Do you take the lead in the bedroom? Or do you prefer to have your partner unwrap you like Swiss chocolate?
Oscar Wilde once said: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” While he’s not here to see 2020’s declining rates of linen displacement, the quote reveals why we’re increasingly dissatisfied with our nocturnal fumbles.
With the #metoo movement causing an overdue pendulum swing back to hook up caution, many say we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Their theory? Yes: certain power dynamics are wrong. But others lead to mindblowing sex.
Much to the delight of stay-at-home partners (and to the chagrin of thrill-seeking junior employees), in this climate, corporate power wielders are giving what the ABC calls “hierachical workplace romances” a wide berth.
We’re not here to comment on that.
We’re here to share how you can (healthily) exploit power in your own relationship. And potentially save it. In other words: how to have a one night stand (or office-style-fling) with your bored half.
How? With the help of Triple J’s The Hook Up podcast. In their latest episode “Who’s On Top? How Playing With Power Can Save Your Sex Life” host Nat Tencic explores how getting kinky can save you from death by missionary.
Beginning by interviewing one half of a couple facing “incompatibility issues,” Nat talks to Chloe from Brisbane, who is sick of always having to take the lead.
“There’s definitely intense sexual attraction, but when it comes down to sleeping together, we start kissing but it never moves on from there,” she told The Hook Up.
“Sometimes the kissing goes on too long and [I’m] like, are you going to do something?”
She said this felt weird, as other guys she’d been with were happy to go for it: “I have to take complete control of the situation, like I have to be the one who says, let’s do this or that.”
“I feel like sometimes he wouldn’t take the initiative to do something for me, like he wouldn’t start going down on me just because, it takes away from the moment.”
According to Nat, “there’s a lot of things that could be going on here, but Chloe and her partner’s issues [could be] happening because neither was getting the kind of sex that works for each of them.”
Why might this be? Nat asked sexologist Naomi Hutchings: “It could be that [they’re] nervous, [they] could have past experience that wasn’t so great, there could be plenty I think and maybe yeah for some people even just I don’t like that sexually themselves. They want someone to be initiating.”
How do you get over this?
Step one: accept that no matter who you’re bouncing with, “everyone interacts with power during sex” (The Hook Up). “Dominance and submission isn’t just for kinksters, and you don’t have to go all 50 Shades to play with power dynamics.”
Step two: work out your power preferences: “Dominants like to take control and call the shots during sex. They have a tendency to initiate more than submissives,” Nat wrote in an article discussing the podcast for Triple J.
“Submissives are the opposite. They’d rather lie back and let their partner lead the way. It’s hot to give up some control, and they’d definitely prefer their partner to get things started.”
Switches, meanwhile, “like to change it up and feel comfortable filling both roles.”
See which way you both swing and communicate that. And if you both like the same thing, take it in turns.
A great way to spice things up is to remember the one “acting on” the other doesn’t have to be the one in control: “You can be a submissive top.”
It’s important you try this because, as Nat writes, “sexual frustration can happen when you’re not getting the kind of sex that satisfies you, and a lot of that will have to do with your power preference.”
“Put two subs together and you might see bed death, a sexual standoff where you wait forever for your partner to pull the trigger, while they wait for you to do the same.”
“With two doms,” Nat continues, “you’re struggling to get the sex you want, because both of you want to direct the play.”
Switching it up in these cases is crucial, and can be done by asking each other “what kinds of things would you like?” as well as “what does dominance look like to you?”
It’s also a good idea to set expectations “and get specific about what you want from your partner” sexologist Naomi Hutchings told Nat. “It doesn’t have to be awkward if you talk it through before you get into the act.”
“I always say to people say try things three times because the first time you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, the second time you got a bit better at it and the third time you can give it a red hot go and decide whether you like that or not and it’s okay if it doesn’t work.”
Your weekend awaits.