This is how we do it: ‘We’ve bought lots of sex toys, and given them names, like pets’ | Sex

Kali, 21

We take sex seriously but we are also very silly together, which I love.

Luke and I met two years ago, on the first day of university. We had sex for the first time during freshers’ week, but it was fumbled and awkward. I couldn’t remember how you were meant to give a hand job so I was darting around the area, waving my hands like a drunk magician. His fingering technique was equally uncoordinated. Neither of us was a virgin, but we didn’t have much skill.

We’re both a lot better at pleasing one another now. That’s partly because Luke is genuinely curious about what I like, and very caring, and he makes it easy for me to tell him the truth. I initially found going on top awkward, because I didn’t know how to move my body to give myself pleasure. I was just bouncing about, trying to look pretty. Luke could sense I was performing so he suggested different ways I could move on top of him that might feel better. We workshopped new techniques together, and now it’s one of my favourite positions.

In the first few months of our relationship, Luke would sometimes put his hands around my neck while we were having sex. It was consensual, but I realised that I didn’t find it sexy – to me it felt aggressive but also weirdly theatrical. We talked about it and Luke said he didn’t even really like putting his hand there; he had just seen it in a porn video and replicated it without much thought.

We both grew up watching porn, although I only ever really felt comfortable watching lesbian videos because the men in porn can be so fake-looking, and I found looking at their penises strangely revolting. I don’t watch it at all any more, because in comparison with actual sex, the videos seem so mechanical.

I went on the pill recently, and one side-effect was that I started experiencing pain with penetrative sex. Usually I’m very blunt with Luke if something doesn’t feel good, but I felt so panicked that there was something wrong with me that I kept the pain a secret from him. Luke cottoned on pretty quickly and he encouraged me to come off the pill. We’re back to using condoms, and that’s helped, but I still have a bit of anxiety in the buildup to sex.

Luke and I have since focused more on foreplay, which means that by the time penetration happens I’m entirely ready. We’ve also bought lots of sex toys, and given them names, like pets. We take sex seriously but we are also very silly together, which I love. We have deliberately given our vibrator the least-sexy name imaginable: Gertrude.

Luke, 22

My main reference point for sex was porn. I thought Kali wanted me to pull her hair and put my hands around her throat

When we started having sex, Kali and I did a little dance, pretending that we weren’t serious about each other. Kali used to invite me into her bedroom a lot, but she usually had an excuse. The least convincing one was that I was “tall enough to help her close her window”. We used to discuss whether it was possible to separate sex from love, and Kali would always argue that what we did together was purely lustful, but secretly I felt differently. Of course, the first few times we had sex were a bit bumbling, but even then my favourite part of it was always the eye contact, and touching Kali’s face.

We have been together for two years now, so the sex is less clumsy, and also probably less frequent. Recently, Kali started experiencing discomfort during penetration, so we stopped entirely for a month. At first she didn’t tell me about the pain, so when she rejected my advances, my insecurity started to creep in. I have a tendency to be self-critical and I assumed she was no longer attracted to me. When she told me the real reason I was partly relieved, but I also felt mortified that I had been hurting her.

We have adapted the way we have sex, to make it slower and gentler. We use a small, internal vibrator for four or five minutes before attempting penetration, and that seems to have made the pain disappear. I also check in with Kali verbally to make sure she’s able to tell me if something feels off.

When I met Kali I had already slept with quite a few women, but my main reference point for sex was porn. I thought Kali wanted me to pull her hair and put my hands round her throat during sex, but about a year into the relationship she told me she didn’t. I never particularly enjoyed doing those things either, they’re just moves I thought were part of a “normal” sexual repertoire.

Kali and I have watched porn together, and it’s weird seeing it through her eyes. Every move in the videos is choreographed and slick, but what I love about being with Kali is the lack of choreography, and the silliness. I still watch porn but I’m now a lot more selective with my videos. I tend to seek out real couples, rather than porn stars.

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