Valentine’s day is a Big Deal for sex writers and sex bloggers, but I traditionally celebrate a different significant day on 14th February. I know I still have a lot to learn – about myself and about sex – and I know half the things I want from sex and relationships right now will undoubtedly change, but I am proud of what I have learned about sex so far. So today I’m (consensually!) stealing an idea from my birthday twin, Kelvin Sparks, and sharing 21 things I learned about sex at 21.
This post is very long and also includes affiliate links.
1: Slut is a gender neutral word
Admittedly, I knew this before I was 21, but this is the year I’ve really put it into practice. My enboifriend, NBae, is non-binary and really into dirty talk. In making sure I’m not misgendering them while I seduce them with stream of filthy words, I’ve often reached for slut. Slut is such a good word (it’s right up there with ‘filthy’) AND it’s gender neutral, so it’s a word I find myself using a lot.
2: I’m not cis
Out of all of the things I’ve learned about sex this year, this might be the biggest one. Gender is a big part of how we all relate to sex, and working through my gender feels has changed how I want to fuck. Being trans changes the way I think about myself and about my body, and it’s something I’ve worked out through having sex. Also, being correctly gendered during sex is really fucking hot.
3: I’m a giant cock slut
That is, I’m a huge slut for cocks, not a slut for huge cocks. Sucking cock may be my favourite things to do (in or out of sex, to be honest) and I’ve unashamedly embraced it with eager enthusiasm for dicks in my face – especially queer dicks. This is also the year I learned that I’m very good at giving head and I’m a little bit proud of it. I do want to up my game when it comes to going down on vulvas though – can that be a goal for 22?
4: I’m actually pretty dominant
While I used to describe myself as a submissive-leaning switch, now I’m very comfortable saying that I’m not only a switch but also a sadist. While I am not a skilled impact top, I am far better at being mean to (consenting) folks than I thought I would be, and it’s something that I get off on. Dominance is super fun, and it’s something that I want to explore more in 2020.
5: I can take more pain from rough body play than spanking
Pain has featured in my fantasies as much as control and dominance have ever since I realised that I was kinky. However, it’s far more recently that I’ve discovered that pain in BDSM doesn’t only mean spanking or flogging. It can also mean pressure points and super tight rope and someone twisting you into a position that is impossible to hold but still makes your cunt wet. Taking pain in other ways is hot.
6: I can take more pain from spanking than I realised
This year I had my first over-the-knee spanking, which taught me that going slowly and with enough warm up, I can actually take a lot of pain from spanking. In fact I really enjoy it, especially if I am lying across a partner’s lap while they spank me, and if I can reach a melty, subby sort of headspace. I also learned that I don’t need to take loads and loads of pain to call myself a pain slut,
7: I’m still carrying a lot of sexual shame
I think this was the hardest to learn out of all the things I’ve learned about sex at 21, but I’m very glad that I did. In an appointment where I was talking about my vaginismus, I realised that while I’ll proudly call myself a slut and talk about butt plugs on my blog, I do have a lot of internalised sexual shame that is really hurting me. It’s going to take a lot of time to work, but I want to get to a place where I’m as ok with sex as I think I am.
8: I’m also still scared of my vagina
I’ve learned a lot about my vagina (and vulva) in the last year, but I think the biggest one is that actually I’m still scared of my vagina. And the pain it can cause me, of course. That’s ok, of course: I’m not a “bad slut” or “bad feminist” because I’m still not on speaking terms with my vagina and our heteronormative, patriarchal society has a lot to answer to. I do know exactly where my vagina is though – a small victory!
9: STI tests hurt
This is a significantly less fun thing to have learned about sex this year, and it’s definitely my vaginismus that makes a super tiny vaginal swab be a pain I cannot even attempt to self-inflict. I think it’s important to talk about how STI tests can hurt – as well as being embarrassing and uncomfortable – but they’re still important. And learning that STI hurts has also taught me how important my sexual health is to me – enough to push through that pain.
10: PIV isn’t a big deal to everyone
Having a partner who isn’t in to PIV sex (that’s penis-in-vagina sex) has been amazing. Even if I didn’t have vaginismus, my enboifriend and I probably wouldn’t have PIV sex. This really takes off the pressure off me about feeling that I’m “broken” because I can’t put things in my vagina. Even though people have told me before that folks would be ok with me not being down for PIV, this is the year that I started to believe it.
11: Hand sex and oral sex are “real” sex
Just as sodomy isn’t just butt stuff, PIV isn’t the only sex act that counts as “real” fucking. In all fairness, this one is less about me learning this for the first time and more about me making decisions about what I count as sex. Getting a partner off with my hand is hot, and it’s real sex. Getting down on my knees to give head is hot, and real sex. Fucking a partner’s arse with a strap-on is definitely hot and definitely real sex.
12: Skype sex is also sex
I’ve had Skype sex four times in the last two month – though never via Skype – and it’s continued to expand my view of what “counts as sex”. Whether I’m fully dressed while my partner fucks themselves or they’re fully clothed while I push a butt plug into my ass, it’s all still sex. I’ve also decided that I’m going to refer to it as Skype sex regardless the media platform on which I’m having video call sex.
13: I can get myself off during partnered sex
A couple of times this year I’ve wanted an orgasm, but I haven’t. What I’ve wanted is to read something filthy on my phone while pressing a powerful, rumbly vibrator against my clit – while my partner says filthy things to me and holds me down. Realising that my partner won’t mind if I get myself off in a way that I actually want to – and in fact might find me asking for that hot – has made a big difference to how I come when fucking.
14: I really like porn – if it’s queer, feminist, ethical porn
This is another one I have to thank my enboifriend for: they got me watching Crash Pad Series porn clips while we were fucking. I love audio porn, of course, but I hadn’t realised how much FUN it could be to watch visual porn with a partner. It’s also very telling that I asked NBae if they’d paid for the porn we’d just watched after the first time – of course they had, because my partners are just as sex nerdy as me.
15: I’m very glad I’m polyamorous
As I texted my partner the other day, I’m very happy that I’m polyamorous. I then had a mini anxiety attack that maybe that wasn’t a thing you were supposed to tell someone you were in love with, of course, but they reassured me that it’s fine. I’ve finally had a chance to put my poly-ness into practice and I’ve discovered – to the surprise of absolutely no one – that I’m a slut who loves fucking and falling in love with lots of people, all at once.
16: Sexual compatibility is important
This is the first year I’ve really been on actual dates, to coffee shops and art galleries, rather than sex dates where I meet up with someone just to fuck them. It’s also the year when all my best first dates have ended in sex. I’m not saying that first dates need to end in sex for them to be good, but right now I’m looking for spark-inducing chemistry with the people I date, and I’ve realised that I need to be sexually compatible with someone if I want to have a relationship.
17: Sleep compatibility also matters
I love snuggling after sex – even if it’s a more casual encounter, spooning afterwards gives me the intimacy I crave even from a one off fuck. However, after if I’m sleeping with someone as well as just fucking them, I’ve discovered that I don’t want to fall asleep touching. I want to fall asleep on opposite sides of the bed with my headphones in, and wake up burying into their chest. A partner who has a similar sleep style helps me feel comfortable with sharing my bed.
18: For good sex, I sometimes need to be vulnerable
Vulnerability is hard, and not just when it comes to admitting the super hot and humiliating things. Vulnerability is hard when it means telling someone that you have feelings for someone, or sharing that you’re super stressed and really need your partner to go down on you and then buy you breakfast. However, being vulnerable can often lead to stronger connections and more satisfying sex, which is something I’m very into.
19: I am better at stating my boundaries
I have come away from my worst sex ever: I’m so much better at telling my partners what I want – even if I still worry that they won’t like me because I don’t want to have sex/do need to stop and have a talk/don’t want them to come in my mouth. I’m also better at knowing my own boundaries and sexual needs, in a way that makes me more confident going into sex adventures that are more casual because I can ask for what I want. And confidence is sexy in itself, right?
20: My aftercare involves talking about sex
It’s also a pretty non-negotiable thing for me at this point. If you’re not up for talking through our fuck after we’ve had sex, I’m probably not going to fuck you in the first place. I’m proud of myself for doing this after playing casual partner. I was being dominant, and I told them that I needed them to check in later and reassure me that they were ok or I’d start to worry that I’d pushed them too far. And they did, and I hadn’t.
21: I learn about myself through sex
The sex I’ve had over the last year has taught me that fucking (and writing about fucking) teaches me about who I am. Sex and sex writing is, in so many ways, how I learn about myself. I want to keep adding to the things I’ve learned about sex, and I definitely want to keep writing about it, because it’s fun but also because it an important part of how I learn and grow.
Want to wish me a happy birthday? Why not buy me a coffee so I can celebrate my birthday by sitting in a coffee shop writing about cock sucking – it really is my favourite thing.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.