Alison Tyler didn’t have to pass chemistry to teach people all about romantic chemistry.
Here’s a confession. Oh, yes, lean in close. I nearly failed chemistry. Even with cribbing off of a smart friend’s notes, I still barely skimmed through the year. D+ at the quarters; C- at the semesters. It was hell—even hellier than Latin for me.
That said, I respect the power of chemistry. After 18 years with my man, we still can make stuff ‘splode. But what if you’re standing there, silly white lab coat on, test tube in hand, and there are no bubbles in your beaker? What if you’re scoring a D+/C-? What then?
Now, in order for me to pass chemistry, I had a tutor. (Believe me when I say H20 was only a Hall & Oates album in my world. A good Hall & Oates album. I love Maneater.) I memorized the periodic table, for all the good that’s ever fucking done me. What I’m saying is, I got help. Now I’m here to be your tutor, and you don’t have to memorize anything at all.
In order for there to be those glittering sparks in a relationship, the heat that keeps you up at night, the throb of sexual delights you’d give up food for… first, there has to be communication. Yes, I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but you have to be able to talk to your mate. You have to nurture an open enough relationship, a safe enough haven, to be able to ask for what you want, need, crave, desire, yearn for… Without that, well, you can copy off your neighbor’s paper all you want. You’re still going to fail.
How do I know this? I. Have. Been. There. Oh, yes, I have. I’ve been mired in the type of misery that doesn’t love company. I’ve gotten on my knees (I can still feel the shag rug beneath me), put my head down, and begged for a man to top me. When he responded with disgust, when he forbade me from ever bringing up the subject again, I actually acquiesced. I buried my desires. I tamped down my soul. Until I was so wound up, I could have exploded all on my own. (I think in chemistry this is what’s known as spontaneous combustion.)
To have heat, both sides need to be willing to listen, to play together, to explore. Once you’ve mastered that—you can turn your Bunsen burner to 11.
Okay, so assuming both partners are now ready and willing, what next? How do you start the boil if you’ve been on simmer too long? This is where erotica comes in. I am a firm believer in reading erotica to jumpstart a Corvette—I mean, a relationship. Take the time to find a book or collection of short stories that works for you. Then share the words with your partner. Read the pieces out loud to one another. Email favorite passages. Slide an erotic audio collection into the CD player. Download a story from iTunes.
Second step—re-enact something that’s turned on the two of you. There are so many story-starters in erotic novels and shorts. Use the words as your guide. Try role-playing, dressing up, or a brand-new fetish. Have sex in the shower, in an unusual location, use toys, or do it from different point of view (for example, if you’ve always been more submissive, try taking the upper hand).
Here’s the best part—once you’ve opened yourself up to new erotic experiences, you’ll find constant inspiration. If you need extra guidance, there are shelves of fab resource books:
• Violet Blue is my go-to guru. She is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus, The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio, The Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Strap-on Sex, The Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Sex Toys, and The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn, as well as countless others compendiums.
• Tristan Taormino knows sex like nobody’s business. She has both books and DVDs out on subjects like: Down & Dirty Sex Secrets: The New and Naughty Guide to Being Bad in Bed; Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships; Tristan’s Expert Guide to Pegging for Couples; The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge.
• Kristina Wright recently released Bedded Bliss: A Couple’s Guide to Lust Ever After that is sure to help you find your way back to the path to pleasure.
• Me! Oh, yes. I can’t forget me. I’ve written two non-traditional guides, Never Have the Same Sex Twice and Never Say Never. When I first put my books together, it was pointed out to me that if Violet had written them, she’d have told you where to buy the light bulbs and the O-rings. But my guides are kind of like my brain—filled with both how-to ideas and a whole slew of erotic fiction.
My hypothesis is this: you’re going to do just fine. Because the best part of all of this is that there is no grading system. Orgasms are the reward for extra effort. (Multiple O’s are like A ++s.) And nobody is ever going to ask you what As, Bd, or Lv stand for. Instead, you can focus on BD, SM, and other far more interesting initials.