We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today’s topic: what you need to know before attending your first sex party.
Q: I recently moved to a big city known for its kink community. I’ve always been a little curious about kink, but don’t have much experience. I was recently invited to a sex party (not a BDSM one, just a singles and swingers party), and I’m debating whether or not to go. It seems like it could be a lot of fun, plus, I’m not in a relationship, so I don’t have to worry about jealousy or insecurity. But I don’t really know how I’ll react. What if it’s full of weird people? What if I get propositioned by someone who gives me the creeps? What if I freak out? Should I even go?
A: Thanks for your question! Congrats on your first invitation to a sex party. There are lots of things to think about before deciding to attend, and even once you have made the decision to go. That being said, a sex party can also wind up being one of the most exciting nights of your life. Here are 12 things to know before attending your first sex party.
1. Do Your Research
Sex parties are becoming more and more popular, which means there’s more and more variety in the parties themselves. Take some time to research the specific party you’ve been invited to. What are the details of this party? Where is it being held? How many people are anticipated?
Try to find out about the rules of the party too. Is it meant for couples only? Is it organized around a certain theme or activity (like group sex or BSDM)? Pay attention to the ways the organizers describe the party. Do they mention consent, safety, or etiquette? Are the rules clearly laid out? I would highly recommend against any party where the rules aren’t clearly communicated, or where consent and safe sex isn't mentioned. These kinds of questions will help you figure out whether or not you feel comfortable attending.
2. Talk To The Organizers
If you can’t find enough information on the invite or website, don’t hesitate to reach out to the party organizers directly. Ask them about the history of this party (have they thrown it before? How many times? What are their intentions for the party?) Ask them what the rules are, and what happens if you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or if someone violates your boundaries. If you don’t get a good vibe from the organizers, you probably won’t get a good vibe from the party.
3. Be Realistic
A lot of people hear the word “sex party” and think of the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut . Sex parties can be ridiculously hot, but they can also be ridiculously awkward or uncomfortable! The kink community draws all kinds. There will probably be some attractive people at the party, and there will probably be plenty of people you’re not attracted to. Most people in the kink community are extremely careful about consent and creating a good atmosphere, but of course there are bound to be a few bad apples. Just be realistic about the fact that not everyone will fit into your definition of hot. Nor will you want to be best friends with every person there, or will everyone be wearing a mask by candlelight. But that’s OK!
4. Think About Your Boundaries
Perhaps the most important aspect of attending a sex party is getting really clear on your boundaries. What do you want to get out of this party? What would make the experience seem fun and exciting? You may want to think about:
- The gender identities of the people you would feel comfortable hooking up with.
- Whether you’d want to play with couples or singles.
- Whether the age of your partner feels important to you or not.
- The specific activities that are on or off the table for you (for example, getting spanked, giving a blowjob, etc.)
5. Practice Saying No
Showing up at a sex party doesn’t mean you consent to any and every activity taking place. You may be invited to participate in certain activities that you’re going to want to say no to. If saying no is in any way tricky for you, practice saying it beforehand. Try something polite like, “I’m really flattered by the invitation, but I’m not interested.”
6. Consider Just Watching
You don’t have to go whole hog for your very first sex party! If it would make you feel more comfortable (and if the party rules allow), consider just going to watch. Of course, you don’t want to leer at people uncomfortably or follow people into private rooms without their consent, but everyone at a sex party knows there’s going to be some element of voyeurism. If just watching feels too PG, you can try masturbating while you watch. Keep in mind that you can always meet people to play with later.
7. Consider Bringing A Buddy
I would highly recommend bringing a friend with you to the party. It’s nice to have someone that you trust there with you. If you don’t have anyone you would feel comfortable bringing to a sex party, ask the party organizers if they have the contact info of anyone who would be willing to welcome a newbie.
8. Stay Mostly Sober
A lot of people end up getting way too intoxicated before or during sex parties. A drink to steady your nerves is fine, but you don’t want to be drunk or on drugs. You need your full judgment to help you make decisions about what feels good for you in the moment.
9. Respect Others’ Boundaries
Of course, you need to respect other people’s boundaries, and the rules of the party. Ask for consent for everything you do, and keep in mind that a lack of a response isn’t a “yes”. Before the party, make sure you feel comfortable making specific requests, like, “can I join you?” or “can I touch you?” (This is also a good opportunity for you to decide beforehand what kinds of activities you want to participate in.) Practice saying the words out loud, until they feel more natural.
10. Acknowledge Your Nerves
There’s no way around it — you’re bound to be a little nervous at your first party! There are plenty of experienced sex party-goers who still feel nervous before every party. Give yourself permission to feel nervous or awkward. One of the best ways to get past your nerves is to talk to people at the party. Crack a few jokes (no mean-spirited ones, of course!). Tell them it’s your first time. You can even share this right before you're about to start hooking up with someone. There are plenty of nice people who would be willing to show you the ropes or help you feel more comfortable.
11. Give Yourself Breaks
Sex parties can be overwhelming. Plan to give yourself a few breaks to be alone and process your reactions. Duck into the bathroom for a few minutes of alone time. Ask yourself, “how am I doing? Do I need anything?” If you brought a friend to the party with you, plan on having a few check-ins with them. Or if you have a friend who can’t be at the party, ask them to send you a few text messages throughout the night asking how you’re doing.
12. Be Safe
If you do decide to join in on the fun, remember to practice safe sex. Come prepared with your own condoms, lube, or dental dams. You can also check with the party organizers about their safety policies beforehand. If it's a good party, they'll likely also provide safe sex supplies.
Have fun! And keep an eye out for part two of this article, where we dig into how, exactly, to have group sex!
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Studio4/E+/Getty Images; Giphy