Short, heavy breaths escape our tight lips. Our chests heave up and down. I swallow hard, trying not to make a sound. Somehow, we have flipped both of our six-foot bodies all the way around, so that our heads are hanging off of the foot of my tiny twin bed. The duvet knots under my back, tangled as if there had been a category five storm. I consider readjusting, but I know the first movements after sex are always precarious. Especially the first time you sleep with a new partner.
As our breathing slowed, Lee* turned towards me. With earnest excitement, he asked for a P&I session. I looked at him baffled. Was that some new sex act I had missed in this month’s Cosmo? Lee clarified, “Points of interest, so we can improve for next time.” I belched out a huge belly laugh, which in retrospect was probably the last thing I should have done post-sex. I assured him that the sex was smoking hot. And in this moment of excitement and exhaustion, I couldn’t think of giving a review. I wasn’t trying to turn into Rodger Ebert in the bedroom. But Lee probed me for points. I stammered and stuttered. I prided myself on sexual transparency, but I realized that when it came down to it, I simply couldn’t perform.
Lee ended up spending the night, something I couldn’t remember happening since about twenty sexual partners back. In a night with a lot of firsts, I lay awake thinking about why I was so uncomfortable talking about the sex I was having. How was I supposed to ask for what really turned me on? After a few more awkward P&I’s on my part, I decided Lee and I needed something much more concrete. I nervously pitched my bold new idea to Lee. What if two partners completed a sex/relationship Q & A? Asking each other’s opinions on everything from fantasies to sex toys? To both my dismay and delight, he was 100% game.
That next Sunday, after homemade burrito bowls (another poor decision, in retrospect), we stripped off our clothes and lay down on his much larger bed. On the bed naked, as we had been many times before, I started to get nervous. Was this the key to better fulfillment? Or was I shooting myself in the foot? I worried that I might discover that he was turned on by red leather jumpsuits. And I, on the other hand, despised chafing. But if bright colored costumes made him tick, I would consider wearing one again — given that there was ample baby powder.
Lying face to face, we dove straight into it. I posed the first question, “Is there anything you dislike or would change about the sex we are having?” It was a brutal one, but I felt it was best to get raw, nice and early. His eyes bulged a little bit, and he pushed me to go first. I finally sputtered, “I want the span of time we have sex to be prolonged.” I cowered away the tiniest bit. Commenting on anything in regards to length with a male partner never ended well. Instead, he nodded assuredly. I held my breath waiting for his comments. Lee warily said, “I’m not used to so much eye contact.” Shit! I hope I didn’t look like a wide-eyed lemur every time we banged. After the first, and inevitably hardest question, we started to get into a flow.
Is there something you’ve ever been scared to ask for in bed?
L: In my more adult partnerships, I’ve been pretty vocal. But I get off from finding out what makes people tick. Discovering someone else’s turn-ons is as difficult as expressing your own sometimes.
M: I don’t know why it hasn’t come up yet, but I’ve experimented with bondage in my past partnerships, and would like to do so more. I don’t always know how broach the subject that I like being tied up. And I’ve seen the ropes under your bed, so who knows why I haven’t asked for that.
L: Yeah, let’s go! I have ropes, silk ties. We’ll try them all out, maybe silk first to avoid that good ol’ rope burn.
On that subject, how do you feel about toys? Props?
L: Besides using a broken ping pong paddle, I don’t know if I’d invest in a riding crop or anything like that. But, as for vibrators outside of partner sex, I think they’re so important!
M: Shit, I’ve never owned a vibrator! Do you know how expensive those things are?
L: Do I know! I helped get one of my girlfriends a vibrator for her birthday. You need to go check it out!
At this point Lee started to list off various vibrator brands. All of which I am admittedly too embarrassed to be unaware of. Maybe instead of spending my next hundred dollars on weed, I should invest in a Rabbit.
How do you feel about public sex?
L: I would be interested, but never so much so that I would got out of my way to get down in a train, or somewhere grody.
M: So it’s about spontaneity, rather than exhibitionism?
M: I think the spontaneity of public sex is really hot! But I’ve been caught before, and don’t want to go back there.
L: Where! Please explain?
M: The common room of my sophomore dorm, too horny to wait for my roommate to get out. Metro PD was doing a random sweep, and found me on my knees naked.
What’s your interaction with multiple partners, romantic or sexual?
M: I’ve juggled up to five at one time. But those were all sexual. It’s tiresome and difficult for me to emotionally care for multiple people at one time.
L: I could get multiple going, but I feel like I would have to have a spreadsheet or something. Like X likes when you play with her ears, or Z likes country music…
M: I’ve never had a threesome, but I’m not absolutely opposed to the idea. I’d be intrigued to have two male partners.
L: My two experiences were a little different. One of them was for novelty, and the other was alright, except the fourth guy made it a little funky.
M: Oh man, a late addition! Or he was just there to watch?
L: He was kind of like the orange Starburst. Like you won’t fight it, but not a key player, if you know what I mean.
How would you feel if we switched partners with another couple?
M: I feel like that’s something I’ll get into when I’m older. I guess I can look forward to getting kinkier with old age! But right now, I know I’d struggle with the attachment.
L: Yeah, if you asked to switch and were into it, I’d say go for it. I’m enjoy letting my partners explore what they need to.
At this point I was feeling like a bit of an emotional square, but we charged on.
Kissing, in and outside the bedroom?
M: I’m a really affectionate tactile person, so I love kissing. But I know I have to match my partner so I don’t come across as a mushy fiend.
L: *Visible cringe.* Yeah, outside of the bedroom it’s a no-go, I don’t want to be one of those couples making out! I’m sorry!
M: No, no! I think I knew you weren’t into it already. The only thing that’s hard for me to gauge is when to initiate sex. Kissing is like green means go!
L: I think a little kissing leading up to sex and during is fine. But…
M: What! (I was hoping my breath didn’t perpetually smell like the hummus I was always eating.)
L: I just have a funky thing about mouth germs! I don’t know why, because I don’t mind giving head. But, something about mouth germs freak me out.
M: I’ll always make sure I have a mini bottle of Listerine and floss.
Lee laughed at my attention to dental hygiene, and pulled me into his chest. As we moved away from the questions, and into each others arms, we were both extremely turned on. I asked one final question:
Do you feel like this Q & A was helpful or intriguing?
L: I was a little tentative before, and thought maybe it would take all the mystery out of our sex. But now I feel like instead of asking, “What do you want?” we have a menu to go off of.
M: I think the structure of it helped me. In all my partnerships, it’s been somewhat of trial and error. Like you’re ordering dinner for someone, and don’t know their go-to until you’re ten boxes deep in Chinese takeout containers. Too little, too late.
The questions proved to be like a completely new kind of foreplay. Instead of falling right into sex, Lee asked what we should do. I paused, he laughed and said, “It’s harder in the actual moment.” It was, but we had laid a foundation so that I felt sexy and confident enough to ask for what turned me on. Along with a new closeness, and sense of understanding who my partner was, I received one of the better sexual experiences I’d had in a long time. Because it was exactly what I asked for.
Laying there once again, chests rising up and down, I felt a certain triumph that conversation had led to something so incredibly hot and raunchy. This “menu” would serve as a new baseline between Lee and I. I now knew that I should always keep my breath minty fresh, while Lee would hopefully try and introduce me to the world of high class vibrators. The discussion hadn’t unshrouded the sexual mystery, but only intensified our attraction. It proved that dirty talk wasn’t the only bedroom conversation that could get things steamy.
*All names have been changed to ensure privacy.
Mo Johnson is a twenty-one-year-old women’s studies major at The George Washington University. Her writings on sex, relationships, and what it means to be a millennial woman can be found on her blog. Follow her on Instagram.
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