Joan Price’s eye chart method: meta sex advice

Image by the geniua Stuart F Taylor

I’m a big fan of meta sex advice: the tips that don’t tell you exactly what to do in bed, but instead guide you on how to better communicate with your partner. Recently one of my favourite sex writers, Joan Price, gave a perfect example of this kind of meta sex advice, and it just so happened to dovetail into a story I couldn’t work out how to frame from my own life, so it felt like a great opportunity to remind you all to follow her and read her amazing work.

What is ‘meta sex advice’?

Back in the 90s, magazines like Cosmo used to offer pages of sex tips. You wanna blow your man’s mind in bed? How about sticking an ice cube in your mouth before you go down on him? Why not pop a donut on his dick and sexily eat it off? Maybe you could poke a fork gently into the soft skin of his inner thigh? Lists of tips and tricks, with a bit of wrap copy that encouraged you to work your way through and see which ones hit and which missed.

I’ve offered this kind of advice before myself – not forks and donuts, but lists of acts for sure. General tips that people might want to attempt, with examples of times they worked for me. I wouldn’t have the audacity to label them ‘guaranteed’ because hey – everyone’s different! There is only one guaranteed trick to blow someone’s mind in bed, and it isn’t a sex thing.

This kind of sex advice – though it can be handy inspiration to glean new tricks or techniques – is never going to be as good as ‘meta sex advice’. The tips which don’t tell you what to do to your partner, but guide you on how to better communicate with them.

Enter Joan Price.

The eye chart method of sex comms

Regular readers will know already how much I love Joan – her sex advice is always clear, empathetic and sound, and her advocacy is powerful too. She writes about ageless sexuality, and the importance of acknowledging your sexuality throughout the whole of your life: contrary to what society tries to tell us, physical pleasure doesn’t have to have an expiry date, and embracing your horny self (if horn is something that’s important to you) is as valuable and worthwhile at eighty as it is at eighteen. She’s great. Check out Joan Price’s website and follow her on Twitter.

The other day, in response to a a journo request for tips on giving head to someone with a vulva, she countered the often-used example of ‘writing the alphabet with your tongue’ with something far better:

“Rather than the alphabet, I suggest a version of the eye chart Qs: “Do you like it better when I do this…? Or when I do this…?” The vulva owner knows what works best, e.g. licking or sucking, circling or pinpointing, slow or fast, steady rhythm or “surprise me,” for example.”

This meta sex advice is so simple, and I suspect there’ll be people reading it who think it’s too obvious to state. But I know I’m guilty of repeatedly hammering home the importance of communication without always remembering to give specific tips. It’s easy to say to someone ‘just talk to your partner!’, far harder to explain the specifics of how to kick that conversation off. But the eye chart questions are a brilliant place to start.

Which is better: X or Y?

A while back I was shagging a man (I KNOW, AREN’T I LUCKY) who had told me that he very rarely came during sex. This, it may or may not surprise you to know, is quite common. Quite a few men have introduced themselves to me sexually by announcing that they’re probably not going to come. Firstly, kudos to them for stating it up front: I always appreciate knowing this in advance. Being forewarned helps me avoid putting pressure on them to orgasm (begging for someone’s spunk is hot, but it can be risky), and also remain vigilant against self-blame, in case we get to the end of a fuck and the fact that they didn’t come starts to weigh heavy on my insecure little heart.

However, although I do my best not to let the ‘no spunk’ thing get me down, I never ignore it completely. ‘Rarely’ is not ‘never’ after all. I don’t want to launch into a repertoire of pressure-fuelled blow jobs and intensely goal-focused fucking in a desperate attempt to make someone come, because that wouldn’t be much fun for either of us, but I’ll definitely be working pretty hard to make sure he’s having a good time. And if he’s come before then it certainly can’t hurt to ask him how that happened.

So as I say, I was shagging this man (LUCKY) and while we were fucking I nudged him a little to give me guidance on what might feel good. We’re fucking in the position that he’s told me feels best on his dick – me on top (LOVELY: it’s hot to be appreciated). As I’m getting into it, with slow, teasing strokes, I ask a few questions for guidance:

“Do you prefer long strokes like this… right down to the base? Or shorter strokes like this… where I’m focusing more on the head?”

“Faster or slower?”

“Can you feel it when I clench around you like this? How about now?”

This doesn’t seem, to me, like an unusual thing. And yet, shortly after I started asking, and following his guidance, this man grabbed my hips with a breathless urgency and moaned involuntarily, like he was surprised by the results.

Short strokes, by the way. Slow, short strokes. Cunt clenched gently but not too much as I rode him with a meditative rhythm, eventually squeezing in time to the up-and-down motions on his cock. Lips pressed against the side of his neck whispering to let him know just how good he felt inside me.

And after not much time, his sighs turned to gasps and his body thrummed with tension. ‘Keep going,’ he whispered when I paused to assess the effect. ‘Keep going, oh my God I’m so close.’

It was the hottest thing I’d heard in a very long time (and remember – I make audio porn for a living!). The fact that he was trembling with this almost-but-not-quite-there power had me at the edge of climax too, so urgently horny was I for the idea that I’d managed to lead him from ‘I probably won’t come’ to ‘keep going, keep going’ with just a few well-timed questions.

Joan Price’s eye chart method, see?

I don’t want to feed into the narrative that sex is only good if someone comes (and especially not the narrative that it’s only good if there is cum), so I’ll note that we didn’t quite make it that day. But it didn’t matter. We got close, so close, sososo fucking close. And the joy of that carried me through the rest of the week: hugging myself with glee that I’d made someone’s cock feel so good that he felt compelled to whisper: ‘keep going, oh my god, keep going.’

That’s amazing

I was in two minds about telling you this story, because the story alone just looks like I’m bragging (and I am, of course: the world is a trashfire and we’re constantly bombarded with misery, let’s all resolve to spend a bit more time bigging up the things that we’ve enjoyed). But recently I spotted Joan Price’s awesome meta sex advice, and telling you the story felt like a great excuse to plug one of my favourite educators while explaining to you how valuable this specific tip is.

Loads of you will do this sort of thing already, of course, especially if you’re sexually confident and used to having open conversations about what feels good and why. But it’s good to be reminded that a lot of people know they should communicate during sex, but they don’t quite have the confidence or understanding of how to do that effectively.

I’ve rarely had anyone ask similar questions of me while we’re fucking – not in the early stages of dating, at any rate. When new partners embark on sex comms, usually their questions are framed in terms of acts: ‘what have you done before?’ and ‘what would you like to do?’, where the question could be answered with a list of tags from any popular porn site: anal, fingering, pegging, spanking, whatever. Very rarely do people drill down into the specifics of sensation during the act: which is better, X or Y? Do you prefer this faster or slower? How about this angle? What if I squeeze you right… here? Press harder on this? Use side-to-side motions or up-and-down? ‘In and out’ or ‘in and hold and grind for a few seconds before continuing’?

[Obviously you probably aren’t going to talk through all those like you’re a mechanic staring into the bonnet of someone’s car (although come to think of it that’s an exceptionally hot bit of role play) but “which is better – this or this?” is a neat and simple way of getting all that info]

It’s understandable that this kind of communication doesn’t come naturally to everyone: most of us have grown up in a world which either discourages us from talking about sex at all, or induces us to work our way down a list of Cosmo sex tips, flinging doughnuts and ice cubes and forks at our partners until they either tell us ‘yes, that’s it!’ or ‘oh god please stop!’.

That’s why I think meta sex advice is the best kind: not telling you what to do so you can learn by trial and error, but teaching you how to ask questions to gain a more detailed understanding.

Short strokes. Slowly. At a really specific angle. Cunt clenched exactly this much, but not too much.

You can’t write that shit in a list and guarantee it’ll work for everyone. But you can tell your partners about Joan Price‘s eye chart, give them a tool that might establish better sexual communication, and help them find the answer that works for you both.




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