#MeToo was a massive movement that triggered change for society as a whole, but what does that look like for you and your partner?

When the #MeToo movement erupted over three years ago, it affected nearly everyone. For most of us, it wasn’t difficult to condemn a certain Hollywood mogul, but it became more so in situations that, for instance, sparked enough editorials about “bad sex” to fill a book. And certainly, taking a hard look at oneself is never easy.

Not only did I reflect on the times when I was assaulted, I also started looking back and re-examining instances in my life where I might have made someone uncomfortable to the point of harm. 

This soul searching didn’t stop with me either – naturally, I wondered if I had ever been with anyone guilty of making a sexual partner (potential or realized) uncomfortable to the point of harm, or worse.

Social media

The #MeToo movement is alive and well today, but at the time it hit, the momentum was overwhelming and hard not to get swept up in, particularly in social media spaces, an area of our lives not to be underestimated.

More than a few guy friends of mine reacted with slippery-slope statements like: “I guess I should never look at or try to talk to a woman ever again,” and I would remind them to calm down, that no one is attacking them. Also, slippery slope is a logical fallacy and not a sincere approach to well-meaning communication.

Most of us were watching #MeToo unfold on social media, where snarky statements, mic drops, and hot takes compete for taps and likes. Though entertaining, all of it is designed to provoke a reaction, and none of it belongs in a conversation with someone you care about. So, try not to take the bait.

Emotional labor

If you, like my guy friends, reacted defensively to #MeToo, it is worth asking yourself why. In fact, anytime you find yourself reacting defensively, in any situation, it is good to ask yourself why.

In addition to fostering self-knowledge, this practice can help you become a better partner. If you can learn to be patient and understanding with yourself, then you can extend this level of consideration to your partner as well.

When both of you start to get worked up about something, first try asking yourself, “Why did my partner react that way?” Chances are, a reasonable emotional explanation will reveal itself if you are open to receiving it, and you can learn how to be open by first starting with yourself.

If your partner was doing what I was doing in the wake of #MeToo – questioning myself, questioning my relationships (past and present), and revisiting painful memories – they may have been triggered. Maybe they were hard to talk to during that time. Maybe they cried a lot.

How do you handle it when your partner is going through something hard?  

If they are navigating painful memories that have resurfaced, ask if they want to talk about it, but don’t let them shoulder all the emotional labor – meaning don’t make them work too hard to articulate what they’re going through for you. Additionally, you can ask them how to best provide support, but if you see that they are struggling to answer, don’t push.

There are many good resources out there (Google is your friend here) that you can read or listen to in order to better understand what your partner could be experiencing. And this goes for all kinds of difficult situations, not just #MeToo.

Rough sex

If you and your partner enjoy rough sex – hair pulling, spanking, choking, taking/getting taken from behind without any foreplay – more than likely, you are already good at talking to each other about your sexual desires and deal-breakers and have discussed “rough sex” acts in depth. Well, I’m going to hope you have, anyway. If you haven’t, start now – otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt and that doesn’t have to happen.

We have Fifty Shades of Grey to thank for spotlighting the concept of “negotiation” and for getting couples talking at least!

Practitioners of kink and BDSM are known for prioritizing communication (and that includes consent). They are also known for cultivating a heightened awareness of their partner’s physical and emotional state.

If you do talk about desires and deal-breakers and what you’re going to do sexually with your partner, then you know it is good practice to still check in with each other periodically. Tastes can and do change. For instance, I used to be on board with light face-slapping, but that is no longer something I enjoy.

Enthusiastic consent

When I told my girlfriend that I was going to write about this, we talked about how, growing up, we both got the message that men won’t want us unless they have to chase us, so we needed to keep our “yes” – our very consent – elusive or else the men we wanted would stop wanting us. For a long time, I would feel both excited and embarrassed when a lover would discover exactly how aroused I was.

Well, now, I am excited about the prospect that this attitude is old, outdated, and on its way out. Good riddance! What is in and hopefully, here to stay, is the idea of “enthusiastic consent,” where both parties are clearly excited from start to finish about sharing a sexual experience together.

For many couples, we get to know each other so well sexually that we are more guarded against stagnation than we are concerned about consent. However, it is still good to check in with your partner from time to time. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • How do you think your partner defines pleasure?
  • Is it always (or only) orgasm?
  • Most of the time, whose orgasm is more important?
  • What does pleasure look like on your partner? 

Who knows? Maybe these questions will even lead to some fun.

Image credit: cottonbro, Pexels