photo by Jim Urquhart (Reuters)

photo by Jim Urquhart (Reuters)

Lately, I am getting quite a few questions from clients about sex parties that are apparently happening all over San Diego County. People ask me what I think about them, are they a good thing or a bad thing? Should they stay away from them or embrace them with open arms (and legs)?

Frankly, I don’t have an opinion about sex parties. Nor do I have an opinion on where and when people have sex. I don’t’ think the externals are what make sex fulfilling or not. You can have wonderful, deep, loving sex with a stranger in a bathhouse and meaningless, crummy sex with someone you know very well in a romantic room set with candles, your favorite music and a blanket by the fireplace. This is because good sex is mostly in your head and heart (yeah, and also in your genitals, we’ll address that too).

My definition of good sex: (1) no one seroconverts and (2) when the experience is over, you feel good about yourself, good about your partner(s) and good about life in general.

By that definition, how much good sex have you had recently? You can see, by that definition, that it’s more about your experience of what happened as opposed to what you did, he did, she did, etc. It’s more about having a good connection with someone else, as opposed to who topped who, who came first, who stayed hard the longest, etc.

You can have good sex anywhere. It’s not the environment that matters, it’s your attitude. This is why I don’t condemn sex parties, bathhouses, or orgys (like some therapists do) as long as the people involved are having good sex (by my definition).   People have been having sex in as many places as you can imagine ever since time began. Making some situations right and some wrong isn’t helpful.

Let’s turn to the matter of sex parties. Why do people go to sex parties? Don’t assume you know their motivation. I have had clients who were sex workers who told me that most clients came to them because they were lonely, not because they wanted to have fabulous sex. We never know someone else’s motivation for doing something, especially something as complex as having sex. So, instead, focus on yourself. Ask yourself: What’s my motivation for going to a sex party? Is it to have fun, meet people, be social, get off, feel attractive, combat loneliness, boost your self-esteem? Tell yourself the truth and then proceed accordingly.

That said, I have consulted some my “experts” in the Sex Party department and have the following suggestions if you are considering attending:

Party tip #1: Sex parties are not about finding a long term relationship. Sex parties are about having sex. Don’t confuse a sex party with a social gathering, whose purpose is primarily to meet people, eat, drink and talk to people. If that’s what you want, go to a social event. Again, be clear on your motivation. If you want Italian food, don’t go to a Chinese restaurant.

Party tip #2: Communication at sex parties isn’t like a social event. Smiling or being friendly to someone at a sex party might give him/her the impression that you’re interested in them.  Instead of “nice”, aim for “neutral” and you should stay out of trouble (or get into trouble with someone you’re hot for).

Party tip #3: At a sex party, everyone is fair game and no one is a mind-reader. Simply ignore people you’re not interested in. If they touch you, take their hand off your body, calmly say “no thanks” and walk away. No muss, no fuss, no attitude. And if you approach someone and they take your hand off their body, don’t take it personally. Move on and have fun with someone else.

Party tip #4: No matter what your HIV status is, use condoms. No matter how tempted you are, stay healthy and help your brothers and sisters to do the same.

Party tip #5: Be respectful, playful and open to new experiences. Ask for what you want, and see if you get it. Have good boundaries: be able to say no to what you don’t want and stick to it. Don’t have “pity” sex, where you feel sorry for someone and give them what they want. Take good care of yourself and have the kind of experience that makes you feel good about yourself.