Advice,  Feelings Involved

Feelings Involved #9: solo sex, sobriety & social distancing

Dear Kitty, 

I am a pansexual non-binary woman who has been on anti-depressants for 10 months and who has been sober for 7 months. Both of these changes in my life had a massive influence on my sexual drive and my confidence in flirting with people.

With the anti-depressants, my sexual drive decreased and the way I get pleasure has changed so much! Then, sobriety came and the way I socialize has changed a lot! I used to invite someone over and have some drinks, or I would go to a party and spend the night with a person I liked. In those situations, we would just jump into sex. So, sex was “easy” when drinking. With my ex-partner(s), it was really kinky, warm and fuzzy without the need for alcohol. But when the depression kicked in, that became history.

So, in the end I am alone with my fantasies and my old pal, my vibrator. My sexual drive is still quite low. I try to remind myself how beautiful it is to have some pleasure, and I invite myself for solo-sex. I would like to know how to kink up solo play. How can one spice it up with oneself?

P.S. I want to share some tender intimacy or some kink with others, but not so much the 'let's both have orgasms' kind of sex. But I am concerned about how to date people and how to invite them for some sober intimacy. Due to the covid-19 limitations, I am also worried about how to get close, and with whom. I am also not sure if I want to get that close to anyone right now. So that is why I thought maybe I should be working on giving pleasure(s) to myself. I really want to get out of this monotony! Your recommendations are very much welcome.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to think about what problems I am having related to sexuality :)

Wish you a day full of joy!

Flying Solo

Dear Flying Solo,

as you’re experiencing, changes to our health, medication, and alcohol or recreational drug use can can take us into brand new sexual territory, affecting how we feel and what we desire. Depression can impact our sexuality, and common side effects of antidepressants include lack of interest in sex; problems staying aroused or orgasming; erectile issues; and vaginal dryness. While a good quality lube can go a long way (literally and figuratively), these difficulties can be very challenging, so I’ll preface my letter with this: don’t hesitate to talk about them with the prescribing doctor. It may be that there are options, such as adjusting your dosage or trying another medication, that they can explore with you.

I’m struck by the positivity in your letter, and openness to making fresh discoveries. It’s wonderful that, during this period of lowered libido and less frequent connections with others, you’re making space for pleasure. When you ask how you can “spice it up” with yourself, what I hear is that you’re treating the sex you have with yourself as worthy of attention and care, which is an awesome place to be in. Solo sex can be a rich and rewarding arena for play, self-care, and experimentation. It can also, as you suggest, become pretty routine! Two very common ways that this plays out are being goal-oriented, and genitally-focussed. If these apply to your current patterns, exploring your whole body and shifting the emphasis away from (the quickest route to) orgasm could be fruitful first steps in creating some variety in how you get down with yourself.

In BDSM contexts we may take significant time to plan and stage a scene, and I wonder if thinking in terms of scenes could introduce some of that vibrant kink energy to your alone time. Those fantasies you mention are a great resource. See if you can bring elements of what you enjoy in your head into the room, such as getting dressed up in a particular outfit or creating an atmospheric playlist. Think about seducing each of your fives senses: what would it turn you on to smell, taste, hear, etc? If you decide to create something special for yourself, then, as when we play with others, the preparation and anticipation can become their own sources of pleasure.

If you’re into pain, there are lots of toys you can use on yourself, from pinwheels, paddles and nipple clamps, if you fancy some shopping, to clothes pegs, spatulas and hairbrushes if you prefer the DIY route. Make sure you know how to use any toys safely before you go it alone, and never put yourself in a situation that could be hard to get out of. Don’t forget the aftercare! Pain or intense sensation can release emotions or take us to vulnerable places, whether we’re alone or with other/s, and some attention may be necessary to help integrate the experience and smoothly transition back to the world outside the scene. Plan ahead and have what you need, whether that’s a warm bath, arnica cream, nutritious snacks, or a friend on standby for a debrief phone call.

Sex with yourself can be fun and fulfilling without pursuing or having orgasms (just like sex with others!). If your antidepressants make orgasms difficult to have or totally out of reach, you may want to focus for now on different kinds of pleasure. If, however, you’re still able to come reliably, then playing with when and how you orgasm can be a fun way to kinkify masturbation. Edging is the process of bringing yourself as close as possible to orgasm, then dialling back the stimulation before building it up again – and repeating, as often as you wish, or can stand! As it’s pretty easy to lace this practice with concepts like permission, punishment, teasing, and torture, it could help you to bring some power-play into your solo sex.

Those with voyeuristic or exhibitionist tendencies might enjoy performing for themselves in the mirror, or making some for-my-eyes-only DIY porn. You could also make some bespoke audio: read erotica aloud, get into a character and talk dirty to yourself, or record a session of self-spanking. Enhance your listening by wearing a blindfold. Temperature play is easy alone and very accessible: if you have a freezer and an ice cube tray, you have a lot of potential for exploration! Choose candles that burn at a low temperature for wax play, and, again, stay safe (at risk of stating the obvious: do not blindfold yourself with an open flame in the room!). What feels kinky, and what feels good, varies so much from person to person: it might be that none of these suggestions is exactly the right fit for you. I hope, though, to have got your imagination going – and I’ll leave the rest to you!

Your P.S. touches on two issues, each of which – sober intimacy and connecting during Covid – could easily warrant a whole letter. I’ll just make a couple of points, acknowledging that there’s more to explore on each topic. Firstly, in terms of the coronavirus, it might be worth reflecting on what intimacy means to you, and whether some of your needs could be met through sexting, phone or webcam based encounters, or finding an erotic pen-pal with whom to exchange old-fashioned, hand-written letters. If you want to connect in-person, consider practices that allow greater physical distance, such as flogging rather than spanking, or watching one another masturbate rather than exchanging touch. Wearing masks, avoiding saliva exchange, and limiting partners are also currently advised as risk-minimising measures.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend trying to find some sober community, whether that’s through AA, social media, or other means. Talking to others who’ve disentangled alcohol and sex will likely be really valuable. As you’re learning how to date while sober, we’re all learning how to be sexual beings during a pandemic, and I wonder if the latter may help you when it comes to communicating about the former. The coronavirus outbreak compels us to reflect on and articulate our boundaries, to negotiate with others in all kinds of situations. I’m hopeful that this will go some way to normalising conversations about expectations and needs, in our daily lives as well as sexual and kink contexts. When the time is right for you to start to connect with others sexually again, I imagine that sobriety will be just one of the topics to be discussed. You’re articulate and thoughtful, and I’m confident that you’ll do it well.

Warmest wishes to you,

Kitty

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