How Not to Be the Most Awkward Person at a Sex Party
Updated: Jun 19
by Kayla Kibbe December 13, 2022
Maybe you’re a lucky newbie who’s already scored a coveted spot on the guest list of your choice. Or maybe you’re pretty sure your invite is in the mail and you’re feeling some, uh, anxiety. Or, hey, maybe you’re just curious and you have a few questions about what really goes down at a sex party.
The first thing you should know is this: Not all sex parties are alike, says Zachary Zane, an expert for Momentum Intimacy and the author of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto. Just like regular shindigs, they come in all forms, from laid-back get-togethers among intimate groups of like-minded folks to upscale, Eyes Wide Shut–style masquerades.
The one thing most have in common is the fact that they are, first and foremost, parties, says Robert Artés, director of experience at Snctm, an exclusive private members club that hosts erotic events around the world. But unlike the free-for-all eff-fests you’re probably picturing, sex parties aren’t just big orgies—they’re actual social functions that require a certain level of decorum. Not decorum as in rigid etiquette (obviously), but as in you gotta know the general rules lest you risk seeming sorely out of place. Here, intrepid readers, are those rules.
Do Your Homework
Study the event’s website and socials to get a sense of what you’ll be walking into. You can even reach out to former attendees for the full scoop. Everything from the dress code to the timeline of the evening (there may be some scheduled mingling before the actual sex part) can vary. You’ll also want to make sure you review any event-specific guidelines. Pro tip: Most parties enforce a strict no-phones policy, so be prepared to check yours at the door.
You know how walking into a regular party is a lot less angsty when you go with a friend? The same goes for sex parties. Whether you bring a romantic partner or a pal, having someone in your corner can help mitigate the awkwardness that may come with unfamiliar territory and make it easier to mingle.
Preset Your Boundaries...
Don’t assume that you have to have sex or that it’s weird if you don’t, Zane says. Either way, make sure you’re super clear about what you want. Are you open to threesomes? Oral sex only? If you’re going with a partner, are you both planning on having sex with others? What about kissing? Will you play together or separately? Be honest about those boundaries and think about how you’ll enforce them ahead of time, says Dulcinea Alex Pitagora, PhD, a psychotherapist and sex therapist in NYC.
...And Respect Others’
Consent is rule number one in any sexual situation, and sex parties are no different. “Understand that while play may be on the table, consent is king,” Artés says. Most parties operate under explicit policies, and any violation can carry severe consequences. At Snctm, for example, a single offense will result in immediate removal and a lifetime ban, so make sure you’re playing by the rules.
Tweak Your Small Talk
Privacy is paramount for some party goers, which means your go-to social icebreakers like “So what do you do for work?” might be out. Luckily, you have one major thing in common with every person in the room: You’re all at the same party, so take advantage. Zane recommends simply paying someone a (nonsexual) compliment and then asking what brought them to the event. Have they been there before? What’s their play-party history? Think of it as an opportunity to bypass the usual snoozy chitchat.
Chill Out and Enjoy
Sex parties aren’t some alternate universe. They’re just places for sex-positive people to meet, mingle, and, yeah, maybe hook up in public. Be nice, read social cues, and remember that these events tend to attract open-minded, nonjudgy people who definitely won’t care if you, say, immediately spill a drink on your lingerie. Or whatever.