I’m pulled over a cute boy’s knee, moments after our first kiss while he tentatively spanks me. “You know” he says in between smacks “I don’t usually do this, I tried it once before and it wasn’t really my thing, but you’re just so good at receiving it makes it really fun.” I giggle and wiggle my butt excitedly as he lands another blow.
When people think about developing their sexual skills, they think about learning the perfect blowjob technique or how to throw a flogger, they learn to be the top, the giver, the dominant, but for many people, learning to receive is something that never occurs to them. You’ll never see a Cosmo article on “23 Mindblowing Ways to Get A Blowjob”1 all they want to talk about is giving, but as a kinky queer human, much of my sex life exists in a framework where there is a pleasure imbalance, one person giving and the other receiving, we take turns.
Fisting, blowjobs, spankings, they’re all things one person does to another, which can put a lot of pressure on both people, the giver feels like it’s on them to “do it right” but the receiver is often left feeling like the spotlight is on them. Learning skills to receive well can take pressure off of everyone, a great receiver is present in their own body and pleasure while giving feedback and reassurances to their partner.
This isn’t easy, trust me, and it doesn’t happen just because you want it to. I still have hookups where I am so uncomfortable in my own body or experiences of pleasure that I will only do things to the other person and refuse to receive. It happens, but here are some tools to help you make the most of your receiving.
I know, easier said than done right? I’m not going to tell you that you need to be relaxed in order to receive, because if I did, then I’d have to make the difficult choice between being a hypocrite or never having a partnered orgasm again. That said, the closer you can come to a place of comfort in your body and in your partner(s), the easier receiving the pleasure you deserve will be.
And I promise you that you deserve it. I know for a fact that you do, as Good Vibrations says, “pleasure is your birthright”, so experience it, roll around in it and enjoy it. Trust that your partner is there because there is no place else in the world that they would rather be. Trust that they are attracted to you, even if you can’t believe that you are attractive yourself.
If I asked someone their favorite ice cream flavor and they said a flavor I hate, I wouldn’t assume they were lying. I don’t AGREE with them, but I BELIEVE them. When someone tells me they think I’m attractive, I can see it that same way: I don’t have to agree with them, but I can believe them when they say it.
Be Authentically Expressive
For many of us, we discovered our sexuality during a time when we were still living with others. Jerking off in the bedrooms of our family homes or fooling around with a new beau while our dorm mates are asleep (we hope), we’re taught that sex is a thing that has to be quiet. We muffle our moans and stifle our gasps and try to take up as little space as we can, and our body learns to silence our sexuality, long after there is a “reason” to.
Those noises and expressions that we are silencing in our bodies are the same noises that communicate to our partner that yes, this feels good, and yes, I want to be here. Without them are partners can be left in a sea of anxious panic “oh god, they’re bored aren’t they? they hate this don’t they? I’m making them uncomfortable aren’t I?” or worse, they’re bored themselves.
A friend once told me that one of his favorite things about me is how easy I am to please, moments later he offered me a single french fry and my face lit up like Christmas morning. When I experience joy, I experience it in every part of my body. My eyes light up, my smile threatens to engulf my face, my chest lifts up and towards the person and my hands shoot up to frame my chin. It makes me a terrible poker player, but the kind of person that people love to do things for (and to).
Am I saying you need to experience joy exactly the same way I do? No. That would be inauthentic, and frankly a little weird. Instead, take the time to pay attention to how all of your emotions feel in your body, explore how your sexuality feels in your body. Masturbate, and try different things on, say filthy things, moan and squeal and scream the way you hear in porn, claw at the sheets or thrash your body around, breath heavy. Pay attention to what feels sexy to you and try to bring it into your partnered play.
Although your authentic expression may not be verbal, it is important that you find a way to communicate with your partner both during and after play. For anxious givers, myself included, it can be helpful to have explicit verbal communication that you enjoyed yourself and wanted to be there. My anxiety brain has a way of rationalizing all sorts of things, and sometimes I actually need to hear someone say the words “that felt great” no matter how many times I watched them come.2
The best compliments are specific and unique. “That was amazing” sounds great and all, but it’s also the closing line of every sex scene in every movie ever made and well, it can get a little tired. “I love how pink your cheeks get just before you come.” or “How did you get me to squirt so fast? You’re a goddamn a wizard!” on the other hand are unique to the sex you just had, they’re clever and memorable, and they feel great to be on the receiving end of.
It’s also going to be a whole lot easier for your partner to bring you to a place where you can express your authentic joy if they know how. It can be as simple as saying “a little to the left” or as scary as sharing a new kink, but by sharing information with your partner you give them the tools to give you pleasure, and even make them a more confident giver because they’re doing something they know you enjoy.
Receiving is about so much more than sex, it’s about birthday presents and being helped when you really need it, and letting someone else pick up the tab, and it’s difficult across the board. Learning to be comfortable in it, to feel and express your joy, makes you the kind of person people want to keep doing things for, and that’s just rad.