So you’re a lady who wants to have sex with a lady. Welcome to the club. Women of all orientations and identities are learning the joys of the activity once reserved for that cool girl in your art class. As the Ruby Roses of the world are proving, attraction doesn’t have to shake up your self-conception or identity. Sometimes, the only earth-shaking you want comes in the form of orgasms.
But if you've never done it before, sex with a woman can be intimating, confusing, and maybe even scary. What do you do together? Should you bring toys? What about safe sex? Oh my god, what do vaginas even taste like?
Most of the sex ed we get in school, if we get any sex ed in school, teaches us how to not get naked, not get pregnant, and not get chlamydia. But it doesn’t teach us how to talk about what we want, find people like us, ask good questions about what feels good, or anything at all about pleasure. If you’re venturing into the warm waters of lady love, you may find everything you thought you knew about sex flying out the bedroom window.
Before you take the leap into the wide world of sapphic pleasures, here are 10 things to know, pulled from the pages of Girl Sex 101 , my new book all about how ladies can please ladies.
1. You Taste (And Smell) Better Than You Think You Do
A lot of ladies are insecure about their bits. Blame decades of commercials of moms and daughters being "unfresh." Here’s the truth: Your vagina shouldn’t smell like roses. If you practice routine hygiene (like bathing) and aren’t experiencing any sexual health issues, your vagina will have a healthy, earthy smell. When you get turned on, the moisture that most women create is quite clean and sweet-tasting.
If you’re curious, try tasting yourself when you’re just doing normal day stuff, and then again after you’ve masturbated. Notice a difference? When spit mixes with your fluids, it tastes even better. So if you’re going downtown on a lady for the first time, you may be pleasantly surprised at how tasty it is.
2. You’re Allowed To Be Nervous
Sex can be scary. Not in a bad monster movie way, but in an, "Oh my god, she’s going to see me naked, oh my god what do I do to her body?!" way. Girl-on-girl sex abandons a particularly bitter ingredient: the fragile male ego. This is great news for your sexplorations. There’s nothing wrong with being anxious about your performance or lack of knowledge. The best way to handle it is to admit to it. Point out the awkward and you’ll be amazed at how it can diffuse things.
Communicate with phrases like, “I want to make you feel good. What can I do?” “You’re so sexy. I can’t wait to learn your body.” “This is new for me. Wanna show me the ropes?”
3. Vulvas Are Unique Snowflakes
Just because you like to be touched in a certain way doesn’t mean your lady will like it, too. Even if you both have the same equipment (and even if you’re both girls, that’s not a guarantee you will), everyone responds to touch differently. Instead of trying the thing you do on yourself with her, why not ask her how she likes to masturbate? Bonus points for showing each other how you masturbate. It’s like a crash course in touching your sweetie.
4. Remember: Professional Tools Create Professional Results
Don’t worry, no one is expecting you to keep a spare strap-on in your purse for emergencies. So if you score a surprise hookup at the club, fingers and mouths may be the only things on the (hot) menu. But if you have the privilege of foresight, consider packing some gear. Girls don't usually have the same hangups guys have about bringing sex toys into the mix, and most of us need significant clit stimulation to get off. So if you think that thing she’s doing to you could use some extra buzz, or if you’d like to give your hand a break by introducing a strap-on, don’t be afraid to bring backup.
5. The Clit Is Bigger On The Inside
Until recently, most people only thought of the clit as the little nubbin on the outside of the body. The wonderful truth is that, pound for pound, inch for inch, there is the same amount of erectile tissue in the clitoris as there is in a penis. Ours is just on the inside.
What can you do with this information? Explore ways to stimulate the inner clitoral structure, instead of just focusing on the inch outside the body. Grinding, humping, and fingering are all ways we stimulate our inner clitoral structure, without always knowing it. Let your lady grind on your thigh or hump your palm.
6. Hands Are A Tongue’s Best Friend
Porn has made sex more complicated. When we look at porn as an educational medium, a lot of bad habits are established. For instance, did you know that great cunnilingus requires your hands? It’s true! Just because you’re face-down in puss doesn’t mean your hands stop working. You can add fingers for penetration, press on her mound, stroke her labia, or place a fingertip on her perineum or anus (if she’s into it). In fact, when your tongue gets tired (oh yes, it will get tired), your fingers can “fill in” while you regroup.
7. Let Go Of The Idea Of “P In V Until The Guy Comes”
When the traditional “P in V until the guy comes” model flies out the window, many people don’t know what’s left. The good news is that a ton of stuff is left. Hand sex, toy sex, cunnilingus, tribadism — oh, there are so many ways for girls to get off together. This lack of a clear formula means that sex can be different each time. Lesbian sex is a lovely, open field of pleasure and connection. Don’t go into it with expectations, and you’ll be amazed at how much there is to explore.
8. Lesbian Sex Lasts Longer Than You Might Think
The lack of a formula for lesbian sex also means that there tends to be less P&V and more R&D (Research and Development). When you consider that women don’t have a set refractory period after orgasm (the post-ejaculatory “sleep mode” that befalls most men), sex between women can last quite a long time. If you’re planning on sleeping with a lady for the first time, you may want to clear your schedule and rely on getting less sleep than you think.
9. Come As You Are (Or Not)
The female orgasm is a mercurial thing. We all have different needs for getting off. Like vibrators? Penetration? Fingers on your labia? Humping your pillow? Whatever it is, I bet the girl you want to bed gets off differently than you do.
A key thing to remember is that many girls don’t come at all, or at least, not on a reliable schedule. Don’t take it personally if your girl isn’t drenching your face on your first go-around. But also don’t be afraid to show her what you like, and to ask for the same in return. If you both want to get off but can’t get each other there, finish by masturbating together. It’s sexy, intimate, and often quite fulfilling.
10. We’ve All Got Baggage
Spending a lifetime living as a woman in our society tends to heap some baggage on all of us. If you’re sleeping with other ostensibly straight girls, it might be even harder. We all tend to carry our insecurities into bed with us. If you've ever been shamed, insulted, or made to feel less than fabulous by a sex partner, odds are the remnants of any bad experience can follow you to new partners.
So if your lady is embarrassed by her body, or doesn't want to tell you what she likes, know that she’s pretty normal. Role model good communication, consent, and kindness by sharing your own likes, needs, and insecurities. Sisterhood — especially sexual sisterhood — is powerful. You’d be amazed at how healing and intimate sex between women can be.
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.
Want more sex? Of course you do. So download Bustle's app from iTunes for all the most recent sex and relationships news, advice, memes, and GIFs from around the Web. Guaranteed to fulfill you more than your ex.