Posted at 16:57 on 6 Nov 2013 by Pandora / Blake
I mostly prefer to have sex with friends.
My two long term partners, Tom and D, were both originally friends-of-friends through the goth scene, back in 2003-2005 when we were all a lot more goth than we are now. Before that I tried the dating thing a few times, rarely successfully. Since meeting them, I've never really bothered.
By dating I mean going out of an evening with someone you don't know very well, to find out if you fancy them enough to have another date. Lots of people I know use online dating sites like OKCupid to find new sexual partners, but personally I've always preferred to look within my existing circle of friends.
All the women I've gone out with in the last few years have been friends. Friends, who became flirty friends, who became lovers. It might take hours, weeks or years to move through those three stages, but I've very rarely gone out on a date with someone, or considered them as a sexual partner, without being friends with them first.
It's not deliberate, it just seems to be the way my world works. I'm fortunate to have a wide, varied network of friendships which wax and wane over the years. All of them are wonderful, interesting people; I think lots of them are hot; and a fair few are either in open relationships or open to the idea. I don't fancy all my friends. They don't all fancy me. But being queer and non-monogamous, and having a number of queer, non-monogamous friends, definitely expands the available options.
But isn't that a really bad idea?
Sleeping with your friends seems, in our popular culture, to be seen as being fraught with anxieties. Will it ruin the friendship? What if one of you falls in love? In reality, at least in my experience, it's rarely that complicated. If you're friends with someone then you probably enjoy talking to them, and communication is the key to keeping sexual liaisons simple and honest.
Most of my friends are gorgeous in my opinion, but I don't tend to especially fancy someone until I discover that the interest might be mutual. This is fortunate, as it pretty much rules out the risk of unreciprocated desire. When I do fancy a friend more than they fancy me back, it's not a big deal - there are more fish in the sea.
As for ruining friendships - well, if you accept that "sex" refers to a galaxy of activities from the transcendently loved-up to the transactional to everything inbetween, then you know that fun, friendly, unromantic sex is perfectly possible, just like participating in a spanking roleplay or playing a heated game of squash. There's no reason one of these physical activities should complicate friendships any more than the others. (And "fun, friendly, unromantic" doesn't mean it isn't intimate, or affectionate, or loving. Every connection has a different emotional context but I generally love my friends.)
So how do you go about it?
In practice, sleeping with my friends isn't something I set out to do, or plan for, or expect. We're a bunch of fluffy hippy types, on average, and most of us are generally affectionate, flirty people regardless of sexual interest. (Of course all of this depends on consent, appropriate context and personal comfort levels, and sometimes people get it wrong, but no more than any other group, I don't think.) At clubs and festivals and late night parties cuddling between friends is par for the course, regardless of sexual intention or availability. That creates a certain relaxed atmosphere that makes the next step feel easier.
If I do fancy a friend enough to want to shag them, and I learn that they are both a) reciprocally interested, b) available and c) not involved in any situations that would complicate matters, it's not a giant leap to make our general flirting more specific. There are a myriad ways things could go from there. Perhaps our hugs start to feel a bit more interested, and one of us takes the plunge and asks the other if they feel the same way. Perhaps I invite them round for tea, tell them I'd be interested if they are, and ask if they'd like to play sometime. Perhaps we're in the pub and they make a flirty, kinky joke that I reciprocate; and later, at the bar, say, one of us says "that would be fun sometime, if you're serious." Perhaps we have the conversation online. Perhaps we're hugging or dancing at a night club and a kiss evolves, and then a few days later one of us sends the other a message and we take things from there.
Of the friends I find hot, some are female and straight, some are male and gay, and some are asexual and others are in monogamous relationships - but enough aren't that I've never really needed to look further for sexual partners. I guess you could describe this sort of arrangement as "friend with benefits", but I prefer the word "lover" to refer to a friend I sometimes have sex with, without any negotiated romantic commitment. All of my lovers are friends; some of my friends are lovers.
Sex rarely changes a friendship in my experience, apart from more generally increasing affection and comfort levels. I think the key is to stay relaxed in your expectations. Sometimes it's a great fuck, sometimes it isn't. We might both want to do it again, we might not. Either way, it's no biggie. They're still a great person to spend time with even if we don't turn out to be compatible at having sex or playing squash. Sometimes it takes a couple of attempts to find the right groove. We might sleep together regularly for a while, and then we get too busy, or move apart, or the spark fades for some other reason. Desire ebbs and flows. With some lovers the desire is always there in a general way but it's only rarely we find the opportunity, the right moment, the right energy. Sometimes things get serious, a new romantic relationship will blossom and run its natural course. Other times a lover will end up getting monogamously attached to someone else, and that's the end of that - for a while, at least.
But sometimes, occasionally, I enjoy sex with strangers.
What happened at Starkers
One such occasion was a Saturday night a few weeks ago. My friend Ivy had invited me to a nudist party called Starkers, described as a "naked disco". Beyond that I wasn't sure if it was a house party, a night club, a sex party or what, but Ivy has good taste, it would be fun to see her either way, I like being naked and I figured it was worth a try.
When the night came round I was in a restless, impulsive mood. The week had stressed me out and I was itching to go dancing and burn off some energy. I'd arranged to sleep at D's place, but I warned him that I was so keen to go out I might do so whether he joined me or not. I was pleased when he decided to come along. We packed a bag, I grabbed a pair of heels, and we struck out on an adventure.
Starkers turned out to be held in a small private club in East London which I'd visited before for a play party. There was a bar, seating, a spanking bench and a St Andrews Cross. Ivy gave us a warm welcome when we arrived, and I recognised a couple of other familiar faces.
Once naked with clothes safely stashed in the cloakroom, Ivy showed us around the dancefloor, couples area and private booths. The place was still pretty empty, but I grabbed a drink and she introduced us to her crowd of young, queer, naked friends.
I haven't spent much time in nudist spaces, but I love them. They seem to attract relaxed, open-minded, well-travelled, interesting folks, and it wasn't long before D and I were each deep in conversation, and discovering various mutual connections. There's something stimulating and refreshing about meeting people in a club environment without any of the usual tribal trappings of clothing and costume. Tattoos and jewellery might hint at a person's tastes or gender identity, but otherwise you can't make assumptions - you have to approach someone and talk to them to find out what sort of person they are. It's almost like the opposite of the internet, where you can find out all about a person before you ever meet face to face.
Of course, it's not all about non-judgmental conversation. There's a healthy dose of voyeurism in my enjoyment of nudist spaces too, and at Starkers my eyes certainly drank their fill. I enjoyed looking and being looked at, and exchanging smiles with several attractive strangers.
Conversations came and went, passes were made. I politely declined a few, and did my fair share of flirting. As the evening unwound I made a point of giving compliments, in passing, to the most attractive men and women I hadn't stopped and chatted to yet - just to show interest, like. The music got louder, and D and I grew particularly involved in a conversation with a good-looking young man with whom we turned out to be connected in various ways. I'd enjoyed watching him and D swap notes on fitness and gymnastics earlier in the evening, and show off their handstands on the dancefloor. Now, as the bar filled up, we moved into the quieter couples room so we could talk more easily.
I saw one of the beauties I had complimented earlier, a lithe, dark young man with almond eyes and beaded dreadlocks, step into the doorway of the couples room and scan it for anyone he knew. I met his gaze and invited him to join us. I hadn't caught his name yet.
The four of us sat round and conversation flowed. On one level we were communicating vocally, swapping chat about politics and technology. But there was another, wordless level of communication evolving, as fingertips began to stroke up spines, and hands drifted along thighs.
From there, it was easy. Hands wandered; cocks responded. I met D's eye with a grin and, with his signalled consent, bent my head to the lap of one of the boys. The other wasn't sure whether he was invited to join in or not until I reached out a hand. So it was that I found myself in my first MMMF foursome - which is approximately the noise I ended up making with both hands and my mouth full.
Sadly the other two were straight, so I didn't get to see my boyfriend suck cock that night. Still, that just meant there was more for me. :)
When D and I headed home an hour later, I was feeling happy and excited. Both of our playmates were memorable in different ways, but I didn't need or expect to see either of them again. I felt suffused with a sense of freedom and adventure, of anything being possible.
The network and the city
I'm very lucky in my two long-term boyfriends D and Tom. I'm lucky in having beautiful, much-loved friends, some of whom are interested in sharing some sexy fun with me from time to time. But I'm also lucky in living in London, this amazing city with its myriad communities and subcultures, its nudist spas and sex parties, its adult shops and BDSM clubs. I've lived in London for over seven years and I still feel like there are countless adventures to be had, new experiences to explore.
It's not just this city, though. I'm also lucky in my online connections, this brilliant kinky scene that shares knowledge and networks and information about events. London is big and crowded, and striking out at random can be a gamble. With the internet, we can pre-select our preferred clubs and events, just as a dating site can be a way to filter potential partners.
Meeting new people, and even having group sex with people whose names I've only just learned, becomes easier when you connect the online and offline worlds. Dating sites can be a useful way to increase your available options, but you still need a face to face meeting to see if the chemistry is right. In the same way, I've lived in London for years, but I'd never have found out about Starkers without the Internet.