Kill the Myths, Not the Mood
Sex Without Communication Is Not Good Sex
A few weeks ago, I was having sex with my girlfriend.
We had just picked up a couple of new toys and were naturally excited to try them out.
After we were finished what I thought was some very enjoyable sex, and after a few minutes of silently cuddling, she said, “I didn’t really like all of that.”
Immediately, I felt horrible and asked what I had been doing that made her feel that way.
I asked what I could have done differently, to which she gave me specific and clear responses.
She told me exactly what she had wished I would have done and when I should have done it.
That’s when I asked her why she didn’t ask me for any of this while we were having sex.
She said, “I didn’t want to kill the mood.”
It’s time to kill the myth of “killing the mood” once and for all.
Even though my girlfriend and I talked through our sexual misunderstanding, there was still a lot of stress that could have been avoided had I made it clearer that she could always, at any point, communicate with me and bring up things she wasn’t enjoying, or not enjoying enough.
Sure, it was a good moment of growth for the two of us, but the fact remains that this is a commonly overlooked aspect of consent, both in discussions we as students have and in the bedroom itself.
In lecture halls, online webinars, and nearly every time sex is brought up as a topic in a professional or educational environment, we hear about the importance of consent.
We hear things like “Is your partner sober?” or “Are they saying yes?” which are important and mostly straightforward rules of consent.
But the one I’d like to focus on is “Are you checking in every step of the way?”
This is an interesting way to go about ensuring consent as it seems to say, “Are they saying yes when you ask?” which inherently puts the power of the conversation in the hands of the “initiator.”
This is, in a very heteronormative fashion, commonly thought to be the man in the act.
This is a separate and also important issue with the conversation around sex: why do we always assume there’s an initiator?
Promoting the idea that one person is responsible for suggesting, asking for, or pushing for sex is not only heteronormative but unrealistic and unfair to everybody who’s assumed to be a “recipient” of sex.
This inadvertently supports the idea that one party has more power than the other in a sexual act.
I realize many people are involved in sexual relationships with multiple partners, but I like to hope that if that’s your regular practice, you already have a comfortable hold of your boundaries and communication during sex.
If you don’t, this is an article for you!
Here’s the thing about moods—they come back.
Here’s an idea, why not foster a sexual environment in which any partner involved feels comfortable speaking up?
If you’re having sex with someone, you should make sure that that person is happy, comfortable, and interested, which might mean asking for consent mutiple times.
It’s just as important, if not more so, to make sure that your partner is comfortable speaking up without your prompt.
I’ve heard so many stories where someone said, “Oh, I would have liked to ask for this, but it would have killed the mood,” or the common cliché where putting on a condom kills the mood (which isn’t true, always put a condom on).
What’s worse than this happening is nobody talking about it.
In all of the conversations I’ve been a part of, every time I’ve seen the tea video (look up “Tea Consent” if you don’t know what I’m talking about), all the mandatory school meetings on safe sex I’ve attended, not once have I heard someone talk about “killing the mood.”
More specifically, how we shouldn’t be afraid to do so.
Here’s the thing about moods—they come back.
If you are having sex with someone and something happens that you don’t like, or if there’s a lack of something you do like, you should communicate that to your partner.
You should especially communicate with your partner if they are doing something that isn’t sitting right with you.
It may, in fact, put a pause to the act or even stop it altogether, but sex that benefits one partner more than the other is not good sex.
Sex you remember as sex you felt uncomfortable during is not good sex.
Sex without communication is not good sex.
Sex with pauses is good sex!
Stop and talk to your partner. Find something funny? Laugh with them!
There’s no linear model of sex that we should—or even could—follow, and it’s harmful to think there is.
These ideas come from a variety of places, a big one being porn.
I hate to break it to you, but sex is not blowjobs, leading to vaginal penetration, leading to anal penetration, leading to a cumshot.
Sex is constantly changing and personal and it can start with, end with, and consist of whatever you want.
Do you want to use toys during sex with a partner? Say so.
Nine out of 10 times, the only result will be grabbing a toy and continuing (with more pleasure!).
Your partner, ideally, wants you to have just as much fun as they’re having.
The ones who don’t want that might not be the people you should be having sex with at all.
The bottom line is that “killing the mood” is more like “putting the mood in time out.”
There are a million different things that could change the vibe of your sexual experiences, and that’s a good thing.
We need to foster the idea that sex is a discussion and, like all discussions, it’s not over until it’s over.
When we say things like “I didn’t want to kill the mood,” we’re saying we’d rather continue on this predetermined sexual narrative than speak up about
what we want and aren’t getting, or what we’re getting but don’t want.
The article entitled “You’re not Kinky, You’re Just an Asshole” discusses how some abusers will claim that they’re dominant just to get a partner to agree to do whatever they want, without any real regard for the pleasure and comfort of that partner.
Here’s a good way to see if your sex life is really a two-way street: if you feel like speaking up about something you don’t enjoy, or don’t get enough of, but you feel like interrupting would make your partner angry or upset, there’s a good chance they’re not looking out for your best interests and lack sex-ed. It is also important to note that feeling unable to express discomfort can be a sign of coercion or abuse in many cases.
Moods come back, oftentimes in a healthier and happier way than when they left.
It’s a cliché, but communication is key. It shouldn’t be unique to before or after sex—it should always be an option.
Everybody should be open not only to hearing some constructive criticism but to giving it too.
Like in all parts of sexuality—in kinks, relationships, hookups, and general consent—there’s a lot of moving parts and it’s not a simple enough issue to be solved in one article.
All we can do is keep this conversation going. Even while you may be occupied with intimacy, there’s no reason not to express your desires.