"My partner and I are swingers and kinda kinky and trying to get more into that. But it's all talk! We really struggle to actually do anything beyond our normal routine. The problem is, our routine works! Everything else, to me, feels like a risk. What's a good way to get out of the norm?"
Good question! A common issue that comes up when I'm working with couples is that they're afraid that asking for something new will make it sound like they're unhappy with their current sex lives. It can be easier to try something new with a near stranger, or to tell your desires to a sex coach, than to break out of routine with a long-term partner.
With a hookup or a professional there's low risk. If they're not into the thing you suggest, or if they think it's strange or react badly, you never have to see them again. But if you suggest something to a long-term partner and they freak out, or you try something new and it doesn't go well, you still need to interact with them every day.
While my first choice is always to have direct conversations, there are other tools available that might make you feel safer. In fact, there's a web tool designed for this exact problem. Mojoupgrade is a digital "yes/no/maybe" list that you can each fill out separately and it will only show you the results that you were both a "yes" to. That way, no one is admitting to anything they don't already know their partner is up for.
I still think working towards openness is the best goal, but tools like Mojoupgrade can be great training wheels. Once you're in the habit of talking about shared desires and trying new things it will become easier to have the conversations on your own.
Remember: trying something new doesn't mean you stopped loving your old favorites. Variety is the spice of life. When a new restaurant opens that you want to try, you don't feel guilty about taking a night off from the usual go-to spot. And if you don't like the food at the new place? You simply don't go back there again. No harm done. But when it comes to sex there's a lot more ego, self-esteem, and self-image wrapped up in the equation.
Sexologist Colby Marie Z suggests starting with small changes first. "Once small risks are met with success," she says, "we feel more comfortable and competent, and are more likely to take bigger risks!"
What small changes could you start with? How about having sex in a different room of your house, or at a different time of day? Try a new position that's just a little out of the norm for you. Introduce a sex toy. Maybe watch porn together as a warm-up. You don't have to over-think this part. Just about any small change will get the ball rolling.
Another great way to branch out into something new is by taking a class together. If the subject is new to both of you there's no need to worry about different skill levels — you're learning together. Plus, even if you don't try whatever the class is teaching, just going to a sexy or kinky class together is a fun date that pushes you out of your normal routine.
There are always fabulous courses at SheBop and if you want to dive into the deep end of kink, KinkFest is just around the corner. KinkFest offers classes during the day and dungeon parties at night, and many people stay at a nearby hotel and make a weekend adventure out of it. That would certainly provide a break from your normal routine, and give you a lot of new ideas to ponder together.
If you're looking for other local kinky activities try making an account on FetLife and clicking on the events tab. A couple of my upcoming classes are good fits for beginners: Three (or more) is Company: Navigating threesomes, group sex, and play parties and Dungeon Etiquette and Safety.
Whatever you decide to do, make some agreements before you start. Trying new things only feels safe if you both know you can change your mind at any time. So promise each other that if either of you is uncomfortable you'll stop what you're doing right away. Not only that, but have a backup plan ready. There's nothing wrong with falling back on your reliable favorites. In fact, changing your minds about the new thing will be easier if you already have a plan in place for connecting. That way you're not stopping sex or play or date night all together, you're just changing course a little bit.
Lastly, don't dismiss the talking part. You say that you spend a lot of time talking about things you might like to do. Sometimes sharing fantasies and dirty talk is the perfect way to try something new, all from the comfort of your bed.
Have you got a burning question of your own? We're listening! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and keep your eye out for an answer in an upcoming column!