a really good handle on what it means to be sex-positive: present, in the moment, enjoying the delectable experience for what it has to offer.

This letter does raise a great question, though: when is a virgin not a virgin? Does participation in intercourse really serve as a useful demarcation, especially if someone's done "everything but"?

"C" is not the only young man who has realized that intercourse doesn't have to be the major component of one's sexlife. I'm a virgin myself (at least technically speaking; I don't feel like a virgin even though I've never had intercourse, so I can well understand C's problem with questions regarding whether or not he's had sex before) who had a beautiful introduction to the magic of lovemaking despite keeping my pants on the whole of that time. But I would like to make a point of the fact that our reasons seem quite different...

With me it had nothing to do with religion, it just happened that way because it felt right. I was in love for the first time (I was a late start, two years past my twentieth birthday at the time); we lived in different countries (me in Scandinavia, she in the Middle East), had exchanged letters for six months and now she was here and we had only one day together before she had to return. We talked the hours away and I never expected us to do anything more, since we seemed doomed to remain just friends no matter how much we liked each other, because of the distance, the fact that I had not been born to her faith and what she had told me of earlier long-distance relationships which had left her with a broken heart. In the end, we just sat there looking at each other, and then we kissed for the first time. It might never have gone further than that, a bittersweet goodbye before parting...

I still doubt I could have taken that final step if it had been only up to me; we held each other, continuing to kiss, and in the end it was she who led me to the sofa, pulled me down next to her, took my hand and put it to her breast.

What still surprises me to this day is how calm I felt, not a bit nervous, no sweaty palms or shortness of breath. All the time I knew that we had so little time, but an hour before we had to go separate ways, but I never felt the need to rush through this new and wonderful experience, to spend myself within her warmth and get it over with before time ran out. If I ever had any thoughts on the subject it was the desire for these moments together to feel right, to let them be everything I had ever dreamed them to be. And they became just that, everything just flowing smoothly and naturally, no hesitation, no rush, each new moment the natural next step from the one before.

We spent a long time exploring her delightfully sensitive breasts and the pleasure she took from the attention of my mouth was a warm joy in my heart sweeter than I ever could have imagined in my past dreams of this moment. When my mouth finally left her saliva-wet nipples, their aureoles blushed and glistening from my sucking, there was never any doubt in my mind where to go next. I kissed my way down her stomach and when my lips reached her navel I asked her if I might kiss her even further down.

Her face lit up in a smile I'll never forget. "Would you like that?" she asked and I told her there was nothing I would like more. Her skirt was quickly removed and she eagerly parted her silky thighs for my seeking mouth...

I could write endlessly about what followed, about her taste, the scent of her soft pubic-hair, the beauty of her labia, like flower-petals opening under my tongue, her soft moans and the dreamy happy expression on her face as I explored her. I don't know how long those moments of her sharing herself with me like that and the unimaginable joy I took from giving her pleasure lasted, only that it was too short, as we finally had to realize that we had no more time and had to end our lovemaking, say goodbye and part. A final kiss in the trainstation and a shared beautiful memory...

It had felt so right not to try to have intercourse. In fact, I don't think it ever even entered my mind to attempt it at the time. I think a first time for that act, probably clumsy and short, would have lessened the experience we shared, not made it better.

Afterwards I've also reflected on all the worries young men and boys feel before the first time and how I never had to think about them - am I too big/small?, what if I can't get in?, what if I climax too quickly?, will a condom make me feel less? will the fact that I'm uncircumcised put her off? etc etc. As it was, my first experience of lovemaking was all I had ever dreamed about and more! It was the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced and so what if I'm still technically speaking a virgin? One day I'll get to experience the joy of intercourse as well, but I doubt it can ever become as important to me as the intense joy and satisfaction of the giving pleasure with my hands and mouth.

I would like to believe that I would still feel the same even if we had had more time, many more hours or even days to explore further and to take care of the matter of my virginity (whether we're talking about vaginal, oral, manual, intermammary or any other kind of virginity since there appear to be many kinds apart from the definition the religious like to use) but the fact that I got to find out (or rather confirm previous suspicions, since I've fantasized about cunnilingus ever since I became old enough to understand the concept) about the pleasures of giving and the importance of the right "state of mind, context, energy and circumstances" as you put it, while still remaining totally ignorant of what it's like to do anything beyond what others might think of as "mere foreplay" has definitely brought home lessons that can take others many years to realize in less than an hour of truly beautiful lovemaking.

Gee, did it sound like I have a "holier than thou"-attitude about this? I hope not.

JT, Sweden

Not at all. What a great experience and a delightful story. Thanks for sharing!

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