“What if I freak out/cry?”

Lola: For me, good sex is about freedom from inhibition/anxiety/shame. The best sex I’ve had has been when I’ve been able to be my entire weird self with another person, because I know that person will be OK with—even charmed by—the parts of me I feel kinda vulnerable about. This kind of comfort with another person more or less guarantees that there will be mistakes, or messiness, or our putting ourselves in (wait, should I finish this sentence?) positions (oh well) where we aren’t exactly comfortable.

So if you ask me, “What if I cry during/after sex?” I will answer, “Then cry! It’s not uncommon or ‘weird.’ Sexercourse should welcome laughter-cries and sad-cries.” Then again, I am rarely embarrassed by anything my face or body does. So I found someone who identifies as an Embarrassable American and asked her what she does when she finds herself getting emotional when she is getting down.

LIVED TO BONE ANOTHER DAY: Rookie’s own Anna F. Her story:

So I’ve been dating this guy for a few weeks but we’ve never slept together. I have never, in fact, slept with anyone in the ADULT sense of the phrase. I invite him over to watch The Simpons, and we start making out, and then we move the action to the bedroom and I get a condom from my bedside table, and then…I am hit hard by a wave of anxiety. I’m like, “Um, no, I’ve never done this—I need to stop,” and he goes, “JESUS CHRIST,” but stops immediately. Then–this is where it gets SUPER SEXY–I start hyperventilating, and he’s just watching me, not sure what he’s supposed to be doing. Then he just goes to get water and eventually puts his pants on and that’s that.

Part of the reason I put off doing anything sexual for so long was that I was scared I was going to be bad at it, and while this was happening I was like, OH NO THE SECRET’S OUT I’M THE BIGGEST LOSER. But afterward I went over to my friend’s and she made me see it for the hilarity that it was. By the end of the night I was like, “Yay, experience!” Thinking about it that way (and writing about it) helps me make sense of my experiences. Then, instead of worrying about my reputation amongst guys as “that girl who is awkward at sex,” I can decide what any experience means for myself.

“Um, oral sex.”

Lola: Mouths, man, amirite? Just another body part determined to humiliate you during sex. Like, what if you’re making out and someone burps? What if that someone is you? I say just ROLL WITH IT. My fellow Rookies tend to agree. As one of them told me, “You just have to laugh. If a guy can’t appreciate my burping skills, they’re not the one for me.”

OK, but what about oral sex? There are so many different things to be scared of here—let’s break them down.

“During a blow job, what should I do when the person with the penis comes?”

Krista: Let’s assume that you’re the blow-job-giver here, since what you do as the recipient seems pretty straightforward. There are generally four different possibilities: (1) They come into the condom they’re wearing. This is the safest option in terms of both disease and embarrassment. It’s also the least messy. They just hold the condom around the base to make sure it doesn’t slip off while they remove their penis from your mouth, then they slide the condom off, tie it closed to keep the semen from leaking out (ew), and dispose of it somewhere it won’t be found by parents or family dogs. (2) They ejaculate somewhere other than your mouth—onto the bed, onto your body, onto a towel, whatever. If they’ve come on your body, just run a washcloth under warm water and wipe it off. To get come stains out of clothing or furniture, mix a little bit of laundry detergent with a bunch of cold water, then dab that mixture onto the stain. Let it sit for about five minutes, then rinse with cold water. Blot with paper towels. (3) They ejaculate in your mouth, and you spit it out into a paper towel or the bathroom sink. (4) They ejaculate in your mouth and you swallow. I should point out that the last two possibilities carry a slightly higher risk of STDs/STIs, but neither one is riskier than the other. If your partner is going to come in your mouth, it’s totally up to you—NOT THEM—how you handle the situation. Some people are nervous about spitting and others are nervous about swallowing, and whatever you decide is fine. They’re nothing wrong with liking to swallow come and there’s nothing wrong with being grossed out by it and deciding to spit it out instead. It’s not a judgment on your partner if you spit it out, either—you don’t have to enjoy ingesting someone’s every bodily fluid to prove that you love them.

“What if I gag—or even barf—on a penis?”

Krista: This can happen, but only in three scenarios that I can think of: (1) Someone—possibly you—is not respecting your mouth boundaries. If someone’s penis is making you feel like you’re going to gag, then they’re in too deep for you, or pushing too hard. Stop the blow job and explain what’s up, then either continue in a gentler way or move on to some other activity. (2) You are really, really sick. In this case, what are you doing giving a blow job? You shouldn’t be working so hard, and anyway, you don’t want to give your partner whatever you’ve got. Lie down, babe. Take a nap. Do you want some tea? (3) You are drunk. DO NOT HAVE SEX OF ANY KIND WHEN YOU ARE DRUNK. You are a thousand percent more likely to make self-destructive decisions when you’re impaired in any way. Of course, this means it’s hard for you to heed the advice not to have sex drunk, because you’re drunk! This is why it is super duper important to be sure, if you know you’re going to be drinking, to have a sober friend with you. And if you’re with a drunk friend, be that person for him/her.

LIVED TO BONE ANOTHER DAY: Krista’s friend Jane. In her own words:

A few years ago, I was hooking up with a guy in the living room, and I decided to give him a blow job. When I put my mouth on his dick, he thrust himself down my delicate ladylike throat really really far, way further than I could manage. Instantly, I needed to throw up. I felt the vomit rise in my throat. I pulled his dick out of my mouth and threw up all over the living room carpet. He was grossed out, and I was very embarrassed, but we cleaned it up and then he left. In retrospect, he earned it. I mean, how rude was he, thrusting his dick down my throat so hard and fast like that? P.S. He never called me after that, and I couldn’t have cared less—I learned a valuable lesson about who was and who wasn’t worth my time (and my “favors”).

That’s what you get when you treat someone like a sex toy and not a person—bodies have a way of reminding people that they’re human.