In this sneak peek from the Patreon member feed, panelists answer a listener question about communicating and having better sex in a hookup setting.
Wild & Sublime Podcast Transcript
#S3E3 | Bonus Episode: Hookup Communication
[Wild & Sublime theme music]
Clark Hazel: Why have bad sex? Like, why endure that? You know, I think a lot of folks fall into it, of like, well, you know, we're not going to hook up again, so I guess I'm going to just chill with what's happening. Not really enjoying it, but, you know, it's not gonna be a story that I tell to the boys later, you know? Like, eughh. But like, yeah, why settle for crappy sex? Have great sex!
Karen Yates: Welcome to Wild & Sublime, a sexy spin on infotainment®, no matter your preferences, orientation, or relationship style, based on the popular live Chicago show. I chat about sex and relationships with citizens from the world of sex positivity. You'll hear meaningful conversations, dialogues that go deeper, and information that can help you become more free in your sexual expression. I'm sex educator and intimacy coach Karen Yates. This week, a bonus episode as our Patreon panel gives tips for more connection, pleasure, and communication during hookup sex. Keep listening.
Do you have trouble expressing your desires in the moment with your partner? I work with couples in Chicago, helping them increase pleasure, learn the basics of erotic communication, and become more connected to one another, all through dynamic, body-centered coaching sessions. Go to the show notes or karen-yates.com to schedule your free consultation with me. Daylong immersions are available as well for out of town visitors.
Hey, folks. Today, we have a bonus episode coming at you from our Patreon member site, also known as the Afterglow. Every month on Patreon, I convene a group of sexperts to come on Zoom, and Wild & Sublime supporters submit their questions and then we have an awesome discussion. And if you are interested in joining the Afterglow and getting other cool benefits too, for as little as $5 a month, go to the show notes or patreon.com/wildandsublime. In a week we will be doing a watch party — new for us — of a few episodes of "Sex, Love and Goop," which is going to be really fun, thought-provoking, and, dare I say it, educational. So now, on to the bonus episode. We talk a lot on this show about communication. But let's face it: communicating in bed with someone you barely know can be challenging, which is what this fantastic conversation is all about. This discussion was on Patreon about four months ago, and our panelists are Portland-based somatic sex educator Cassie Porter, individual and couples therapist at Best Therapies Clark Hazel, and sex therapist Heather Shannon. Enjoy.
"Hi, panelists. I've been dating a lot" — bold face — "this past year, since a split, and what I'm noticing is that while I've been used to having longer-term partners who are GGG" — so, Dan Savage's term, 'good, giving, game,' you know, partners that are open to sexual exploration — "not everybody is, surprise, surprise. I'm finding it's harder for me to communicate my sexual needs in more of a hookup type or short-term situation, such as wanting oral or going slower. Also, it's a little more challenging to tune into myself. I think I've gotten it into my head that 'communication' only happens when you're with someone for a bit, but that it doesn't apply as much when you're hooking up, or differently, like letting stuff just happen, which I guess is erroneous. But I'd like your thoughts between the two dynamics: long-term sexual communication and hookup communication. Thanks."
Heather Shannon: That's a really advanced question.
Karen Yates: I love this question. I love love, love, love, love this question. So, Cassie, I would love to start with you, since you're a somatic sex educator and part of the issue for this person is that body disconnect that happens when you're in a hookup situation and things are coming at you, and you're like, waahh, new lover, ahh...
Cassie Porter: Yeah. I think this person needs to go to a sexological bodyworker so that they can practice asking for what they want. And I feel like, you know, honestly, I did sit and think about this for a little bit — of like, huh, like what are the differences? And I was thinking about how it's like, I've worked with a lot of couples, and you know, they've been together for a long time, and also individuals who are, like, oh, I want to be a better lover. And I honestly teach the same things around erotic communication, of, like, asking for what you want and taking the guesswork out of it, and you know, making requests. And you can make requests in ways that are really sexy and seductive and can fit within a hookup situation. And the other thought I had about this is, like, why endure bad sex? Because I think when it's like, oh, just letting things happen, and like okay, I think I'm pleasing them, and okay, they're doing this thing, and I don't know, but I'll moan? [laughter] And then the whole thing is over, and nobody had fun. So it's like, why endure it? And I think it's important just to feel into what your desires are, and to communicate that, ask for what you want. I think most often, the person you're hooking up with to be guided, and like, hey, will you do this thing for me? It's like, great. I know you want this, and so I'm gonna do this, and it just makes everything better.
Karen Yates: Hmm, great answer.
Clark Hazel: Yeah, I also loved what you said, Cassie, of being more in the driver's seat and advocating for yourself. Of like, this is what I want, and I'm going to communicate that to my partner. Yeah, why have bad sex? Like, why endure that? You know, I think a lot of folks fall into it, of like, well, you know, we're not going to hook up again, so I guess I'm going to just chill with what's happening. I'm not really enjoying it, but you know, it's not gonna be a story that I tell to the boys later, you know? Like, eughh. But like, yeah, why settle for crappy sex? Like, have great sex. And like, yes, maybe even [inaudible] vulnerability, of like, practice asking for what you want and taking that risk in a sense. You're already at no, and you can only develop from there, and have better sex from there, right?
Karen Yates: Oh, wow. What a great thing to think about! You're already at no — there's only one way to go, right? Better, more fulfilling sex, right?
Heather Shannon: Yeah, I totally agree with what Clark said about vulnerability. That was the first thing I thought, with this question. When we have that longer-term partner, it's like, there's that built-in comfort. We've had difficult conversations already, we've gotten through them. And we kind of know this person isn't gonna leave us if something is a little awkward during sex. Whereas with the newer partner, it's like, you're really just kind of sticking your neck out for the first time with the communication and you have no idea what kind of response you're gonna get. But one thought that I have is have those important, like, pre-sex conversations. And so, if you're able to have those conversations with your hookup — like, hey, are you having unprotected sex with anybody else? Or, do you have other partners? Like what are your boundaries and safer sex practices with those people? Or if you want someone to get tested before you have sex with them. Or if you want to discuss birth control, if that's relevant. If you're able to have those conversations pre-sex, I actually think that's a really good screener. And then you've actually established that level of communication, so that when you're actually in the act, it's easier to kind of be like, hey, can you go slower? Can you do this? Because you've done some of that already.
Karen Yates: Yeah, you know, the other thing I was thinking, as we all have been talking here, is it sounds like this person has more issues with — or less comfort, I should say — with the hookup right? Like somehow they can't communicate as easily in the hookup. And you can look at this from another way, that you're practicing with hookups. If you use hookups like practice cases...
Heather Shannon: Yes. Love this.
Karen Yates: Then when you find someone you're really planning on spending more time with, you got it down. If you're only going to see someone for one night, a couple of nights, if you kind of like, bumble a little bit, it's okay.
Cassie Porter: Yeah, what do you have to lose?
Karen Yates: You don't have anything to lose.
Cassie Porter: And everything to gain!
Karen Yates: Cue music! [sings] Ahh-ah! Go forth into hookups, have satisfying hookup sex! Yes! But getting back to — and I think the reason, Cassie, I pointed at you in the beginning was, I think in hookup sex, there can be a difficult... There's nerves. There's someone new, someone you might not even have had any basic conversations with, of meaning. And to stay with self, or stay with your body in all of this, can be really, really challenging. And so do you have a couple of tips for folks? Quick ways to just reconnect to self when you're rolling around?
Cassie Porter: I say, checking in with your pelvis. Just noticing your pelvis, just checking in asking your pelvis how it's doing, what it's wanting to move toward.
Karen Yates: Hmm. What if it says, "Get me the hell out of here"?
Cassie Porter: Then get the hell out of there.
Karen Yates: Your pelvis knows! What else? What other gems?
Heather Shannon: I'd really like to add one: just checking in with your breathing. Like, for me, when I get disconnected from my body, or I can tell I'm just in a tense mode, to just take a breath and feel sensory things, and be in the present moment, and just check in with myself. Like, am I feeling okay? Do I want to keep going? Do I need an adjustment?
Clark Hazel: Yeah, I love that idea, of like, okay, how am I feeling right now? Do I need, as you said, adjustments? Checking in. Yeah, when I'm being touched, does that feel good? What do I need in this moment? And just asking yourself, what do I actually need? Am I enjoying this? If not, what do I need to change? What do I need to say or what do I need? Do I need to stop, or? Yeah, definitely advocate for yourself in the moment.
Karen Yates: The other thing I like to do, as well as check in, check in with the impulse. What impulses am I having right now? And I'm aware that like, again, in a stressful situation — even while a situation can be enjoyable, it can also be stressful — it might be harder to really listen to impulse. But again, it comes back to the things we've all been talking about: the pelvic impulse. It's like, how do I want to touch the other person? Do I want to touch the other person? Like, bringing the other person into this mix. If I'm finding I don't want to touch the other person, it's like, okay, that's also a sign. So yeah, I think it can be hard in these moments, though, like getting back to if your pelvis is telling you to get the hell out, then to be like, hey, I need to end this now.
Heather Shannon: I think that that really taps into a lot of us who have that people-pleaser tendency. And just noticing, like, are we still with ourselves? Or we have sort of abandoned ourselves, and we're now just trying to please the other person. So I think that's something just to be aware of, is like, staying with yourself, on some level.
Cassie Porter: Yeah, I was thinking about that, too. Like, tracking, am I performing right now? Am I performing for the other person?
Karen Yates: Such a great question.
Cassie Porter: And then the other question is, am I dissociating? Am I just not in my body, and just going through the motions?
Karen Yates: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But sometimes, if you don't even — if you know nothing about disassociation, a lot of times you don't even know you're disassociating. You know, but it is, like, am I in my body? Can I feel my feet and hands? You know, am I feeling all of me? Or am I like this floating head? That's in my vacation, like, reliving my vacation from three weeks ago? Or, you know...
Cassie Porter: Am I thinking about dinner?
Karen Yates: Yeah, yeah. Am I thinking about something that is not related to the here and the now? Yeah.
Clark Hazel: When is this over? I gotta go. And this time, I can start calling my Lyft. Not talking from personal experience at all...
Karen Yates: Oh, me neither!
Clark Hazel: Yeah, clients — clients tell me things, right?
Karen Yates: Yeah, breadth of experience, you know, you know... Sexual communication when when you don't know someone as well. It can be challenging. I think it can be really, really challenging. Is there anything any of you have to say about communicating, you know, when you don't know someone as well?
Heather Shannon: Attachment styles a little bit, too. Like I think, I guess that's my comment about abandoning ourselves. I think it's really an exercise in practicing security, because if we go into this situation looking to be validated, or looking to have a certain result, I think we're a little bit at a disadvantage going in. So I think just going in being really open, really curious, committing to showing up for yourself, regardless of what happens, and go from there.
Karen Yates: Yeah.
Cassie Porter: I feel like, when it comes to robotic communication, I rely on the work of Betty Martin. And it's just like, the more that folks can familiarize themselves with the Wheel of Consent, the more clear they're going to be in their erotic interactions. I use her work extensively, and steer my clients toward all of the resources. And she's got some amazing ones at bettymartin.org.
Karen Yates: Yes, yes. Betty Martin has been on the show — such important work. And yeah, I mean, what can I say? You're so right, Cassie. Just so crucial.
Clark Hazel: Yeah, check in with yourself, like, what are you hoping for going into this experience? It can be like values. What are negotiable? What are non-negotiables going into this? Like other folks who brought up testing; is that value and requirement? Is that negotiable, is it not? Like, really get down to your core values, and maybe setting intentions for yourself as well.
Karen Yates: Yeah. And I would like to add, don't assume. I think it's so easy to assume the other person in the engagement — or persons, depending on what you're doing — that they are a certain way that is different from you. And that's not always the case. You are in a situation with someone, being vulnerable, and they are being typically vulnerable too. I mean, any type of intimate interaction is a vulnerable act. And I think people can welcome that moment of, like, I want to say something to you. That sort of breaks the trance. You know, I think sometimes we can get into a trance when we're newly with someone, you know, like, oh — I don't know if it was Cassie, if it was you or Heather, talking about the script. Operating from some performative erotic script. And I think that even if we're not thinking we're doing that, like, we're not in some porno, I think there's the cultural erotic script that's kind of running underneath everything.
Heather Shannon: Absolutely.
Karen Yates: And the minute we can just sort of break that, just for an instant, then it's like, oh, yeah, I'm a human being. I forgot.
Heather Shannon: We're having a real interaction, you know? And I kind of want to say, too, like, everything we're saying, I think it sounds a little aspirational. Because when I think about, like, average sexual interactions, I guess I just want to say like, I think that's on purpose. You know, let's up-level how we're handling our sexual interactions, even if they're hookups.
Cassie Porter: Yeah, and they'll be so much more fulfilling.
Heather Shannon: Yeah. Like, what if the norm was good communication during hookups? That would be amazing. I'm just happy people are asking these questions, and that people are like, yes, I want my game to be up! Let's have great sex, and not mediocre sex.
Karen Yates: Yeah. Cool. Thank you, Clark Hazel, Cassie Porter, and Heather Shannon. For more information on Cassie, Clark, and Heather, go to our show notes.
Wild & Sublime is supported in part by our Sublime Supporter, Full Color Life Therapy. Therapy for all of you at fullcolorlifetherapy.com.
Well, that's it folks. Have a very pleasurable week. Thank you for listening. If you know someone who might be interested in this episode, send it to them. Do you like what you heard? Then give us a nice review on your podcast app. You can follow us on social media @wildandsublime and sign up for newsletters at wildandsublime.com. I'd like to thank associate producer Julia Williams and design guru Jean-Francois Gervais. Theme Music by David Ben-Porat. This episode was edited by The Creative Imposter studios. Our media sponsor is Rebellious Magazine, feminist media, at rebelliousmagazine.com.
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- Clark Hazel – Individual & couples therapist at Best Therapies
- Cassie Porter – Somatic sex educator & sexological bodyworker
- Heather Shannon – Certified sex therapist
- S2E25 – Betty Martin interview
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