The oral sex dilemma
Q: What do you do when a guy comes in your mouth?
A: It's an age-old predicament and one with no simple answer. Of course, it makes a big difference how well you know the guy. An anonymous trick is not the same as a boyfriend, who is not the same as your husband. But communication and planning will get you through this sticky situation every time.
Even if you feel embarrassed talking about sex (especially with someone new), discuss your preferences beforehand. If you're the shooter, ask your friend if it's OK to come in his mouth and, in any case, give a little warning before you do ("Hey, I'm about to shoot!") Similarly, let your partner know if you plan on spitting it out—or if you don't want him coming in your mouth at all.
Whatever you decide, if you're expecting a mouthful, follow the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. By that I mean, think ahead about what exactly you're going to do with this "load" and make the proper arrangements beforehand. If you know you're going to spit it out, it's a good idea to have a box of tissues or a hand towel at your side. If you're planning to swallow, make sure you have a glass of water nearby.
The safest practice, of course, is to use a condom (yes, even with oral sex). HIV risk is believed to be very low from this particular activity, but lots of other STDs are easily transmitted through oral sex. In fact, if you happen to know that you or your partner has an STD, you should not have unprotected oral sex under any circumstance.
Note for Straights: Heterosexuals get STDs, too. Know your risks. If you're the guy, make sure she's comfortable with the plan and don't forget to reciprocate.
Q: I'm loud when we have sex and like to tell my girlfriend how much I love her, but she never makes a sound or says a word. After we're done, she just turns over and goes to sleep. I always enjoy the sex we have, but I never know what she thinks. How do I find out?
A: Ask her! Sex often makes us so uncomfortable that we forget the easiest way to get to the bottom of a problem is to talk about it. So, yes, ask her about her feelings or her sexual enjoyment-- or prompt her a bit more slyly by telling her something like, "Hey, that was amazing sex." (You may want to wait till morning if you can't catch her in the moments before her post-coital doze.)
On the other hand, don't forget about all the other forms of communication besides words: Is she passionate? Does she seem engaged and like she's enjoying herself? Pay attention to the nonverbal cues. Maybe she's just not a very talkative person or is tired after a long day. She may already be telling you how great you are in her own way.
Note for Straights: Remember Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? How opposite-sex couples communicate may even be more challenging than same-sex couples.
When friends have sex
Q: Last week I ended up having sex with my best friend. At least he used to be my best friend—we haven't talked since. Did I mess up? I definitely don't want to lose our friendship, but I don't know how to put the genie back in the bottle. Does that mean we should be boyfriends?
A: Slow down. Before you plan the rest of your life together or, conversely, prepare for Armageddon, you're going to have to do some thinking and talking. Best friends sometimes make the best lovers; after all, they know you so well and share your trust and affection. But the decision to take a friendship to the next level is tricky—and you can't do it alone.
First, you'll need to ask yourself: "What do you want out of this, beyond sex?" and "Are you willing to risk your friendship if the romance fails?" In a perfect world, you would each have explored these questions before things got physical. But hey, that's life.
Assuming you want to move forward, call him or e-mail and say simply: "We need to talk." Then, you'll want to explain how you feel and what your hopes are. Ask if he knows what he wants from your relationship. Even if he doesn't want to move beyond friends, initiating this conversation gives him an opportunity to talk about it with you.
If you find you're not on the same page, you may be able to salvage your friendship if you stay open and honest with each other. But that's hard. Been there. Done that.
Steven Petrow is a regular contributor to the Indy and the author of The Essential Book of Gay Manners and Etiquette. Send him your questions at email@example.com.