[Adv] Performing partnership, physically

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[Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:53 pm

The context is this: I find myself dating a woman I really like, and she seems to like me, but while for me the main feature is just being close to someone and emitting/receiving signals of mutual affection, I'm pretty sure that for her this is typical/familiar territory. I think for now I can handle feelings-stuff on my own; what I have questions about are the physical things that I lack any instinct for.

So far she's been very willing to lead. It's possible she likes it this way anyway, but I don't want her to think she's stuck in that role or that she's going to have to do all the legwork in this... lower-case "r" relationship.

But, well, things are just escalating much faster than I've prepared for. Not so much that it's making me uncomfortable or anything; it's actually been an amazing ride so far. It's just that since I have no idea where I'm going, she's been having to drive most of the way. I don't want her to be bored or disappointed.

For instance, I gather from a few conversations we've had that I waited much too long before kissing her. To me it seemed presumptuous to do that earlier, but she was apparently left wondering how interested I actually was and trying to draw inferences from my other behaviors. I don't want to frustrate her or string her along... but it sometimes feels like I've managed to do so anyway. (A conversation we have not quite had yet... but I'm working on an angle.)

She's been very understanding and good at giving guidance so far, so maybe I shouldn't worry about it. But I can easily see having to show me how to do everything rapidly becoming tiresome.

Sexual stuff like...well, long sloppy kisses and lots of body-touching and stroking... it all feels really nice, but it never would've occurred to me that it feels nice. And it isn't obvious to me what else would feel nice, or whether something feels nice to her.

And while there's definitely reading material already available about what sorts of things to look for, notice, respond to, and practice, I'm pretty sure a lot of it is red herrings. So particularly for the women-who-are-attracted-to-men here, has anyone got a convenient list of recommended reads handy?


Last edited by nearly_takuan on Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by Caffeinated on Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:55 pm

I'd recommend Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon and KD Diamond. Yes, it's written by two lesbians and has a lot of parts that focus more on the girl-on-girl side of things, but it won't steer you wrong if you're looking for how to do physical things with a woman. Topics include: communication, flirting, consent, using your hands, using your mouth, safer sex, topping and bottoming, and many more.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:10 am

I think that's pretty much exactly what I was asking for. Thanks!
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:49 pm

I... think I might've let myself get pressured into feigning enthusiasm in my consent, if that makes any sense. This whole thing makes me really nervous/anxious without being able to put reasons in precise words.

Turns out I can be aroused / feel sexual attraction, to an extent. I think one of the things that might be getting in the way is that I'm anxious about being a disappointing partner. One vector of disappointment is being too unwilling to do things that she wants to do; the other is trying to do them but being lousy at it.

Explicit:
An illustrative example is oral. Attempts to give made me gag (had no problem using my hands though). She asked what about it I didn't like. I didn't have a good answer. Receiving utterly failed to arouse me, with anxiety around the idea as a probable significant contributor to the problem. She asked what about it I didn't like. I didn't have a good answer.

(I did enjoy using my hands/fingers.)

She is at this point very, very keen on more traditional forms of intercourse. I...am not opposed to the idea, but I don't know if I'm actually all that excited about it. Usually I have a decent sense of where my boundaries are and how to deal with them, but this has me wondering whether it's really enough that I don't not want it. Plus ethical implications to both of us if I pretend I'm more interested than I actually am for any reason.

In any case this has escalated much faster than I was prepared to deal with. Hormones I wasn't aware I had are now going nuts and I'm no better equipped to handle this than a teenager. Embarassed

Unsure what to do about any of this or what question(s) I should be asking. Input of pretty much any kind would be appreciated.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by eselle28 on Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:44 am

Ah, that sounds anxiety-making. I'm sorry for that aspect of it, at least (it sounds like you're not really sure how you feel about other aspects of it, so I'm not going to label them for you).

I think that at this point, it might be wise to ask to slow things down a little. That's a phrase I think many women understand, as it's a common one used when talking to men who'd like to do sexual things their female partners want to take some time to work up to. I think it might be a good idea to state outright that you're feeling anxious about some things you've done and that you're still thinking through what you might not like and why you might not like it. It's the truth. I think she needs to know where you're at emotionally, especially since she's been taking the lead.

If you haven't told her that you like handsy stuff, long sloppy kissing, and body-touching, I'd suggest spending about as much time talking about what you do like thus far as what you don't in this same conversation. That's both guidance and a degree of affirmation - that you're interested in her and that there are things you've enjoyed as well as some that have made you anxious.

I would not recommend adding new acts to your roster until you've taken some time to go back to the things you have liked and spend some time doing them without any pressure to do anything else. Ethics aside, I think it just might not be a very fun experience on an emotional level at this point. It seems like she's really excited about your body, but that you'd probably benefit from getting some time to get used to hers (and yours, in this new context).
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by Caffeinated on Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:52 am

A couple things sprang to mind as I read your latest post. First thing, that it's totally normal and fine to have certain things that just don't do it for you, even if lots of other people like them. Just like you don't have to like every food that someone else likes. Totally legit.

Second thing, have you heard of something called "responsive desire"? I learned about it from the blog of sex educator Emily Nagoski. Here's a link to a post where she talks about it: http://www.thedirtynormal.com/blog/2014/06/16/i-drew-this-graph-about-sexual-desire-and-i-think-it-might-change-your-life/

Oh, and here's a link where she talks about book recommendations for books about sex: http://www.thedirtynormal.com/blog/2013/02/12/your-favorite-books-about-sex/

She also writes books about sex, which you may want to look into.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by Werel on Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:10 pm

eselle28 wrote:I think that at this point, it might be wise to ask to slow things down a little... I would not recommend adding new acts to your roster until you've taken some time to go back to the things you have liked and spend some time doing them without any pressure to do anything else.
Agree with everything eselle said, but especially this. Anxiety is #1 Super Good Libido Killer, and anxiety around having a diminished/not-reliably-responsive libido is just an ouroboros of misery. Taking some of the pressure off yourself to be constantly upping the ante, and always being worried that you're about to be presented with a whole new thing to maybe screw up at or not enjoy AAAHHH Run in circles flail, might be a major help. And while I think she's got the right intentions in asking you what you don't like about specific stuff (trying to understand your preferences, what works, what doesn't), I'd feel a little put on the spot/as if I were being asked to justify my dispreference for a thing. It's okay if you need some time to process new experiences and let them "settle" enough to be able to think analytically about them-- I hope you feel okay saying "huh, I don't really know yet. I'll tell you if I come up with any ideas, though."

And very much agree with "spend the time to get established with the stuff you do like." It can't hurt to cultivate a sense of-- well, if not "mastery," then at least comfort and familiarity with certain acts, before moving into uncharted territory. Nobody's as nervous on their thirtieth bike ride as their first, and nobody would go right from "whooo I just got a bike!! HOW DO I RIDE THIS Shiny/thrilled" to "I'm gonna commute on the street in urban rush hour traffic."

I think you've got the communicative chops to convey to this woman that you like her extremely much, and that because you like her a lot, you want each experience with her to be a fun, comfortable, honest one rather than something you're pushing yourself into. If you're not actually all that keen on doing new stuff right now, it's a favor to her to be straight about that. Nothing on earth less sexy than a partner who's ambivalent or even distressed.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by reboot on Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:36 pm

It is good to hear things are progressing, even if they have progressed into some anxiety inducing territory. In addition to all the great advice above, you might want to try using this checklist BiSian posted on Prime. You both fill it out and then compare your answers. I suspect you might feel better if you know what she might want to try and (since you have not really thought about this topic much) it might help to get a list of your own maybes and possibly some yeses.

Another thing to remember when you discuss this is that people sometimes take a lack of enthusiasm for sexual acts as lack of attraction/enthusiasm for them because attraction and sex are so tightly intertwined in our culture. Make it very clear that it is not her you are unsure about, it is the act. Be very, very direct on this. No elliptical phrasing.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by eselle28 on Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:59 pm

Werel wrote:
And very much agree with "spend the time to get established with the stuff you do like." It can't hurt to cultivate a sense of-- well, if not "mastery," then at least comfort and familiarity with certain acts, before moving into uncharted territory. Nobody's as nervous on their thirtieth bike ride as their first, and nobody would go right from "whooo I just got a bike!! HOW DO I RIDE THIS Shiny/thrilled" to "I'm gonna commute on the street in urban rush hour traffic."

Exactly! And this bit is for more down the line, nearly, but I think it's important. Once you are established with some stuff that's almost always fun for both of you and if you decide to start experimenting with some things that make you (or her - you may bump into some of her boundaries at some point) more anxious, I think it's good to remember that you can always go back to your foundation sometimes. Frankly, if you've had a couple of anxiety-producing experiences or ones that just didn't go quite as planned in a row, you probably should go back to the foundation stuff for a time or two so that neither of you forgets that touching each other can be fun and pleasurable rather than scary or frustrating.

Plus, it's good practice for relationship stages past the honeymoon period. I think a lot of couples have some acts and fantasies filed under This Almost Always Goes Well, even if they're not consciously identified as such. This is generally also the stuff that helps people get through rough life patches where they need intimacy, but where energy might be limited or emotions might be strained.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by Wondering on Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:49 pm

reboot wrote:Another thing to remember when you discuss this is that people sometimes take a lack of enthusiasm for sexual acts as lack of attraction/enthusiasm for them because attraction and sex are so tightly intertwined in our culture. Make it very clear that it is not her you are unsure about, it is the act. Be very, very direct on this. No elliptical phrasing.

This is very important.

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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:57 pm

Thanks for everyone's input so far; it's very wise. I'm presently short on time for entirely unrelated reasons but we've just had a conversation where I was able to work in some of the stuff from eselle's first post and I think it went over pretty well.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:24 pm

These explanations of things by Nagoski are really helpful. I hadn't heard of responsive desire before, but it seems to describe my current feelin's.

Checklist looks like something I should do whether she's interested in writing/reading through it too or not. Because you're right, this isn't something I've thought about before.
Wondering wrote:
reboot wrote:Another thing to remember when you discuss this is that people sometimes take a lack of enthusiasm for sexual acts as lack of attraction/enthusiasm for them because attraction and sex are so tightly intertwined in our culture. Make it very clear that it is not her you are unsure about, it is the act. Be very, very direct on this. No elliptical phrasing.

This is very important.

I think I've communicated this pretty clearly. I've had to avoid using too much romantic language, though, because on her timeline this is too early for that kind of talk. And I think there's a similar cultural intertwining of concepts that makes it hard to differentiate romantic interest from emotional investment from emotional attachment.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by reboot on Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:44 pm

You do not need romantic language, you need simple and plain language for this one. Describe using simple language how you feel about her being in your life. Tell her exactly why you are ???? about sex and physical things. Explain what you know you like right now. And that you want to keep doing it with her, not someone else.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:18 am

Well, we sorted that out. Literally, even; she's quite fond of labels, and although I'm actually not all that familiar with the granular nomenclature of the Relationship Stairs it's still early enough that switching to boyfriend/girlfriend feels significant and drastic and...awesome.

But now I'm anticipating another sort of similar bind: she's been talking pretty relentlessly about how much she wants piv-sex. To the point where if I someday decide I actually do want to try that (still not ready yet) I might have a hard time convincing her that she didn't pressure me into it. Honest/frank discussions about sex stuff have mostly helped, so far, but the drawback is that she's now expressed some anxiety around trusting me not to agree to stuff I'm not 100% comfortable with. This is, perhaps, a particularly dumb question to be asking even by my standards, but are there ways I might go about intentionally repairing that part of our relationship, or is this something that'll just have to heal with time and getting to know each other better?
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by reboot on Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:10 am

Maybe ask her not to discuss PIV sex until you bring it up? Then, if she does, you can say, "Hey, I asked you not to talk about it until I was ready." This will show you can have and enforce a boundary when it comes to sex. Then try to enthusiastically consent to the things you like when you want to do them and say no to things you are not ready or not in the mood for. If you are unsure, say it. What you need to do is show that ypu are capable of expressing your needs and preferences. It sounds like she going to be cool with working on this with you since she is worried that you might say yes to things you do not want.

I would make an active effort because getting her to trust your yes (and teaching yourself to give trustworthy yeses if you do not always use them) is very important. It will prevent you from getting boundaries pushed and make communication easier.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:02 pm

Thanks, everyone, for all your advice so far; things have still been going really well and I'm sure your help has had a lot to do with that.

We...tried PIV earlier this week, but...well, it didn't work. Razz That on its own is fine by me and apparently okay with her (though she still feels a need to remind me that she wants it). Still, something about this is a little worrying....

So, for PIV to work, I apparently have to be hard-erect. Not just firm, but hard, which is a state that's never felt especially comfortable for me (it stretches my skin more than I'm used to). It takes a long time to get there, and then it doesn't last long enough to get the rubber on, much less try to get inside her.

There's also a significant disconnect between my mental and physical arousal states. I feel mentally aroused and connected when I'm stimulating her manually (slightly less so but still pleased when I mix in oral stimulation). A lot of it seems to come from a sympathetic reaction to her breathing patterns and facial movements, as the effects are more powerful when I'm close enough to hear and see. But physically, I'm apparently totally flaccid throughout the whole thing. Meanwhile, manual stimulation on me is...just masturbation that I have less control over, as far as my brain and body seem to be concerned. I get physically aroused, but other than being abstractly happy that something feels good and somebody else is actively trying to make me feel good, I don't feel a strong mental/emotional connection to the act. The closest I get to feeling both at once is when we leave our genitalia alone for a while and just do cuddling/petting type stuff. But then that's decidedly not something she likes very much; particularly when it's light/gentle contact instead of scratching or groping, it just feels annoying to her.

For now we both seem to be okay with the compromise wherein each of us gets just some of what we want. But she hasn't had an easy time with this. She's expressed "irrational" (her word) worries that I'm not attracted to her, or even that I'm angry with her for some reason. I want to help her feel more secure and understand my personality (for lack of a better word) but I think it's just the sort of thing that will take more time than the one month we've been dating. Shrug
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by reboot on Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:12 am

It is going to take some trust for her to get over those feelings. So much of what women are taught about men caring for us is directly tied to our ability to arouse physically. When that does not happen, words are doubted and only time can build trust.

On the physical side, do you think it might help if you focused on her arousal to feed into yours? Sort of focus less on your response and more on hers to maybe get your brain out of your body's way?
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Oct 10, 2015 4:37 am

That is one of the things I am trying to work on, yeah. I think making an effort to be aroused is having opposite of the desired effect, and the more I can concentrate on her and "tune" to her feelings the better. Definitely good to have corroboration for my guesses, though, so thanks! Smile
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by reboot on Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:06 am

Your guesses were spot on. Trying to force arousal or going, "Is it happening yet? Is it happening yet?" is the best way to guarantee the opposite will happen. Arousal is often shy, self conscious and does not like to be watched when it does its thing.

Aside from the hiccups, glad to hear things are going well and you have my best wishes for the muddling through this stuff!
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by Izmuth on Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:56 pm

Good to hear most is going well NK!

Don't have advice on most stuff, 'cause virgin, but this stood out to me:

nearly_takuan wrote:
So, for PIV to work, I apparently have to be hard-erect. Not just firm, but hard, which is a state that's never felt especially comfortable for me (it stretches my skin more than I'm used to). It takes a long time to get there, and then it doesn't last long enough to get the rubber on, much less try to get inside her.

Can I ask if you know why it's uncomfortable for you? There are some solutions you can try in different scenarios:

1) If it's phimosis, you can get a steroid cream for your doctor. Together with stretching exercizes it should take about a month to solve.

2) If you're circumsized, painful erections are a common side effect (it's hard to judge how much is too much skin cut away from babies). You could try to look into foreskin restoration procedures. By tugging on the skin, you can promote cell growth and get some more leeway. I think this takes about 1-2 monthish?

3) If you're not, you might want to ask your parents if they retracted you as a baby to clean your penis. I've heard American doctors still advice parents to retract waaay too early since they don't know how foreskins work (as a young child it's fused to your glans). If they received the wrong advice, you might suffer from scar tissue. You could opt for a partial circumcision in that case (they make a small incision vertically, so your foreskin has more room to fit around the glans). I have no idea how long this option will take.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:46 pm

Oh, interesting; I'd thought it was a weird quirk, not worth bringing up in a medical context or just something I'd have to work around. Thanks for the info! My parents circumcised me when I was an infant, so this explains a lot. I'll look into treatment; probably also worth mentioning whenever I get around to visiting a real doctor, even if it isn't a very big deal for me right now.
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Re: [Adv] Performing partnership, physically

Post by Izmuth on Sun Oct 18, 2015 1:24 pm

No problem! Good to hear you're at the "saying boy/girlfriend is awkward now" stage Wink

Fair warning: the research on circumcision is shoddy at best. Pro-circ literature denies there are any side effects at all, while anti-circ literature claims you can as well just chop the whole dick off, which also sounds completely ludicrous to me.
Your doctor might therefore completely disagree with my assessment of the problem, completely agree, or anything in between.

(It frustrates me to no end you can't seem to find reliable literature on the subject. I always feel uncomfortably close to an anti-vaxxer when I have to rely on second hand information about a subject. At this stage I'm inclined to consider painful erections and other American issues doc nerdlove likes to write about such as The Death Grip and the need to use lots of lube for PiV as issues probably caused by circumcision, but hey, guess what: no literature! I might be talking out of my ass for all I know!</end siderant>)
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