Ask Professor Foxy: How Do I Bring Up Exploration With My Partner?

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.
Dear Professor Foxy,
I’ve lived my whole life in a cookie-cutter version of my sexuality. I’m starting to come out of my shell a bit, coming to terms with my body, and enjoying my sexuality. My most recent endeavor was taking nude to semi-nude photos of myself and putting them together in a movie/slideshow set to music for my husband’s birthday. I was terrified that he wouldn’t like it, or that I’d made a fool of myself, but he enjoyed it. While I was shooting the pictures and looking at myself naked on camera, I realized that I enjoyed the feeling of dressing up and being sexually aggressive. I also wanted you to know that to date the only other addition to our sex life has been a lubricant I bought off the shelf at Target when I thought no one was looking. Now I’d like to try adding toys/cuffs, etc. or costumes into our sex life, but I have a couple of questions.
First, how do I tell my husband I’m interested in this? Or do I not tell him, buy what I want and just introduce it to him and hope he likes it?
Second, do you have any suggestions for where to start? What should I buy or try to begin with?
Any help you can offer to someone just putting a toe in the pool would be helpful.
Thank you.

Hello -
Good for you for taking a major first step. It took guts to put the slideshow together. He responded favorably, so I think you two are ready to go to the next place.
Communication is key. Talking about desires heightens them and helps both partners feel comfortable. I would talk to him about the slideshow and ask what turned him on about the experience. Was it that you took the initiative? Being voyeuristic? The trust you showed?
Move on to asking him what his fantasies are and be ready to talk about your own. What specifically turned you on? What would you do again? Change?
I would also suggest exploring an on-line sex store like my new favorite one, Passionale in Philadelphia, PA. See what appeals to you and/or to him. Be ready to try new things. What are you willing to try for him and vice versa? Going through sites or catalogues together and talking about the goods is likely to spark more fantasies and things to try. So talk and try and have fun!!
Best,
Professor Foxy
If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

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13 Comments

  1. ohdesy
    Posted November 7, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the Passionale shout-out! It’s also well worth visiting if y’all are ever in Philadelphia. The folk at the shops (there are two, one for toys and one for clothing and costumes) are knowledgeable, friendly, and have helped with my sexual well-being considerably.

  2. ohdesy
    Posted November 7, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the Passionale shout-out! It’s also well worth visiting if y’all are ever in Philadelphia. The folk at the shops (there are two, one for toys and one for clothing and costumes) are knowledgeable, friendly, and have helped with my sexual well-being considerably.

  3. marissafromboston
    Posted November 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    i agree with prof foxy that what youve already done is pretty gutsy, so good for you!
    as for talking about it beforehand, or just introducing an item/idea… thats tough, and i think it depends on what sort of guy you have. my favorite approach is a hybrid of the two options. i will talk about a new item or idea before i actually introduce it, but i will bring it up during foreplay. that way, sex is already on my man’s brain and he is generally more receptive to sexy suggestions. its really hot to whisper “baby, next time i want to do x,y,z” in his ear while in the mists of messing around.
    good luck, and have fun with it!

  4. arielmorgan
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    I would like to add, if I may, that you want to foster an environment where you are continually exploring and continually open to suggesting new things, and rediscussing old topics as well. There is never going to be a one, final “sex convo” that will ensure that your sexual relationship is “settled” where you want it to be. Relationships are a process, not a destination, and while you probably already know that for your relationship in general, don’t let it slide for sex!

  5. bifemmefatale
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Questioner, you may want to check out a book called “Come Hither” by Gloria Brame–it has lots of very practical advice for how to discuss and explore fantasies with a partner, especially of the handcuffs and toys variety.
    I have to say I am very much on the side of discussing *before* springing a new costume, toy or game on your partner–you never know what someone may find triggery, repugnant or just plain ridiculous, and I’m guessing you don’t want your partner bursting into uncontrollable laughter *or* curling up in a teary fetal ball when you’re in the mood for sexy fun times.

  6. Thomas
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve been with my spouse over a decade, and we’re what most folks would call serious kinksters. Whether dipping one’s toe in the pool or swimming in the Olympics, I think that working through fantasies as a couple in concept first and then taking them from the drawing board to reality is a very good method. Not to say it’s the only reasonable one; some folks do fine with surprises. But the “talk first, then plan, then try, then execute” approach has always worked well for me.
    My spouse and I are big fans of handjobs. Usually when we start touching, we also start talking about what we’ve been fantasizing. We’ll work through what we think would be hot while we get each other off. If the idea works as fantasy, we figure out the practicalities: how it would work, what we would need, any safety considerations and what the limits might be. We usually talk through those things together — the prospect of doing what we’ve talked about is usually pretty hot in itself.
    Then we give it a shot, keeping in mind that it might be a better fantasy than a reality. Some sensation play, for example, might be great in theory but kill the mood in practice. If a cautious run at it works, then it’s time to turn up the volume. So, if clothespins on my nipples are hot, next time it’s nipple clamps. If I like those, then we start thinking and talking about the hemostats — which, as it turned out, are near-limit for me in most circumstances.
    The key is that we have a rhythm where the communication process itself is hot. We think of things all the time that either we don’t really want to try, or that we know we need some time to think about — but it’s excellent fantasy material in the meantime.

  7. Comrade Kevin
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Once I took some pictures of myself at the behest of a lover, but we are no longer dating and though I know she wouldn’t leak them or show them to anyone else, I’m still quick to be overnice to her when our paths occasionally cross, just in case. :)
    For someone with as rich a fantasy life as I have, it’s odd that when it comes to kinks, I’m not especially creative.
    Those who are, more power to ya.

  8. Tara K.
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I. Love. Kink.
    My advice would be to start off with things that you expect him to be enticed by, whether that’s clothing items/outfits or positions. He’ll more than likely be excited by the variety. As trying new things becomes welcomed or normal, you can bring in discussions of more adventurous ideas.
    You might always try sending him a link to a sex shop (Babeland.com!) and just saying, “I’d like to try some stuff. What items on here interest you?” I did that with my partner.
    Obviously we all have our own fantasies, but can I suggest a vibrating cock ring? I’ve yet to hear of a hetero couple where BOTH parties didn’t enjoy it.

  9. Emily
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Love kink too! :) didn’t like the vibrating cock ring though. It made us both numb. I actually don’t like vibrating devices so much but it’s definitely worth a try. Personally, getting books on anal sex and kink (I’m gonna get a new book for bottoms soon and I’m super excited :) )is a really good way to start cause it gives you ideas and is a turn-on to read themselves.

  10. Rachel
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Professor Foxy! I was just wondering if questions get answered without being posted on Feministing? I’m wanting to send a question regardless, but I was just curious…

  11. wisiti
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m the OP – thank you for the book suggestion. I’m still worried about even bringing it up and purchasing and reading a book like that in bed might help bring the topic up. :)

  12. wisiti
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m the OP – thank you for the book suggestion.
    I’m worried about even bringing the topic up, because I’m not sure how he’ll react.
    But purchasing and reading that book in bed might be a good way to bring up the topic without having to say, “I want to have a conversation about exploration.”
    Thanks!

  13. Hershele Ostropoler
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t really see a reasonably decent person being unwilling to at least hear their partner out as to what turns the partner on except in the case of a more-than-baseline ickyness about sex (i.e., feels sex is something one does, not enjoys or discusses). You probably can’t make him like something he doesn’t like*, but he’ll probably be more receptive than you fear; after all, there’s a clear potential payoff for him in this too.
    *This actually isn’t precisely on all fours (so to speak) with my personal experience; I’ve had my mind changed about things I didn’t enjoy with my first partner.

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