“Christ, that was awkward.” you say to yourself, turning away from a room full of half naked humans. “Was I too aggressive? Was I too subtle? Did I make them feel uncomfortable? Maybe I’ll just stand at the cheese platter for the rest of the evening…”
Welcome to the strange, sexy, silly world of play parties! If you’re reading this you’ve likely contemplated the nuances of play-party etiquette. How do you show interest in someone but not objectify them? How do you become intimate with a new person and discuss needs and expectations with them so that you both have the best time possible? Don’t be discouraged, our beautiful world is riddled with these questions. The way we communicate, feel love and comfort, and relate to others varies drastically between individuals. Newcomers and veterans alike struggle with finding the best time, place, and way to ask a person to engage in higher levels of intimacy. You’re not alone in having those awkward moments.The way we communicate, feel love and comfort, and relate to others varies drastically between individuals.
While there is not one “right” way to approach potential sexual intimacy, there are some overarching strategies that can help to guide you on your journey. From figuring out exactly what it is you want, to changing your perception on ‘rejection’, we hope that you’ll find tools here that resonate with you.
People find inspiration at play parties and new desires and goals are ignited in and around us. This is an awesome part of the journey, but it comes with its own unique challenges. A common refrain at play spaces is to think of them as “low expectations, high possibilities,” but what does that actually mean? To us, this breaks down into three parts: Outcome independence, introspection, and understanding.
Outcome independence is the idea that you’re going into a situation because you want to experience whatever it has to offer, not because you’re looking to achieve a specific goal. In a play situation, this means your satisfaction and joy isn’t riding on the outcome of one individual scenario. It can be tempting to walk into a play party with a specific fantasy you want to fulfill, but this can lead to a lot of pressure. Not only on those you’re interacting with, but on yourself as well. Think about it like this: If you spend your time trying to accomplish this one goal, how many other things could you potentially be missing out on? We want members to find new avenues of pleasure and watching our friends flourish sexually is so rewarding. When you get sucked into chasing after a narrative you’re likely to pass right by other opportunities to explore. That being said, outcome independence doesn’t mean “accept whatever happens to you!”. You need to know what range of things you’re comfortable with — think of this as “what am I available for?”Think about it like this: If you spend your time trying to accomplish this one goal, how many other things could you potentially be missing out on?
When we say “availability” we’re referring to what you are open to experiencing. What you are willing to do with your body, your emotions, your time and energy, etc. Rule of thumb is: anything we don’t state as an availability requires a check-in.
So before you go into these situations, think about what you want. What are you excited for? What are you a little (or a lot) nervous about? Entering into a play space provides us with the opportunity to explore our sexuality in new ways. We get to set aside our cultural ideas about what sex “should” be and discover what sex can be. Knowing what you’re looking for is crucial, not only so you can have a positive experience, but so that your potential play partner(s) know what to expect. Reflect on what is it you’re available for, where your hard limits are, and what areas you might be willing to explore.What are you excited for? What are you a little (or a lot) nervous about?
Embrace these desires and limits confidently without putting pressure on someone to say yes. Confidence is sexy, and can help to put others at ease when you engage with them. But be aware of how your body language reads; Confidence doesn’t mean aggression. It is possible to be both confident and sensitive at the same time. Keep yourself in an open, inviting space and be prepared for any type of response. Once you’ve identified what your availability is, you can start to understand how that overlaps with the people you might be interested in.
Listening to your partners is key here. If they’ve thought about this explicitly, it can be an easy conversation. However, if you see that they’re unsure about what they want, they may be processing right in that moment, so give them time to work through their desires. Take stock of how others are communicating, both verbally and non-verbally, and be sure that you’re taking the time to discover more of your partner’s wants and needs. If you aren’t sure what they might be, ask questions. Better to ask more questions than assume incorrectly and leave your potential play partner with a memory of a bad interaction. We like to do a “Yes, No, Maybe” inventory before engaging with potential play partners. Click Non-Kinky list or Kinky list for some online templates to help steer your thoughts in the right direction.Take stock of how others are communicating, both verbally and non-verbally, and be sure that you’re taking the time to discover more of your partner’s wants and needs.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are orgasms.
All this to say, be patient with yourself and with others; we’re all swimming in the deep end. Embrace all the possibilities, even unexpected ones. Cultivate gratitude whenever you can. Take your time getting to know people and investing in their process just as much as you invest in your own. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are orgasms. There will always be other parties.
Brooke works with OH to give us voice as our Community Publisher. She is a queer Bay Area native with passion for changing the way we relate to one and other.
For more information visit: So, you’re going to a sex party: a primer