We love chatting with Stoya — writer, thinker, on-screen-sex haver — about all manner of sexual, sensual, and feminist topics. In fact, we had so much fun talking with her that we asked her to write a monthly sex and relationship advice column. Have a burning question? Send any and all queries to email@example.com.
I’m concerned about the fact that I’m not very vocal when partaking in sex and sexual acts. What I mean is that I’m not a moaner. It’s not that I am not enjoying myself — I love sex — but I’m constantly worried that my partner(s) will feel like they’re not doing a good job or that I’m not getting any pleasure (which is, more often than not, not the case). Or, I'm worried they'll think I’m not being erotic enough because I’m pretty quiet.
I know that this stems from having sex and masturbating in my early teens, which meant I had to be deathly silent in order to not get caught by my parents and my partners' parents. I get so self-conscious about this issue that I fake moans and even orgasms to make sex end quicker so I don’t have to prolong the anxiety and paranoia I feel. Do you have any advice to help me become more vocal? Does it come with time or a greater amount of trust? How can I help my anxiety surrounding the issue?
Before you have sex with someone, tell them that your vocal expressions of pleasure range from extremely subtle to nonexistent. Let them know that the slightest gasp is indicative of wonderful sensations. Give them this insight so that they have a chance to recalibrate their expectations and not only listen more carefully but also pay attention to other sensory cues.
See, the thing about sex in media (pornographic, Hollywood films, television) is that they’re only working with two senses: visual and auditory. Without the use of taste, olfactory stimulation, and tactile feedback, attempts to cater to the two remaining senses tend to get turned up a few notches. But, you aren’t making a movie; you’re engaging in sexual activity with other people in real time. Which means you can probably smell pheromones and feel the responses of each other’s bodies.
You might also consider gently bringing your partner's ear to your mouth and whispering things like “what you’re doing feels really good” or “thank you, that orgasm was fantastic.” And, “a little to the left” as needed.
As for becoming more vocal, I assume you’re now living outside of your parents’ home and in a place where you can sometimes masturbate without concern for being caught. So, do that — alone. And, if you feel like making a noise, then make a noise. If you feel like making lots of noises, make all the noises in the world. If you don’t feel like making noises at all, though, remember that you really don’t need to for anyone other than yourself.
I have an issue that makes me feel bad to even mention, but it is the root of why I can't seem to move on from my ex. He has always been a player, but it's something I was able to tolerate as long as it wasn't thrown in my face. Frankly, I always knew and took comfort in the fact that he came running back to me when he realized the other woman was getting too serious or it was no longer fun. Or, God forbid, she found out about me being the serious part of his life and threatened to contact me.
Well, one day, one of those women slipped through his net and contacted me. She was (and is) very manipulative; she threatens suicide and puts all sorts of guilt on him for making her the other woman. He ended up leaving me for her, even though I think now he's regretting that decision but is too proud to say so.
I have developed serious self-esteem issues since my ex claims he initially just used this woman for sex, and she is an obese woman. I've worked hard at staying fit at this guy's demand, but then he chose her over me. He also makes me think my sexual skills are lacking and has told me that "large" women try harder. How do I handle getting over this? Normally I find myself sympathetic to large people, but I've come to dislike ads geared toward them. I realize this is a sensitive subject matter, but how do I handle this? Am I the only one who has felt this way?
This guy you were dating sounds horrible. Lots of people have dated someone horrible, and lots of people have allowed some horrible person they’re dating to make them feel horrible about themselves. So, I guarantee that there’s at least one other person in the world who has felt the way you’re feeling right now.
Is it possible that you’re taking what would be very understandable anger towards — and disappointment in — Mr. Horrible and transferring it to inappropriate places like people with certain body types, as well as yourself? See, if you keep those feelings directed towards “large people” as you put it, then you’re sizeist and prejudiced. You’ve got this convenient character flaw that you can hold onto as a reason that maybe you deserved this guy's horrible jerkwaddery.
If that’s maybe what’s going on with you, knock it off. The woman Mr. Horrible left you for — her size, shape, sexual prowess, and everything else about her — has nothing to do with you. If she’d been thin, he would’ve said that skinny girls try harder. The self-esteem issues you mention relating to physical fitness and sexual skill seem like a distraction from the major issue: Why did you stay in a relationship where you were tolerating things you sound very unhappy with?
If you can afford it, find a therapist who won’t let you get away with any nonsense and start seeing them regularly. If you can’t, or while you’re waiting for your first appointment, try having a rage fest. Maybe invite some friends over. Hide your phone and laptop, though. Put your ex’s picture up somewhere, consume large amounts of ice cream and some booze if you’re into that sort of thing. Think about the history of your interactions with this guy, and feel all those feelings. Write them down with a pen and paper, yell them at the picture, whatever feels right. Just get them out in a way that aims in the general direction of your ex — not that of innocent bystanders, or yourself.