Sex + Love

The Invention of Sex

It’s all up to you.

Illustration by Kelly

You know that thing when two of your friends get together and they’re madly in love and they’re having sex for the first time, or it feels for them like they’re having sex for the first time, and they’re all over each other and it’s PDA overload and you and the rest of your circle are going, “God, it’s like they think they invented sex”?

Well, actually, they did. And so can you.

You may think that there’s a “right” way to have sex—judging from some of the questions we get for Ask a Grown and Just Wondering, you do, and you’re worried that everyone but you knows what that is—and I can’t say I blame you. If you get most of your ideas about sex from the media, popular culture, and porn, you’ve been taught that there are a handful of scripts that your getting down is supposed to follow—because, hey, this is how everyone does it.

Well, hell no. There is no such thing as “doing it right,” because there is no “right” way to do something that is, after all, a private and recreational activity. Were you nervous the first time you ate ice cream that you might do it wrong?

My point is that there are no formulas. There is no recipe. Really great sex is a new invention every time you have it. You make it all up as you go along.

Every sex partner you will ever have is different. Every body has different sensitive spots (not just the obvious ones). It’s fun finding them on your own—using your fingers, your lips, your tongue, your hair. Everyone reacts to pleasure differently—with different sounds, words, movements, facial expressions. Everyone has different moods, and different ways they feel like having sex during those moods (not to mention different reasons for not wanting to have sex on any given day).

Don’t try to follow anyone else’s narrative. Create your own. All you need is a sense of curiosity and wonder—and a basic understanding of the fundamental workings of your own and your partners’ bodies, which is why sex education is so important. (And no, porn doesn’t count here. Porn is entertainment, not education. If you use it as a source for real information, you will end up with a skewed idea of what sex is, how people’s bodies actually work, and what is actually pleasurable to people you’re touching. Not to mention that you’ll know nothing about protecting yourself from infections, diseases, and unwanted pregnancy. My rant is almost over, but here is a good source for sex information, in case your school is not doing its job of educating you.) Once you have a good grasp of the basics, you can improvise: What would happen if you did…this? Or tried…that? Every great discovery comes from experimentation—putting different things together and seeing what happens. Adding and subtracting ingredients, and gauging how they react to one another. Sex is no different.

Here are some ways to experiment with your sex life, to make it your very own.

Reinvent your bodies.
It’s amazing how sexy a random body part that you’ve never even thought about can be when you’re stroking and admiring it on a loved one. And you may discover new erotic potential in previously unconsidered parts of your own body when someone else focuses on them. It could be an anklebone, a fingertip, an elbow… There’s a great movie by the French director Eric Rohmer called Claire’s Knee, where the protagonist becomes fixated on that part of the title character’s body. In Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient Count Almásy is doing what we all do when we’re crushed out—obsessing about her to a friend—and he says, “What is the name of that hollow at the base of a woman’s neck? At the front. Here. What is it, does it have an official name?” I myself am super into men’s forearms. On the subject of which—can we just take a moment to gaze at this Etsy listing? OMG.

Um—where were we? Making up sex as you go along. Making new maps of each other’s bodies. Your body is a wonderland. So is your partner’s. Explore, discover, feel your way around–literally. Find all the hidden treasures.

Create a new language.
Because we so rarely get to talk frankly about sex in public—especially us girls and women, and especially in the more sexually repressed parts of the world—the language of sex is pushed to the margins, to things like porn and dumb song lyrics and dumber books about how to “pick up women.” So it’s up to you to make up your own language, which is a really fun burden to carry. You and your sex partner get to invent a vocabulary with which to express desire, appreciation, ecstasy, and love. In fact, let’s start with an exercise for all of you reading this: I have been trying for years to come up with a word for giving head to a woman that’s as good as blow job. Cunnilingus, pussy-eating, and muff-diving are just too technical and/or gross and/or unwieldy to catch on. We need a term that’s as succinct and catchy as blow job—because the easier and more fun it is to talk about something, the more people will talk about it, and the more normal it will be to expect it from your partners.

(A tip for those of you just starting out on your sex life and feeling a little shy: every request you make will be much better received when preceded by “You turn me on so much, and you’ll turn me on even more if you….” This is where inventing your own language is useful—give whatever it is you want your partner to do some fabulous-sounding term. And when they say, “What’s that?” you say, “Let me show you…”)

Make up games.
What do you really love doing with your partner? Are there things you never thought you’d do, but now you really want to try them with her/him? Your dynamic is going to be different with every person you’re with, and different with a single person from one romp to another—and your desires, like everything else about you, will shift and change constantly over the course of your life. Sex is a playground, and changing it up is a big part of the fun. I had this friend a while back who would talk to me about her love life, but never mentioned anything about sex. So I was startled and amused when one day, after meeting a new man (whom she’d go on to marry), she said to me out of the blue, in a tone of dreamy wonderment, “Isn’t sex wonderful? It’s like Six Flags, in bed.” Well, she’s English, so she said Alton Towers, which is the UK equivalent of Six Flags, but you get the gist. She was finding out, maybe for the first time, that with the right partner, sex really is the best amusement park there is, and you and your partner get to invent all the rides.

Reinvent each other.
You may have many sexual partners in your life. You may have one. (You also may have none, if you choose, but you have probably already figured out that this article is not for you and stopped reading long ago.) But no matter the number (and a big one is no better or worse than a single-digit one), the ones you’ll treasure most are the ones who taught you things about yourself that you’d never really known before. There’s the partner who gets you to understand why people sometimes describe sex as “mindblowing”—I mean, my wish for all of you is that every time you have sex, including the first, is like this, but in the real world that isn’t necessarily the case. There’s the partner who makes you realize that you like something you had little to no inkling about—like role-playing, dominating someone or being dominated, or something that’s unique to you. The one who flips all your gender expectations around. The one where you thought you were straight, but it turns out you’re not, or not always. The one where you thought you were gay, but turns out you’re not, or not always.


And by the way—sometimes inventions go wrong. Maybe things combust and there’s an explosion in the lab that breaks things. Maybe those sizzling elements touch each other and fizzle out in a damp squib. That’s OK. You learn from mistakes. It’s what experimenting is all about. And when things don’t turn out so great, the best possible thing you can do is laugh about them. When you start having sex and you’re nervous and a bit insecure, it’s easy to freak out and lose your sense of humor. Don’t. Laughing about something together, admitting that that particular position was nowhere near as fun as everyone else seems to think, and coming clean about feeling awkward relaxes both of you and takes the pressure off. So, maybe your last experiment was a bust. The wonderful thing is, there are so many more you can come up with! Never stop discovering. ♦


  • Kristen January 22nd, 2013 7:32 PM

    Men’s forearms <3<3<3

  • Peesh January 22nd, 2013 7:36 PM

    My boyfriend and I just call it a lady job

  • kikki_rimo January 22nd, 2013 7:40 PM

    This is awesome. I’m totally sending this to my friend that is in the pursuit of losing her virginity! Essentially this philosophy could be applied to every attribute of life…

  • allylovessloths January 22nd, 2013 8:03 PM

    HAHAHA a lady job ^^ that’s amazing! definitely using that terminology from now on. Thanks babe! x

  • barbroxursox January 22nd, 2013 8:20 PM

    Okay, this is getting freaky. Rookie has literally been stalking me and posting articles about what I’ve been thinking/talking about for like the past few weeks!
    But anyways, today my friends and I were having a conversation about sex ed. We were taught about sex, drugs, and abuse freshman year and in like 8th grade. But back then, none of us were sexually active or into drugs at all. So what we were taught kind of went over our heads and didn’t feel real or applicable to our lives. But with more and more of us being sexually active now, the things we were taught could be very useful now. But we pretty much forgot all we were taught as younger kids because we didn’t really care about it then. So, I think sex ed should be taught through 10-12 grades so that we actually get something out of what we’re taught.

    • Abby January 22nd, 2013 10:15 PM

      Yes yes yes!! I completely agree. I remember being a freshman in sex ed and being like, “I don’t do drugs or have sex or anything, so I don’t need to pay attention,” and even though I should have, I didn’t. I would have if it had been later, when I was actually interested in sex (even if I wasn’t doing it).

  • jenaimarley January 22nd, 2013 9:00 PM

    Wow! This is brilliant.
    Thank you, Cindy!

    P.S. Rock climbers have the best forearms! Gahhh

  • Abby January 22nd, 2013 9:02 PM

    MENS’ FOREARMS OH MY GOD. Anyway, I too am a fan of “lady job” haha. And, I’ve always just called it “eating someone out” but I guess there’s not a corresponding noun for that like “blow job.” But I really do like lady job lol.

  • bibliovore January 22nd, 2013 9:33 PM

    “She was finding out, maybe for the first time, that with the right partner, sex really is the best amusement park there is, and you and your partner get to invent all the rides.”

    This is the best and something I wish I could tell my 16 or 17-year-old self. Before I had sex for the first time, it was this scary, impossible thing. But after being with my partner for 2+ years now, I’ve discovered that sex can be so fun! We have an open line of communication and talk about sex a lot. I wish sex wasn’t so closed off and mysterious. It’s a great part of being an adult/mature teenager.

  • carogenous January 22nd, 2013 10:38 PM

    i needed this. i have such a hard time sometimes getting in the right mood to be receptive to sex and ~touching in weird places~ because i think too much about not being good enough. thanks rookiez

  • Jenny January 22nd, 2013 11:28 PM

    Geez this email is everything X everything X perfect X perfect. <3

  • urpdurp January 23rd, 2013 4:45 AM

    I really appreciate the honesty of this post
    ~wish I read it about 5 years ago Dx

  • cematinla January 23rd, 2013 10:14 AM

    One of the most amazing, communicative and intense sexual experiences I ever had, I was incredibly nervous for. It was my first time on top and I just froze.

    I didn’t know how!
    I would do it wrong!
    He’d get turned off!

    But no, we guided each other through it and afterward he said, “I think that was the best sex I’ve ever had. We never broke eye contact and it felt like we were talking the whole time.”

    I had nothing to fear!

    So don’t worry about doing it wrong – so long as you and your partner are connecting and communicating, it’s all going to be ok :)

  • polkadottedmoose January 23rd, 2013 11:49 AM

    This is wonderful! Thank you so much rookie for your amazing articles!
    I’m going to be sending this link to my friend (who is terrified of moving her relationship further because shes worried about how ‘good’ she’ll be..)
    might also leave it open on my browser next time my boyfriend comes round…

  • hoggster January 23rd, 2013 2:14 PM

    Shoulderblades <3

  • Atalanta January 24th, 2013 5:59 AM

    what a beautiful & refreshing article

  • alexaannejay January 24th, 2013 12:10 PM

    I have this issue with collarbones. When a guy wears a scoopneck or a v-neck and I see some collarbone, I go batshit. Also, looking forward to the day where I find a partner in which the sex is “mind-blowing,” still haven’t gotten there yet. Interesting article~

    • Mary the freak March 28th, 2013 3:03 AM

      Omg collarbones *-*

  • lorcin January 25th, 2013 5:02 PM

    I admit I had low expectations for an article about sex on a teen girl blog. But I’m pleasantly surprised. The usual sex post is either a precautionary, abstinence favoring article geared at young girls or an I’ve-heard-that-before, bland list of suggestions for a more mature crowd.
    This hit right in between. With all the messages we get about waiting to have sex and/or being cautious about who, where, and why we do it, I sometimes feel ashamed about it. Or when sex seems to cool and great on TV with adults, don’t know how to feel about it as a young person.
    Thanks for the affirmation to feel whatever I want and to be excited about :)

  • Aimiliona January 29th, 2013 7:10 PM

    Makes me wish for sex. *^* I mean, I’ve had oral, but…oral is more foreplay to me than anything. At least right now, as I’ve only ever had it once. xD

    This article is awesome though, and really helpful. :3 Thanks, Rookie!

    Also, boob. And hipbones. And lips. And FOREARMS. DAYUM.

  • Princess Kitty February 9th, 2013 12:16 AM

    I absolutely love this article!! Rookie, you rock my world. I am no longer a teen, but I work with teens, and I have referred a few of my teen age girl pals to this site. This article is just what I wish someone had told me about when I was first becoming a sexual being. Keep up the amazing work!! Xoxo