Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sex…Manners…and Fifty Shades of Grey…

The trilogy of erotic books which started with the e-book  “Fifty Shades of Grey”. has resulted, apparently around the world, in increased adult shop sales of sex toys and  in an extraordinary amount of internet “chat” about the relevance of the manners involved in “modern” sexual practices. 

Certainly I have had more than the average number of emails requesting advice about the manners involved in intimate relationships, and the boundaries which can be crossed, or not crossed…and how to discuss those boundaries politely.

I respond that I am not in the business of sexual advice, but etiquette and manners.   But I can offer a few words of common sense, I hope, which will assist when people are responding to requests in their intimate lives which are possibly uncomfortable.

The most important premise is to be true to yourself.  When love “is the hero in the story, one’s intuition can be placed under general anaesthetic”  as a Swiss friend wrote to me…and while I am sure the expression would be more elegant in her French language, the meaning is clear.

When, whether in love or not, you share yourself intimately with another person, you are exposing your deepest self, for good or bad reasons…it is all personal.  Perhaps that is the part of you which requires sexual exploration?  Perhaps it is the part of you which requires sexual intimacy?  Perhaps it is the part of you which doesn’t know what you require?…

And as you would request the other partner in this intimacy to respect you, so you should respect them.  In the early stages of intimacy, if love is involved,  we often regard trust as a given; is that not what moving to that level of intimacy infers?  So often when love is the “hero of the story” we can be reticent about communicating our needs, wants, expectations and limitations… we wonder, how will these comments be received? Perhaps I will just go with the flow and see what happens?…

Being able to say “no” and being respected for it is an intrinsic level of truthful communication. I have been contacted by many people recently who ask…”How do I say no?” …when being asked to engage in sexual activity which is outside their comfort zone.

If you are comfortable with the other person in your intimate relationship, and able to speak with them about your mutual sexual needs and wants  and your ability to explore the boundaries of your intimacy,  then respect and trust, I would suggest, are already in place. 

If you feel the need to defend yourself by saying "I am not comfortable with that and I know you
want me to try it but I can’t”  and there is insistence from the other partner then I would suggest that 
you reevaluate  the level of empathy, respect and  trust in the relationship.

So where is the place of etiquette in all of this sexual chat?  Good manners, in all we do, whether in the boardroom or the bedroom is about having respect for other people. It is simple…talk honestly, relate, empathise,  share and care…


  1. One should never - never - allow/accept things one doesn't feel comfortable with, just to please. Partners who don't accept a 'no' are just not worth your while. Real love is based on mutual respect. That's my motto!
    P.S. Be careful, the title of your post may attract a lot of unwanted(and unrespectful)'readers'. Martine

  2. Martine, I so agree with you! And I will monitor my "traffic"...thanks for your advice...

  3. Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.