Satisfaction, Long-Distance Love, and Introducing Consent

An advice column with Lyric Seal.

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Reprinted with permission from Crash Pad Series.

Lyric Explains it All! We’ve launched an ongoing Sex and Relationship Advice column by the one and only Lyric Seal. Email your questions to listentolyric@gmail.com. 

See Also:
How Do I Rebuild My Sexuality as a Disabled Transgender Person?

Dear Lyric,

Do you think it's possible to be in love with a partner who cannot fully satisfy your sexual desires or needs? — Lover


Lover!

Yes. There are many different voices of mine vying to answer this question. No one can ever tell you that it is not possible to be in love with someone, no matter what kind of love it is. One can be in love with their best friend, a beloved animal, a book, a backyard tree. One can definitely be in love with someone who mutually satisfies sexual needs and desires, and one can be in love with someone they do not have sex with at all. I guess my other voices have questions for you. What is the other part of your query? Is this person a partner who wants to have sex with you, but with whom you no longer wish, or never did wish, to have sex? Are you partnered and nonmonogamous? If this person cannot fully satisfy all your sexual needs and desires (this is often why people branch out into polyamory, in a totally sweet consensual and mutually agreed-upon way), do they understand this, and is this a subject that is painful for them, or easy for them to understand? Do you satisfy their sexual needs and desires? My first answer to your question is yes. And the next answer is, if the current arrangement does not feel good to you or to them, then, even if you are in love, something needs to change. It is okay to be in love with someone, and to have a partnership not make sense, or to need to hone what partnership looks like to suit both of your needs! However, if you do feel good with your partner, then, yes, of course it is possible to be in love with someone and be with someone who cannot satisfy all your sexual needs and desires. This is a large feat for many of us! People are iridescent creatures — how they move us or satisfy us can change with light and time.

How to have unfinished romantic business and move forward with a big juicy brave heart? The one I love, who is already 1,500 miles away from me, is moving overseas. I don’t have the money to go see him before he does, and vice versa. How can I go on? All I want to do is slink into a pool of blood and slime. — Brave and Juicy

Oh my friend. To be honest, blood and slime can be quite great temporary homes for marination and reflection. I think you’re probably a creative person. Has the slime produced any beautiful work yet? You are already juicy and brave and full of heart to want to attempt such a thing. You are already doing well. And you had someone who loves you and likely still does and you will in fact find love again, quicker and more mysteriously than you expected. The universe is sometimes careless and helpless, but it is also generous and fecund with love. If you are not a restless sleeper, tuck pillows around your body at night. Hug yourself tight. Sing. It doesn’t matter the sound. Breathe. Read about love no matter the pangs it gives you at first. Write letters to your love if you want, but remember that you are also writing it to yourself. Believe in yourself. Smile when you think something/someone is pretty. I’m sorry. I empathize. I’m so glad you left some romantic business unfinished, because it never gets finished anyway. Give yourself room. You’re doing great.

How can I make it clear to cis boys I’m about to fuck that it’s really unsexy for me if they don’t ask for consent? I can’t tell you how little I’ve had cis boys actually ask this question. I think there are plenty of ways to show your consent without being asked, and as sure as I am when I’m given those signs about what I want, as soon as they read my body or words it makes it easy for them. Which scares me. Do I really want it? Confusing. — Consensual Contender

Gosh, I empathize with the confusing experience of navigating the amorphous world of giving and receiving nonverbal consent in a hookup context. I wish that I had a fully formed, foolproof solution, but there are ways to establish a system and a practice for yourself of laying down the law in regard to your body, prior to a hookup. Write down for yourself what you really like and what you might like. Establish for yourself what are delicate areas of your body. Remember that just because you tell someone they can handle one part of you, does not give them license to all of you! You get to have every say about how and when someone touches you! And you’re allowed to be confused sometimes! Since you are asking specifically about cis boys I imagine that either these are the folks you are looking to have sex with right now, or that they are some of the folks you have sex with and are simply the ones giving you the most trouble. I get the feeling of not wanting to give away too much too quickly, especially with cis men and especially with a hookup. Having someone you don’t necessarily trust feel self-assured about how they can or do have access to your body can be really yucky, confusing, and triggering.

So! Let’s start with the environment that you’re fucking in. Do you feel safe there? Do you hook up in your home or at parties? I think that controlling your environment, if you have the ability to do so, is a good first step, and if you cannot do that, controlling your substances. It is much, much easier to set clear boundaries with another person if both people are not inebriated. In fact I would argue it is almost impossible to set boundaries with someone you don’t know well if either of you are under the influence of anything. If this is someone you know well, that decision is entirely up to both of you. If you are feeling clear-headed and you feel comfortable in your surroundings, then I would start by verbalizing boundaries as soon as attention moves in a maybe-sexy direction. This can be before you even make-out! Say to this person, “I would like to engage in some amount of sexy time with you, but I want to make it clear that no sexual act is guaranteed. I would like you to ask my permission for every way that you touch me. If you want a door to open, you need to knock first. I think asking each other is really hot. How do you like to be touched?”

I know that for some people, this will be the first time that they have ever been asked this or spoken to this way. If it blows their mind, so be it. If it kills the mood for them, then they are not worth it! Seriously. You feeling safe and sexy and listened to are way more important than someone else getting off without checking in to make sure you feel good about what is happening. You are also allowed to change your mind at any time during any sexual act. I’ve been there, hooking up with people that don’t get what consent really feels like, and it’s not a good look. Lose 'em! Trust your instincts. If someone can’t get down with boundaries you set verbally prior to sex, then chances are they will cross your boundaries physically, too. And sex without consent not only isn’t sexy, it’s not sex at all.

xo Lyric

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