Everyone has a different relationship to sex, and it often has to do with our individual experiences and what we’ve been brought up to value.
Although seemingly ‘old fashioned’ in an increasingly transparent world, many young adults are still confined to the idea of monogamy as ‘normal’ in a relationship.
As a person of stubborn independence, I’ve been lucky to have explored lots of different sex in the years I’ve been sexually active. My experiences have taught me to see sex differently. For me, it’s all about what my different experiences; good, bad, beautiful and embarrassing, have taught me about myself, about others and about the power of connecting to your body through sex.
As as I’ve since discovered, being open to different kinds of sex has its benefits.
“The main benefits to being open to all different types of sex are being able to discover what you truly enjoy. Sex can mean different things to different people, and encompasses the whole spectrum of erotic pleasure, not just vaginal and anal penetration,” global sexual wellness brand Lovehoney’s psycho-sexologist, Chantelle Otten, told The Latch.
“Pleasure is different for everyone. There are no set rules and what’s a turn-on for one person may be another person’s turn-off. By experimenting with different kinds of sex, be that with different partners, different genders, trying different sex toys, giving anal sex a go, exploring erogenous zones… you open yourself up to lots of fun and the potential to unlock untapped pleasure.”
You truly don’t know what — or who! — you’re going to be into until you’ve tried. Ripping off the band-aid to free experimentation is a bit nerve-wracking, but once you’ve done it you’re free to feel liberated and carefree in your sexual environments and just to feel your desires out. We’re all different, both in our body and in our minds, so by experiencing different things you’re able to discover what works for you.
Of course, this can be difficult when you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship. You and your partner’s past experiences with sex are likely to be different, and your wants and needs may not be always in-line with each other, which is really okay, you just have to get damn good at communicating.
“It’s quite normal to want to keep exploring to keep things fresh and interesting when you’re in a relationship. The important thing is open and honest communication with your partner, and consent. The thing that can often inhibit couples when exploring play is how to bring this up with their partner,” Otten says.
These conversations can be intimidating, especially because people will often feel as though whatever you desire outside your relationship, is a replacement of them, not only with other people and other kinks, but also with sex toys.
“A common misconception is that the sex toys are there to replace a partner or that there is something missing from their sexual experiences. However, in truth sex toys are like salt and pepper — they are there to enhance the sexual experience for all parties involved, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” explains Otten.
To accept that your partner wants to explore different things is a lot easier said than done. I think it comes from this pressure we put on ourselves and our partner to be The One, which ideally — and unrealistically — means that they’re the best at everything. Your best lover, your best friend, your greatest confidant, your partner in crime… The implication of The One is that one person should be able to be the best at all things.
When you talk about exploration, exploring polyamory or trying something new with your partner, it’s instinctive for them to question what it is that they’re not giving you. But it’s not always personal. And it pays to be open to unconventional relationship arrangements.
“Some people are definitely more inclined to crave excitement and spontaneity in the bedroom compared to others. Whether you do or don’t, that’s completely fine. The most important thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ sex life,” Otten says, most reasonably.
“Everyone is different. As long as the sex is consensual and you’re both having fun and exploring what you enjoy together, then that’s fine.”
Everyone deserves to experience sexual pleasure, whatever that may mean to them. It’s up to us to choose how we’d like to explore the library of desires within us, or whether we’re okay leaving certain books unturned.
Personally, I would recommend exploring sex in as many different ways as you can. This doesn’t always mean actually doing the deed.
Chantelle Otten recommends self-exploration as a first step.
“Some advice for anyone who wants to explore themselves sexually is to start with some self-exploration. Once you know what you like and enjoy, you’ll then feel more confident when it comes to pleasure with sexual partners.”
Some other options to think about are reading a sexy book, watching a category of porn you’ve never looked into, trying out a new type of sex toy or even exploring the world of kink via an online forum.
Learning to understand your body is a really beautiful experience, and if done right, can be extremely rewarding. Look at exploration as something to share with yourself or someone else. As a building exercise to live a rich and full life of human connection, beautiful sweaty bodies, a constant learning experience and hopefully, an endless supply of orgasms.