I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical manwhore (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn’t just “communicate with your partner,” because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It. To submit a question for a future column, fill out this form.
This is the transcription from last week’s “Sexplain It Live,” which was recorded on Men’s Health‘s Instagram. I was joined by Men’s Health Deputy Editor of content Jordyn Taylor to answer a bunch of your sex and relationship questions.
People say you should stay single in your 20s. Do you agree with this?
JT: I think it’s the wrong phrasing, but the advice at the core of the statement is valid. I feel like what people are getting at when they say you really should stay single in your twenties, is that it’s important to know what you like before you commit to a long-term relationship. So that doesn’t necessarily mean staying single in your twenties. It could mean that you date a lot of different people at any point in your life before you commit to something long-term. It could even mean getting to know what you like through masturbation. So it doesn’t even mean that you have to be going out and meeting a bunch of people. If you spend a lot of time with your body and figure out what makes you feel good, that can also prepare you for a long-term relationship, right?
ZZ: I think they are two different sentiments here. The first one is that you should go out and have fun and have a bunch of sex. If you’re someone who isn’t like that, then that’s particularly crummy advice. Not everyone just wants to go out and have a bunch of sex. I love doing that. That’s good advice for me. That’s not good advice for everyone. And then there’s this idea of, you have to learn what you like, at which point that means you actually do need to date. If you’ve only had sex with people, and then you settled down into a relationship for the first time, you’re not gonna know how to be in a relationship. So if the idea here is you have to learn what you like, you do have to still date. [The second sentiment is] to make sure to have fun. So that way, you don’t end up in a committed relationship and then look back on that and think, “I wish I did this. I never explored this.”
JT: That said, I want to steer people away from obeying these things as if they’re these super-serious, you-cannot-deviate-from-this-idea rules. So if you’ve dated a lot of people, and you’re in your twenties, and you find somebody who you think is fantastic, and you have a great connection with them, I would never want you to say, “I’m sorry, we can’t date, even though we both desperately want to, because of this rule that I have to be single in my twenties.” Likewise, I think that if you’re in a relationship, and you realize there’s something that you have always wanted to try, and you didn’t get a chance to do it before, being in a relationship is not necessarily an obstacle to that. There are so many ways, within the confines of a relationship, where you can try things that you’re still curious about and that you maybe didn’t get a chance to try when you were younger.
ZZ: Exactly. The [advice] makes it seem like once you’re in a relationship, you can’t do anything fun! There’s nothing else left, and your sex life is dead. No, that’s not true. You can also be in an open relationship or go to sex clubs together. You can explore with this person as opposed to exploring alone.
This one write-in was from “Confused Bi Guy.” I’m into guys, then girls, then guys, then I’m not into either, then I’m disgusted by guys, then into guys, and then just girls! I am stuck in the cycle, and I don’t know how to break it. I recently came out as bi to my friends, and I have been sexually exploring, but none of my hookups ever seem to hit the mark. It feels like I’m just getting with guys because it’s a lot easier to get with them than women, but these hookups with guys never fulfill me.
JT: I want to give this dude a hug because it sounds like he’s really, really stressed out. I also want to say that the line that stands out to me the most is that none of his hookups are hitting the mark, and none of these hookups are fulfilling him. So I would encourage him to figure out why those hookups aren’t hitting the mark. And I have a feeling that he is spending too much time thinking about how his hookups relate back to the label that he has chosen. You know, if he dates too many guys, he starts thinking, “I have to balance it out by dating the same number of girls. And oh, not too many girls; now I have to go back to guys.” I think it might be helpful to forget about the [bisexual] label for a second and think about what you’re actually looking for in a hookup. Is it that you’re having trouble communicating what feels good for you? Is it that you’re having trouble mentally connecting with somebody? What’s actually going on in the hookup that could make them more fulfilling?
ZZ: Yeah, there were a few parts to his question. I think the first one is the quality of the hookups. It seems like he’s hooking up with more guys than girls because it is easier, and that is true. You can go on Grindr and find someone to hook up with immediately within three seconds, and you don’t have to put in any work. That said, if that is what he is doing, that might explain why he’s not having fulfilling sex. If you’re just having these casual hookups and these guys are in and out of your door within 20 minutes, you can’t expect to be like, wow, that was really fulfilling. Or it might be fulfilling for some people; it absolutely can hit the mark to have hot quickie sex. But clearly, for this guy, it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.
JT: As somebody who has used Grindr, what would you say to somebody who finds that their Grindr hookups are unfulfilling? Like what would be the best advice for this guy if he wants to go out and meet new people?
ZZ: It depends. If he’s missing that kind of romantic connection, then go on a date with someone first, and you can have dates via Grindr, but it’s predominantly a hookup app. So a lot of people on there are not looking to have a date. There are better apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or Chappy where you can actually go on a date with someone, meet them, like them, and then have sex. Or if the sex itself isn’t that good on Grindr, you can just clarify, “Hey, I want to have a passionate, hour-long, lovemaking session where we do X, Y, Z. These are the things that I’m into,” and really just hitting your mark for absolutely everything as opposed to swapping nudes, he’s over in 15 minutes, and you quickly have sex. Put in a little bit more effort and communication beforehand and explicitly state what it is that you want to do.
JT: There’s another thing that I want to make sure we touch on for this poor, confused bi guy. I’m kind of getting this vibe from the question, and I was talking about before, that he’s a little bit stressed about the balance of how many guys he sees versus how many girls he sees. He feels like he’s swinging back and forth between them. I want to make sure that we say for everyone that bisexuality is not necessarily about seeing 50% women and 50% men. First of all, because gender is not binary, but you can be 99% attracted to one gender and 1% attracted to another gender, and that still qualifies you as a bisexual.
ZZ: Exactly, I think there’s so much pressure on him liking men and women equally. And I also want to speak from personal experience, when he’s like, “Oh my God, I hook up with a guy, and then I’m disgusted by them.” At first, I thought maybe there’s some internalized homophobia, but I don’t even think it’s that. I get the same way too. When I start dating a guy, at first, it’s fine. We have a great relationship, but if it ends poorly, I’m like, “Screw men! I never want to date a guy again!” Then I date women, and I have a crummy experience with one I’m like, “Screw all women. I’m never dating a woman again; I’m going back to only dating men!” Dating is just a pain in the ass. Period. It’s easy to blame a whole gender, but that’s not actually how this works.
Watch the full conversation here:
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