What does it mean to be sexually adventurous? Ess and I recently had a chat about this while vacationing together. This ESSay attempts to distill and expand on that conversation. Remember here that we’re an ordinary couple, not sex experts or psychologists. This is just our take on things.
It’s probably helpful to start with a definition. What we mean by “sexually adventurous” is being interested in trying things that extend, expand, and explore boundaries of sexuality on a physical, emotional, or intellectual plane — probably all three. We like to do this together. Always have, even before opening our sex life to others.
What we mean by “sexually adventurous” is being interested in trying things that extend, expand, and explore boundaries of sexuality.
Before I go into what types of things that might include, it’s probably equally helpful to lay out what we think being “sexually adventurous” isn’t.
It isn’t being sexually stupid — taking unnecessary risks with physical health, emotional well-being, or relationship.
Unprotected sex isn’t adventurous, it’s ignorant and callous.
Sex that could result in bodily harm may qualify as thrill-seeking, but it also qualifies for our “no thanks” category. We want to live to fuck another day.
Any sex that unnecessarily risks harming others emotionally is selfish, not adventurous. For example, it’s not adventure to knowingly have sex with someone whose spouse or partner is unaware and/or doesn’t consent. It’s being an asshole.
It’s not adventure to expose children or any un-consenting audience to sexual antics. It’s exploitation. And we’re not down with it.
That last point may take a moment to sink in, for those — like Ess — who enjoy a bit of exhibitionism. Sex in public is on a lot of people’s wanna-do list, but we have to think about the folks who make up that “public.” They have the right not to be involved, even passively viewing. Consent is everything. We don’t think we have to go around and ask everyone in a club play area if they are OK with watching us fuck. But if we wanna get off in a crowded public place made up of “mixed company,” and make sure it’s seen, we’re playing with other people’s right not to see. And that’s not cool.
So what kind of sexual adventures are people into?
Last month, Pjur (makers of personal lubricant) put out the results of a somewhat informal poll that doesn’t exactly constitute the kind of study you’re going to see in a juried medical or psychological journal, but nonetheless garnered no fewer than 2,000 responses and therefore gives us something interesting to discuss.
I’m looking at these Top Tens and thinking that maybe not too many swingers were in the group of 2,000 respondents. I mean, we’ve already checked off BOTH lists (most items multiple times). And it’s our hunch that, like us, most folks in the ethical non-monogamy world also tend to be a skosh more sexually adventurous than the average bear and might find these bucket lists on the tame side.
Maybe not too many swingers were in the group of 2,000 respondents.
Naturally, this got us thinking about our level of sexual adventurousness as a couple and what we have done, haven’t done, would like to try, wouldn’t try if you paid us, and those that we are somewhat skeered to try…but probably therefore should.
That last point begs some explanation.
To us, being sexually adventurous means exploring the boundaries of what we desire as well as the gratification of that desire. Every now and then we learn of something that initially seems too intimidating to be desirable. A good example is flogging. Since childhood, I have associated being hit by someone, especially with an object, as abuse. When I was recently exposed to a couple who practices flogging — in what they describe as a loving and consensual way — I was initially all sorts of hard-stop repulsed by the idea (for us, not them). Now, I think I’d like to watch it done, at least, and learn more about it. I may never feel comfortable or compelled to try it, but I’d like to expand my mind beyond what it currently thinks it understands about the subject.
And that right there is the essence — and point — of being sexually adventurous: Finding and exploring the edges of boundaries. There’s a thrill-seeking and titillation factor, sure. But, more than that, there’s a quest to experience life fully, including sensual pleasures.
An important aspect of all of this, we think, is that what qualifies as “adventurous” is different for different people — and that’s okay. For the folks filling out Pjur’s survey, using a sex toy seems adventurous. For others of us, that’s just Tuesday.
What qualifies as “adventurous” is different for different people — and that’s okay.
What’s key to us is locating our existing boundaries, thinking about why they are there, and exploring them. Sometimes our initial gut reaction to something is negative and, after thinking about it, we find there’s good reason and we do not try that thing. Sometimes, we decide to give something a try and find out — nope, nope…that’s not for us, after all. No thanks. But we tried. And sometimes we give something a try and it’s just delightful and becomes part of our repertoire of sexiness.
Is it good or necessary to constantly push past current boundaries to some next level? Our take is that it depends on your reason(s) for doing so. If you’re pushing to the “next level” of daring just to say that you did, or because you feel you have to, or because you’re an adrenaline junkie, or because you’re trying to prove to yourself or someone else that you’re super gung-ho — we’re gonna say that’s not good or necessary. If you’ve cultivated a desire to try something new in order to explore your boundaries of desire and pleasure, that’s a different story. One-upping ourselves (or others) shouldn’t probably be the motivation.
What sexual adventures beckon you? What ones frighten, but intrigue you? What boundaries do you want to explore? Even if you never act on them, it’s awfully liberating to talk about boundaries and exploration with one another, and a great way to learn more about ourselves and our partners.
If the topic of sexual adventurousness interests you, we’d recommend that you read Justin Lehmiller’s book Tell Me What You Want (review coming soon). It’s a great discussion-starter that is based on the largest study to date on sexual fantasies of Americans. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments below with your thoughts about sexual adventurousness.
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