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Expert Tips for Sex Party Safety

Apr 3, 2024

“I’m interested in attending a sex party but don’t know where to start. I want to make sure I’m being safe and also, a little nervous.”

I have so many questions.

You know, therapist, this is what we do.

When you say you want to make sure you’re being safe, what kind of safety are we talking about?

I think that a lot of people when they talk about safety when it comes to sexual situations or talking about safety related to sexual health, so STIs, pregnancy, that kind of thing.

There is a lot of kinds of safety though that can come into play when you start going to play parties and attending sex parties and opening up your sexuality in a new way.

There is emotional safety.

So, are you someone who if you hook up with someone, you tend to develop feelings for them really quickly?

Then going to a sex party and hooking up with a bunch of people could be more dangerous for you emotionally than someone who doesn’t tend to go that way.

Emotional safety in terms of what is it going to be like if people say no or if no one wants to play with you?

What if you go to the party and you end up just leaving after not interacting with many people?

Social safety.

What happens if you run into someone you know at this party?

What happens if people who you work with or who are in your family or your friend group find out that you went to this party?

How is that going to affect you socially and are you prepared for that?

So when we are talking about safety around a sex party, I think there are all of these different layers.

There’s also like physical safety around like is it a safe group of people or safer group of people?

Is it a group of people who pay attention to boundaries, listen to nos, that kind of thing?

And so I think tips that I would give if you’re new to attending sex parties or you’re looking at one, find a community that has really good community standards, so one that has either a vetting system or an educational system you have to complete before you can go or some kind of like accountability system.

So a lot of the places out here in the Bay Area, you have to have a person who is your like pal or your buddy so that if something happens, you are both responsible for each other.

Those kinds of communities have often done a lot more work to try to make them as safe as possible regarding things like people being predatory, people being abusive, those kinds of things.

Check their consent policies.

How do they deal with consent issues?

If there is a consent violation report or a consent incident report, what do they do about it?

How has that been handled in the past?

Do they require barriers for safer sex – for all sexual activities, for which sexual activities?

What kinds of barriers do they require?

Are there barriers available there or do you need to bring your own?

How often are you getting STI testing?

And are you comfortable communicating about STI testing?

Do you know how to give your safe sex elevator speech?

Do you know how to negotiate with people?

Do you know the kinds of questions that you need to ask to figure out if someone is a good fit for you to play with?

Things that I like to ask that a lot of people may not think about is, particularly in a kink context, I’ll ask, how will I know if this is going really well for you?

How will I know if this is not going well for you or going poorly for you?

Do you ever lose your words?

Something I’ll ask in both sex party and kink party context is, are you on any substances right now?

What’s your experience with those substances?

How do you feel like you are right now in terms of your ability to give informed consent in an on-going way?

Other things for safety, I would figure out someone who can be your like post-party buddy who you can talk to all the things about, so good things, bad things, hard feelings, happy feelings, excitement, all of those things.

Who is someone who can take your download after the party and be supportive to you and help you feel like you’re recovering well?

Social safety.

Figure out what you need to set yourself up for social safety.

Do you need to park far away from the venue?

Do you need to make sure you park close to the venue?

Do you have like special clothes you’re going to wear on the way between your car or your transportation than the venue so that you aren’t like looking extra sexy outside?

Are you going to check the attendee list to see if there’s anybody you know that you don’t want to see there?

If something does get out, how would you talk to your family or your friends about it?

Just starting to think about those questions.

Is there anything about your body that you might run into issues with?

If it’s a venue with a bunch of stairs, does that going to hurt your knees?

If there’s nowhere to sit, is that going to get hard for your back?

Just think about all these different things.

If you’ve never been to one before and you’re going alone, how are you going to make sure you get to talk to people?

Is there like a mixer at the start of the party?

Is this the kind of venue or party where they have someone who is like a designated greeter who helps people meet new folks?

How are you going to get integrated?

Even if you are going with like one partner, if there’s like two of you alone, it can be really hard to figure out how to break the ice with people you don’t know.

So like how are you going to figure out how to meet other folks and talk to other folks?

Are you interested in playing at this party with people you don’t already know or didn’t attend with?

Do you want to just go and look?

Are you open to either or both?

Are there any things that you need to discuss with any of your current partners before you do stuff at this party?

So just again, think about like all of the good and bad things that could happen as a result of going.

Not to like catastrophize, not to like talk yourself out of it, but so that you can start figuring out how you want to handle if it does come up.

And again, find communities that are already established, that have a good record when it comes to things like dealing with consent incidents, with safety, with vetting.

Those are the kinds of places you want to be going as much as possible.

This is making me more anxious about parties.

Look, here’s the thing.

I wish that I could tell everybody to just go to the sex party and have a great time and fuck everybody.

And we unfortunately live in a very sex-negative world.

We are in a time where sex-negativity is surging and getting worse and it’s important for us to be aware, right?

When I talk about these things, my goal is not to scare people.

My goal is to help you make choices that are risk-aware and that are oriented towards harm reduction.

If you’re going to take substances, you need to know whether you can test those substances for purity to make sure that there’s not fentanyl in them.

You might want to have Narcan on hand so that you can figure out or so that you can like make sure that somebody who overdoses can possibly be saved.

There are things that we need to understand when we are going to be making choices that are more risky.

The more risky the choice, the more safety planning we have to do.

I used to be a skydiver.

When you do your assisted freefall course which is how you get like jumping under your own canopy alone rather than in a tandem strapped to somebody, before you go up on any jumps under your own canopy, you do a full day of ground school that walks you through all the things that could go wrong when you are on your own up there and how to handle them and you practice.

You practice.

What do you do with a line twist?

You pull and kick.

Right?

What do you do if you got a real bad line twist that would not untwist?

You cut.

Pull your reserve.

Right?

And you practice all of these things over and over not to make you scared, not to make you nervous, not because it’s even super likely that it’s going to happen but because you need to be prepared for the things that could cause you a lot of harm if they do happen.

So again, if you’re someone who is in a position where someone finding out that you go to this party wouldn’t be a big deal, you have a lot less harm reduction and risk-aware planning to do than someone who is in a contentious divorce with kids involved, with an ex-spouse who would be happy to bring up their slutty lifestyle as a way to get them in trouble.

So again, this isn’t to make you nervous about parties.

This isn’t to say that like it is necessarily a super dangerous activity.

It’s to say it’s important for us to be aware of what risks there are so that we can make plans for them.

Right?

When we look at public health, one of the things that public health has learned over and over again is that when there is something really scary, a lot of people want to just like downplay how scary it is, and that’s the best way to deal with the people.

But actually research shows that the best thing to do is be honest about the risks, be honest about what you don’t know, and talk people through how to do risk assessments and mitigate the risks as much as possible.

And that’s what this is, right?

Any activity has risk.

The key here is understand what your risks are, understand how you want to mitigate them.

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