I once climaxed at a party, because a song with the right beat came on.
An interview with Lola.
Lola | Age: 34 | Location: London, UK | Born: UK | Occupation: Consultant | No. of sexual partners: 27
Why did you take part?
Weirdly, what’s turned into a goal for me this year, is exploring my sexuality. It’s really triggered by time - the last 3 years were a time of a lot of illness. Through that experience I reconnected with my body, which I had previously cut off. In this process, I’ve become a lot more aware during sex. I started to notice the subtle things and become more curious about my body. I wanted to explore things. I think my sexual experiences have been stunted by my self belief, by my upbringing. I felt more liberated last year. I’m happier in my skin now. This is a great excuse to explore being able to speak it. Also, I just love the idea of things turning into art. Giving myself permission to talk about sex, and my sex, feels powerful.
What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?
I’m one of 4 daughters in a very traditional family. My mother is a very sexualised person. We were all very good little girls. We could never have boys stay in our room. Whenever we had boyfriends over they’d sleep in another room, but we’d just creep in anyway and stay with them and set an alarm for 6am. Then one day my father didn’t find me in my bed. He made my bed and opened the curtains to let me know he knew. We never spoke about it, but I know he knew. We never talked about anything. It was probably a big deal for him. My mother was a sexual person. She used to tell me about things she had done during the marriage with my father; but things she had done with her yoga instructor. She talked a lot about her dissatisfaction with the sex with my father. She was with him since she was 19, she said she was envious of our many sexual experiences and boyfriends. She was highly inappropriate with us. Not just about sex. Her energy made the house feel on edge. What’s funny is her mum also talked about her affairs with my mum. My dad was very traditional and loved his little girls.
Another important point, I was quite an isolated child. I got on with my sisters, but I didn’t have any real friends for a number of years. I was a smart teenager, and top of every class. I got isolated because of that and because I was very shy. I didn’t have real friends, not to mention romantic interest. I had my first kiss at 17 when people had boyfriends earlier. I never saw myself as likeable, let alone sexy. I was at an all girls boarding school since I was 13. I’d kissed, pecked boys but not a snog. First one was at 17. I did not perceive myself as sexual or valuable in any way outside of my studies. I was bullied and I couldn’t share it at home. My mum would have made it about her or overreacted and made matters worse.
The only time I ever heard about sex ed was from my babysitter, when she asked if I’d given anyone a blowjob at 12. The only time my mother mentioned anything about sex was when she was checking that I wasn’t lesbian. I never talked to mum about boys so she’d sometimes ask ‘have you met a boy? Or a girl perhaps?’ My sisters would have boyfriends, but I didn’t. At 16 I started to make friends and boys just took longer. I was 17 when I had my first boyfriend. I was single for a long time in my mum’s eyes. From age 21 for 3 years I was very up and down after this one guy who hurt me a lot. A great partner can be great, a bad one devastating. If I told them about a boy, it made it harder to tell them when it didn’t work out. It’d add to the pain of the breakup. When I told them about the breakup of the 4 year relationship, the first thing my mum said was, ‘At least I don’t have to worry about his mum looking better than me at your wedding.’ My dad just wants to know I’m ok. He gets upset with how men are, ghosting and whatnot. They subscribe a lot of value to the 4 of us being with a guy. It’s a generational thing. We grew up believing that a guy would save us and make us feel safe and secure. It was straight out of a Disney Princess movie. I felt like I was failing, when I didn’t achieve that. I was always over-accommodating with people who weren’t good for me in a bid to feel safe.
I had a great upbringing on paper. Music lessons, foreign holidays, summer camp, the works. Food on the table, picked up from school, but since one parent was unpredictable, the picking up was always late, often an hour. Sure didn’t reinforce feeling valued to me. Dad was just ‘everything is fine’, shut down. When I didn’t get into my top choice of uni even though I had top grades, my mother went to the staff room in a fit of crying hysterics and threw the contents of her bag at my teachers telling them they didn’t do a good job. My dad didn’t find out it happened until many years later. The next day he just took me on a trip to check out university options. Everything bad was brushed under the carpet. Years later she told me she wanted to be able to brag to her friends that I had got into a top uni. I actually really valued this honesty. She’s a bit better now. But that was a hot moment. We celebrated all my sisters, just not me. The fact that no one said anything to me, no one asked if I was ok, just made me feel invisible. I’m sure it affected my sexuality too, as it impacted my self-worth. I still can’t talk about anything with them. My dad is deeply unhappy, but it is his choice to stay. There’s of course great things in my upbringing, but a lot of bad things started at home and got reinforced at school. I’m only unraveling it now. I did ‘keep calm and carry on’ for a very long time. I’m still a bit angry. At Christmas my mum said, ‘You know we did the best we could’ but I really just don’t think it was good enough. They never questioned what they didn’t know. I’m trying to break the cycle. If I don’t value myself, my children won’t either. That’s where it went wrong with my parents. I have had a headache for the last 3 years. I spent 50k trying to find a physical cause and every medical professional was adamant they could heal me. I then started to learn about how unexpressed emotions can manifest as physical symptoms. As stuff comes up I can feel worse, but I know it’s the core of my healing journey.
What were the aha moments in your sexual journey?
It was music that allowed me to connect to my emotions and my sexuality. When I listened to music I’d feel connected and safe. My sensitivity to music grew too. I read there are people who are very sensitive to music and have a physical response to it. I think I’m one of those people. When others were developing sexually, I didn’t feel allowed in that space but I managed to find myself in music. I was deeply affected by music. It would make me feel things. It climaxed at a party when I was 20. I was a bit tipsy. A certain song came on in my room. A sexy trigger song for me and I came without touching myself. I had no choice. I was in a good place. It seduced me. That’s the only time it happened. I can still get very aroused by music. I always have a soundtrack in my mind. There can be no other music on. I have a selection of songs. I might pick one, it will pop into my head. Then it goes on loop. One of my partners, Ben, he has such a different sex soundtrack to me which I found fascinating. Another guy I was dating, this Scandi viking, had a thing for the same artists and was also aroused by the same songs as me. We’d send each other songs. It’s nice to find people who get affected by it. Music really helped me. It still deeply affects me and can really impact my mood.
The first time I came was with someone at uni and I was really shocked. I was pleased. Before I thought, ‘Oh is this it?’ I started to have better sex and could make myself come. In the bedroom I felt like i needed to perform, like I was there to serve. I was a lonely teenager, doubting people wanted to be my friend, let alone lover. My relationship at uni really helped me. I would come regularly. I started to shape how I had sex. It started to be something fun we did together rather than me serving. I started to ask for what I wanted from this guy. Then I got into a 4 year relationship and the sex was really good, he was good, we moved to the US and had sex in various, slightly risky places. We’d go to have a massage and have sex when the therapist left. He’d get off on me getting off. Being with a guy who got extreme pleasure from me having pleasure was great. Since that relationship, I began to ask for what I wanted and leave if I wasn’t getting it. And I also started to make judgements based on how mutual and respectful they were in bed. How open they were to discussion. I find it fascinating how differently guys act in bed. Last year I slept with this guy. We were keen on each other; the first time we had sex he tried to have anal 3 times. Definitely a power thing. I said no 3 times, and thought we could at least talk about it, but the discussion was too vulnerable and unsafe for him. He needed power and to disconnect from his emotions. This made the sex haphazard and bad. It has been a gradual thing and now I feel like I’m finally moving into a new phase, into exploring. My current partner is really helpful with this.
What does sex mean to you?
I think it’s a connection. Some people say it’s just something that we do. But I feel like sex is a connection. That’s what my opinion. It’s a moment between two people. You get to explore each other.
What do you most enjoy about sex?
The complete connection to another person. The guy I’m having sex with now is the best connection I’ve had. We have a deep respect and a deep liking for each other. We connect on a level of vulnerability that I’ve had with very few sexual partners. He expresses himself in ways that others would be shy to. What I enjoy the most is the thing that makes me most uncomfortable - vulnerability. It’s something I spent many years avoiding and didn’t really know how to be vulnerable, while maintaining a strong feeling of safety. The fact I can be seen changes how I perceive myself. Being seen changes how I feel about my body. I’m better with my body now, but I didn’t like my body. I was called a lot of nasty things by my mum. It really impacted my body image. I never had an eating disorder, but I look at photos and think, ‘Damn I looked great,’ but I never felt this at the time. My big sister got it bad, with my mum telling her she should look “like this, not like that.” It boosts my body image to see someone get off on my body, and also he has a great body. It is incredibly healing. It started with my last boyfriend, because he really enjoyed my body. We moved to a place where we knew no one. It gave us a lot of freedom to be whoever we wanted to be.
What’s most difficult about sex?
I never really saw myself as a sexual being. I still have problems with that even though people tell me the contrary. I have a problem with hearing my value from other people. I can’t quite believe it. I feel like I’m not a valuable being. My mother repeatedly mentioned that she wanted me to be a boy. I think that’s what made me numb my emotions. She still tells me now after all these years. It didn’t help. I didn’t feel safe or valued, and it made me very introverted at school. I was a geek too, introverted, with no friends, which just made me study more and closed the loop. My current sexual partner is so open about sex and everything. He’s given me permission to talk and ask for anything. I would say that has only become easier in the last 6 months and I’m doing a lot of work to be more compassionate and truly value myself. It’s got a lot to do with my personal development and understanding my lack of self-worth.
How often do you have sex?
3-4 times a week with the current partner.
Do you masturbate?
I masturbate to memories, anime or music. Female vocals, with a crescendo, like some of Tori Amos’ live tracks will always resonate. I used to listen to Tori Amos when I first connected to music and my sexuality, so I will always link her to that.
What specific things (e.g. techniques) have you found, alone and with partners, that have led to more pleasure in your sex life?
Seeing myself as more sexual. The biggest thing is being more vulnerable with sex and myself.
How do you see sexuality portrayed in the society and how does it make you feel?
I think as teenagers, peers and family give us a narrative. I always understood that sex was to be initiated by men. That women would more likely to attract men, if they looked a certain way. That’s still a thread. We are swinging the other way slowly though. The plus size model in Australia championing body confidence. She was on the cover of a Health Magazine promoting body confidence. Some people are confusing body confidence with health, which can send the wrong message to boys and girls as well.
What advice would you give to others?
Get more comfortable with the discomfort of sharing yourself vulnerably with the right people. You’ll have better sex. You’ll feel safer in yourself, when you can truly connect to people. That comes with vulnerability and psychological safety. I’m curious about how we can help one another be safe.
Is there anything you want to explore?
I want to learn about my and my partner’s orgasm. To see if I’m comfortable with playing with other people, while I’m in a relationship. I want to be more open, more experimental in my sexuality. Always been curious about sex events.