My friends and I discovered a paradox of dating/picking up long ago, which I have discussed before slightly differently: essentially, humans have an ironic and disastrous habit of assuming the people they’re more attracted to aren’t attracted to them.
Let’s take a moment and dissect that. The people you think are hottest, the people that you reeeeally think you might click with, the people that you really fucking want are the ones who you’re most likely to think, “Aw, s/he’s just not that into me.” I’ve had many conversations with people where they readily admitted that they couldn’t tell someone was interested in them because of their own interest; behaviors that appeared flirtatious from someone they were not interested in immediately became ambiguous or neutral because they wanted that person.
Why automatically assume that someone is not interested in you if you’re interested in them? It causes a disastrous cycle of dating failure; it’s spectacularly self-defeating in three crucial ways.
The first is that whoever the object of your attraction (OYA) may be, regardless of gender, they are less likely to be attracted to you if you believe that they’re not attracted to you. Don’t believe me? True story. They did an experiment where they didn’t let some poor guys bathe for 48 hours. Then at the end of it, they let some of the guys put on some scented body spray and some of them unscented deodorant, asked them to rate their feelings of confidence and then took the guys’ pictures and had them make videos. The guys who were scented rated their self-confidence higher than the unscented guys. Now here’s the kicker: they showed the pictures and videos to a bunch of women (who had no idea what the premise of the experiment was), and the chicks thought the guys who had on the scented body spray were hotter than the guys who didn’t. Now, unless women have developed some magical method of smelling men through photographs, the logical conclusion from this weird experiment is that guys are genuinely more physically attractive to women when they feel more attractive and confident (someone should try replicating this experiment with women). Which means that if you walk up to someone you’re attracted to, convinced that they aren’t into you, the chances that they’ll be into you are probably substantially lower than if you walk up to them, reasonably certain that they will be into you (overconfidence probably goes too far in the other direction).
The second problem with the conviction that the OYA isn’t into you is that you’re less likely to notice when they’re flirting with you, trying to make moves, or showing interest. Believing that they’re uninterested, you hesitate to interpret anything shy of, “Can we please fuck now?” as actual interest. (And I’ve even heard the insecurity extend past that point too! [Eeyore voice] “Well, she wanted me for sexxxx, but I doubt she wants to actually go out with meeeee”). If you get into a situation where both people are like this, then you have a fantastic recipe for a hookup or a relationship that is just never going to happen.
By now you should be able to see what the third problem is: if you continually “fail” to pick people up—because they’re genuinely less attracted to you because you think you’re unattractive, compounded by your failure to notice their cues of interest—then you end up “confirming” your own belief that you’re “not that hot.” Every time you fail to pick up someone you’re interested in, you become that much more insecure the next time you try… and less attractive to potential partners… and so the cycle of what we nicknamed “the self-defeating flirtation” goes.
But as obnoxious as this spiral of learned helplessness is, the thing I hate the most about the self-defeating flirtation is that it means that people often end up partnering with people that they’re less attracted to. If you’re terrified to approach the people you’re reeeeeally attracted to, and either don’t approach them at all or do so awkwardly, but more confidently approach people that you’re merely attracted to, you’re more likely to catch the people you’re merely attracted to than the people you’re really attracted to. And what a fucking waste. Go fuck the people you reeeeeally want!
“But how do I break the cycle?”
I’d be lying if I pretended like there was some easy way to just suddenly say to yourself, “I’m reasonably attractive. I might even be hot. There is a better than 50% chance that Person X that I am interested in wants me.” Me and my best friend realized that this cycle existed, and then pinky promised each other that we would try to always believe that people we wanted most found us desirable; in our cases, the pinky promise and Aphrodite worship worked. For some people, just being aware that they’re shooting themselves in the foot helps them try to change their thought processes and behaviors. If you genuinely, deeply believe that you’re unattractive, I don’t think any blog post will be enough to change your attitudes or behaviors on its own; that type of change requires something deep and powerful. But I feel like the majority of people that I know are insecure about how attractive they are in ways that are more changeable: the sort-of casual, everyday belief that one “just isn’t hot enough” has a hope of being overcome through practice, application, and the support of one’s friends.
Personally, I just find the reminder that the person is more likely to say “yes” if I believe they will to be a pretty damned good incentive.
In one of the final scenes of the classic kinky rom com Secretary, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character tries to prove herself to the man she wants to become her Dom by remaining seated and unmoving for… a really long time. She’s haunted by various hallucinations while she sits there, one of whom asks, “Lee, are you doing something sexual right now?” Fiercely, she responds, “Does this look sexual to you?!” The question is left rhetorical in the film, and I’ve never been satisfied with my own answer to it. She’s sitting, fully dressed in her wedding dress, swaying with exhaustion, and the film even shows her peeing herself at one point. But my gut response to her question has always been an uncomfortable and unsatisfying, “Well, maybe-sort-of-kind-of-a-little-yeah.” I found the question so thought-provoking that I made it one of my research questions for my project on BDSM. I also meandered around the question a bit recently when I was interviewed by The People of Kink
But this post isn’t about other people, or what BDSM means to other people, or how different BDSM microcultures construct sex and sexuality. I just spent the last month frantically assembling that shit. This post is about me, dammit. Because the whole time I was putting that darned presentation together, I kept asking myself how would I answer the question–is BDSM/kink sexual/about sex–if I interviewed myself. And this post is what I would say.
When I first entered the Scene several years ago, it never in a million years crossed my mind that kink could be anything other than sexual. At that point, kink was all about sex for me: what could make me cum harder, what could make my partners cum harder, what could make them aroused and wanting to fuck me? Whether playing with violet wands, getting poked with needles, getting my clothes cut off with knives, or scratching people with my claws: it was really all about sex for me. The first time I got suspended in rope, I got fucked with a glass dildo; the third time I got suspended, it was so I could fuck a girl in the air. I really had no idea there were kink events that forbade sex, and I couldn’t really wrap my brain around the idea that there were BDSM activities that people engaged in for reasons other than sex. Once I started talking to people who claimed that they engaged in BDSM for non-sexual reasons, my brain tended to give them patronizing looks even as the rest of me sometimes tried to hang on to a poker face. Why the fuck were they doing this shit if not for sex?
Then one night I flogged a guy I wasn’t attracted to just because my fingers were itching to beat the crap out of someone. It was sexy to hurt someone like that, but I don’t know that I could really call it sexual. It made me excited, but I couldn’t really say that it made my clit hard. Pretty much the same thing happened a few weeks later when I got tied up in a really uncomfortable position for the first time: it was sexy and fun and exciting, but I couldn’t really say it got me hard. In both cases, the exhiliration I experienced wasn’t that different from doing other things that I find really sexy that are physically challenging, like poledancing or dancing with fire. The analogy is extremely apt for me: I’ve done competitive poledancing, which didn’t get my clit hard at all–it’s art and an athletic competition; it’s sensual and fun, but that’s it. But I’ve poledanced at kink events, and it’s an entirely different experience that leaves my pussy smelling like I’ve just been fucked. Ditto with firedancing. For both poledancing and firedancing, I will readily admit that I’ve jerked off fantasizing about doing those things in specific contexts, but they certainly aren’t inherently sexual. And I’ve learned to think of a lot of kink activities the same way.
Conversely, I’ve done scenes that I didn’t expect to get my clit hard that did. One of the first fetish photography shoots I did was mostly just me, naked, doing sensual and sexy things that I enjoy for three enthusiastic photographers. Totally unattracted to anyone there, I was startled when I got dressed later and realized that I smelled like I had been having sex. I didn’t just smell like I was aroused; I smelled like I had actually been having sex. The same thing happened when I just observed at a kinky wrestling party (I reeeeeally like to watch sexy people wrestle sexily…). Then another time, a couple of years ago, I bought a single-tail, and my friend InspiredIniquity gamely volunteered to let me hit him with it, even though I’d never wielded one before. I was really a downright lousy whip top, and he was being very good about letting me know what I was doing wrong and what I needed to modify, and he and I were just friends… but somehow, whip practice devolved into something that felt supiciously like a scene that definitely left both of us panting. There was absolutely nothing overtly sexual about what we were doing–we were standing a good 3 feet apart–and yet both of us left with hard-ons. We both like single-tails a lot, but much more was happening than a shared kink: there was chemistry in that interaction that had nothing to do with the whip. (He quipped that he could have been teaching me to sautee vegetables, and it still would have been arousing, because that’s what the best chemistry does).
The weirdest point of convergence for me happened just a couple of weeks ago at Winterfire. I arrived there wicked horny because my pre-birthday orgy got genitalia-blocked by a snowstorm. I started asking around for “Trouble” (it’s my generic term for kink and/or sex), and B offered me rope. Now, a sensible person would have said, “Could there be sex first, please?,” but I’m not always a sensible person. I’m a spoiled slut, and I’ve learned that sometimes, sexy, weird, and delightful things come my way when I don’t ask for what I want (it’s not a strategy I’d recommend to other people. I live a strange life). The thing was, I’d never done a rope scene with him when I was that horny since he and I started sleeping together, and I wanted to see what it would feel like. And…alkalgohotgih… that’s not a typo. That’s my brain on rope. It’s just a scramble of unwords…
He was fully clothed and I was still in my underwear, but whatever it was we were doing felt far more intimate than sex. I’m not normally a twue rope slut (people who space out just from the pleasures of rope on their skin), but the moment his ropes touched my flesh, I felt like I was being completely encased in his body. I started spacing out from a simple TK, which is a tie I don’t even like very much. In no time, I found myself wishing that he would choke me, and without me ever saying a word, he did. I don’t really have a clue what that tie consisted of. It started out with me hanging low, then hanging higher, then higher still, with my back got arched at some fairly outrageous angle. But while I usually let myself have an energy orgasm in rope like that, this time, I kept holding back, torturing myself with energy and desire and letting myself be relatively gently tortured with rope and manipulated desires that I couldn’t control. By the time he let me down onto the ground, still very tied, I found myself desperately grinding my crotch into the top of his boot. I never did quite orgasm from all of that, but when all was said and done, I felt like rope had been a dizzying and intense substitution for sex. “Substitution” is a major disservice there. Maybe I should say that it was a dizzying and intense “upgrade.”
…And so that is the gamut of my experience with the relationships between sex and kink: from obviously kinky sex to not particularly sexy kink to kink that just plain felt like sex. To this day, 99% of my non-rope bottoming is sexual, and the idea of taking most forms of pain without getting to cum is just awful, and I can take a lot more pain when I get to cum. However, about 80% of my rope bottoming is not-very-sexual (although I usually have energy orgasms from it, which certainly calls the “non-sexual” part into question). Pretty much 100% of my switching is sexual. I actually mostly refuse to wrestle people I’m not at least minimally sexually involved with because it feels too much like sex to me (although I feel the same way about most forms of partner dancing as well). At the same time, about 75% of my (unswitchy) topping is not-very-sexual. I’ve even made people cum by hurting them without getting a particularly sexual thrill out of the experience (although it was certainly enjoyable for other reasons).
Does it look sexual to me? Much of the time, yes. But so does wrestling, massage, most forms of dance, many sung duets, and lots of other creative and sensual things that people do together. I still mostly do kink because of sex and because of the intimate and sexual connections I feel with people when I do it. Even ostensibly “non-sexual” scenes almost always lead me to just go off and fuck somebody else. When I kink with people I have sexual chemistry with, the scenes pretty much always make me obviously aroused; when I kink with people I’m not sure if I have sexual chemistry with, the scenes often leave me feeling vaguely aroused; and when I kink with people I’m definitely not attracted to, the scenes often leave me feeling excited, but not particularly aroused. So I guess my final answer my own question is: kink isn’t inherently sexual, but it’s mostly sexual for me most of the time.
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- Interview with Evie Lupine
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- Gender, orgasms, and control: a femme dom rant
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- Murphy Blue’s and my performance at RopeCraft Austin ’16
- On a Constitutional Right to BDSM
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- Intelligence is sexy
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- On Managing New Relationship Energy (NRE)
- Kinkycast Interview
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- Interview for WAMU.org
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- A Slut’s Creed
Some cocks cast a long shadow…
My husband tied the strap-on on our favorite droid.
So it’s time for a good old fashioned peeps dungeon. Every kinky household needs one of these, right?
My husband and I made this a crazy labor of love awhile back. There’s a St. Andrew’s Cross, a bondage table, a metal suspension rig with a peep in a gas mask, a bondage wheel, a wooden suspension rig, a metal cage, and a peep in saran wrap bondage. I made silly peep pin-up pics and a leather daddy peep for the background just to add color. This was definitely the most entertaining arts and crafts project I’ve ever done. Even more fun than the threesome barbies.
They’re obnoxiously expensive. They’re awkward as hell. They’re so intimidating to put in that most people give up before they even try. They were someone’s misguided attempt to create female liberation on the safer sex front by providing women with a “female-controlled” method of sexually transmitted infection (STI) protection (sorry, folks, it didn’t really work out that way; female condoms definitely require a guy’s cooperation). They’re way too thick, and they occasionally make squeaky sounds when you’re fucking with them. I avoided them for years because they were so damned awkward-looking, and I only used them for the first time because I couldn’t think what else to do. I can’t for the life of me imagine successfully having sex in the dark with one (but that’s not really my thing, so whatever).
They’re incredibly poorly marketed. They’re supposed to keep women in control of safer sex, but they require total cooperation from men in order to work effectively; the name “female condom” understandably pisses off genderqueer folks, who usually colloquially refer to them as “internal condoms” instead; and the damned things work better for anal than vaginal sex and should be selling like wildfire to gay men… who, of course, don’t realize that they could even be using them, because why would a gay guy use a “female condom”? Worst of all, they’re terrifying to try to figure out how to use (especially when the risks are high), and the instructions on the package are no help at all. In fact, the instructions on the packaging are so crappy that I created a couple of internet videos to help people figure out how to use them.
And yet, after only a single personal use, I found myself online shopping for an affordable 100-pack of female condoms (your best bets are usually amazon.com vendors or condomdepot.com with a discount code). That’s partly because my husband’s girlfriend/my play partner is allergic to latex, and the female condoms sold in the U.S. are all non-latex. But it’s also partly for me. Because I’ve discovered that despite their myriad disadvantages, female condoms can be extremely handy. And being able to use female condoms or male condoms depending on the sexual situation turns out to be quite advantageous.
In case you’re wondering what advantages could possibly outweigh all those negatives above, I figured I’d write out a list of their advantages.
- They’re sometimes great for guys whose dicks are annoyed by male condoms. Guys with large foreskins and guys who feel like male condoms are cutting off the circulation to their dicks often find female condoms more pleasant.
- They’re not made of latex, so they can be great if either partner has a latex allergy.
You can put them in long before you have sex. No need to stop the sexy and make the condom happen. You can grind all up and down your partner before you ever fuck, and voila! There is protection. I’ve (consensually) woken up a partner in the middle of the night, put in a female condom the bathroom, then sat on my partner’s hard cock in his sleep. You can pull off a trick like that with a male condom, but it’s a helluva lot sexier to wake someone up by sliding your (protected) pussy down his cock than by putting a condom on him… unless you do it with your mouth.
You can (and in my opinion, usually should) get your partner to put it in for you. Ignore those dumb instructions telling you the woman should put it in herself. Moreover, unlike putting a condom on with your mouth, putting a female condom in with a finger is something that pretty much anyone can do. And thus the safer sex is naturally integrated with foreplay.
A guy can keep losing his erection, and your female condom doesn’t care. Sucking a guy’s cock or giving him a handjob to get him hard again is much easier when there’s no latex in the way.
In general, it’s easy to pop back and forth between fucking and oral sex. Female condoms don’t really taste much at all (I can’t taste them anyway), so both people’s genitals will just taste like whatever lube you used, not latex. This also means that it’s a cinch for a guy to pull out and cum in the girl’s mouth, on her chest, or whatever.
They’re extremely useful for multi-person sex. If two women want to fuck one guy, both the girls can use female condoms and he can pop back and forth between them with ease. And they turn out to be pretty fucking fantastic for coitalingus–which is where a guy fucks a girl’s pussy and someone else goes down on the pair of them simultaneously. Again, there’s no taste of latex, his dick is mostly exposed, and her clit is easily exposed.
They’re great for giving girls hand-jobs, especially if you’re trying to give multiple girls hand-jobs. You don’t have to keep changing gloves, because the girls pretty much already have gloves in their pussies! So handy! (Pun pun)
Unless you mess them up (which admittedly a lot of people do), they’re better disease protection than male condoms, because they’re somewhat better at protecting against skin-transmitted STI’s like herpes.
They are the only thing I’ll use for protected anal sex. Whereas male condoms have a terrible habit of tearing in tight poorly lubricated asses, female condoms are much less likely to break (although you do have to worry about them bunching up). On top of that, you don’t really have to worry about the santorum experience so much until you’re already done with the sex and have to pull the condom all the way out. It makes the whole anal sex experience waaaay cleaner, and it’s safer to boot.
They’re definitely not perfect. I’ve heard guys complain that they’re like fucking a plastic bag and they look weird. But they’ve got their uses.
Two cheers for female condoms 😉
I realize that this is probably funnier if you actually know me and my husband… but well, he likes fire and strap-ons. So I feel the avatar captures a certain essential quality of our relationship dynamic.
I made this one for my partner InspiredIniquity. He loves hooks and needles and doing vicious things to his sub, monkeypuppet. The idea of flying her around with hooks was his own crazy notion. He’s a sick fuck. It’s really fun.
Thinking about hanging with the other side for the first time? Whether mostly gay or mostly straight, here’s some tips on how to smoothly transition into the wonderful world of bisexual pleasures…
First of all, let me start with some quick definitions of terms. A bisexual is someone who is approximately equally attracted to members of both sexes. (Apansexual, for those who are wondering, is someone who is attracted to allgenders and all sexes. No one’s tried to come up with a word yet for people who are pan-curious, just like no one’s come up with a word yet for people who have a sexual preference for transpeople. “Transsexual” was already taken). I do not believe that a person actually has to have had sex with people of both sexes in order to “qualify” as bisexual. They just have to (1) badly want to, (2) fantasize about both sexes fairly often, and (3) actually be attracted to real-live human beings of both sexes. In my book, bicurious people, on the other hand, are people who do not fulfill one or more of the criteria above, but are interested in sleeping with someone of the Unknown Sex (i.e., the sex they’ve never fucked). In my experience, bicurious people most often fail on criteria #3 (they often drool over celebrities of the Unknown Sex, but are rarely actually attracted to people in real life) and #1. Instead of “badly” wanting to sleep with the Unknown Sex (it’s the faraway look that most people who actually enjoy sex get when talking about it that we’re looking for here), they have a look of interest and, well… curiosity. To be bisexual, you need to have the same kind of drooling expression on your face at the prospect of fucking the Unknown Sex that you do with the Known Sex. The rest, until tested, are bicurious.
Since it’s relevant to that “drooling expression,” I want to take a moment here to rant about some of our culture’s stupider ideas about what constitute “sex.” Somewhere along the way, our culture developed this incredibly obnoxious idea that “real sex” between men and women was intercourse, “real sex” between two girls was oral sex, and “real sex” between two guys was anal. This notion is so pervasive that I frequently hear hetero-leaning bicurious girls admit that they find the idea of fucking girls appealing, but they just can’t work up enthusiasm for eating one out–therefore they must not be bisexual. My favorite example was a bicurious friend who confessed that she fantasized about fucking girls, but only “doing things that weren’t physically possible.” When I probed this comment a bit, it turned out that her main fantasy was tribadism, which she had no idea actually existed (also known as tribbing or scissoring. It involves two girls wriggling their genitalia against each other. It’s fucking hot, people). She laughed, telling me that she felt like her bisexuality had just been “validated.” If we’re going to disqualify people based on their taste for specific acts, I think a lot of “straight” people who aren’t that into oral sex just lost their straight cred, and the something like 25% of “gay” men who don’t do anal sex just lost their gay cred. Don’t listen to your culture: if it’s arousing, involves genitalia, and you do it with another person, it’s sex. Okay, rant over, back to talking about sex 😉
When it comes to bicurious cherry popping, it’s important to try to place yourself in one of the following categories: people who have had great sex with their preferred gender and people who have not. If you’re one of the “bicurious” folks who’s contemplating switching sides because you’ve been unimpressed with the cuisine thus far, you need to approach things very differently from people who have had awesome sex with their Known Sex and are looking for the Next Great Time. Indeed, your experiences are so different that I’m going to exclude the first group of people from my “bicurious” category and label you “questioning” instead. Why the difference? Because “bicurious” folks are wondering if they’re bisexual; “questioning” folks are wondering if they’re actually gay/straight. There’s a world of difference in how you go about trying to answer those questions, both in terms of your own personal identity and in terms of your relationships with others.
I’m basically assuming that if you’re calling yourself “bicurious,” you’re mostly out looking for a good time. If you have a very good time, you might decide to change that identification to “bisexual” and approach sex with the Unknown Sex more seriously. Given that you’re really not sure how this is going to go, you have to be careful about your partners. In my not-so-humble-opinion, you should ideally try to “test” your bicuriosity in hook-ups or friends-with-benefits situations, because less is at stake. Since you really don’t know how this is going to go, you want to be in a situation where there isn’t too much pressure for a repeat encounter. If you’re the kind of person who just can’t do sex without some semblance of a relationship, then at a minimum, be absolutely open and honest that you’re exploring and you’re not sure. There are plenty of gay/bi/straight people who just lovvvvvve cherry popping, so you shouldn’t have a shortage of offers by telling the truth.
Although I advise bicurious folks against experimenting with bisexuality in a relationship with the Unknown Sex, I also think it’s important to avoid the other potential pitfall: fucking whomever. Many of the bicurious people I know regularly (even constantly) get propositioned by the Unknown Sex–it’s part of why they became bicurious in the first place. Once you’ve decided to pop your cherry, it’s very tempting to just accept the next offer that comes along, since you’re not looking for anything serious anyway. Despite its intuitive and practical appeal, this is actually a very bad idea. As someone who has had sex with both guys and girls she is not attracted to (never without an orgy!), you should take my word for it: having sex with someone you’re not attracted to is no way to test out any theory of your own sexuality. Having sex with someone you’re not attracted to of the Unknown Sex will be at least as unexciting as having sex with someone of your Known Sex that you’re not attracted to–and awkward to boot. (Really, all other things being equal, having sex with anyone you’re not attracted to is generally actually a step down from masturbating). At a bare minimum, you should be turned on by the idea of kissing the person in question and seeing him/her/hir naked. In sum, save your cherry for someone who makes you horny. Otherwise, your experiment is guaranteed to fail from the start.
Of course, many times the opportunity to “test” your bicuriosity emerges without much planning, frequently in the context of a drunken threesome. While it might be lots of fun, if you’re looking to evaluate your potential bisexuality, this kind of scenario is less than ideal. By all means do it! Go forth and fuck with joy! But do not assume that this is all the information you need as you try to determine whether you’re bisexual. If you are bisexual, you don’t need intoxicants (although starting out, they might be very useful in small doses…). Also, there’s still a world of difference between screwing the Unknown Sex with your partner of the Known Sex versus all by your nervous self. All enjoying a drunken threesome tells you is that you enjoy a drunken threesome.
When embarking on this experiment with bisexuality, you have to think back to the early days of your first sexual explorations. I sincerely hope you didn’t immediately follow up your first real kiss with your first real fuck. I know some people do, but I’m also pretty sure it doesn’t usually result in mindblowing sex. You can–and probably should–take it slow with the Unknown Sex. Make out. Pet. Give handjobs. Exchange oral sex. It’s generally not a recipe for good sex with either the Known or the Unknown Sex to have all of these things happen in instant succession on the first try. If you manage stellar sex with someone you just kissed for the first time–well, you got lucky in multiple senses of the phrase. You know less about what you’re doing with the Unknown Sex (yes, even if it’s your own), so don’t try to move things along at breakneck speed. Even if you feel like you’ve had a crazy opportunity that is unlikely to be repeated, don’t feel obliged to go “all the way.” At the same time, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for weeks/months/years to come for not taking advantage of a chance you’d been longing for. As with any sexual exploration, you have to find a balance between what’s comfortable, what you want, and what you fear.
Now, once you’ve gone and popped your cherry, there’s an unfortunate temptation to compare your sex with the Recently-Known Sex to the best sex you’ve had with your Well-Known Sex. Don’t. You’re much better off comparing your recent bicuriosity exam to the first sex you ever had with the Well-Known Sex. That’s not an entirely fair comparison either, since presumably you’ve learned something about the Art of Sex since you were an innocent virgin. But you can’t expect sex with the New Sex to re-make your world the first time you try. What you’re looking for is to see if it’s hot enough that you want to try it again, and if you find yourself fantasizing both about the experience and/or improved versions of it afterwards.
If so, welcome to the wonderful playground of bisexuality. If not, what the hell. At least you gave it a shot.