I hold sex parties, and at every sex party, it seems like some guy messes up and pisses off some woman. In most cases, he is a perfectly nice and not at all creepy fellow who just screwed up slightly while following his instincts. Men of the naughty party world: I’m here to tell you that when it comes to sex and play parties, your instincts are wrong.
Have you ever been that guy? Have you ever felt awkward at a play party? Have you ever said something at one of these parties and totally regretted it later? Have you ever made a really clumsy and bad come-on? Have you ever annoyed a woman at a party? Have you ever gone home with a severely deflated ego after a party that just did not go right? I have done most of these things, and after a number of years of experience in the scene, I have mostly learned how to get my groove on at these parties in a manner that makes me happy and does not piss off anyone I am interested in. This did not come naturally to me, but was learned through trial and error.
To help other guys who have problems negotiating the party scene, I have put together this handy list of guidelines that will make these parties better for you and the people around you. I made up these rules specifically for men attracted to women, but they also work pretty well for men attracted to men, and those of us attracted to both.
Without further adieu, how to not be that guy, in twelve simple rules:
1) Avoid that desperate, needy, overstimulated feeling. There is a certain mode that guys get into at play parties, that can be summed up as desperately desiring play, so much so that actually negotiating play becomes difficult or impossible. It is this simultaneous feeling of entitlement and need that causes men to act rude at these parties. Other people can sense this mindset and will avoid it like the plague.
So, be confident and happy. Be satisfied whether or not you play, and no matter how the play goes. Do not think of a play party like a sexual or kinky menu that is available for your pleasures. Instead, think of it as a social event, where people just happen to be doing naughty things. And if you feel the desperate feeling coming on, do what you have to to avoid it, even if that means backing off from the sexual or kinky aspects of the party. Experienced players typically have this trick down, and will come across as happily social and at home, even at the most frolicsome of parties.
2) Do not touch without asking. Most of you already know this, but you may not realize the extent of this rule. I mean no touching, at all, ever. No light taps on the shoulder. No sitting down right next to someone on the couch. The one exception might be hugs (because I live in California), but even they are more restricted than usual: only hug your friends only when they are clothed, and keep the hug brief and formal.
This may seem a little counter-intuitive to you. Why would there be *less* allowable physical contact at a party which is all about the physical contact? Well, that’s the exact problem. If you touch someone casually at work, at a bar, at a party, or just in everyday life, there is no expectation that the touching will go anywhere. At a sex or play party, sex is heavy in the air, and any touching carries a sexual meaning. So just lay off. If and when you get into some nookie, there will be plenty of touching. Save it for the nookie.
3) Do not expect that you will play with strangers. Really, do not expect that you will play with anyone if you have not arranged it in advance (see #4 below), even if they are your friends and acquaintances. Sex and BDSM play are very intimate acts, even at a play party. Just because someone comes to the party with the intent of getting naked and dirty does not mean that they will want to do it with you. I think men new to the scene have this idea that they will walk through the door and suddenly hordes of women will descend on them. It is just not true.
Now, ridding yourself of the expectation that you will get some action at a party may be more difficult than you think. It is easy to get your hopes up. Do whatever mental gymnastics are required. If this means acting and thinking as if you definitely will not play at the party, so be it. This particular trick has been incredibly useful for me – in an ironic twist of fate, some of my best stranger play has happened precisely because I assumed it would not.
4) Make sure you will be entertained. Most of the time you are at the party, you will not be getting it on. What are you going to do during that time? If you get bored and twitchy, then you will fall afoul of rule #1. Perhaps the best way to ensure entertainment is to BYOB: Bring Your Own Booty. Make sure that you negotiate with your Booty pre-party, so that you both go in with matching expectations. Another good way to stay entertained is to socialize all night, which means coming with a group of friends or going to a party where you will know a lot of people. Yet another method is by volunteering: this is a great way to fill the time, meet people, and help the party.
5) Come on to people in a non-threatening way. When actually saying what you want to say, be brief and direct: a quick expression of desire is much more comfortable than beating around the bush. Also, do not expect an immediate response. The word “later” is your good friend. Asking someone to come find you later if they are interested will reduce the pressure on them, which in turn means they are more likely to play with you. The standard play party proposition goes something like: “I have been checking you out tonight, and you seem very cool. If you are interested in playing, come find me later.”
Try not to suggest specific sex acts, unless they are somehow creative and nonthreatening (see #8). Otherwise you are assuming that you know what the other person is into, and this is often considered rude even if you are right. Instead, see what they are into and try to figure out what you can do for them. Similarly, do not compliment specific body parts. If you want to compliment someone, compliment their style, their actions, or their overall appearance.
Also, it is generally a good idea to walk away from someone fairly soon after you have hit on them, assuming they do not jump all over you or immediately start leading you to a comfortable spot. This keeps things from getting uncomfortable if they are not interested, and takes the pressure off if they want to think things over. It also is a key piece of acting confident, making it clear that you will not be a crushed little puppy if they do not play with you.
If someone says that they are not up for playing for situational reasons, but they make it clear that they are interested in playing with you, then smile and be flattered, and consider approaching them at a future party (per #12 below).
Also, you do not want to be that guy who hits on everyone at the party. If you find yourself approaching and being rejected by a number of people, stop and reassess your situation. Consider stepping back and waiting for others to come to you, as in rule #8 below. If this is an ongoing problem, give yourself a hard limit. For example, do not hit on more than three people at one party.
6) Try not to swoop down upon people. This is a corollary of #5 that deserves its own bullet point. Do not corner them or come on to them when they are intent on doing something (see #9 below), or when they are busy. It is best to proposition people whom you have already been socializing with, or someone that you already know. Coming on to a stranger is fine, but when doing so respect their space, use the word “later” (as in #5), be brief and to the point, and then if the other person does not suggest immediately playing, walk away.
7) Be flexible, in choice of people and acts. Part of the allure of play parties is that you can casually play with people that you would not normally date. So, if you normally carry around a specific set of standards for people you date, drop them for the party. Instead, consider who and what is turning you on in the moment, and try to go with it.
Because these parties are typically somewhat casual, people will tend to shy away from acts they consider more intimate. In mixed-gender sex party situations, this typically means that manual and oral sex are preferred over intercourse. Similarly, it is unlikely that you will get up to that very intense kinky scene you have been fantasizing about, if you are scening with a stranger. So, when negotiating play, do not impose your particular idea of play on the other person. Instead, listen to them and try to come up with something you both would like to do, that might be out of your normal realm of practice. Some of the hottest play is hot specifically because it is surprising and new.
8) Wait for others to proposition you. So far, I have been talking as though men only come on to women at these parties. While this is unfortunately the typical dynamic, it is very loaded and can be difficult to pull off, as rules #5 and #6 suggest. It is often more fun and rewarding to wait for others to come to you. Being patient can be frustrating, but it is a good way to avoid the mindset in #1, and it will spur you to find ways to have fun at the party aside from play.
Even if you are not patient enough to wait for people to proposition you, consider a minor version of this rule where you wait for someone to obviously flirt with you before propositioning them. Not only is this an easy way to avoid rejection, but flirting is fun in its own right.
A corollary to this rule is to play up what makes you interesting or attractive. If the party is a costume or theme party, ask yourself what outfit you could put together that would be fun and sexy. If you have some particular skill that is relevant to the party, try to think of ways to apply it. For example, if you are an expert at pouring drinks, volunteer to work the bar. If you have some interesting sexual ability or proclivity, consider how to apply it in a nonthreatening manner. For example, foot fetishists often offer people free foot massages, and then thank them and walk away. If you can take a fist in your ass, bring someone to do a scene with you, and I guarantee that a number of spectators will want to be your friend afterwards.
Note that being interesting is not an excuse to trot out annoying or problematic habits. If crude jokes or sexist behavior are part of what makes you interesting outside of the parties, then leave them at home.
9) No joining, energy sucking, or masturbating on your own. These parties are not orgies. If someone is involved with a scene, do not ask if you can join. Give them plenty of space, depending on how crowded the party is. Do not stare. If you like what they are doing, wait until they have finished and cleaned up, and then compliment them on it. Do not suggest that they do the same thing with you. If they want to, they will let you know.
Similarly, do not ask others to join you once you have gotten something going, because it tends to short-circuit negotiation. There is nothing wrong with trying to get together a group scene, but it should be negotiated before the scene, and it is very tricky business.
In particular, be very careful if you are trying to arrange a threesome of some sort with two women. Women get these propositions all the time and they are typically sick of them. If this is with someone you are dating, do not have her approach the other woman, and do not approach the woman yourself. Instead, you should approach her together and you should both clearly be interested. Follow all the rules in #5. Also, if this is a persistent fantasy or desire of yours, the best way to do this a lot is to be willing and interested in having lots of threesomes with one woman and two men. Turnabout is fair play.
Also, do not masturbate on your own. The other people at the party have not consented to be your pornographic wank material, and they will get offended, and you may be kicked out. There is nothing wrong with masturbating as part of a scene with others, even just as an observer, so long as it is negotiated in advance. There are parties where masturbation is the point of the party, so if that is your big thing, then go to those parties.
10) Keep your head together. Many parties enforce this rule by banning intoxicants or intoxication. At the parties that allow it, consume in moderation and keep an eye on your own mental state. Or get a sober friend to keep an eye on your mental state. A little bit of intoxication is great for helping people to settle down and enjoy a party, but too much will cause you to break these rules left and right, annoying lots of people and possibly getting thrown out of the party.
This rule also applies to general mental and emotional state. If you find yourself getting social anxiety or otherwise falling into a state which is not appropriate for a party, either find a way to settle down or leave the party. If you were dumped earlier in the day and that is going to turn you into a bear in any social situation, then stay home.
11) Do not throw your dominance or submission around. While you may not consider this behavior to be sexual, other people do, and if you start acting in a D/S manner towards them before negotiating, then you are essentially having nonconsensual sex. Do not do this. Dominance or submission may be part of your nature, but you manage to keep it under wraps in most day-to-day situations, so you can do the same thing at parties. I know it may seem like a good idea to start demanding things of that cute subby type, or to kneel at the feet of that mistress, but it will only piss them off and ruin any chance you had to play with them. Instead, follow all the usual rules in #5 above and save the D/S for the actual scening.
12) Build for the future. Most play party scenes are actually fairly tight-knit communities. If you want to have a lot of play in your life, you should become a part of one or more of these communities, with all that that entails. Plan on going back to the same party a number of times. Volunteer, socialize, meet people, and integrate into the community. Instead of treating the parties like a sexual smorgasbord, treat them as social and community events for a community that just happens to be centered around play. Go to parties whether or not you intend to play that night.
Along similar lines, if you meet someone interesting or attractive, try to take the long view instead of focusing on what you can do right now at the party. Flirt with them in exactly the same way you would if you were meeting at a non-play party and were interested in dating them. (Which is not much of a stretch – often relationships start when people meet at these parties.) Do not get worried that your chance with them will disappear when the party ends; there is always the next party, or you could try to meet them outside of the parties.
This long view has a very interesting side effect, which I call the “coat-check effect”. Some of the most amazing play party hookups do not happen at the party. Instead, people will often catch someone just as they are leaving (say, at the coat check), say that they were sorry they did not get a chance to play, and give them a phone number. The pressure is off because people are putting their clothes on, and this is an easy and nonthreatening way to express interest.
The metaphor I use for this long view is planting seeds of interest. Instead of barrelling into someone’s life at a play party and propositioning them, it is often better to flirt, or make minor remarks, or give them your number. If they are interested as well, you will hear back at some point. If you are patient, some of these seeds will germinate, and eventually you will be part of a web of play buddies grounded in the community.