Help me learn how to neck!
July 24, 2005 7:14 PM   Subscribe

How do you make out?

I'm a 22-year-old woman about to (hopefully) get into my second relationship (with a significantly more experienced man). I had sex with my first boyfriend (2.5 year relationship), but it's never been something I enjoyed or was particularly interested in--there was a lot of focus on my having an orgasm initially (which on the one hand is great, and on the other led to a lot of performance anxiety on my part, like I'm broken when I can't have one) as well as a certain attitude that this is what most people my age are doing and having fun doing, so I should be doing it too--and ought to be enjoying it more than I was. Subsequent experiences throughout the relationship have all be very orgasm-focused (for both of us, and yes, I can have them). He had one sexual partner prior to our relationship; I had never had any sexual contact (not even kissing or dating) up until that point. We also got physical very much earlier in the relationship than I wanted to (we met online and had communicated extensively before meeting IRL).

So what's the issue? There is a reasonably high likelihood that this new relationship (and if not this one, then a subsequent one!) will delve into physicality. Except--I don't know how to have fun with sex. I just sort of feel awkward and weird. Sex has always been somewhat painful, almost certainly at least somewhat anxiety-related. I've looked through the archives and seen a lot of people recommend the Guide to Getting It On; I haven't read it yet but will pick up a copy as soon as I can get to a bookstore.

I guess what I'm asking is how far does necking go? How do you have a non-sexual sexual encounter that is mutually satisfying? How do you have fun with it? How can you say (without ruining the mood) not to do something? Are there any other books you might recommend? And, more practically, plain old, HOW DO YOU DO IT?

I know seeing a therapist would also probably be a good idea, but I quite simply don't have the funds available right now. I have discussed my issues with potential new partner and he is very understanding and willing to let me control the speed of encounters; I don't see this as an issue with him so much as one with me.

I need a crash course in basic human sexuality! Help me, Metafilter!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

As far as the necking, just make it obvious to begin with what you're comfortable with. Don't lead him on, and if he's a decent guy he shouldn't have any problems.

For the sex... just try to not have any expectations, just enjoy yourself. You're not trying to score any touchdowns, the goal is just to explore each other in new and hopefully exciting ways. At least that's what Anne Landers tells me. Stressed sex is bad sex, just go with the flow and try not to worry. It sounds like you have all the information in your head, you just need the right experience to affirm it to yourself.
posted by still at 7:33 PM on July 24, 2005

I'm still in a relationship with my first serious sexual partner and in the past couple of years, the two things that I've learned are to listen to the cues that he gives me and to not be afraid to experiment. There are things that I would have never imagined myself enjoying that I quite like now and had I not been willing to give things a shot, not only would I not have that knowledge for the future, I doubt our relationship would be as strong as it is. (FWIW, he's ten years older than me and has the expected more experience.)

I can't tell you what to do, really...everyone enjoys something different. What turns my SO and I on may completely repulse you. Just keep your ears and eyes tuned into his reactions and don't be leery about trying new things.
posted by amandaudoff at 7:35 PM on July 24, 2005

If you are with a nice guy I think you should be up front about your fears. If he has any class at all he will want to go at your pace so that you can be comfortable and enjoy the experience rather than worry about whether you are "getting it right."
posted by caddis at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2005

"I guess what I'm asking is how far does necking go? How do you have a non-sexual sexual encounter that is mutually satisfying?"

Guys are different, but personally I don't. A little anticipation is ok, even fun, but if the road isn't going anywhere I'd rather not take it.

In regards to how to do it, again it depends on your partner. I'm turned off by girls who kiss aggressively, but like a girl who is gentle and takes initiative. Basically its about focusing on your partner and the signals he is giving you, and using your intuition.
posted by Manjusri at 9:35 PM on July 24, 2005

Necking isn't so important if the person you're necking with (or you, the person being necked) isn't sensitive in the neck area. I -barely- am; I prefer to spend more time exploring the other person's body with my lips than I do having my own neck be munched on.

As far as making out in general, it really depends on how the sexual part of the relationship develops. I've had three relationships so far this year. One girl liked to be held down while she was kissed, so there was always a lot of physical pressure on the kiss itself. Another girl and I kissed very gently and skillfully; that's usually my preference. An added bonus was that she liked to be as physically intimate as possible short of intercourse (due to some of the same concerns you talked about -- focus on orgasm and slight pain), which means we were cuddled up in a completely entangled ball of limbs. Yet another was exceptionally playful -- making out with her was almost a wrestling match sometimes where the goal was to maintain lip contact.

The big thing with making out is to find out where you like to be kissed, and to find a partner who wants to explore those areas and touch, lick, tweak, nibble, and kiss until you find something that *really* twists your knickers. Lots of that, if it's really good, can almost make an orgasm feel like a nice, albiet secondary, pleasure.

Making out is an exploratory activity. Treat it as such, and it's enjoyable. Don't put up with a partner that treats it as a necessary activity to get what they really want. :-P
posted by SpecialK at 10:01 PM on July 24, 2005

I've been dating a girl for the past two years, who was in a similar situation to yourself (I gather). Until me, she'd never dated, so the whole making-out/etc thing was very very new to her.

Speaking purely as the other half of that relationship, things I would strongly recommend you do (in no particular order of preference:

(1) Communicate clearly. Even if it's only to say "I'm confused" or "I don't know what I want yet" or "Hit me in the mouth" ;) Noone is a mind-reader, so take nothing for granted.

(2) It's okay to not want to do something, and it's okay to want to do anything.

(3) Sometimes, take the initiative. This one I can't stress enough -- it doesn't have to be often, but every now and then (when you're in the mood, obviously) just jump his bones. One of the hardest things in a relationship is to be the _only_ person initiating sexual activities. Trust me on this ;)
A corollory: as much as sex should be spontaneous, removing the spontaneity is often a Very Good Thing(tm). Nothing quite says "I love you" like a well-planned, well-executed seduction
Obviously, I mean this as between two loving people, not some dirty man trying to get his kid sister into bed ;)

(4) Finally: just have fun. Relax. Sex is supposed to be fun, and stupid, all at the same time. There is nothing beautiful about the act itself, although the experience can be :)
posted by coriolisdave at 10:22 PM on July 24, 2005

If ever there was something that required a zen-like 'dont overthink' attitude, this is it.

quit thinking about it! if your mind is racing, go do something else, like conduct a symphony or write a book. You know that feeling you get when a good song strips you of all thought? that's the right frame of mind. Getting into that frame of mind usually requires you to be having fun. before all good foreplay there is just plain play. Play-fight! this never fails to excite.

It almost sounds like you and your guy each have to be more assertive. and when that happens, you need to either encourage it or 'change topic' quick. Being akward, tentitive and unsure is a bigger moodkiller than 'later'.
posted by clord at 10:38 PM on July 24, 2005

Completely agree with clord - I've always regarded sex, intimacy, sexuality as not something you read about in a book (although sex manuals do give great pointers), but something you experience and uniquely create between you and your lover.

Also, do you masturbate? I think there's a very distinct relationship between women who do and how much fun they have bed. Knowledge of yourself and what makes you tick can only be found by exploration and experimentation. So if you don't, I suggest picking up a simple $15 vibrator and some KY and have some fun: knowledge is a great great cure for anxiety. Oh, and massages are too....
posted by forallmankind at 11:11 PM on July 24, 2005

It takes some time to get comfortable with sex, and you're still well within that time, so don't be too hard on yourself. Be true to yourself, I think that's pretty important. It's important for you to set your own pace with guys and be comfortable sticking with it. There is no such thing as "blue balls," so any guy should be willing to stop at any time and there are no ill-effects. They might not like it, but no one should be pressuring you at all.

As far as specific advice:
There are many ways to come that don't involve intercourse. Mutual masturbation is nice because you get to see how the other person gets themselves off, which can then be useful later on in the relationship. But then there are hand jobs, oral sex, all kinds of stuff, and I think that exploring all of those things as separate entitities makes for more enjoyable sex overall. If intercourse is painful, are you lubricated enough? Get some good quality lube, being slippery can really make sex a joy.

Don't overthink sex. It really isn't a "fit tab A into slot B" kind of thing. If it gets like that, it is indeed a drag. Use making out to get you hot to do more, use the more to get you hot to do more, etc. Just like with orgasms, sex kind of builds on itself. That isn't the only way it goes, but it is one of the best ways.

Good luck.
posted by OmieWise at 4:47 AM on July 25, 2005

I don't know how to have fun with sex.

I hate to say this, but you should consider the possibility that either your old boyfriend didn't really know what he was doing, or you just weren't very compatible sexually. Instead of worrying so much about what problems you might have with the new guy, consider that maybe, just maybe, it will be amazing with him.
And, like others have said, don't overthink - just enjoy! The new guy sounds super understanding, which will help a lot. Don't worry about books and therapists until after you have ascertained you have similar problems with this guy. I bet you won't.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:18 AM on July 25, 2005

How do you have a non-sexual sexual encounter that is mutually satisfying?

Almost everybody loves a full body massage and it is the perfect activity for partners. It gives the "masseuse" the perfect opportunity to practice their awareness of the subject's body and non-verbal responses, which is the basis for really good sex. Well done, it is sexy but not sexual. Or it can be great foreplay.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:26 AM on July 25, 2005

A couple of thoughts...

If you are getting nervous or anxious about yourself ("Am I too tense? Am I breathing weird?) or worse, distracted ("That feels nice when he rubs the back of my neck... Hey, did I ever return Sue's call?"), try focusing your attentions on him. Does he hold in his breath when you flick your tongue on his earlobe? Do you feel his hands tighten on your skin when you gently nip his lower lip? Does he let out a little sigh when you rub the small of his back?

Sometimes a great "make out session" involves losing yourself in someone else's sensual enjoyment. And this attention and intimate knowledge can be very rewarding for you as well. It can teach you what you like, how you like to be kissed or touched. There is a lot of communication going on when you make out with someone, even if you never say a word. Learn to read your partner's unique cues, and if he is as attentive as he sounds, he will learn to read yours. Good luck and enjoy the learning process!

And one last suggestion, which you may or may not find helpful - I know I am a very verbal person and, when in my first intimate relationships, found myself lacking a vocabulary to describe what I wanted. Check out some erotica for a female audience - there are some incredible, and some terrible writers out there. But one woman's fantasy is another's Browse through these books and pay attention to what 'tickles your fancy', so to speak. It may help when you are ready to move beyond necking and into heavy petting and beyond. I can recommend as a resource - there is a wide range of material and you may find yourself gravitating towards certain writing styles or topical themes. Use these as guides to your own sexuality. If you encounter a story which is too graphic or just unappealing, move to the next one. There are also some great anthologies of erotica in a series called "Best Woman's Erotica" - some of these stories are graphic, but others are very tender and sometimes not at all focused on the actual act of sexual intercourse, but on the importance of intimacy and communication in the bedroom. And the explicit ones can be quite educational as well! Enjoy!
posted by pants at 7:28 AM on July 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Knowledge is power:
Great sex without intercourse
Fellatio tips
Cunnilingus tips FAQ
Society for Human Sexuality

Book recommendation: The Best You'll Ever Have: What Every Woman Should Know About Getting and Giving Knock-Your-Socks-Off Sex

Sex therapists often recommend that couples go for a limited period of time where sexual play is encouraged but intercourse is "against the rules." This cuts down on performance anxiety and makes you find other ways to play. Since you've mentioned anxiety as part of the problem, maybe you should have a talk with your boy and suggest this for a time. Take orgasms off of the "goals" list, just play. If they happen, that's cool, if not, you're still having fun and getting to know each other.

Sex shouldn't be painful. If it is, that suggests that you don't have enough lubrication and you may be damaging the walls of your vagina. If it is painful, add lube, try other positions, communicate. Sometimes pain is caused by various disorders, including vulvodynia. Check it out, if that's part of the problem, there are some things you can do about it. Some studies have also suggested that the more fully aroused you are during intercourse, the less often you'll get urinary tract infections. So don't feel bad about taking your time!

Feel free to steal ideas from dirtynumbangelboy's foodporn thread.
posted by heatherann at 7:33 AM on July 25, 2005 [2 favorites]

How do you have a non-sexual sexual encounter that is mutually satisfying?

Are you familiar with human asexuality? Some people find an intense conversation as satisfying as other people find sex. From your question I don't know if you're interested in sex but not having fun with it, or interested in having fun and not sure how to get it, but if it's the latter I'd be more than happy to talk to you about it.
posted by hopeless romantique at 11:46 AM on July 25, 2005

And, on another note, if you've got any, any interest in bdsm [anything from having your hands tied behind you to being flogged, etc], I'd recommend investigating.
posted by hopeless romantique at 11:50 AM on July 25, 2005

A lot of guys have a McDonald's "I need it now or go away" attitude (I think someone the other day on askme even said something charming like "if she doesn't put out by date three, dump her, because ass is something you're entitled to"), maybe because they know it's easier now for them to find chicks with similar, um, pacing. They're being vocal about their needs--be vocal and upfront about yours. You need to find out sooner than later if your partner is one of those aforementioned people. Yes, it sucks if you ask and find out he is, but you have every right to want to take it a bit slower, and you shouldn't waste your time being sexual with someone who's no on the same page with you or willing to care about what you need too (in this case, understanding, encouragement, and patience). So as everyone else said, you should be upfront with him and guage him for his honest reaction. You deserve to be comfortable, not filled with anxiety about not being what some guy thinks is normal or demanded of you. It's your sex life too!

I never understood the performance-driven, reach-the-finish-line mark of sexual satisfaction in culture either. It might be trite to say this, but reading Susie Bright's books and essays helped a LOT. Also Dan Savage's collection of advice columns in book form, Savage Love. Nancy Friday, Betty Dodson, Germaine Greer (I like her essay "What turns women on" a lot), and Shere Hite also helped. Though sometimes dated, they still serve as reminders that TRULY solo, truly selfish and honest female sexuality gets constantly overshadowed by and compared unfavorably to female sexuality as means to the end of fulfilling (still) men's desires. In other words, there's a difference between trying to genuinely open you the individual up to sexual enjoyment on your own terms and trying to convince guys you're sexual and not uptight by only doing what they recognize as sexual (there's a booming pocket of the porn industry focused on women frigging their clits and stretching themselves for viewer titillation, say). Reading the aforementioned and talking to female friends made me realize my enjoying lots of things--simple touches, the feel and memories, the emotions I had, my imaginings and fantasies, and the anticipation--was all okay. It's okay to be sexual in your own way, even if most mainstream culture tries to tell you what turns you on isn't sexy enough (for who? It's for me, nobody else, so wha?) or whatever. Don't listen to anybody who tries to tell you your libido isn't good enough or doesn't measure up. Take a lot of time to figure yourself out, inside and out. It's another cliche, but if you haven't seen your parts yet upclose that can be good too. Speculums and handmirrors and some time alone, they are cheap and easy to come by. Natalie Angier and Elizabeth Stewart also helped me be proud and awed about my body. I realize it's pretty unhip these days to be one of those girlparts-happy chicks, but I guess I'm uncool, and maybe you'd find learning more about yourself sans partner to also be helpful for your general sex life. Once you stop thinking you have to rely on somebody else's love and touch and sexual approval to satisfy you or make you feel hot and sexual, it paradoxically makes sex with others easier--because it's something you really choose to do, confidently, not something you feel you have to do.

I guess that sounds like a rant. And I'm sorry if I sound patronizing, like assuming you haven't checked your parts out, etc. I guess all I'm saying is, you have to be comfortable with yourself first. Really comfortable, so you'll be cool with being yourself when you do choose to be physical with someone else. Don't be apologetic or wary about what you want and what you don't want. Just tell it like it is and know you have as much say as your partner. And only self esteem from being insanely comfortable with your own unique sexuality makes that possible.

The Guide To Getting It On has been mentioned a zillion times here too, and it is indeed great.
posted by ifjuly at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

I was in a similar situation before I started my current relationship. I had had one boyfriend previously, whom I had slept with, but, like you, his focus was very orgasm-intensive. Perhaps unlike you, my ex was also not very supportive of my fears and insecurities regarding sex. So when I got to my next relationship, I felt weird about sex. But the current SO was fantastic -- and what he did was really very, very simple.

He asked. Every step of the way, if he wanted to try something we hadn't done before, or we'd only done once, he'd say "Is this okay?" or "Can I...?" It was very sweet, because it gave me the opportunity to think about it, and to say no if I wanted to. He was also very good about telling me what he wanted. I'm not naturally very take-charge, so knowing that I could ask "what do you want?" and he would tell me was pretty comforting. I don’t know if either of these things would work for you, but they really helped me get through what I had thought was going to be a pretty stressful bit of time.

Also, I will say that taking actual sexual intercourse out of the equation for a while can be helpful. It took me and the SO a long time to get sex figured out for us -- for a multitude of reasons I won't go in to -- so the first time we tried to have sex was separated from when we actually succeeded by a good few months. This gave us an opportunity to just enjoy each other’s bodies, to explore, and to expand the definition of sex from intercourse to encompassing a lot of other things. And I couldn't recommend it more.

Sex is tricky. Don't go faster than you want to, and enjoy yourself.
posted by rosethorn at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

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